Few understand the pressures of quarterback expectations in Washington better than Redskins great Joe Theismann.
Theismann threw for more than 25,000 yards and 160 touchdowns in a Redskins uniform, starting eight seasons and leading the franchise to victory in Super Bowl XVII.
As a former player and Redskins fan for life, Theismann told ESPN 980 that he's happy to see the Redskins get a their first franchise quarterback in 30 years, and predicts big things from
"The biggest thing about him, is he is as advertised--he is a bright, humble, hardworking young man," Theismann said. "There is a desire to work and he understands that being the quarterback, he is going to automatically be the leader of this football team."
Theismann came to Washington after three seasons in the CFL, and did not win a training camp competition for the starting job until 1978.
Griffin III was given the starting nod only days after being drafted, but Theismann expects him to rise to the occasion.
"I do think the transition from the collegiate game into the professional game, now, is a little more seamless, because most of the professional teams are running some form of a spread [offense]." he explained. "But he’s going to look at much more complex defenses; he’ll play against a better group of athletes than he played against in college."
One thing those defenses will challenge is Griffin III's trademark athleticism. While Theismann is excited to see Griffin III use his feet, he cautioned the need to protect his body.
"The National Football League has a tough time dealing with running quarterbacks because you don’t defend that position, which I think is a great advantage for the Redskins," he said. "But you still have to figure out ways to keep yourself protected and healthy.
"You still have to make plays with your arm--this is the big thing we're going to want to see out of Robert, is how well does he throw the football?"
Another challenge that any starting quarterback must balance exposure and over-exposure in the media. While the Redskins and his advisers will seek to balance his availability in-season, Griffin III must make sure that he is singularly focused on the gridiron.
"When I came to town I did radio show, TV shows, I owned a restaurant, and I did all kinds of different things off the football field," Theismann said. "Robert is involved in a lot of opportunities that have been presented his way, and I think he feels the same way I do: you understand that football is your bread and butter.
"Without football, everything takes a secondary place. It has to have a priority in his life, and it does. I think going through the process of the Heisman trophy really prepared Robert for all the fanfare and all the notoriety.
"I think he is in a good place mentally to come in and play football."
Theismann called 2012 the beginning of the Griffin III Era in Washington, and credits the Redskins' front office for surounding him with the talent to succeed.
"I think Griffin III comes into a situation where there is a pretty darn good team around him," he said. "Mike Shanahan now has the team he wants on the field, and the additions that have been made could make us a very competitive football team.
"I’m excited to do the preseason games and watch him grow on a week-to-week basis as they get ready to go to New Orleans for the home opener."