When the team begins training camp Thursday at Redskins Park, Griffin is expected to continue dazzling coaches and teammates with the powerful right arm, elusiveness and sound decision-making he displayed while taking charge on the field during pre-camp tune-ups. With each well-crafted answer to reporters’ questions, the Heisman Trophy winner figures to demonstrate he’s the right guy to lead the Redskins off the field, too.
In the NFL’s vicious workplace, however, players — especially quarterbacks — are judged solely on their ability to produce on the field, under threat of life-altering injury. Throughout the regular season, Griffin must show he’s on track to provide at least as much for the Redskins as the best quarterbacks do for their teams.
The roster has plenty of holes; the team gave up four high-round draft picks to get Griffin. Having less money than they anticipated to spend on free agents because of the NFL’s $36 million salary cap penalty and no first-round selections the next two seasons won’t help the Redskins as they try to bolster Griffin’s supporting cast.
But regardless of how bad the Redskins may still be in the short term, Griffin has what it takes to become a long-term superstar. His pinpoint passes to receivers will make them look better than they are. Big plays with his feet will make up for missed blocks. The combination should provide evidence the Redskins chose wisely in mortgaging their future for him.
Beyond statistics, though, what the Redskins need is for Griffin to lead and inspire. That’s what the franchise has lacked from football’s most important position.
“They may not have accepted me as their leader yet,” Griffin said at a news conference Wednesday at Redskins Park. “But they definitely see me as a guy who can help.”
Former defensive lineman Phillip Daniels spent 15 years in the NFL, his last seven with the Redskins. In his first season as the team’s director of player development, Daniels has already seen everything he needs to know about the rookie quarterback.
“Everybody looks at him as our way out because of what we know he can do” when the games start, Daniels said recently. “What we’ve missed, what we just haven’t had, is that type of quarterback who would just go out there and do something big and get everybody excited and believing.