- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2012

So much for the Golden Age of Quarterbacks. Through two weeks, I feel like I’m playing fantasy football in 1993 (a year in which John Elway threw for a career-high 4,030 yards and a then-career-high 25 TDs on my championship-winning fantasy team. Way too many dashes in that partial sentence).

After the past few seasons, the top quarterbacks were expected to continue putting up video-game numbers. So far, though, it’s been more Atari than Xbox. More Pong than … Uh, I don’t know the names of any popular video games these days; I’m 40 years old, for God’s sake.

The top four quarterbacks — all of whom were selected in the first 10 to 15 picks of every draft — got off to a slow start in the opening week, with New Orleans’ Drew Brees putting up the best stat line (3 TDs) only because Washington built a huge lead and called off the dogs late. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New England’s Tom Brady and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford all had lackluster performances to start the season.

Then things got ugly last week. The four combined for 4 TDs — 1 each. To put that in perspective, that never happened last season. In all 17 weeks, at least one of them threw multiple TDs and in all but one week, at least one of them threw at least 3 TDs.

A little more perspective? Those combined 4 TDs last week? Well, Rodgers (5), Brees (5), Stafford (4) and Brady (2) combined to throw that many or more in a single game 16 times in 2011.

While it’s not time to panic, if you drafted one of those four it’s fair to wonder if defenses finally have started to adjust to the pass-happy offenses that have become all the rage in recent years.

I have a friend who is a huge Redskins fan. A diehard. He has a “Redskins Room.” He joined an online league of mine this year and promised to draft Robert Griffin III with his first pick. Sure enough, he did. There were lots of laughs. But it looks like my friend is going to have the last one. RGIII is for real.

I know it’s early and it’s not always going to look so easy, but Griffin has accounted for 5 TDs already (2 passing, 3 running) despite directing an offense with a rookie at running back and a No. 1 receiver who has only been on the field for one quarter. What do you think he is capable of when he gets used to the NFL and the Shanahans open up the playbook?

Especially given the struggles of the top quarterbacks so far, RGIII has become a must-start. But what do you do if, like most team owners who have him on their rosters, you drafted Griffin as your backup and your starter is one the four QBs I previously mentioned?

You have three options: 1) Do nothing and drive yourself crazy each week. 2) Trade Griffin. 3) Trade the big-name veteran.

Unless you’re more conservative than Barry Goldwater, No. 1 is not feasible. You’ve got a chance to strengthen every other core area of your team, so whom do you trade? If you drafted Aaron Rodgers, keep him and trade Griffin. But if you drafted Brady, Brees or Stafford, take a chance. Keep Griffin and upgrade your receivers and running backs.

I give that particular advice because I’ve been in a similar situation — and I made the wrong move. In 1999, I drafted Peyton Manning as my starter and late in the draft took a flier on a Rams QB as my backup. After a few weeks, I thought, “Maybe I should be starting this Kurt Warner guy, but this has to be a fluke, right?” Well, I maneuvered my way to irrelevancy that season after deciding to play it safe. I dealt Warner for Antonio Freeman (remember him?) and had to spend the next three months kicking myself while Warner put together one of the most memorable and prolific seasons in NFL history.

You don’t want your season portrayed as a DirectTV commercial, do you? Don’t spend the next three months kicking yourself. Take a chance.

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