Try, if you can, to avoid falling into the looming trap this week that will be consuming all of Redskins Nation. The Robert Griffin III vs. Andrew Luck debate has swirled since before the draft in April, during the draft in April, after the draft in April, before training camp, before the first preseason game, after the first preseason game and now this week, as both have two meaningless exhibition games under their belts and prepare to face each other at FedEx Field on Saturday in yet another meaningless preseason game.
Try not to fall down the rabbit hole.
Luck was the No. 1 pick in the draft and Griffin was No. 2. Luck is a tremendous talent. So is Griffin. Luck’s Colts were 2-14 last season. Griffin’s Redskins were 5-11. Neither is playing behind a reincarnation of the Hogs, as yet. They’re going to have to be smart and swift and creative to survive their rookie seasons. Those are their similarities.
Differences? Luck is a smart guy whose personality — and he has one — isn’t the most marketable in the league. Griffin is a smart guy who is a marketer’s dream. Luck joined a team that was dismantled from top to bottom and is being rebuilt right along with him. Griffin joined a team that is a few years into that process, and an offense that is not being geared to him.
It’s tempting to focus on marketing when talking about the differences between Luck and Griffin. Luck isn’t sitting around, muttering to himself about that Gatorade deal Griffin got. And if you think Griffin should have turned down the Subway money out of principle, then your brain is all bun and no meat. There is a short earning window in the NFL, and every time a player takes the field, he risks that window being slammed shut right on his head, or his knee, or his shoulder. And it’s hard to fault Griffin for making money when the Redskins are cashing in with Griffin vs. Luck T-shirts.
You’ll hear a lot this week about Griffin vs. Luck, but unless football changed markedly over the weekend and I missed it, quarterbacks are rarely on the field at the same time. Sure, you can look at their stats, and when you look at Luck’s, there is bound to be some envy: He’s completed 26 of 41 passes — 63 percent — for two touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 87.8. One of those picks, against the Steelers, was a receiver bobble that wasn’t his fault. The other, run back for a touchdown, was on him. But he responded to the second with two touchdown drives. He has had a good preseason in leading the Colts to a win over the Rams and a close loss to the Steelers.
Luck’s starting offensive line Sunday night was not long on experience, and it showed. He, like Griffin, was under pressure, and was sacked. He’s not as creative as Griffin in getting out of trouble, but then again, he’s not going to make Griffin’s occasional mistakes in getting out of trouble.
See, now I’m doing it. It’s so easy to succumb to the notion that we have to weigh and measure these guys like they are a Periodic Table for Two.
But it’s much smarter — if not more satisfying — to tend to our own knitting, as the saying goes. Our own knitting is 1-1, has had a small rash of injuries and while there have been pleasant surprises — hello, Alfred Morris! — there has been a lot more of the same old problems. Exhibit A continues to be the offensive line.
The Redskins’ list of needs is eerily similar to what it was six months ago, with the word “quarterback” scratched out. Pierre Garcon may be the answer at wide receiver but he can’t do it alone. (Trying to make Brandon Banks a receiver as well as a kick returner is painful to watch; I suppose it’s more painful for Banks, literally.)
How Griffin stacks up against Luck matters not a whit when Washington still has a host of problems to solve, not the least of which is ways to help Griffin.
Luck was never going to be a Redskin. The Colts were not going to trade that pick, and despite Jim Irsay’s misdirects, they weren’t going to take Griffin.
And maybe that’s still annoying you, and you wish Luck were here. He’s not. Griffin’s your guy. Saturday night, he plays the Colts. Not Andrew Luck, not your expectations, not a grudge match.
Just the Colts, another team coming off a bad season and rebuilding. Trying to make this game into anything else will lead to endless blather, and eventual madness. You’ve been warned.
For more columns by Tracee Hamilton, go to washingtonpost.com/hamilton.