At the end of the 2012 regular season — before Washington’s playoff fiasco — ESPN’s Ron Jaworski ranked Robert Griffin III the 10th-best quarterback in the NFL, and the fifth-best quarterback in the NFC.
“I didn’t think it would be possible for a quarterback to climb into the top 10 in the NFL in Year 1,” Jaworski said then. “A track record of success, and being successful when the league has a book on you, should count for something. But you really can’t say enough about the rapid success RGIII has enjoyed in Washington….I’ve also been impressed with his grit and toughness and his presence as a leader on that football team. That locker room respects him, which is no small feat for a rookie QB.”
Then the Seattle game happened. Jaworski ranked Griffin 13th heading into his sophomore campaign.
And then the 2013 season happened. It wasn’t great.
“He’s still not the guy that we saw last year,” Jaworski said last November. “And I’m not sure we’ll ever see that guy.”
Which brings us to Jaworski’s 2014 rankings, which were published this week. Griffin is now 21st, which means he ranks last among NFC East quarterbacks.
Virtually all the young stars he’s typically mentioned with — Andrew Luck (fifth), Russell Wilson (ninth), Colin Kaepernick (13th), Cam Newton (14th) — are ahead of him. So are, obviously, Eli Manning (11th), Tony Romo (12th) and Nick Foles (15th). Heck, so are Alex Smith (17th), Jay Cutler (19th) and Carson Palmer (20th).
“Everyone was excited after RGIII’s first season, but people tend to get excited about the wrong things with young quarterbacks,” Jaworski said or wrote. “He made his biggest impact with bootlegs, play-action and his athletic ability. But he didn’t have that running ability last season coming back from his ACL tear, and teams blitzed him mercilessly — almost twice as often last season as his rookie year. RGIII simply couldn’t move outside the pocket and didn’t do a good-enough job of adjusting pre-snap. At the end of the day, he should be improved under Jay Gruden, who will simplify the playbook for him. Griffin has the tools; the question is whether he can put it all together again this season.”
“So, do you think Robert Griffin III is the worst quarterback in the NFC East?” he asked, while running for cover from the fusillade of rotten eggplants.