Five Things That Make the Washington Redskins More Interesting Than In Years Past
Robert Griffin III pulls away from the defense.
The NFC East is arguably the NFL’s most polarizing division. The Dallas Cowboys have been proclaimed “America’s Team”. Their exploits are followed by many fans across the globe, despite their recent drought of playoff victories. The Philadelphia Eagles have an all-time great head coach in Andy Reid, whose great offensive mind has developed a talented offense. He is also credited with resurrecting the NFL career of Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick.
Of course, there’s also the New York Giants, the team with stellar ownership in the Mara family. Despite playing in the United States’ largest market, the Giants seem content to let their New York counterparts, the New York Jets, garner all of the back page tabloid headlines. The Giants are only concerned with going about their business of winning Super Bowl titles, as they have done two out of the past five years.
Last, but not least, are the Washington Redskins, a proud franchise that has been the laughingstock of the league in recent years. Failed draft picks, trades, and free agent signings have produced abject failure for a team that hasn’t reached a Super Bowl in 20 years. Even the return of Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs a few years ago did little to rejuvenate a franchise devoid of any hope.
That has all changed. While Washington’s current record is 3-3, there’s a buzz in the nation’s capital. The Redskins’ have a certain swagger about them now. Washington Redskins’ fans have renewed hope and optimism regarding the team’s current direction. The team is competitive and exciting. Here are five things that give fans’ interest in the Washington Redskins:
Isn’t it obvious? The play of Robert Griffin III.
Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III has generated plenty of excitement for a franchise desperate for some. His strong arm, ability to make good decisions, as well as his willingness to run the football is the reason for that excitement. Griffin III brings a special set of skills to the position that is reminiscent of current Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick during his glory years with the Atlanta Falcons.
While Griffin III’s playing style does lend itself to injury (as it did in Week Five against the Atlanta Falcons), it has proven to be productive. Washington is tied for third in the NFL in scoring offense, thus solidifying the Redskins’ belief that Griffin III is the right man to play quarterback for Washington.
The battle for NFC East supremacy.
Currently, the New York Giants are in first place in the NFC East. However, Washington is only a game behind New York, and is riding the momentum of their Week Six home victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Plus, Washington can draw inspiration from sweeping the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants during the 2011 season, with quarterback Rex Grossman (remember him?) leading the Redskins to both victories.
While the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles have struggled with consistency during the 2012 season, they still provide a formidable challenge to Washington. The Redskins were swept by both the Cowboys and Eagles during the 2011 season. Now that Griffin III has provided clarity at the quarterback position, the Redskins feel they have a chance not only to compete against Dallas and Philadelphia, but they might be able to actually win a game against one, or both of these teams.
Week Ten will be Washington’s bye week. After that, five of the Redskins’ next seven games will be against NFC East teams. Will Washington still be in the hunt for a playoff spot in the parity filled NFC East? Or will they unfortunately be relegated to their more familiar role of spoiler, with their NFC playoff hopes long faded away? If the Redskins’ first six games are any indication, it will be very interesting to find out.
Featured running back Alfred Morris.
The biggest surprise of the 2012 NFL season is the unheralded Alfred Morris. The 2012 sixth round draft choice is currently fifth in the NFL in rushing yardage with 538 yards. He has a combination of size and speed that might remind some Redskins’ fans of Hall of Fame running back John Riggins.
However, Morris is not worthy of such praise just yet. After all, he’s played in only six NFL games. Granted, Washington has faced only one top ten defense in 2012 (the St. Louis Rams, who currently rank seventh in the NFL in total defense). Washington still has six division games to play, as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers, well known as a strong defender against the run. Morris’ performance in these games will determine his worth as a featured NFL running back.
The Shanahans’ playbook keeps defenses honest.
Washington Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanahan, as well his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, are responsible for the development of Griffin III. They are also responsible for the sudden prolificacy of Washington’s offense, despite the extended absence of wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Garcon joined Washington before the season to become Griffin III’s main deep threat.
Unfortunately, Garcon has spent more time on the sidelines nursing an injured right foot that on the field catching Griffin III’s deep passes. The Shanahans have resorted to running option plays for Griffin III, as well as employing an intermediate passing game designed to produce first downs.
There may be even more plays in the Shanahans’ playbook that haven’t been executed yet. If Griffin III proves capable of efficiently executing these plays, there’s no telling how special the Washington Redskins’ offense can be.
The Redskins’ kicking game.
Before the start of the 2012 season, Washington tried several placekickers. Graham, Gano, Neil Rackers, and Billy Cundiff each got the opportunity to win the placekicking job for Washington. Cundiff eventually won the right to be the Redskins’ placekicker for the season. Unfortunately, his inability to make even the most elementary of field goals cost him his position. Missing two field goals of less than 35 yards was enough for head coach Mike Shanahan to give Cundiff his release.
Currently, Washington’s placekicker is Kai Forbath, who connected on his only field goal against the Vikings during his first NFL game. Redskins’ fans hope that Forbath will be able to hit a game winning field goal when the opportunity arises. His ability to solidify Washington’s placekicking game will go a long way towards how interesting the 2012 season will become for the Redskins.