The question of how Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton compare has been asked off and on in the last year, and has intensified this week as the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers prepare to face each other Sunday.
Both won Heisman Trophies and are dual-threat quarterbacks. Griffin stands 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 217 pounds, and clocked a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Newton is 6-foot-5, 245 pounds and ran the 40 in 4.56 seconds.
Newton won rookie of the year honors last season, and Griffin is the most electrifying rookie of this year’s class.
But do the comparisons go further?
Redskins players say both quarterbacks boast athleticism and play-making ability.
“They’re both beasts with the ball in their hands,” Santana Moss said.
But they also believe that the two have totally different styles of play.
On Wednesday, Griffin and Newton were asked how they view the comparison.
Newton said, “We are quarterbacks. That’s about the only similarity. There’s a lot of things that he brings to the table that I don’t have and a lot of things that I bring to the table. I try to resemble not only his game, but other quarterbacks in the league that I may like in their repertoire, and I try to apply them to my own.”
Said Griffin: “It’s something that the media’s definitely going to play into with both of us being similar-style quarterback with different qualities to each other, but it’s not my job to try to compare us. I’ll let you guys continue to do that. It’s like I tell people many, many times: I won’t be playing him, I’ll be playing his defense. So, have fun with the comparisons. … We do run similar schemes. There’s a lot of similarities. But, I’d rather be compared to Aaron Rodgers, or a guy like that: someone who’s won Super Bowls.”
The quarterbacks’ coaches were asked the same question.
Carolina’s Ron Rivera offered this: “First of all, I see the athleticism that they both possess, and they both have very strong arms. Both of them are tremendous competitors and want to win. There’s something about the two of them, that when they’re on the football field, they’re dynamic. I think that’s where all the comparisons lie. I do think you see guys that have special athletic ability, they’re fun to watch. The thing about Robert Griffin that’s different than our guy is he’s more of a North-South runner because he’s got such great speed. He hits top speed really fast and gets going.”
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan didn’t have much to contribute by way of comparison, but said he is impressed with both quarterbacks.
Of Newton, Shanahan said: “I haven’t really been studying [Carolina] this year until this week. I think we saw Cam last year. To kind of give you my evaluation, he had a heck of a year. He did a great job in the drop-back game, play-action game, utilized his feet probably as well as anyone has as a rookie coming into the league. He had some big-time numbers and I’m very impressed with his play.”
Of Griffin, Shanahan said: “If you told me that the midway point of the season, that Robert would be the most successful quarterback in the NFL for yards per play, first, second, third down, I’d literally say you’re crazy. For a guy to have the ability to do that and still have limited turnovers, it’s pretty impressive. Now, Robert would be the first one to tell you, ‘It’s a bunch of guys working together, it’s not just him.’ So, a lot goes into it, but I’m very proud of what he has done, and I pray he will still get better.”