If healthy, RGIII will be the best quarterback in the league by 2015

It started with Michael Vick. A revolutionary quarterback who forced defenses to sacrifice a defender for a spy. A quarterback who can turn a broken play into a 20 yard run.

Sounds enticing, but Vick never was a great quarterback, just one that makes magic with his feet. Vick didn’t throw to a 60% completion percentage until his eighth year in the league and probably won’t win a Super Bowl. And we all know about his turnover rate.

But imagine Peyton Manning with Vick’s legs. Picture Aaron Rodgers en route to a game-winning 78-yard touchdown run after his third and fourth options were covered.

In his rookie season, the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III averaged fewer interceptions per pass than every other starting quarterback (five int. in 258 attempts; 1.3%) and threw to a 65.6% completion rate. For their careers, Manning sits at 65.2% and Rodgers at 65.7%.

Griffin’s numbers
Vick’s numbers
Peyton’s numbers
Rodgers’ numbers

In his seven full seasons as a starter, Vick eclipsed RGIII’s 2012 total of 3200 passing yards only once (2011) and only twice rushed for more yards than Griffin’s 2012 tally of 815.

But it was Griffin’s 4.41 dash in the ’12 combine that foreshadowed his dazzling ground work during the regular season. Like Vick, Griffin can break out for 13 fantasy points on one play (below). Unlike Vick, it seems Griffin can protect the football and throw accurately.

If Griffin can somehow extract enough passing potential to work up to Manning or Rodgers’ level, then his edge in the footrace department would put him at a separate level of any quarterback in NFL history.

Before we get gung-ho, we must acknowledge health when evaluating RGIII’s style of play. If he wants to remain in the league, he needs to become a pass-first quarterback who can dive into the arsenal if needed, not the other way around.

Picture this scenario – it happened week 13 against the New York Giants.

Redskins up a point with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The Redskins have the ball and the Giants have two timeouts.

In this situation most offenses run the ball to eat up clock. The defense knows, so late-game situations such as these usually result in a three-and-out and a punt with two minutes or so left.

But with RGIII you don’t hand the ball off, you run the option. The defense now has to worry about a separate threat with a proportion of attention on each. What is usually a gimme three-and-out is now a mind game between Griffin and the defense.

In that game, the Giants couldn’t stop the combination of Griffin and rookie running back Alfred Morris, the Redskins ran out the clock, and took a must-win away from the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Griffin’s unique late-game threat will lead to more wins such as these.

Take this likeable fella and evaluate his numbers. In four years compare his passing numbers the elite ones and his running numbers to Vick’s. If he keeps pace with those guys like he did this season, you could be watching the greatest quarterback of all time.

But let’s get that knee back in order first.

The Colts Front Office is Making Bad Moves

J-E-T-S. Peyton Manning might be there next season.

My second post ever in this blog talked about the importance of Peyton Manning to the Indianapolis Colts: what is Manning’s WAR (wins after replacement).

The Indianapolis Colts went 2-14 without their star quarterback in 2011, only their second losing season since Manning’s rookie season in 1998. Arguably the best quarterback in the league, would the Colts be a playoff contending team had he not been hurt?

I think the Colts are a nine-win team this year with Peyton Manning, meaning Peyton Manning’s War would be around 7.0, guesstimating he is responsible for 44% of his team’s wins.

To put that in perspective, according to baseball-reference.com, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp led the MLB with a 10.0 WAR, meaning he was responsible for 6.2% of his team’s wins. Granted, there’s no one position in sports more important than a quarterback, but the distance between percentages is too big to ignore.

With that said, I disagree with the Colts’ shakeup this offseason. Head Jim Caldwell, Vice Chairman Bill Polian, and General Manager Chris Polian have all been fired this month. The front office looks at a 2-14 record, but what can you expect when arguably the best player in the league is sidelined for the season.

Now that the damage is done, Peyton Manning will be on another team next season. Manning disclosed his disappointment in candid and honest remarks made after the firings of the Polians. In a system where repetition and comfort were crucial to Manning’s success, I think we’ll find Manning asking for a trade sometime before or immediately following April’s draft. The Colts have already said they plan to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick.

Why not the Jets? A team with equal amounts of disunity and chaos, the Jets’ quarterback situation is in dire straits for a shake-up. Multiple players have called out Mark Sanchez for his work ethic and contentment, and after a disappointing 2011 campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets are in the running for Peyton Manning.

I think the Colts should have kept their front office and head coach, picked Andrew Luck, and let him observe Peyton Manning for two years. Let him spend some time in the “minor leagues.” Peyton has at least two years left, and it would have made for a smooth transition. Even if Peyton was flat out against tutoring Luck…Aaron Rodgers still turned out pretty well.

Peyton Manning’s WAR

“Wins after replacement” is a statistic gaining popularity in the
baseball world. It tries to measure a player’s tangible value to a
team by determining how many wins the individual is responsible for,
if they were substituted for the average player.

Personally, I’m curious to know how accurate that statistic is since
there’s no way to prove it. But if there’s anyone in any sport who
deserves a high WAR, it’s Peyton Manning.

Obviously Peyton is good – we all know it. But is he really
responsible for nearly all of the Colts wins when he’s on the field?
Probably not, but he’s worth more wins than Tom Brady, Derek Jeter,
and Wayne Gretzky, adjusted for inflation. Here’s why.

We all know how good of a quarterback Peyton is. Athletically, he’s
very above average, but mentally, he’s known as one of the smartest
players in the game. He’s consistently known to watch more footage
than your average player, he knows defenses, coverages, and seems to
always be three steps ahead of the opposition. His knowledge makes his
team better, and gives them a leader that maybe four other teams have.

The difference is that the Colts have never been able to play defense.
They can play, but it has been their weak point since the Peyton
Manning era. But when Peyton is on the field consistently keeping the
defense on the sideline, it takes much needed pressure off the
defense. When you score points, you can settle in as a defensive unit
and play more cohesive and ultimately better D.

Without an elite quarterback who brings a rare concoction of
athleticism and brains, the Colts have started the 2011 season 0-7.
Now no one can say whether the Colts would be 5-2 or even 4-3 with
Peyton Manning, but they would not be 0-7. Is Peyton Manning
single-handedly responsible for half of the Colts wins in the last 13
years?

Yeah maybe