Rob Woodfork, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Ladies and gentlemen of Redskins Nation: At long last, we have a quarterback.
And his name is Robert Griffin III.
I know we're not supposed to read too much into one game, let alone the first game of the season. However, when a guy looks this good right away, I think it's pretty safe to indulge a little bit.
Let's put RGIII's day in historical context, shall we?
Griffin is the first rookie QB in NFL history to pass for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns without throwing any interceptions in his debut game.
His first NFL TD was an 88-yard strike to Pierre Garcon (who ironically wears #88), the longest pass play for Washington since 1971.
His passer rating was 139.9 (not too far off of the perfect 158.3 rating he had at halftime), good for the second-best QB rating for a rookie in Week 1 since Fran Tarkenton's 148.6 rating in 1961.
It's hard not to get excited about that.
This is exactly what I meant when I said in my NFL preview that Griffin need only be efficient with his throws and protect the football for the Redskins to be good. He completed 73 percent of his passes (which is above and beyond the scope of efficient), and threw no interceptions. To put that in further perspective, the zero turnovers marked the first time in 30 games the 'Skins went an entire game without shooting themselves in the foot.
Granted, all the reasons why I picked the Redskins to win the game played itself out. Mike Shanahan coached circles around Saints interim-interim coach Aaron Cromer. The New Orleans defense looked exactly like a team trying to learn a new scheme without its leader (Jonathan Vilma). Drew Brees looked like the All-Pro he is, but was forced into mistakes by the Redskins front seven.
Yet it's hard not to look at this as the kind of game the 'Skins would have lost last year (and many of the years prior). The defense would have given it away, the offense would have spent its best plays early, and the comeback for the home team would have been complete.
This time was different. We're not used to seeing big plays from the offense. We're not used to seeing this team get in the end zone more than once a game, let alone once a quarter.
So this is far beyond the numbers. There was a swagger to this new-look Redskins team. It's almost as if walking onto the field knowing full well they have a playmaker under center made everyone raise their game.
Griffin seemed to know it, too. He didn't look like a rookie feeling his way around; he looked poised and mature far beyond his years, and just exuded the confidence of an established veteran. There's definitely a trickle-down effect when you've got a guy like that at the most important position on the field.
The ground game was effective with a sixth-round pick (Alfred Morris) running for 96 yards and two scores. The much-maligned offensive line surrendered only one sack. The defense that seemingly never takes the ball away forced three turnovers and sacked Brees twice.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying this team is destined for anything great this season. In fact, despite picking them to win this game, I also have the 'Skins pegged to lose in St. Louis next week.
But this looked like a winning team. Thanks to this newfound confidence in Washington, 9-7 doesn't look so unattainable. This squad showed the same chestiness found in New Orleans, New England and Pittsburgh.
Which is only borne of confidence that you've got a winner at quarterback.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)