Saturday at 4:00 pm, the Washington Redskins will host the Indianapolis Colts in both team’s third preseason game. That’s an awfully bland description of what will actually take place though, as the seemingly meaningless preseason game will match up the top two picks from this year’s NFL Draft: The Skins’ Robert Griffin III and the Colts’ Andrew Luck.
Both quarterbacks have had their moments this preseason thus far, but both have had teaching moments as well. They are expected not only to lead their respective teams back to a place of prominence in their divisions, but be the face of their respective franchise as well. Griffin – the well-spoken, outgoing one — has his big smile in advertising, late night talk shows, everywhere. Luck – the reserved, conservative one — not so much, intent on justifying his No. 1 overall pick quietly. The personalities couldn’t be more different, which provides yet another point of contrast in their games.
Griffin plays like his personality, and Luck the same. Griffin is extremely gifted athletically, with an ability to read, react, and adjust his game. Luck sticks to his game plan and allows his big arm to do his talking. They are both fun to watch executing their offenses, and with any, um, luck, both will enjoy long, fruitful careers.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan talked earlier this week about getting the chance to finally see Griffin and Luck face off on the field instead of the media.
“We’re looking forward to both teams going against each other,” Shanahan said after practice at Redskins Park earlier this week. “Before we made the choice to move up in the draft, we looked at every game that both quarterbacks had played. We loved both guys. Andrew, I thought, did a good job [Saturday].
“I thought Andrew did a great job of playing very poised. I’m sure he’d like to have a pick or two back, but I thought it was two great plays. One, he hit the receiver in the hands, and the ball popped out. The other one I thought was great coverage. But he led the team on a couple of drives, and that’s what you’re hoping your quarterback does.”
What did the Redskins see about Griffin that set him apart and convinced the team to risk so much to make the trade to move up in the draft to select him? “I think every quarterback is a little bit different,” Shanahan explained. “Everybody has their strengths and their weaknesses and you always try to surround your football team around a quarterback with his talents. Hopefully, he’ll have a good supporting cast; however every quarterback has some things they like to do more than others. That will never change, but we felt good about both of them to make the decision when we did.”
The Colts selection of Luck seemed preordained, but until that name is called from the podium you’re never quite sure. Would the Skins have been satisfied if Luck had fallen to them? “I sure liked him,” Shanahan said. “After all that hype, you’ve got to get it done on the football field. You like guys that are very sharp and enjoy the game. I had a chance to spend time around him and Robert, and I felt great no matter what direction Indianapolis decided to go in the draft, we’d be in good shape.”
Both teams think they have the proper quarterback to lead them back to where the franchises feel they ought to be. The Redskins have been in the playoffs twice in the last decade. The Colts fall was more precipitous, but also deeper. Saturday night, we all get to see the chosen ones face off on the field for the first time — hopefully the first time of many over the next 15 or so years.
Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Redskins coverage on Twitter @RedskinsDSP.