For the first time in a long time, the Washington Redskins have some hope for the future. The team is heading into 2013 as NFC East Champions. While that distinction pales significantly to a Super Bowl championship, consider that the Redskins have been perennial doormats for almost 20 years. Currently, the franchise rests on the young shoulders of superstar quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Griffin III, known by the snazzy nickname of “RG3” in NFL circles, is the future of the Washington Redskins. However, the undisputed leader of the Redskins is inside linebacker London Fletcher (above). He has spent the last six full seasons in Washington, starting every game in the Redskins’ burgundy and gold. He is a tackling machine that shows no signs of slowing down at the age of 37.
While the Washington defense has been frequently excoriated for poor play in 2012, Fletcher was one of the few bright spots on the unit. To the surprise of few, Fletcher led the Redskins in tackles with 139 in 2012. What was surprising was that he also led the team with five interceptions, with four of them coming during Washington’s seven game winning streak that secured the NFC East title.
Against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14, Fletcher recorded an interception against Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco. At the time, the Ravens were driving for either a touchdown or a field goal that would cement a Baltimore victory. Fletcher came up with his key interception that served as the catalyst for Washington’s come from behind overtime victory over the eventual Super Bowl champions. Simply put, without Fletcher’s interception, the Redskins would have lost that game. To make matters worse, their most hated rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, would have become NFC East champions, while the Redskins would have been out of the playoffs.
Fletcher has more than proven his value in Washington since 2007. This isn’t to say that RG3 isn’t valuable to the franchise. Even the most novices of football fans can testify as to how valuable Griffin III is to the Redskins. Considering that Washington’s offense was prolific enough in 2012 for the Redskins to win 10 games, they would have lost at least 10 games without Fletcher’s stellar play on the defense. That’s because the Redskins’ defense could have easily given up 30 points per game, which would have stifled the team’s improvement.
Fletcher can’t be expected to play at a high level for much longer. Redskins’ fans should appreciate the effort he gives for the formerly struggling franchise game after game. For that reason, he is the engine that makes the Washington Redskins go.