On the list of “people accusing Robert Griffin III of possible excessive cockiness” this week, I would have put Tony Banks somewhere after David Stern, Jurgen Klinsmann, Texas A&M fans, Spelling Bee contestants and Anze Kopitar.
Just didn’t see it coming. But when ESPN 980 has Redskins players from every era on its daily Skins at 1 segment, eventually someone will say something unexpected. Wednesday, that someone was Banks.
After much talk about his role in the 8-8 Marty Schottenheimer campaign in 2001, Banks was asked about RGIII by Sports Fix host Thom Loverro.
“I think he’s a very naturally skilled athlete,” Banks said. “I think him and Andrew Luck have some differences. I think they both have high football IQs, but to me, RGIII is a little more of a natural athlete and a natural passer, meaning the ball comes out of his hand a little smoother than Andrew Luck.”
So far so good, right?
“So I think RGIII has a little more natural ability when it comes to that part of his game, but I’ll never be able to dispute a guy who comes from a pro system in college,” said Banks, who now does media work for the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports Southwest. “They’re gonna come in to the NFL game with their feet running. If you’re from Stanford, Michigan State, USC, those guys offensively and defensively kind of know what picture they’re gonna take when they get to the NFL. It doesn’t look like a bunch of moving parts.
“Sometimes coming from that spread offense as a quarterback, you get to the NFL and those safeties are rocking and rolling, you’ve got to read safeties and coverages. Where in that spread offense, it’s almost like the coach calls the play, fake to this guy, throw to this guy. So that’s what’s gonna be kind of the test of time with RGIII: can he get his head up, read the safeties and change his approach that way.
“He’s also, what I thought was humility, I think he’s almost a little too cocky,” Banks said, making the headline. “Because the NFL game, especially at the quarterback position, can be very humbling. Like, I’ve heard him make a statement, something like if you’re an elite player in college, you should be an elite player in the pros. I don’t think any NFL player who’s played in the league a couple years would agree with that statement, by any means. They are two totally different games, and especially at the quarterback position.”
The quote Banks is referring to seems to have come from his conference call with reporters the night he was picked by the Redskins. There are slightly different versions of it; here is how USA Today recorded it:
“I look forward to the challenge,” Griffin said in a conference call. “That’s how we play football. If you can play football in high school, you can be an elite college player. If you’re an elite college player, you can be an elite pro. I am a rookie, but I’m not going to go out and use that as an excuse. I’m going to try to succeed.”
Seems like standard-issue rookie talk to me, and I’m not sure that it shows untoward cockiness. Banks also admitted that he was wrong about Cam Newton last season, and that “he kind of made me look like a fool there, but I appreciate that, I don’t mind being wrong.”
He also said that Griffin should receive a long grace period, possibly up to three years, to prove he belongs. But still.
“Getting a bunch of names registered, whatever he’s doing, and some of these statements he’s making, he’s just opening himself up,” Banks said. “Because he will struggle. Even Tom Brady struggles a game or two through 16 games. So he will struggle. How will he bounce back from that, and how long will that grace period be?”