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It may only be Week 3 of the preseason, but there is much at stake for the hyped rookie quarterbacks of the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins when they meet on Saturday in the nation’s capital.
This is the number two overall pick of the 2012 draft, former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, trying to prove to Colts management that they made a dire mistake in selecting Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the initial pick instead of himself.
However, if there’s anyone out there who truly understands what it feels like to be good, but not good enough to finish in first place, it has to be Luck. After all, he did have to disappointingly accept the title of Heisman Trophy runner-up to Griffin this past collegiate season.
Both first-year quarterbacks are certainly aware of the sky-high expectations that people around the league have bestowed upon them, dating back to before they were even drafted, and how their careers will inevitably be compared and forever linked as well. But, being as humble as they are, they attempted to downplay all of those storylines.
“You realize that’s the nature of the beast, the nature of playing quarterback, nature of being drafted 1-2 at any position in any sport,” said Luck. “[But] it’s not too hard. . . . There are much bigger things to worry about.”
Griffin was even more dismissive of the topic, adding, “He’s trying to lead his team. I’m trying to help lead my team.”
Being that these two will be competing not only in different divisions for a considerable amount of years – if they are as successful as many believe they will be – but different conferences on top of that, meetings between them will unfortunately come few and far between. Luck’s Colts compete in the AFC South, while Griffin’s Redskins are members of the NFC East.
Indianapolis will play the NFC North this season as part of it’s non-AFC schedule. Meanwhile, the Redskins will verse the AFC North when not squaring off against their fellow NFC opponents.
The Colts were able to attain Luck with the number one overall pick in this year’s draft after a dismal 2-14 campaign last year – after starting out 0-13 – as a direct result of the loss of their former quarterback. Peyton Manning, whose Colts career began back in 1998, and is a certainity for the Hall of Fame, could not play due to a serious neck injury that failed to recover properly after sustaining it the previous season. During his time in Indy, Manning was an 11 time Pro Bowler, 4 time MVP and one time Super Bowl champion.
The prevailing sentiment (that’s made its way throughout the NFL since Manning’s release from the Colts back on March 7) is that if there is anyone that could somehow realistically step in and be the next Peyton Manning, it’s Luck. Luck has been repeatedly touted as one of the most complete – if not the most complete – quarterbacking prospects of all times.
“I’ve been around guys who are extremely smart, worked extremely hard at it,” said Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who worked with Manning for several years. “But [Luck] just gets it. It’s kind of scary.”
Griffin does not have anything close to that type of pressure on him, however. Yes, the Redskins have historically struggled mightily at the quarterback position, but following a 5-11 season they decided to trade this year’s first round pick, first round picks in 2013 and 2014, and a 2012 second round pick to the St. Louis Rams with the belief that Griffin could make them much more competitive for years to come. Washington has not made the postseason since 2007 when they posted their last winning record (9-7).
“RG3 is a different player. He’s probably not as far along with his comfort level as a pocket passer, but he has world-class speed and can create plays with his legs,” said former 17 year NFL quarterback Rich Gannon when asked to compare the skill sets of Luck and Griffin.
Saturday, 4 p.m., FedEx Field – one of the most anticipated preseason games of all time. Let the fun begin.