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Is Success of ’83 QBs Indication of RGIII’s Future?

Posted by Stephen Czarda on March 26, 2013 – 1:53 pm

Robert Griffin III, Greg Hardy, Frank Alexander

(AP Photo)

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past year, you witnessed one of the greatest seasons ever by rookie quarterbacks in 2012.

Need evidence? On January 6th, three rookie quarterbacks were starting in the playoffs within 30 miles of each other and two of the most dynamic signal callers to come through the professional ranks in decades were colliding in a matchup at FedExField. One of the two, AP Rookie of the Year and record holder Robert Griffin III, was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Redskins.

Griffin III, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck headlined one of the highly regarded draft classes in league history. The trio has been mentioned in the same breath as the highly vaunted 1983 class headlined by three Hall of Fame quarterbacks: John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

What the three men did during the 2012 season revolutionized the game as Griffin III and Wilson were at the center of the pistol formation title wave over helpless defenders and Luck adjusted with relative ease in replacing Colts legend Peyton Manning.

As the three look to displace any rumored possibilities of a sophomore slump, they will continue to be compared to the 1983 class this year.

Find out how the 1983 gunslingers did during their second campaigns in the NFL and how it could shed light on the possibility of greater performances for the 2012 class in their second season.

With the first pick in the 1983 draft, the Baltimore Colts selected Stanford quarterback John Elway to lead the team back to the playoffs after not even coming remotely close since 1977. However, after protesting his arrival in the Charm City, he was shipped across the country to the Denver Broncos.

Elway had a difficult time adjusting to the game in the first chapter of his illustrious career, throwing twice as many interceptions (14) as touchdowns (7) and only winning four games. His rookie season, however, was just a blip on the radar and not an indicator of what was to come.

The Broncos had stiff competition in the AFC West from day one during the 1984 season, as the Los Angeles Raiders were coming off a 12-win season and picked by many to cruise to a second straight division title. Elway crushed those predictions leading the Broncos to 12 of their 13 regular season victories, tossing over 2,500 yards and 18 touchdowns in the process.

Kelly’s route to stardom took a different route than most who are enshrined in Canton. After being selected with the 14th pick in 1983, the University of Miami product decided to take his talents to the now-defunct USFL and became the face of the Houston Gamblers. After the league disbanded in 1986, Kelly finally decided to join the Bills in a move that Buffalo fans are still embracing today.

In his second season in 1987, Kelly was selected to represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl along with Elway and Marino after throwing for 2,798 yards and 19 touchdowns. From 1988-1993, Kelly led the Bills during their most successful era with five division crowns and four Super Bowl appearances, including one that resulted in the “L column” against the Redskins!

Speaking of teams that have lost to the greatest franchise in the league on the biggest stage of them all, lets talk about the Miami Dolphins who were led for years behind the arm of Marino. After his draft stock plummeted during his final season at the University of Pittsburgh, Marino was still on the board when the Dolphins were ready to make their selection with the 27th overall pick and snatched him up. Marino’s transition to the NFL “game” had few kinks.

Marino’s second season is hands down one of the greatest ever behind center. Each week, Dolphins fans were treated to an amazing aerial assault as his three step drop and sling it combo was simply too quick for defenders to read. He finished the season leading the Dolphins to a league-high 14 wins en route to a record 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns. Both records stood for over 20 years.

As you can see, all the quarterbacks from the 1983 class improved their performances as they settled into the flow of the NFL. If their performances are any indication of what could be in store for Griffin III as he prepares for a second season in the DMV, the Redskins will be in great position to defend their NFC East crown.

Speaking of comparisons between the 1983 and 2012 draft classes, which do you think was better for the franchise? Headlined by Hall of Famer Darrell Green and Griffin III, now is your chance to select the historic classes to a possible Elite Eight matchup in the Redskins Top 32 Draft Classes Bracket.

To select the two classes and to see the rest of the bracket, go to the Redskins Facebook page for more details. Voting for the Sweet 16 matchups run until Thursday at noon.

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