Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Robert Griffin III has brought hope, and tremendous talent, to the Washington Redskins.
Not many people in the football world really knew who Robert Griffin III was before the 2011 season. College football analysts were not predicting him becoming a high draft pick to the NFL. If he wanted an NFL career, it wasn't going to come easy.
Well ... that was before 2011.
RGIII took a struggling Baylor football team and made it a winner. He became a football player that is the entire package and more: athletic, calm, speedy, and disciplined. RGIII's talents and accomplishments were recognized and he was voted the Heisman Trophy winner.
Soon the question leading up to the draft rose: Who's more valuable at number one, Andrew Luck or RGIII? Eventually, the Washington Redskins selected RGIII as the number two overall pick, and that has given the Redskin faithful something to look forward to seeing every week.
"The Redskins have lacked a bona fide super star that truly is a hard working, sincere man," explained Kevin Ewoldt of SB Nation's Redskins' blog 'Hogs Haven'. "Shortcuts like [Donovan] McNabb, [Albert] Haynesworth, etc. have all fallen flat. RGIII is continually the first and last person at Redskins Park. He doesn't drink or ever go to the clubs. He's extremely cerebral and was raised by military parents. From day one he commanded attention and his teammates work harder because of him. This city finally has a player again we can rally behind...that performs."
RGIII gives the Redskins' fan base hope for the future. For years the Redskins have been searching for a quarterback who could lead back to prominence. With Griffin, it seems they have found him. Because of the way RGIII carries himself, he's almost not looked at as a rookie.
"I think he just goes about his business," said Shanahan. "He's here early, he stays late. He studies extremely hard; he doesn't make very many mistakes. He just doesn't handle himself like a rookie; he handles himself like a vet. Therefore, I think he gets a lot of respect from the veterans."
RGIII knew the task of going to Washington as a leader would be a challenging one for a rookie. The way he goes about it is to just be the player he's always been.
"I tried to make sure I came in and showed them first the kind of player I am, the kind of person I am," said RGIII. "With my work ethic and how hard I work, I showed them that. The one thing you can't do as a leader is come out and say that you're a leader. You have to go out and prove it to them and think I've proven it to them over the first six tames and I'll continue to prove it to them over the rest of my career."
Griffin is excited for this weekend's opportunity to play his first divisional game of his career. Playing against the defending Super Bowl champions, who are coming off an impressive Week 6 win, only adds to it.
"I am looking forward to having my first opportunity, but I don't look at it as a statement game or anything like that. It's another football game against another good football team in the NFL," said RGIII. "They've got a lot of talent on that defense. Some have said, and I would agree, that they're one of the best d-lines, if not the best d-line in the NFL. I'm just looking to do whatever the coaches ask me to do and help my teammates push towards another victory. It's not going to be easy, we know that, but that's all we play. We play to compete, we play to win and you strap it up every Sunday because you know you have that chance to win. I'm looking forward to my first taste of divisional action."
Before the start of the season, defensive end Osi Umenyiora claimed in reaction to the nickname "RGIII" that until he has proven himself in the NFL, his name is "Bob Griffin". Griffin laughed off the comment.
"Osi is a guy that has proven himself in this league. He's a sack-master; he's done a lot of great things over his career," said RGIII. I didn't mind [his comments] at all. I got where he was coming from. I know why everyone blew it out of proportion because it's the Redskins and the Giants. I also remember him say after the Saints game that he would call me whatever I wanted to be called. It's not something to build up or make a big deal out of. Whatever else he wants to call me, it doesn't matter, I've had people call me worse things on the field. It doesn't bother me at all. I look forward to playing against those guys."
Umenyiora has, of course, since changed his stance on Griffin.
"His name is Sir Robert Griffin. That's what I refer to him now," Umenyiora said. "I mean look at what he's done. Look at the way he's performed as a rookie. You don't see players come into the league performing like that at that stage in their career, so all the respect in the world goes to him and he's a phenomenal football player."
Umenyiora is not the only Giant to notice what Griffin has brought to the Redskins.
"He's a good player; he's out there making a lot of plays," said Victor Cruz. "He's got the ball in his hands obviously every play so he is making some good decisions. He's a special guy; our defense is going to have our hands full, but I think they'll be up for the task."
Coach Tom Coughlin understands Grffin's talents. In order to avoid what happened last year when the Giants were swept by the Redskins, Coughlin preached was that his defense needs to be disciplined.
"You have to use great recognition, but you have to understand that this is also a team that goes back to their fundamental basics and does a great job up-front," said Coughlin. "They have to recognize, they have to be in position. You've got a lot to have to defend."
Follow Kelsey O'Donnell on Twitter @KelsODonnell