Twelve months ago, Cam Newton was where Robert Griffin III is today. He was a rookie phenom, a quarterback whose raw athleticism and unparalleled talent was supposed to revolutionize the game and save the Panthers.
And then teams studied film of Newton, identified his weaknesses, and spent most of the 2012 season exploiting them.
Through 11 games, you'd be hard-pressed to find any glaring shortcomings in RGIII's game. That may change over time. But right now the team has a singular focus on its next opponent: defending Super Bowl champs and the NFC East-leading Giants.
The last time these two teams met, the Redskins were 3-3 and RGIII was leading the league in completion percentage. Washington should've left MetLife with win No. 4. But two plays after Griffin hit Santana Moss on a 30-yard touchdown late in the game to give the 'Skins a 23-20 lead, Eli Manning found wide-open Victor Cruz for a 77-yard score.
The outcome may not have been what Washington was hoping for but Griffin was solid. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 258 yards (2 TDs, 1 INT) and added 89 rushing yards on nine carries. None of this was lost on the Giants' defense.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who joked before the first matchup that RGIII was "Bob" to him, said afterwards, "his name is Sir Robert Griffin. All the respect in the world goes to him. A phenomenal football player.”
Justin Tuck added: “I’m pretty mad at the football gods for putting him in the NFC East.”
Six weeks later and the Giants are still in awe of what Griffin can do.
“I was hoping to learn that (Griffin) would slow down a little bit, but that’s not the case,” Tuck said Monday via the New York Post. “He is one of the best dual threats in our game today, and we’re gonna have our hands full trying to stop that guy.”
Safety Antrel Rolle called RGIII "gifted," and added: “He’s not pretty good, he’s a very good quarterback, and he does it all. His play fake is awesome, and just the scheme that he’s in, I think it definitely fits his style of quarterback. It creates a lot of problems for a defense. You have to be very disciplined, very sound, and even while doing that, you still have to understand that they’re going to get some plays. You try to make sure you limit the plays that they do make.”
Giants coach Tom Coughlin needed just five words to describe Griffin: "Fastest guy on the field."
But for as impressive as RGIII has been, the Giants know that he can't beat them by himself. Which is why if the Redskins are going to have any shot at the postseason they're going to need the defense to build on its performance in Dallas last week.