Redskins receiving corps takes a hit with Hankerson injury
Both young quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III emerged last season with a blast of success. This season, little has come easy for either quarterback.
When Kaepernick took over the starting quarterback spot last season for the San Francisco 49ers, his explosive running ability and strong arm led his team to a Super Bowl berth. The Niners could not best the Ravens in the Super Bowl, but the buzz surrounding Kaepernick grew sky-high for this season. He did not disappoint in the opener, throwing for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns, but since, the results have been underwhelming.
"We don’t feel Colin Kaepernick is struggling," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Thursday to reporters. "I think he’s playing very good football."
His coach may be obligated to support his third-year quarterback, but the numbers show something else entirely. Kaepernick comes into the Monday night game against the Redskins averaging just 180 yards passing per game, last in the NFL.
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Kaepernick's counterpart in Monday's game hasn't fared too well this season either. Harbaugh offered similar support for Griffin when asked if Washington's quarterback is struggling this season. Griffin averages nearly 100 yards more passing per game than Kaepernick, but has thrown 10 interceptions to Kaepernick's seven.
"They’ve been a very productive offense. They put points on the board," Harbaugh said of the Redskins. "They move the football and score points against everybody that they play."
Last season, both quarterbacks showed off their athleticism thanks to the read-option. This season, thanks to NFL defenses preparing for the quarterback as more of a run threat, the read-option is less successful. Without the threat of their legs, both Griffin and Kaepernick are forced to become pocket passers.
"It’s a learning curve. I think no matter what situation you’re in or what type of offense you’re running, you’re going to learn a lot," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said of the two young quarterbacks.
Dealing with adversity is also relatively new for both Griffin and Kaepernick. In their first season as starting quarterbacks, both landed in the playoffs and showed dazzling displays of atheleticsim. Griffin's speed and running ability has been mostly limited this season, thanks in part to reconstructive knee surgery, and Kaepernick's wheels have slowed as well.
"It’s a big difference playing your second year than it is your first year," Shanahan said.
RG3 and Kaepernick will likely be linked together for some time based on their first-year success. Monday night will be the first time the two will compete against one another as professionals. Harbaugh said neither young signal caller is struggling, and both QBs would love the chance to prove him right.