The Washington Football Team selected Robert Griffin III with the second-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. They had traded up and given a king’s ransom to the Los Angeles Rams (then the St. Louis Rams), to get the opportunity to do so.
The rest was supposed to be history. Griffin III would be the franchise quarterback that Washington had not had in decades and the Washington Football Team would be relevant for the first time in what seemed like forever.
To be fair, that is exactly what happened, for a season.
Griffin III’s rookie year was magical. To this day it was one of the most entertaining season’s the NFL has ever seen.
The quarterback completed 65.6% of his passes for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns (five interceptions). He also had 815 rushing yards and seven more touchdowns on 120 carries (6.8 yards per carry).
Griffin III was not the only star rookie on the team, that was part of the charm. Sixth-round pick Alfred Morris had a ridiculous breakout year at running back. Morris ran for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns on 335 attempts (4.8 yards per carry).
Then there was the team itself. The Washington Football Team started the year 4-6, but won their final six games to win the NFC East with a 10-6 record. They clinched by beating the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17.
Griffin III’s rookie season went great. It was not over though. The playoffs were next.
In the first round, Washington met the Seattle Seahawks. Everything started out great.
The first drive of the game saw the Washington Football Team march down the field, capping it off with a Robert Griffin III touchdown pass to running back Evan Royster.
Washington then forced a Seattle punt, and on the very next drive Griffin III connected with tight end Logan Paulsen for another touchdown, giving them a 14-0 lead.
The scoring stopped there for the Washington Football Team though. Griffin III hurt his knee and the offense could not get anything going for the rest of the game.
Now, I should warn you, I was always a big supporter. However, I don’t think I’m wrong in thinking this was negligence on the coaching staff. They kept Griffin III out there (who already had an injury history) when he clearly tweaked his knee.
You could argue that the player should take themselves out, but a lot of competitors will never do that, especially in a playoff game.
Griffin III stayed out there until the gruesome injury, when his knee seemed to explode and he tore his ACL. By that point, the game was already over and the Washington Football Team lost 24-14.
The excitement was not completely gone though. Griffin III made his recovery incredibly quickly. I still remember the memes. Griffin III doing jumping jacks when asked how he was feeling before the year, and Washington Football Team fans joking about how nervous the rest of the NFC East was.
Indeed, Robert Griffin III was ready for the first week of the season. However, he would not make it all the way through.
The quarterback was benched towards the end of the season.
Was the year going great for Griffin III and the Washington Football Team? Absolutely not. However, he still managed 3,203 yards and 16 touchdown passes (albeit 12 interceptions) in 13 games. He also ran for 489 more yards on 86 carries (5.7 yards per carry).
So the numbers were far from dreadful. Sure, the Washington Football Team were 3-13 at the end of the year, but the quarterback still had a lot he could build off of.
Yet, Washington benched him in favor of Kirk Cousins. They were benching the quarterback that they selected second overall just one year before then. They were benching the quarterback that won Rookie of the Year the season prior. How does that make sense?
You could argue it was to keep him healthy in a lost season. It seemed like they lost confidence though. And it raised a lot of questions about the future of the team. So much so, that no one knew if he would start in 2014.
As it turned out, the answer to that was yes, and no.
Griffin III played nine games. At times he was benched, at others he was hurt.
Cousins would go on to be a great quarterback in the NFL, but at the time, Cousins had serious turnover problems. In that game, he threw four interceptions and floated a ball across the middle that got Niles Paul knocked out.
The Washington Football Team fans were ready for Robert Griffin III once again.
However, it wasn’t just Cousins and Griffin III. Colt McCoy was in the mix as well, appearing in a few games. Washington really had no idea where they were going at the moment.
That was part of what killed Griffin III’s career in Washington.
He was to blame too, and I’m sure he would agree with that. Robert Griffin III struggled mightily at times, and it led to some bad games for the Washington Football Team. Injuries played a major role as well.
However, the coaching staff was incredibly indecisive. Something you can’t do when you have the second overall pick at quarterback.
He should have been their man no matter what, but they seemed to not want to stick to him. This meant he did not really have a chance to develop much after his first year.
I still stand by the thought that the coaching staff did not want him in the first place, and they were ready to use any excuse to give up on Griffin III that they could.
This is not saying he would have been a superstar given the chance, it’s just saying I’ve never seen a team bench a quarterback having a mediocre year the season after he won Rookie of the Year. Seems kind of ridiculous.
In the end, Griffin III’s career in Washington ended pretty sadly. With the fanbase completely divided. Many were clamoring to give him a real chance again, while others wanted Cousins. Some wanted McCoy and others wanted a completely fresh start.
To this day, some fans still argue about it.
The truth is though, it’s in the past. Arguing won’t achieve anything. Fans should remember that 2012 season fondly. For a lot of them, like me (26 years old), it was the most magical season Washington has had in their lifetime.
Remember the crazy run against the Minnesota Vikings. Remember the Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys and his first game ever against the New Orleans Saints.
You can remember the fun of 2012, just like you can remember 2015 with “You Like That!” and Kirk Cousins.