I thought I’d find lots of early-career sad stories, like Baltimore’s Bert Jones, never the same after age 26 though he was still a starter at 30. But those examples of disaster are rarities: running backs, doomed; quarterbacks, indestructible. You’re more likely to find great quarterbacks still rolling at 35, like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Few run out of gas before 31.
One huge factor is experience. There may not be any skill in any sport where older players have as much advantage as they do at NFL quarterback. You start off far behind the league’s learning curve, befuddled by half of the shifting and faking at the line of scrimmage. But before 30, the league is trying to catch you. You’re doing the deceiving, innovating and dictating.
How well and how much will Griffin be able to run when he returns? It matters, but maybe not a great deal. After watching him get knocked out in three of his 16 starts this season, what Redskin coach is ever again going to allow RGIII to run the ball 120 times, whether he gains 815 yards or not?
Griffin blew up his knee at Baylor, now again. What is it we don’t understand? The slim Griffin isn’t fragile, but he’s not extremely durable.
Aaron Rodgers is a mobile quarterback and an effective runner in crucial spots. He averages about 60 carries for 300 yards every year. That’s a good model. More isn’t necessary. Given RGIII’s history, more might be nuts. If a team doesn’t willfully destroy a quarterback, he should last a decade.
Gray winter days and long winter nights are here. Gloomy thoughts are a season disorder and the Griffin grumps are now a Washington epidemic.
They shouldn’t be. RGIII’s injury hangs like a pall. But knees heal. Quarterbacks get hurt, but they also come back. And every year, they get smarter, about reading defenses and surviving minefields. That’s a law.
In 2020, and maybe even 2025 when he’ll “only” be 35, still a prime age for many quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III will probably still start for the Redskins. Repeat those words as needed. But believe them, too. They’re true.
For previous columns by Thomas Boswell, visit washingtonpost.com/boswell.