Keep on Running

By on March 12, 2012

Robert Griffin III (10) runs the ball against the Washington Huskies during the third quarter of the Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome (photo by US Presswire / Brendan Maloney)

With the St. Louis Rams trading its #2 overall pick to the Washington Redskins, it is a forgone conclusion that Washington will draft the most interesting quarterback in the country, Robert Griffin III. Andrew Luck may be a once-in-a-generation quarterback, but RG3 has game-changing talent.

There have been quite a few successful running quarterbacks over the years: Mike Vick, Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Randal Cunningham, Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton and Aaron Rodgers. But of those guys, Rodgers and Young are the only Super Bowl winners.

Running quarterbacks have been successful based on their novelty: defensive coordinators lose sleep over athletic quarterbacks. Yet some people believe that a running quarterback can’t produce in the NFL: I’m not one of those people.

A quarterback only needs three things, a capable throwing arm (it’s useless having a guy who can’t throw 30 yards), an accurate arm and an understanding for the game of football. Everything else is pretty much gravy. A quarterback doesn’t need to be mobile (see Peyton Manning and Tom Brady), but I don’t see how having quick legs is a bad thing.

Young and Rodgers proved that if a QB that has the three aspects of quarterbacking, and happens to be a good runner as well, a “running QB” can be a good thing. It’s when guys are reliant on their athleticism first, but they lack the basics of quarterbacking that they get into trouble.

With RG3 I see a guy who is intelligent and understands the game (he graduated high school early with a 3.67 GPA) he proved this year he can sling it (he threw for around 4,000 yards last season) and he finished with a completion percentage better than 70 percent. And in addition to his Heisman winning passing numbers, Griffin III happens to be a sprinter with world-class speed.

The key to being a successful “running quarterback” is to be a successful quarterback that can also run. We’ll have to see if the Redskins’ move to trade three first round picks for the Rams’ first rounder this year is worth it. It will take time to determine if its pick, which I expect to be Robert Griffin III, pans out. I believe there is no reason to doubt RG3, especially if it’s because he’s a runner. So to RG3 and other quarterbacks with happy feet I say learn how to play the quarterback position first, but don’t stop running.

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