We’ve known for some time, minus a few unfounded rumors, that the Colts would draft Andrew Luck and that the Redskins would take Robert Griffin III.
Now it’s time to look to the 2012 season. They won’t face each other, not likely anyway, until 2013.
I have no idea how they will stack up as pros in the long term. So much can happen over time. I’ll stick to one year’s worth of predictions.
And in Year One, I really think Griffin will have the bigger splash of the two players.
Why? Schedule, surrounding talent and big plays.
Luck gets to open his career in Chicago against the Bears, followed the next week by his home debut against the Vikings. Wonder how many times Julius Peppers and Jared Allen will introduce themselves to the rookie and his formerly clean new uniform? After that, it’s the Jaguars in Week Three, and please don’t scoff — this injury-plagued unit was top five in several defensive categories last season and should be far, far better with improved health, the return of Mel Tucker and personnel upgrades.
RG3 gets a nervous Saints team in New Orleans in Week One, and one that is likely to be down a few defensive players — not to mention a head coach. Dueling with Drew Brees throw for throw might be the kind of debut we look back on like Cam Newton’s 432 yards against the Cardinals a year ago. Up after that: the Rams in St. Louis, Bengals in D.C. and Buccaneers in Tampa. Any of those scare you? Griffin will be entering Week 11 — after a bye, no less — before he faces five of the Redskins’ six divisional games.
The consensus is that Luck is the more polished player, having been reared in a pro-style offense at Stanford (partially) under the watchful eye of Jim Harbaugh, who turned Alex Smith into a legitimate performer this past season.
But I dispute that. First of all, what is a pro-style offense anymore? Don’t tell me it’s dropping from under center and five- and seven-step drops. If that’s so, then Peyton Manning (whom Luck is most compared to) and Tom Brady don’t run pro-style offenses.
More and more spread and shotgun elements are entering the game now, and once-stodgy NFL coaches are seeing that tailoring their passing games to the skills of their passers — how novel — is the way to go. Out with the old way of thinking and in with the new.
I’ll give you that Reggie Wayne might still be the best pass catcher on either team, but after that? The Redskins have solid options in Pierre Garcon (who had more yards than Wayne in Indy last year), Fred Davis, Josh Morgan and others. The Colts have no pass-catching tight end to speak of, and those were Luck’s favorite targets in college. After Wayne, it’s a concussion-addled Austin Collie and twice-released Donnie Avery. And who is on that offensive line? Few sure things.
Griffin’s line has its share of problems, but a healthy return of Jammal Brown could solve a lot, and Trent Williams still has dominant traits.
Luck will operate a short, precision passing game in Indy. Griffin will be airing it out with the Redskins. And playing in more high-profile games in the NFC East and against the Steelers, Panthers and Ravens will help Griffin get lots of media exposure.
Plus, face it — he’s a lot sexier a player than Luck. Hey, you won’t find too many bigger Luck fans than the guy writing this but Griffin offers pizzazz and spice with his running ability and his laser arm.
If you made a cut-up of Newton’s 50 worst passes last season, you’d think you were looking at a CFL-caliber backup. He just plain looked bad at times. But his 50 best throws (and runs) might make your corneas burn. Newton was that explosive.
Griffin is different than Newton but similar in some ways. Even though a championship has never been won outside the pocket before, I’d be willing to bet it happens in the next five years.
All I am talking about is next year. Griffin will be better — or at least perceived to have had a better season. We might not see the little details: the plays Luck checked out of that could have been disasters, the subtle adjustments he makes through the season or the lack of talent he’ll have to work with and how much it really will affect him. But we will see the splash plays, and that’s what Griffin does best. He’ll make more of them this season than Luck will.