As training camp opened last July, Redskins Hog Heaven's Boss Hog wrote Five reasons why the Washington Redskins would win 10 games. With four games on the books, it's time to 'fess up. I was wrong. Let me count the ways.
1 – It ain't about the rookie. It's about the carry-over guys.
WRONG. It's ALL about the rookie. In fact, it's about the rookies. The Redskins enter Week 5 as the league's third-ranked team in offensive yards, second-ranked in rushing yards, and fourth-ranked in points scored. All of that is thanks to Robert Griffin III, Washington's Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate, and to Alfred Morris, Washington's other Rookie of the Year candidate. None of the burgundy-bleeding analysts foresaw that happening.
2 – The feared Redskins pass attack
Half wrong. The comment described Washington's front seven. The idea being the pass rush would offset weakness in the secondary. The Redskins are tied for 22nd place for sacks and have been gashed for big plays. Every game has been a shootout. That's what the defense was supposed to prevent.
Injuries have had their impact. Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker are lost for the season. Poor Brandon Meriweather has been snake bit since his arrival. The team misplaced its faith in the character of Tanard Jackson. (More on that at the end of this story.) I don't see the pressure I imagined from this group after last season.
Yet, there is a lot to like here. They are disruptive. Washington is ranked second in passes defended. They've snagged five interceptions. One was a pick-six. They forced five fumbles, recovered three and returned two for a score. The 'Skins are +7 in takeaways. For that, we count RGIII as an honorary member of the defense. He's in charge of the low giveaway side of the equation.
I want more pass pressure from these guys. Injuries are no excuse. You made the team. Do the job. But I can live with disruption and scoring.
3 – RBBC is a rookie's best friend.
Half right. The idea was that Mike Shanahan's running back by committee of Tim Hightower, Roy Helu and Evan Royster would combine for 2,000 rushing yards. Shanahan's RBBC will work, only it's RGIII and Alfred Morris who are running. Could they really combine for 2,800 rushing yards and 32 TDs for the season? That's the straight-line projection after four games.
Morris is the kind of big back Joe Gibbs loved for his downfield offense. Gil Brandt compared him to Terrell Davis in an NFL.com story yesterday. Maybe it was astute scouting, or serendipity that he landed with the Redskins, but Morris adds Shanahan's legend of discoverer of undiscovered running backs.
The scout who found Morris deserves a bonus. A big one.
4 – It's Shanahan's third year and the Redskins don't suck.
The jury is out. Four games in to too soon to say, but I feel good about this one. This zinger targeted owners and a whole bunch of fans who see a quick hook as the answer to every setback. Three years is a magic number for coaches and players. Shanahan and Joe Gibbs are the only Snyder-era coach who got a third year. That's been a problem with the Snyder era. Staying the course should pay off.
The comment was also directed at media pundits who foresaw a two to four-win season for the 'Skins. That was idiotic from the get. The Redskins had talent for seven wins before trading up for Robert Griffin III. True, they only won five games last season, but should have beaten the Cowboys in game one and the Vikings at home – seven wins.
Washington didn't get worse during the offseason. Play the 2012 Redskins against the 2011 Redskins on Madden and the 2012 team would win every time. Anyone dispute that?
5 – RGIII has one job, be better than RGIII&Out
Right. We said Griffin III had to be better than Grossman III to win favor in the eyes of Redskins fans. Check.
FIVE REASONS WHY THEY WON'T WIN 10 GAMES
1 – NO Beast team will win 10 games this season.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. NFC East teams will waste themselves against each other and they play the NFC North. Nine games will win the Beast this year.
2 – RGIII is just a rookie.
Wrong. The point of this statement was to set expectations of Redskins fans who were over the top in Griffin mania. True RGIII is a rookie, but in five decades of watching football, I ain't nevah seen no Redskins rookie like Griffin III. But, I saw a rookie performance like his just last year. Cam Newton led the former two-win Panthers to six wins in 2011.
Rookie quarterbacks before Sam Bradford were not as good at boosting their team in their rookie years. Peyton Manning won three games as a Colts rookie. Andrew Luck will win five or so for Indianapolis. Andy Dalton took his team to the playoffs. Bradford had his team in playoff contention.
Bradford-era rookies are bigger. They pass more in college now. The best of them are multi-year starters at the BCS level, and they are coming into a NFL with coaching staffs more open to shotgun spread option concepts than a decade ago.
When Greg Trippiedi and I engaged in age vs. youth debates, I always took old age and cunning over youth and strength, especially for quarterbacks. No more. In 21st Century football, first-round quarterbacks should always start with high expectations of them.
3 – Pierre Garçon is a wash to Jabar Gaffney.
Wrong. Gaffney is better than Garçon when Garçon is on the bench. YAC ability and speed can't help the team from the bench.
4 – Secondary questions
Right. I won't waste any more words.
5 – I just don't know about Graham Gano. Do you?
Half right. It turns out that the coaching staff had as little faith in Gano as I did. The problem is they turned to Billy Cundiff as a fix.
Cundiff is the team's high scorer at 33 points, but he is six for 10 in field goal attempts. With that performance, I prefer Gano on loyalty alone.
Coach Shanahan made the correct decision not to try out new kickers this week (quick hooks don't help, remember), but that's not a performance that can continue.
Cundiff may simply have had a bad day against the Buccaneers. Atlanta placekicker Matt Bryant is 9 for 9 this season. Washington escaped with Cundiff's flubs against the Buccaneers. That won't work against the Falcons.
Now thinking of words that rhyme with "Cundiff," just in case. Let's see, there's stiff….
About Tanard Jackson
Because it's a football team, we forget that players are employees of Pro-Football, Inc., the corporate parent of the Washington Redskins. The Redskins follow all of the laws and good business practices that any company with $300 million revenue follows when it comes to employee benefits.
The law considers drug addiction to be a disability. Companies want to give contributing employees a chance to beat their affiction and get back to contributing. We see coaches do that all the time, often in defiance of fans who want them to enforce society's punishment. That's not good business and it is sometimes legally risky, like firing a handicapped person. Look no further than the Bengals and the player once known as Pacman.
Jackson hurt the team by his action, but he might be fighting demons we don't know about. We can be critical, but not harshly so. We all have demons. Lets see how it plays out.
Image: September 29, 2012, Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images North America via zimbio.com.
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