It’s been four years since the 2012 NFL Draft and season. Back then, the Washington Redskins were the talk of the town. No. 2 overall selection Robert Griffin III and fellow rookie Alfred Morris were one of the most lethal quarterback and running back duos in the NFL, and they were mere rookies. The Redskins dominated the NFC East that season.
“Really I was in awe,” said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who wasn’t thrilled to see a division rival firing on all cylinders. “I was very disappointed, but I was in awe of RGIII. The plays that he was making—they made some great catches, they made some great plays. It was unbelievable the plays they were making.”
Four years and a number of injuries later, Griffin is still battling back with the winless Cleveland Browns. Alfred Morris, on the other hand, is sitting hopelessly behind the Cowboys new rookie sensation.
In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cowboys picked up quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott was picked up No. 4 overall, Prescott No. 135 overall in the fourth round.
Now, much like RGIII and Morris before them, Dak and Zeke have turned the league on its head, shocking the world and bringing the Cowboys into the discussion for best team in the league. It’s the Redskins’ turn to be jealous.
“Well, like any young football players, they are going to get better the more reps that they get, and they have proven that,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. “Dak and Zeke, they’ve done a great job. You know, Zeke is a powerful runner. He’s been bottled up from time to time in first quarter, but as the game goes on, that offensive line can wear you down and he gets chunks of yardage. And Dak has just done a great job. He’s just been very poised under pressure. He doesn’t make many mistakes, if any, and he gets the ball to the right people. So they’ve both been very impressive for young football players, and they’re getting better as the season’s going on, as their nine-game winning streak proves it.”
Back in 2012, the Redskins also had an impressive winning streak with Griffin, Morris, and one start by fellow rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins, winning seven straight that season. Of course, the Cowboys are happy to see Dak and Elliott copy the 2012 Redskins’ success, but they don’t want to see their new QB and RB duo fizzle out over the next three seasons.
“Obviously with Robert and Alfred, they had taken the league by storm,” said Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. “So everyone at that point was thinking Robert would be the quarterback here for a long time. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t work out that way. It’s crazy to look back on that game and how Alfred and Robert were playing and how Elliott and Prescott are playing now.”
Dak and Zeke are the second rookie duo in NFL history to surpass 1,000 rushing yards and 2,000 passing yards. Griffin and Morris were the first pair.
Nonetheless, Elliott is confident that Dak and he have a ways to go together.
“I don’t believe in the rookie wall,” said Elliott. “I think it’s more of a mental thing. I think if you’re a mentally strong individual then you know the rookie wall doesn’t even sound right. If you take care of your body and you’re strong mentally then you should be fine.”
Personally, I’m not too thrilled to see the Cowboys doing well—I picked the New York Giants to win Super Bowl LI.