Robert Griffin III is entering his third season in the league — a pivotal year for any developing young quarterback. And Washington’s franchise passer, whom the Redskins traded four draft picks to acquire, is at a crossroads. Will Griffin turn into a pocket passer in this new offensive system? Or will his reckless runs lead to another injury, jeopardizing his future? Here’s how the critical third season of three mobile quarterbacks unfolded, and how that year affected the rest of their careers. One of these paths could be his future.
Vince Young, Tennessee Titans
Third season (2008): The Titans quarterback injured his knee in the first game of the season, and when Young was healthy enough to return, coach Jeff Fisher stuck with veteran Kerry Collins for the rest of the year.
Rest of career: Young reclaimed the starting role after the Titans began the 2009 season 0-6. He led the Titans to an 8-2 record the rest of the way, but Young never developed into a franchise quarterback and was out of the league after six seasons.
Mark Brunell, Jacksonville Jaguars
Third season (1996): Brunell threw for an NFL-leading 4,367 yards and was named to his first of three Pro Bowls. He also had more rushing yards than any other quarterback in the league for the second straight season.
Rest of career: The left-handed passer played into his 40s and led the Redskins to their last playoff victory in 2005. After rushing for 396 yards in 1996, Brunell never ran for more than 300 yards in a single season again.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Third season (2013): The former No. 1 pick made his second Pro Bowl after leading the Panthers to a 12-4 record and a first-round bye. Newton minimized mistakes, throwing 18 TDs to eight interceptions in the final 12 games — a stretch in which Carolina went 11-1.
Rest of career: To be determined, but so far Griffin and Newton have followed similar paths. Both of them were top-two draft picks after winning the Heisman, both won rookie of the year, and then both failed to live up to high expectations in their second NFL seasons.
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