Rick Snider: Redskins' RG3 makes great first impression

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Washington Redskins fans slowly exhaled, then quickly cheered. Yes, Robert Griffin III sizzled in his debut.

The much acclaimed rookie quarterback posted a 145.8 passer rating as Washington opened the preseason with a 7-6 victory at Buffalo on Thursday. It was only three series, and the first two were three-and-outs, with Griffin causing a fumble in the second. The third series will fuel local sports talk radio for a week, though.

Griffin hit receiver Pierre Garcon for 20 and 18 yards. After running back Evan Royster gained 19 yards on three carries, Griffin threw a screen pass to Garcon that the receiver turned into a 20-yard touchdown. Garcon capped it with a flip into the end zone.

It was a good first impression by Griffin.

Fans expect too much from the second overall selection, but his performance -- 4-for-6 for 70 yards and a touchdown -- was far better than many rookie debuts. Griffin saw the whole field and didn't replicate the mistake of many first-year quarterbacks by staring at intended receivers. Indeed, Griffin deliberately looked away from Garcon before throwing the 20-yard completion down the middle.

There was no scrambling, no Michael Vick imitations. The offensive line didn't run block especially well, but it kept Griffin off his back. He responded by playing a smart game.

Those used to the bad luck that follows this franchise can stop worrying about Griffin being another franchise bust. That's not happening. This is not Heath Shuler unable to read a defense. This is not Patrick Ramsey thrown into bad situations by a coach who didn't want to draft him. This is not Jason Campbell fighting for the job in his limited chances against a preferred veteran.

No, this is Griffin's job, and he has shown no sign of feeling the pressure of being the team's central player. His smile after practices didn't fade during 10 days of camp. There wasn't any frustration after the first two series produced only a sharp 12-yard completion to Leonard Hankerson.

Griffin didn't flinch when pressure on the third series' opening play forced him into a bad pass. Big plays followed bang-bang-bang, and soon the offense looked as good as hoped.

"It keeps the team confident," Griffin told Comcast SportsNet sideline reporter Antwaan Randle El.

The whole town, too. If Griffin opened 1-for-6 with an interception, every water cooler in town would bubble over with scorching commentary. The town would be divided into those preaching patience and impatient fans ready to move on to Kirk Cousins.

But Griffin's initial gift is no quarterback controversy. At least not for now. No scenarios in which Rex Grossman starts until Griffin is ready. No seeing whether Cousins is a sleeper like Gus Frerotte was against Shuler in 1994.

Griffin won't post 145.8 outings every week, but it felt like a winning lottery number in the first one.

Examiner columnist Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more on Twitter @Snide_Remarks or email rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.

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