ASHBURN, Va. -- Since Mark Rypien was the Super Bowl MVP for the victorious Redskins in 1991, started 21 quarterbacks, with only Brad Johnson (1999), Mark Brunell (2005) and Todd Collins (2007) doing so in the playoffs.
Mike Shanahan, who coached the Denver Broncos to consecutive Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998, believes that Robert Griffin III will take Washington back to the top of the NFL. And so the coach, who traded three first-round draft picks and a second-rounder to St. Louis on March 9 for the right to move up four spots to take Griffin second overall last month, wasted no time in naming him the Redskins' starter ahead of incumbent Rex Grossman.
"He's the starter, period," Shanahan said on May 6 after Griffin and his fellow rookies completed their fifth and final practice of a three-day minicamp at Redskins Park. "The reason we gave up what we gave up is he can do some things that I believe no has done."
This from a coach who worked with mobile Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway and Steve Young during 14 of his previous 27 NFL seasons.
"It's hard to find that guy who can throw the football (so well) and has Olympic-type speed," Shanahan said. "Robert does something that you can't teach. He can make plays when everything breaks down. The great quarterbacks that I've been around, the great quarterbacks that have won Super Bowls (can do that). I really believe (Robert) can make any throw. ... And with his speed, he can get on the edge and do things that most quarterbacks can't do. We're going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable with. We'll watch him grow."
Shanahan said that Griffin is already growing so comfortable with the offense that coordinator Kyle Shanahan spent six hours teaching him before minicamp that the Redskins didn't have a busted play call all weekend.
Not that the glorified touch football practices (no contact, no 11-on-11) were similar to what the 22-year-old Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor will face when Washington opens the season on Sept. 9 at New Orleans, but he had to start somewhere. And Griffin certainly looked much better in his first weekend at Redskins Park than did the last quarterback Washington chose with a top 10 pick, Heath Shuler in 1994.
"It was a lot of fun," Griffin said. "It's been a while since we've been able to do football things. We've been doing combines and beauty pageants on pro days. It's time to get (back) to football, to really get a chance to do the things that you study on paper and go out on the field and perform it."
As for being named the starter, Griffin didn't make too big a deal of it.
"You go from being top dog at your college to bottom of the barrel in the pros even if you are supposed to be the starting quarterback," Griffin said.
The bottom of the barrel? Really?
"You got to prove yourself," said Griffin, who'll return on May 14 for the next round of offseason conditioning, one that will include the veteran teammates whom he's supposed to lead. "You can't come in flamboyantly. And I don't plan to. (Gotta) come in and earn the guys' respect. Even if they say you've got it, you've still got to go out and earn it. ... That's your job as a quarterback, not only to go out and play well but be able to manage different personalities."