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The electric RG3 & the putrid Redskins D

Written by Dan Gigler on .

RG3

The phenomenon known as RG3 comes to the land of the rivers three on Sunday, and not since John Elway opened his Hall of Fame career on the Three Rivers Stadium turf in September 1983 has such a highly-touted rookie quarterback started a game in Pittsburgh. (Drew Bledsoe in 1993? Meh.)

Elway started that game a terrible 1 for 8 and was rattled by a Jack Lambert sack before getting yanked in favor of veteran Broncos' QB Steve DeBerg. Don't expect the same from Robert Griffin III, even if Lambert's modern-day equivalent James Harrison gets to him early. Griffin has been simply unflappable in his seven starts this season and is having an historically good rookie campaign.

Giants DE Osi Umenyiora said "That guy is flat-out unbelievable," and that was after beating Griffin's Redskins on Sunday. He gushed "I'm not even going to lie. That's the best quarterback we've played this year."

NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he's watched every single snap that Griffin has taken this season and said he's never seen a player quite like him:

"As a passer, he has incredible poise, touch, accuracy and arm strength. He currently leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.4 percent) and he's third in passer rating (101.8). As a runner, he is incredibly explosive and elusive. He has already racked up 468 yards and six touchdowns on the ground."

By virtue of Griffin's legs and those of another rookie, running back Alfred Morris, the Redskins have the top rushing offense in the league (177.7 yards per game and 11 touchdowns) and the Redskins' "East-Coast Offense" -- the run/pass option plays incorporated from Griffin's college playbook -- are giving defenses fits.

Kerry Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts said that Griffin "is No.1 in the NFL in Real Quarterback Rating, our measure of all aspects of quarterback play, including passing, running, sacks, total touchdowns and all turnovers" and that he's already having one of the most accurate seasons of any passer, ever.

Bleacher Report's Matthew Guinto thinks that Griffin will prove his worth against the Steelers, writing, "Think what he will do against Pittsburgh, who ranks a lowly 29th in tackles, 24th in sacks and has only three interceptions on the year ... It all spells danger in big, bold letters for the Steelers."

Fortunately for the Steelers, the Redskins' defense -- particularly their secondary -- has been nearly as historically bad as Griffin has been good.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post writes, "The Redskins have been virtually helpless all season against opponents’ passing games, a shortcoming that is threatening to undermine all the good accomplished by Griffin and Washington’s highly productive offense. The Redskins are yielding an NFL-worst 328.4 passing yards per game."

Dan Daly of the Washington Times notes that "the Redskins are on pace to give up more than 5,000 passing yards, which would be an NFL record, and repeatedly have been burned by deep balls."

That much was evident on Sunday, when the Redskins gave up a 77-yard game-winning touchdown pass from to Victor Cruz, who easily got behind their defense (paging Mike Wallace) with a little over a minute remaining.

And you thought Ike Taylor gave you the agita.

Observing that the Redskins "2,299 pass yards against is over 200 more than the next worst team in New England," Bleacher Report's Colin Kennedy adds that Washington has "surrendered seven passes of 40 yards or more so far in 2012—a mark that ties them for the unimpressive league-lead."

The Redskins are also yielding 8 yards per pass attempt and a league-high 16 passing touchdowns, and as Byrne writes, "It's been this way all year. Back in Week 2, Griffin and the offense carved up the tough St. Louis defense for 373 yards and 28 points. The Rams countered with 452 yards and 31 points, the second-greatest offensive performance of the Sam Bradford Era in terms of both yards and points.

"A week later Griffin and the Washington offense turned 381 yards into 31 points against the Bengals, good enough to win most NFL games. Cincinnati countered with 478 yards and 38 points -- another wasted offensive effort by the Redskins. Those 478 yards were the second most by the Bengals have generated in five years.

"The Redskins have surrendered 28.6 PPG so far, the most by the franchise in more than a half century."

So it's RG3, Alfred Morris and a terrible Redskins defense versus Big Ben, the Young Money crew and an average Steelers defense?

This might look like a Big 12 game before it's all over.

*** Bonus! An interesting comparison of Griffin and Andrew Luck's rookie seasons on the New York Times' Fifth Down blog. Spoiler alert: It's a dead heat, and its a good read as to why.

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