The big ‘If': Can the Redskins rebound?

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III scrambles away from Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, right, during the first half of a NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rob Woodfork,

WASHINGTON — At least it wasn’t a blowout, right?

It’s hard times in Redskins Nation these days. For the third straight week — and the second time at home against an opponent that went 4-12 last season — the Redskins were thoroughly outplayed and are reeling at 0-3, a mystifying mark that even the biggest detractors of the team couldn’t imagine.

Robert Griffin III looks rusty and has thrown as many interceptions in the first three games of this season (5) as he did all of last season. The defense couldn’t wrap up a gift, let alone a ball carrier, and is on pace to surrender the most yardage in NFL history. Special teams is still looking for someone adequate to return kicks.

The good news (if you can really call it that) is that the Redskins are beating themselves. If not for backbreaking turnovers in the Eagles and Lions games, they’re probably 2-1 right now. Which means if they ever stop shooting themselves in the foot, they have a chance to rebound.

But that’s a big “if.”

RGIII has clearly demonstrated a level of regression in his decision-making. The ill-advised second quarter throw — which led to an interception with the Redskins in scoring range — killed them. His stubborn refusal to slide feet first after a scramble didn’t blow out his knee like it did against Baltimore last year, but led to a drive-killing fumble in the fourth quarter that basically handed Detroit their first win in D.C.

“I was declaring myself down to avoid the big hit,” said Griffin. “But that’s the rule. It could be a sucky rule but it’s still one of the NFL rules.”

Dude, you don’t get to grade the rules. You’re paid to know them. Even casual fans know the ground can cause a fumble if you’re not touched by a defender and don’t slide feet first. So maybe … I don’t know … slide feet first. We have a decent baseball team over in Southeast that’s about to have some unexpected free time. I’m sure Ian Desmond would be happy to spend an hour or so teaching you the nuances of an effective slide.

Griffin is far from alone, though. The receivers have dropped plenty of passes. Alfred Morris has played well the last two weeks, but he fumbled his first carry of the season. The offensive line has reminded us they’re not all that adept at pass blocking.

But it’s not over yet.

Think back to last season. Nothing the ‘Skins have done this year is worse than their home loss to the Panthers last season in a game everyone referred to as “must-win.” The Redskins went into their bye week looking broken at 3-6, and with five of their division games still on the docket over the final seven weeks. Even the most optimistic fans couldn’t confidently pick out a single win.

Yet they won them all.

I’m not saying they’ll repeat that feat and turn it around out of their Week 5 bye (especially not with two undefeateds — Chicago and Denver — awaiting Washington after their primetime meeting with Dallas), but it’s not over yet. This is a long season, and the Redskins have at least shown some level of improvement. This team still has plenty to play for.

They’d better act like it in Oakland on Sunday. Or else this is gonna get ugly in a hurry.

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