It’s just two weeks into the 2012 NFL season, but the buzz about the two starting quarterbacks of the Washington, D.C.-Maryland metropolitan area has been humming since the preseason.
Through two weeks, Washington Redskins’ rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has been the talk of the town. His name is on nearly every jersey, his face on nearly every commercial and his highlights on every ESPN broadcast. Griffin has seemingly vaulted to the top of the food chain overnight.
His Baltimore rival, Joe Flacco, was lights out in the Baltimore Ravens’ opening night demolition of the Cincinnati Bengals, but took a step back in their follow up game against the Philadelphia Eagles. After a sizzling 70-plus completion percentage against the Bengals, Flacco completed barely half his passes against Philadelphia, finishing at 52.4 percent.
Nonetheless, both the Ravens and Redskins stand at 1-1 as they enter Week Three. But before the scores are tallied, the AFRO Sports Desk asks: Who's the better quarterback of the two? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate.
Green: Are we really asking this question? It's not even fair to compare a seasoned veteran to a fresh-faced rookie. The sad thing is a lot of Redskin fans are ready to induct Griffin into the Hall of Fame. Yes, he's looked very impressive against some mediocre defenses, I’ll admit, but until he faces a legit defense, and produces on a year-after-year basis, let's hold off on the “he's better than Flacco” talk.
Riley: It's not just talk, there's some legitimate trust among some highly respected media personnel and football executives, who claim Griffin is the real deal. Flacco’s record for the most wins of any quarterback during their first four years in the NFL speaks for itself. But from a fan's eye, I just see Griffin doing more things to help his team win. Flacco still only appears to be the classic “game manager” as he has been tagged since the start of his NFL career—not an explosive play maker like RGIII.
Green: If you're going to compare RGIII to anyone, compare him to the other first and second-year guys across the league such as Cam Newton or Andrew Luck. Through the first two games of the season Flacco has made some amazing throws against some of last season’s most impressive defenses. Until RGIII faces anything remotely close to an NFL defense (New Orleans and St. Louis not withstanding) I'll reserve judgment. I want to see him take on his own division, the NFC East—that division is loaded with the most premiere pass-rushers in the league. The Eagles, the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys all have an excellent pass rush, so let’s wait until then before we hand him his Hall of Fame jacket.
Riley: Regardless of the caliber of defenses Griffin has faced, it's still professional football. So you're telling me you're going to slight a rookie's stats based upon the level of professional competition he's faced? Please. Griffin has been accurate and athletic in his NFL debut, posting totals of 526 passing yards, three touchdowns and a 70-plus completion percentage to go along with 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Compare that to Flacco's 531 yards, three scores and his 60-percent completion rating, and the passing numbers are close to even but Griffin's rushing totals have him on pace for MVP. Don't forget about his passer rating of 111.6 compared to Flacco's 91.9.
Green: Slow down, Riley. It’s only been two weeks! Let the man make it at least through half of his rookie season before you start talking about MVP trophies. And again, it isn’t fair to the young kid to be comparing him to a five-year veteran quarterback like Joe Flacco who has reached the playoffs each of his first four years, and compiled a 5-4 playoffs record and two trips to the AFC Conference Championship game. Flacco has not only proved that he has the arm to make literally every throw there is to make in the NFL, but he also has proven that he has the toughness and durability to withstand the beatings that quarterbacks take in this pro league. In five years, Flacco hasn’t missed one game or one practice. That’s nearly 100 games played without missing any action due to injury. That’s a rarity in this league, something Griffin has yet to prove he can do. Give RGIII time to show what he can do, but in the meantime, let’s hit the breaks on comparing him to proven veterans.