Robert Griffin III perhaps received too much credit for the Washington Redskins’ surprise run to the playoffs last season, and now he’s experiencing the other side of the spectrum after his team has stumbled to an 0-3 start.
The quarterback has been called a “brat” by former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot. He’s had his mechanics picked apart by NFL analyst Ron Jaworski. He’s seen his rehab motives called into question as an elaborate marketing scheme. And he’s been saddled with the “Robert Garbage Time” nickname for his late-game, stat-padding performances.
Has it really turned that fast on the player who just months ago was labeled the franchise savior?
“The fact of the matter is it comes with the territory of being a quarterback in the NFL,” Griffin said. “When we don’t have success, there is going to be criticism. You’ve got to be able to stand tall, look the criticism in the face, look that adversity in the face, and let it know that you’re not going anywhere.”
While Griffin takes the high road, it’s hard to ignore the grumblings around the league and even inside the Redskins’ locker room, where wide receiver Pierre Garcon has made curious remarks about the quarterback for two straight weeks.
After the loss to the Packers, Garcon said Griffin’s knee brace was slowing him down. After the Lions defeat, Garcon said he didn’t believe Griffin was 100 percent. While those statements may be true, they can easily be construed as a player making waves when none are required.
“Everybody is supporting [Griffin],” Garcon said Wednesday. “He’s our quarterback and we’re going to support whoever is playing quarterback. Whoever the coaches put out there, we’re going to support him.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement. And the fact that the conversation continues about Griffin’s progress has begun to rankle players weary of the discussion.
“Here we go with the Robert questions,” receiver Santana Moss said. “I don’t know. Sorry. To be honest with you, I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you if Robert was better last week or the first week. Who’s to know that Robert isn’t the same right now?”
While Griffin remains the face of the Redskins’ struggles, his offensive teammates don’t believe the quarterback is alone in bearing the burden.
“Whatever people are saying about him is ridiculous,” fullback Darrel Young said.
If Griffin and the team can pull off a victory against Oakland this week, the critics will quiet down. If Washington drops to 0-4? Griffin better be ready for more barbs.
“If you struggle a little bit coming out of the gates, everyone is going to look at that and criticize it and you just have got to be able to face that,” Griffin said.