What you have is the perfect quarterback organism, an unkillable alien with acid for blood. Which is why the Washington Redskins’ normally tight-lipped coach, Mike Shanahan, went out of his way this week to make a point that rookie quarterbacks simply don’t rack up victories like these guys are doing. Shanahan has studied the drafts of the past 40 years, and according to his figures, just seven rookie quarterbacks had winning seasons. Now we have three of them at once in Griffin, Wilson and Luck. And it’s why Shanahan is so expansive talking about Griffin, whom he clearly views as the rarest talent of this new category.
“I don’t think anybody in the history of the league has played at his level,” Shanahan said. “At least over the last 40 years, when I take a look at the numbers and what he has done, I don’t think anybody has played at his level. As we’ve talked about before, he’s got a unique skill set — his ability to throw, drop back, play action, put a threat on a defense with his running ability — and he will just get better and better. He’s just scratching the surface. And the reason I say that is because he works at it.”
Griffin’s former coaches tried to explain this to me last summer when he was still just a prospective draft choice. Given that he had yet to play an NFL down, their praise for him then sounded like extravagant hyperbole, based in affection and excitement. It turns out this is who Griffin is and always has been. Every coach Griffin has ever played for, at every level, gives precisely the same assessment.
Art Briles, his coach at Baylor, would go into the weight room on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning, and there would be Griffin, doing extra workouts.
“He’s extremely gifted athletically and has tons of natural ability, but the great thing about Robert is he isn’t satisfied living on ability. He wants to be a great technician, great from a schematic standpoint, and put the two together and he’ll be the best there is,” said Briles, who added that Griffin will be “unparalleled at his position.”