- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Every team has those moments that are destined to last forever.

Caps fans of a certain vintage no doubt recall with clarity Dale Hunter’s 1988 playoff overtime goal against Philadelphia in Game 7. The images of the puck going in and Flyers goalie Ron Hextall smashing his stick are hard to forget.

For the Nats, there’s the game-winning home run by Ryan Zimmerman in the first game at Nationals Park as well as the game-winner by Jayson Werth in Game 4 of the 2012 National League Division Series.

Not all these memorable moments are good ones for the good guys. Robert Griffin III, in the short time he’s been a part of the scene, has provided a jaw-dropper of each variety.

During his rookie season in 2012, who can forget his long touchdown run against the Vikings that let the world know this guy was special?

That run was so RG3 2012.

SEE ALSO: RG3’s leadership the talk of Redskins locker room

Just last weekend, that what-the-heck pass RG3 threw for an interception late against the Eagles won’t fade from memory any time soon.

That pass was so RG3 2013.

What a dichotomy we have on our hands. Who is this guy?

Is he the brilliant, athletic marvel we saw in 2012 who made us dream of annual Super Bowl championship parades? The guy who could save the world, let alone the Redskins? Or is he the seemingly confused fellow we’ve watched much of 2013, who appears to lock in on receivers too easily, who doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on reading defenses and who has already thrown twice as many interceptions (10) as he did all of 2012?

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. He’s a little of both. How successful the Redskins will ultimately be with RG3 at the controls depends on whether he falls closer to the 2012 model or the 2013 model.

For now, we’re going to give the young man — and he’s still very much a young man — the benefit of the doubt and say he’s much closer to 2012 than 2013. We’ll preach patience and, yes, a little bit of hope.

While the run against the Vikings may have been No. 1 on the 2012 RG3 highlight reel, it was far from his only jaw-dropping play. You can fluke your way into a few of those. You cannot fluke your way into 3,200 passing yards, 815 rushing yards, 20 touchdown passes, seven rushing touchdowns. You just can’t. He was the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year for a reason. He earned it.

So what happened?

For starters, defensive coordinators around the league have had a little more time to figure out things that cause RG3 trouble. Despite some convincing evidence to the contrary seen around these parts now and then, most defensive coordinators are pretty bright guys. Some of the alignments he’s seeing, frankly, seem to confuse RG3.

And as much as anyone with the Redskins wants to deny it, he locks in on his intended receiver early and refuses to look elsewhere. It’s come up in television commentary, on the radio and in print. People aren’t making it up.

Then there’s the whole thing with his right knee, reconstructed in college and again after the Redskins’ loss to Seattle in the opening round of the playoffs. Because he’s such a hard worker and athletic marvel, RG3 was determined to make it back for the season opener and he did.

Using the valuable tool of hindsight, that might have been the biggest mistake. In the early going, it was clear RG3 wasn’t as comfortable running. The knee became the story.

My friend and former colleague, Paul Woody of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, wrote less than a week after the loss to Seattle that the Redskins should consider RG3 out for all of 2013. They should concentrate on nothing more with him than making sure he was completely healed. If he made it back for the latter part of the season, it was a bonus.

At the time, I thought Paul had maybe spent too long at the bar before writing. Over time, he’s been proven to be completely correct.

This season is a goner but that doesn’t mean the RG3 Era has to be written off. Hopefully he won’t have to spend the upcoming offseason rehabbing another knee injury. Hopefully he’ll spend some time this offseason learning more about the game, analyzing defenses, learning to look for other receiving options. Perhaps learning some humility, as colleague Thom Loverro suggested in Tuesday’s column, will help, too.

He’ll open the 2014 season at age 24, still plenty young enough to have a long, productive and successful career. Maybe 2012 was an aberration and he won’t reach those same levels. But 2013 has been an aberration, too.

He may not be that good. He is not this bad.

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