In the NFL, the Oakland Raiders are the only once-great organization that has fallen harder, and stayed down longer, than the Redskins. That’s the bad history Griffin has overcome in leading Washington to within one victory of its first playoff appearance since the 2007 season.
Before missing the playoffs last season, Indianapolis, which has already clinched a playoff berth, qualified 11 times in 12 seasons. Seattle was a playoff team as recently as the 2010 season and made it every season from 2003 to ’07. Luck and Wilson didn’t have nearly as much heavy lifting to do as Griffin did.
Statistically, Luck and Wilson aren’t in Griffin’s league.
Griffin is tied for second in the NFL with a 104.1 passer rating (Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers leads at 106.2). Griffin tops all passers in yards per attempt at 8.3 and has thrown 20 touchdown passes with only five interceptions.
He also established a rookie rushing record with 752 yards and added another six touchdowns on the ground. It’s unheard-of for an experienced quarterback to be so proficient at both making wise decisions with the football and producing big plays.
Luck set the single-season record for passing yards for first-year players. But he’s also tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions and has only a 75.6 passer rating.
Wilson has come on strong in the second half of the season after Seattle brought him along slowly. The Seahawks’ offense, however, is built around running back Marshawn Lynch, the NFL’s second-leading rusher.
Then there’s Seattle’s formidable defense. The Seahawks give up a league-low average of 15.5 points. They rank fourth in yards relinquished and collect turnovers in bunches. A productive running game and a stout defense are a quarterback’s best friends. As great as Seattle’s defense is, Wilson usually rolls out of bed with the offense in outstanding field position. He has a security blanket in Lynch.
It’s the other way around for Griffin. The pressure Griffin puts on the defense has helped to open holes for talented rooking running back Alfred Morris, who is fourth in the NFL in rushing. Washington’s defense has been mostly solid during the streak. Still, it is 28th out of 32 teams in yards. Griffin has had to overcome all of the big plays Washington’s defense gives up.
“When you talk about a defense that’s close to dead last, and all the things Robert brings to the table running and passing the ball, the whole rookie thing is really no contest,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Robert’s the guy. It’s obvious.”
Sometimes sportswriters and sportscasters have too much time on their hands. That’s how ridiculous discussions get started. All you have to do is look on the field to figure out who’s the top rookie — and that’s where you’ll find Griffin.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.