In the spring of 2012, there were some media analysts and even some NFL personnel who were predicting that RGIII was a better prospect than Andrew Luck. The fact is RGIII was never a better prospect than Luck. Andrew Luck is a once-in-every-10-year type quarterback, in other words a generational player. Since he has come into the NFL he has proven that over and over.
Robert Griffin III, on the other hand, was an extremely gifted athlete who was still trying to learn how to play quarterback. Part of the problem was that the system he played in college was not conducive to developing NFL quarterbacks.
Art Briles is a great college coach, but his offensive system that was used when RGIII was at Baylor was based on speed an athleticism. The strategy was to spread the field out and let the best athlete on the field make plays. The scheme was actually fairly simple, it allowed Baylor to recruit top athletes and let them use their athleticism to outplay their opponents.
Because of the athleticism that Griffin III and the other skill position players had, they were able to put a lot of points on the board and basically just outscore their opponent each week. RGIII had little knowledge of reading defenses and playing within the confines of a structured and complex NFL offense.
RGIII had the basic skill set to become a very good NFL quarterback, but he needed time to develop. As a rookie, the Washington coaching staff kept things simple for Griffin and let him play within himself. The result was a rookie year that was sensational. He completed better than 65% of his throws for over 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns. He looked like he would have a great future, but that hasn’t happened. He has regressed every year since. It is entirely possible that in the near future Griffin III may be a former Washington Redskin.
How can this happen? How can a player with that much talent not continue to improve and grow? Some may say it’s coaching, but that isn’t the answer. The answer is simple: RGIII lacks any kind of football character.
For most to succeed in the NFL they must have excellent football character. Don’t be confused, football character is not personal character, they really don’t have much to do with each other.
Football character is about the desire each player has to become great. It includes his work ethic, leadership, passion for the game and ability to be coached. Most players fail or bust because they lack a degree of football character. RGIII has great talent, but he lacks football character.
Going back to a comparison with Andrew Luck, Luck has superb football character. He loves the game and does everything he can to become the best player he can be. He has endeared himself to his teammates and is a strong leader. He is well liked and respected by both his teammates and coaches. That isn’t the case with RGIII. He is not the most liked person in the locker room and by all accounts he has very questionable work habits. He can’t improve if he doesn’t work at it.
When RGIII was growing up and in college everything came easy to him. He was a very smart kid and the best athlete on campus. When a player gets to the NFL, every player on every team is a great athlete, the best of the best. If a player wants to improve he has to work at it. Once RGIII got to the NFL he had never been in that kind of environment before. Things no longer came easy. He had to work and he didn’t know how.
Quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady didn’t become as good as they are because they lacked worked ethic. They are who they are because they put countless time and energy into becoming great. That is something RGIII doesn’t know how to do.
Can a change of scenery help Griffin III to develop? Maybe, but in reality the only person who can help Robert Griffin III become the player he has the talent to be is himself. He has to change his whole attitude about the game. That can be/is very difficult to do. I don’t know of many players who have been able to do that.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe