Back in July, Umenyiora, the Giants’ acclaimed defensive end, was asked in an interview on a New York radio station about Griffin, the quarterback selected second overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. This was when Griffin-mania was starting to grip the nation’s capital, although the young man at its epicenter had yet to play an NFL game.
“Who is this RG3 guy you guys keep talking about?’’ Umenyiora said then. “You talking about Bob Griffin? You guys are giving him a cool nickname already and everything. When he does anything in the NFL, we’re gonna call him RG3. Right now, he’s Bob Griffin.”
Suffice to say, Griffin has done something since then. Actually, he’s become the NFL’s latest phenomenon. He leads the NFL with a 70.2 completion percentage and he’s rushed for 379 yards and six touchdowns, including a 76-yard scamper in a victory over Minnesota last week. “Ridiculous,” Umenyiora said of the speed and ability Griffin displayed on the play.
On Sunday, Griffin will lead the 3-3 Redskins into MetLife Stadium to face the 4-2 Giants. And to Umenyiora, he’s no longer Bob Griffin.
“Sir. His name is Sir Robert Griffin,” Umenyiora said today. “That’s what I refer to him now.”
It’s no secret why.
“Look at what he’s done,” Umenyiora said. “Look at the way he’s performed as a rookie. You don’t see players come into the league performing like that at that stage in their career, so all the respect in the world goes to him and he’s a phenomenal football player. … I opened my mouth and I said when he does anything in the league we’re going to call him his name and he’s definitely earned whatever he wants to be called, he’s earned that for sure.”
On a conference call this week, Griffin said he had no problem with Umenyiora calling him Bob.
“Osi is a guy that has proven himself in this league,” Griffin said. “He’s a sack-master; he’s done a lot of great things over his career. I didn’t mind it at all. I got where he was coming from. I know why everyone blew it out of proportion because it’s the Redskins and the Giants. … It’s not something to build up or make a big deal out of. Whatever else he wants to call me, it doesn’t matter, I’ve had people call me worse things on the field. It doesn’t bother me at all. I look forward to playing against those guys.”
No matter what he’s called, Griffin presents the Giants’ with a unique challenge. They’ve played their share of dual-threat quarterbacks, including Carolina’s Cam Newton and Philadelphia’s Michael Vick this season. But none of them have Griffin’s combination of speed, running ability and passing accuracy.
Griffin has not completed less than 61.8 percent of his passes in any of his first six NFL games. He has thrown five touchdown passes and just two interceptions. Griffin has also run for at least 74 yards three times, including a season-high 138 yards last week. He had a rushing touchdown in four of the six games, including two games in which he did it twice.
“I’m impressed with him as a rookie,” defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “He has great command out there. They put a lot on his shoulders and obviously he’s up to the challenge to go out and make the offense work. They have some staggering numbers. Offensively, they are in the top five, top 10 in the league (Washington’s offense is ranked fifth). So for a young rookie quarterback to come in and carry that much on his shoulders, he’s a special guy.”
He gets no argument from the Giants players whose job it will be to stop Griffin on Sunday.
“I think they have, obviously, the most exciting new addition to the NFL in RG3,” defensive end
“He’s a good quarterback,” Umenyiora said. “Forget all the running stuff, this guy is good. So they’ve got a really good player on their hands and we’ve got a problem on ours.”
The Giants have long prided themselves on playing great defense and would like to slow down the Griffin express. Griffin has been sacked 12 times this season and the Giants defense is coming off a six-sack game in a victory in San Francisco.
A month ago, the Giants frustrated Newton, sacking him twice, intercepting three of his passes and limiting him to six rushing yards in a 29-point victory. The following week, Vick was also sacked twice, but he ran for 49 yards and the Giants did not force a turnover. The Eagles won, 19-17.
“I believe that Robert Griffin is a lot different than the guys that we have played at this point,” defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “He is an extremely, not that those guys are not good athletes, but he is an extremely gifted athlete and he can go from 0-60 right now. When you put the ball in his hands and obviously they do, they expect him to win. So you have to win your matchups against him.”
“They have a multi-weapon guy in RG3, as well as his receivers as well as the back (rookie Alfred Morris), who’s a top five rusher in the league right now,” said defensive end