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Griffin III's Success A Rarity For NFL Rookies

Posted Jan 2, 2013

With his Week 17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Robert Griffin III ensured a winning record as a 1st round rookie QB, one of only 10 in NFL history.

The days of developing rookie quarterbacks may be bygone, as the age of impact rookies under center has arrived.

In the last 40 years, there have been only nine first-round rookie quarterbacks that have a winning record in their first season under center (min. 10 starts), including three this season.

With his Week 17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Robert Griffin III secured his ninth victory as a starter--his team's 10th overall--joining that elite company.

"Just because of you age, doesn't mean you can't be a leader," Griffin III said after Sunday night's victory. "We are young, talented, athletic, whatever you want to say. But the one thing you can never account for is a man's character.

"I was talking to Alfred [Morris] after the game and this has been the first time the Redskins have been the [NFC East] Champion since 1999, and we came in and did it one year."

Griffin III joins fellow first-rounder Andrew Luck, who had already secured his ninth victory in Week 16 over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The other eight first-round rookie winners in the last four decades were:

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (2004): 13-0
Joe Flacco,
Baltimore Ravens (2008): 11-5
Matt Ryan,
Atlanta Falcons (2008): 11-5
Mark Sanchez,
New York Jets (2009): 8-7
Vince Young,
Tennessee Titans (2006): 8-5
Kerry Collins,
Carolina Panthers (1995): 7-6
Phil Simms,
New York Giants (1979): 6-5

Head coach Mike Shanahan has mentored a number of rookie quarterbacks that found NFL success, but even he was surprised by the elite company.

"The funny part about it is up until last year I really didn’t know the stats on rookie quarterbacks," Shanahan said. "With all the first round quarterbacks that have gone on, only seven guys have winning records and to have [two] this year, it’s really hard to explain.

"Obviously [both] excellent quarterbacks. I think now colleges are a little bit more sophisticated in the passing game. You have [two] quarterbacks who are excellent football players. I think you’ll see more in the future."

Fortunately for the Redskins, they don't need to worry about future quarterbacks, because Griffin III has already delivered instant gratification.

With his team on a seven-game roll to the playoffs, Griffin III is doing everything in his power to extend his rookie success into the playoffs.

"To me, it's just incredible," he said of the season. "The sky's the limit for this team, not only for this year, but in the future. We are definitely looking to capitalize on it this year."

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