Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has shown a unique playmaking ability through the first four games of his career, the likes of which have never been seen before in the NFL.
Even though he has yet to shake hands with most stars in the league, Griffin III's reputation preceeds him, in opposing teams' film study.
"I think he's done unbelievably well," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan told reporters earlier this week. "I was just seeing some of the highlights of their offense the past couple of weeks. I think he's a talented guy. [He] seems like a very smart guy.
"I haven't met him but I've been very impressed."
That's high praise coming from the NFL's top-rated passer, and catalyst of the NFC's only undefeated team.
In 2008, Ryan was selected No. 3 overall out of Boston College and started Week 1 for the Falcons. Griffin III was selected No. 2 overall out of Baylor this year, and will rely on similar elements for success in Washington.
"There's so many things going on," he said. "There's so many things that you have to adjust to – not only on the field, but off the field as well.
"I was fortunate. I had very good teammates around me – guys that made a ton of plays. Specifically on the offensive side, [running back] Michael Turner had a great year that year. [Wide receiver] Roddy White had an unbelievable year. Our offensive line played really well, so I was fortunate to be in a position where I was surrounded by really good players."
Griffin III has already discovered some of his playmakers in running back Alfred Morris, receivers Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson, and tight end Fred Davis.
He will need each of them if he intends to keep pace with the Falcons today, something that Falcons head coach Mike Smith has already accounted for.
"Through the first four games, to see a guy throw and run the way he's running and throwing the football is very impressive," Smith told reporters. "His ability to come in here and basically be one of the top-five quarterbacks through the first quarter of the season in terms of quarterback rating is just unbelievable.
While Smith credits Griffin III as a passer, he noted that his team is focused on Griffin III as a runner in the open field. Just last week, the Falcons' defense got exposed by the Panthers' Cam Newton for 86 yards on the ground.
"[Griffin III]'s biggest strength is his ability to run the football," Smith said. "He's leading an offense that's very effective at running the ball – not only with traditional plays, but zone plays that Coach [Mike] Shanahan basically made a staple in this league when he was with the Denver Broncos.
"It's going to be a big challenge for us this week. [I am] super impressed with your quarterback."