Thursday, November 28, 2013
Eli Manning relates to RG III struggles
By John Keim
ASHBURN, Va. -- A young quarterback getting picked apart in a large market; it's a familiar tale for New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Which means he can relate to what Robert Griffin III is enduring.
It's not just Griffin, as some other young quarterbacks have struggled as well, notably San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. And Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's numbers the past three games haven't been good, either (two touchdowns, four interceptions).
But Griffin has been more under siege, partly because he entered with a higher profile and was more public, even filming a documentary on his rehab from knee surgery. It's partly because of the issues with his knee. It's also because of the relationship with his coach, which leads to the dissection of many of his quotes. Opposing players opine on whether Griffin should even be playing.
Also, Griffin plays in a major media market like Manning (who, of course, is in the biggest).
"People expect immediate success and expect things to happen quickly," Manning said, "especially if you get off to a great start it's kind of assumed things will be just as good if not better and better and better.
"Sometimes it's not that easy. It's not always what you're doing, but the things around you and circumstances change and sometimes you catch great breaks and sometimes you don't catch many. That's football. It's never easy."
Like Manning, Griffin entered the NFL with a bang. Manning's family made it known that he did not want to play in San Diego, which picked ahead of New York in the 2004 draft. His last name also gave him a certain profile. Griffin was the Heisman Trophy winner and already had endorsements.
That meant both were under pressure to deliver right away. Griffin did, helping the Redskins to an NFC East title with a golden rookie year. Manning started only seven games as a rookie and threw six touchdowns to nine interceptions. He improved to 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his second year. But it took him until 2009 before he finished with a passer rating above 90. He's also now won two Super Bowls.
"You have ups and downs and you've got to fight through the tough times and make sure I keep doing the right things and my preparation is good and I try to make the right decisions," Manning said. "But you're trying to compete and always trying to win."
Griffin knows where some of the problems stem: the Redskins' 3-8 record.
"Anytime you lose, there's going to be criticism," Griffin said. "We understand that. The hardest part of all is probably the fact that we know we're not what our record says we are."
Griffin has had to alter his game in his second season, something the other quarterbacks haven't had to do as much. He's lost some of his explosiveness, which was a factor in games a year ago and forced defenses to play him differently. Now he's trying to improve as a pocket passer, and that's led to natural growing pains.
Griffin's offense at Baylor and the defenses they faced are vastly different than what he's seen in the NFL as a passer. That's why missing the offseason likely set him back, as the coaches have pointed out in recent weeks.
"An offseason definitely helps," Griffin said. "But I don't use those excuses and I won't use that excuse -- that's for me personally. As far as the coaches are concerned, if that's how they feel then I can't combat that."
Nor can he always combat the topics that surround him, whether it's about how many times his offensive linemen help him up or his dad being in the locker room. Every story with Griffin becomes a big one.
"It's unfortunate we're not up here talking football a lot of the time," Griffin said. "Some will say it comes with the spotlight."