Robert Griffin III’s Advice For Carson Wentz
The two quarterbacks are a few years apart in age, they come from vastly different backgrounds and they took almost opposite paths to get picked in the same spot in the draft.
Robert Griffin III, 26, was born in Japan and became a highly touted quarterback prospect in high school out of Texas. He won the 2011 Heisman Trophy — beating out Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson — and was clearly going to be one of the first picks in the 2012 draft for months.
Carson Wentz, 23, was born in North Dakota and was very lightly recruited out of high school. He had great success at North Dakota State, winning five national championships, but he never won the Walter Payton Award. It wasn’t certain he would be one of the top picks in the 2016 draft until the weeks leading up to it.
Still, there are some significant similarities between the two quarterbacks — which Griffin III discussed in a conference call with Eagles reporters — including the tremendous expectations that come with your team trading up in the draft to select you.
“You just try to come in and lead by example. I tell all rookies: Come in [and] show everybody. Don’t tell everybody; show everybody what you can do in the film room, on the practice field [and] in the game,” Griffin III said. “Let the rest fall where it may.”
Griffin III went on a rollercoaster ride in Washington to start his career, where he descended from the star rookie who led his team to the playoffs to a backup in a few short seasons. Now, he’s landed in Cleveland, where he will be the Browns’ starting quarterback when the team travels to Philadelphia on Sunday for the Eagles’ first regular season game.
One reason Griffin III experienced his extreme highs and lows is because of his mobility. He burned the Birds on the ground in his first game against the Eagles, rushing 12 times for 84 yards, which wasn’t a particularly unusual feat for him in 2012. But he also hurt himself by taking shots in the run game, which is something the Eagles want Wentz to avoid.
“It just comes with experience. Getting down and getting out of bounds and what they call, ‘Living for the next play,’ or ‘Calling Uncle,’ it’s just something that comes with experience,” Griffin III said. “I was a rookie once, too, and I tried to run over linebackers and safeties, as well, so I know how that feels. It’s just something that you know as a quarterback, you have to be available for your team.”
As Griffin III’s time in Washington extended, various coaches tried adjusting his mechanics — to varying degrees of success. While Griffin III was widely considered to be a better prospect coming out of college than Wentz was, some still wondered if he could thrive in the pocket. Wentz isn’t the same type of player and the two quarterbacks face several different criticisms of their game, but Doug Pederson is also working with Wentz to improve his mechanics.
The Eagles’ head coach aims to improve his quarterback’s footwork, including keeping his feet tighter together, among other things.
“You just got to make sure everything that the coaches are asking you to do, you buy into and you make that your habit. When the pressure is on, guys revert back to their habits,” Griffin III said. “You have to make sure you train yourself so diligently that your habits are what you’ve been training, not what you did before. I think that’s a big point.”