Robert Griffin III and Blake Griffin share much more in common than a surname.
The rise and fall of the Redskins sleek quarterback has led to many seeking a comparison, RGIII's professional doppelganger. Look no further than the Los Angeles Clippers' dunking power forward , who will be in town Saturday night to face the Wizards.
*Both were raised in the American Southwest, RGIII in Texas, Blake in Oklahoma
*Both entered the national sports conversation while playing for a Big 12 program, RGIII at Baylor, Blake at Oklahoma.
*Both were not simply regular highlight reel staples during the college and pro breakout campaigns. The athletic freaks immediately became must watch performers whenever on television because of the "wow" factor.
*Both received high honors as rookies; Blake the NBA's 2011 Rookie of the Year; RGIII's the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.
*Both are at least tangentially connected to Sam Bradford; Blake grew up in the same area and starred at Oklahoma simultaneously with the future Rams quarterback. Rather than draft RGIII themselves, the St. Louis stuck with Bradford as its franchise QB hope, trading the pick to Washington that eventually turned into the burgundy and gold's latest quarterbacking hero.
*Both have ball skills, but it's what they do with legs - RGIII as a runner, Blake a jumper - that turned them into stars.
*Both had injury woes affect their respective first seasons; RGIII had a busted knee, Blake had a busted kneecap that actually delayed his NBA debut for an entire season.
*Both play a style that attracts physical punishment and both have played through pain, perhaps unadvisedly.
*After can-do-no-wrong first seasons, both began receiving criticism, including on-the-field pushback and for essentially the same reason: beyond their athletic gifts, what do they do?
- Charles Barkley, asked in June on the Dan Patrick Show whether Blake Griffin is a great player (starts at 16:15): " Not even close," Barkley exclaimed. Patrick then asked what Griffin does well to which Barkley responded, "He makes good commercials."
- Last month, NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell dumped on the Redskins QB by saying Tampa Bay rookie Mike Glennon "is so far more advanced than RG3 playing NFL quarterback that it's not even close."
- From April, former L.A. Times columnist T.J. Simers on the Clippers Griffin:
"His development has been sabotaged by his inability to accept criticism of any sort.
"It helps explain why he's always at odds with the referees. He's never done anything wrong, as he sees it, so why are they blowing a whistle and calling him out?
"He takes a punishment when he plays, and right now he's playing hurt. But he reacts like a kid when done wrong, looking for the opportunity to get even while giving no regard to how that might affect his team's performance.
"He wants the ball like any great player, but when it doesn't go to him, he pouts. He's 24. Most of the time the ball goes to Griffin, but he's concerned only about the times when it doesn't.
"The Clippers' future success is tied to Griffin's becoming as mature as he is a high-flying superstar. It would be nice, maybe even vital to the team's success, if it happened overnight.
- From Thursday, ESPN's Jason Whitlock on RGIII:
"At this point, it is easy and pointless to rearticulate the numerous mistakes Mike Shanahan has made during his four-year tenure as the Grand Poobah of the professional football team in our nation's capital. ...What is important is to evaluate Shanahan's last decisive decision as Washington's head coach -- benching Robert Griffin III. It's my belief that Shanahan has made the right decision for the right reason. Humility is the only thing that can save RG III as a franchise quarterback.
"Griffin was spoiled by rookie success and a lack of self-awareness. ...
"Griffin's goals of playing during the preseason and being the opening day starter were fueled by arrogance, a lack of self-awareness and insecurity. ...Griffin is not ready to play the game consistently from the pocket. He no longer has the legs to mask his deficiencies as a passer. ...
"Shanahan could see all this coming. Griffin could not. He spent the offseason making commercials and documentaries hyping his swagger. He's BFF with the owner of the team. He orbited a different reality than Shanahan."
*For now, this is where the comparison ends in part because the dunker has two pro years on the passer and is perhaps turning the corner. With an improved mid-range game and work ethic, some say the basket-balling Griffin has improved enough that he's now underrated.
NFL analyst Ron Jaworski on Thursday's Pardon the Interruption after Shanahan benched his Griffin: "When I see RGIII play, he's not playing good football right now. It's a about performance. He's not performing well enough to keep his job as a starting quarterback."
Whether Blake Griffin's skill and mental upgrades hold up under the playoff spotlight will be answered in April, May and perhaps June. Whether his game remains worthy of praise when wear-and-tear limits his athletic prowess is a down-the-line question.
Same for the Redskins Griffin, who has plenty of time to put his sophomore struggles in the past and regain his starry footing. It's just that suddenly when it comes to such matters, talk of his future is now.
Oh, the Wizards-Clippers can be seen on CSN starting with the pregame show at 6:30 p.m.