On Sep. 9, the Washington Redskins will battle the Philadelphia Eagles on the 2013 debut of Monday Night Football. It will be a battle between two of the NFL's most dynamic quarterbacks, as Robert Griffin III faces Michael Vick.
In order for RG3 to set the pace for a successful 2013 campaign, he must be a pocket passer during Washington's season opener.
Griffin III suffered a torn ACL and a torn LCL during the 2012-13 NFL playoffs, undergoing surgery on Jan. 9, 2013, per CBS Sports. Exactly eight months later, Griffin III will make his return to NFL action, leading the Redskins up against a division rival.
RG3 posted an image on his official Twitter account stating that he's been cleared to play and is ready for the season.
Being ready to play and executing his dynamic style are two completely different things.
During the 2012 regular season, Griffin III was supremely efficient as a passer, throwing for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns to five interceptions. As a result, he put an end to the nonsensical talk that he couldn't thrive as a pocket passer, ranking third in the NFL in passer rating.
The problem with that number is that Newton also played in one more game than RG3 and is approximately 30 pounds heavier. If that's not enough, Newton is a runner who knows when to get down to avoid taking a hit.
Griffin III, meanwhile, has experienced more criticism for taking dangerous hits than for anything else, exposing his body to damage that the average quarterback avoids. It's that invincible mentality that has many on edge.
For that reason, it's critical that RG3 remains in the pocket during the Redskins' season opener against the Eagles. This isn't to say that he can't run during the course of the season but instead that he must ease into the campaign after missing the entire preseason.
No matter how much time he's dedicated to the gym and practice field, Griffin III hasn't seen NFL action since tearing his ACL.
By playing as a pocket passer, Griffin III would be in the best possible position to avoid contact and ease his way into the season. As a result, Griffin III would thus prepare himself for a heavier workload in future games, finding his legs and learning just how much his surgically repaired knee can handle in 2013.
By attempting to run too soon, however, Griffin III would test his knee before knowing whether or not it can sustain the grind of a four-quarter NFL regular-season game and the hits his no-slide style garners.
Per Brian McNally of The Washington Times, Dr. James Andrews, who did the procedure on Griffin III's knee, is not concerned with how he will hold up during the regular season. Andrews stated that he believes the Redskins will use RG3 appropriately.
The "appropriate" manner would be to protect his knee and keep him in the pocket until it's proven that RG3 can handle four full quarters of play.
Once Griffin III makes it through a full game in the pocket, the Redskins would be free to use him in whatever capacity they deem fit. Until that time, however, RG3 must be handled with care as he makes a progressive return from a devastating injury.
A process that cannot be understated.