Barely into his second NFL season, the honeymoon is over for Robert Griffin III in Washington. His stellar rookie season long since replaced with the horror of seeing him crumpled in a heap on the FedEx Field painted dirt turf (and more recently, the view of sacks, picks, and balls sailing over the top of receivers’ heads), and the most marketable man this side of Michael Jordan is getting criticized for his lackluster start to the 2013 campaign.
That’s certainly understandable. If you’re healthy enough to play, you’re healthy enough to get critiqued. But now fans and NFL analysts alike are starting to call for ‘Skins backup Kirk Cousins.
The guy we see wearing number 10 in Burgundy and Gold isn’t the RGIII of 2012. In fact, the Jekyll and Hyde routine has been specific to the games themselves. So far this season, Griffin has put together a respectable 89.6 QB rating. His rating in the first half of those two games? A woeful 33.3. It’s pretty hard to win games in the NFL when you’re digging out of three touchdown holes after halftime (the Redskins have been outscored 50-7 in the first half this season).
We see the problem. They’re starting out sloppy and slow on offense and the defense can’t seem to stop anybody. So the question becomes: can they fix it before it’s too late? Detroit comes to town this week having never won in Washington (0-16 all-time) and then the ‘Skins head west to face the awful Raiders before their bye week. Those are two winnable games on paper, but when your defense is getting lit up like a Christmas tree and the offense takes two-and-a- half quarters to get going, it doesn’t exactly lend itself to dramatic turnarounds like the one we saw at the end of last season.
Not to mention, the Redskins seem to be getting away from the read option plays that helped open up that offense and make Griffin an immediate star in 2012. I don’t know if the reason lies in RGIII’s insistence on becoming more of a pocket passer or if it’s concern over getting him hurt again, but whatever it is seems to be keeping this team from replicating its offensive success of last year.
RGIII and the Redskins went all in on Week 1, and now they have to stay the course no matter what. Anything less, and you run the risk of losing Griffin and perhaps even the locker room. Plus, when you give up what the ‘Skins gave up to get RGIII, you play him if he’s healthy enough to go. He’s not limping out there; he looks like he’s trying to protect a knee he’s injured twice, and his mechanics are suffering because of it. It’s a fixable problem if he’s granted the time to do so.
So buckle up, Redskins Nation. We wanted to see RGIII start the season like Adrian Peterson did last year, and this is what we’ve got for better or worse.
Oh, which reminds me: Do you remember how Peterson started last season? In his first six games, he had just two touchdowns and only one 100-yard performance. Then he went on an historic tear that would literally reshape the way we think about recovery from knee surgery.
The stories of RGIII and AP may or may not parallel. But if they do, ‘Skins fans should remain patient. The best may be yet to come.
And now for the best part of your week. The NFL recap:
Jets 10 Patriots 13
Three interceptions on 15-of-35 passing? I give Geno Smith props in last week’s preamble and this is how he repays me?
Redskins 20 Packers 38
Hard to believe a franchise as storied as Green Bay had never had a 400 yard passer and a 100 yard rusher in the same game before Sunday. If Washington isn’t careful, they’ll replace last year’s New Orleans Saints as the worst defense in NFL history.
Rams 24 Falcons 31
Julio Jones wasn’t even a lock to play this week, but shows up with 11 catches for 182 yards (including an 81-yard TD). It looks like this is the year we recognize Jones as one of the elite receivers in the league.
Panthers 23 Bills 24
Buffalo’s first two games have been decided by a combined three points, and their rookie QB (E.J. Manuel) has made some plays late to keep them in those games. That’s a good sign for Bills fans.
Vikings 30 Bears 31
Wait…Jay Cutler has authored a pair of come-from-behind victories to start the season? Welcome to the 2013 NFL Season…aka, Bizarro World.
Dolphins 24 Colts 20
Don’t look now, but Miami is 2-0. New England better be paying attention.
Cowboys 16 Chiefs 17
Both teams proved what we already knew: KC (who has already matched last year’s win total) is legit now that they have a coach and a quarterback, and Dallas is virtual lock to gag away a late lead at least two or three times in a season.
Chargers 33 Eagles 30
As Philly’s seven-game home losing streak morphs into eight games (yes, I’m predicting the Chiefs come in and win on Thursday), it’s hard not to wonder if the Eagles’ season will continue to be 30-something-to-30-something shootouts.
Browns 6 Ravens 14
Forget the 2000 Ravens-like score. Forget the 11-game win streak over Cleveland. All that matters this week is the status of Ray Rice’s hip injury.
Titans 24 Texans 30 (OT)
Houston is the first team in NFL history to win their first two games of the season on the last play of the game. Team of destiny?
Oh, and familiarize yourself with the name DeAndre Hopkins. It’s a name you’ll be hearing a lot this season.
Lions 21 Cardinals 25
Patrick Peterson completed a pass, caught a pass, and had a full day’s work on defense. This dude might be the best athlete in the NFL right now.
How bad is Jacksonville? Their home market had to issue an explanation for why they were playing the Jaguars game instead of the nationally televised game being played 935 miles up the road. Perhaps the Jags should re-think their stance on signing Tim Tebow…
Broncos 41 Giants 23
Ironically, Manning Bowl III really did come down to the play of the brothers Manning. Peyton continued to throw TDs (two, along with over 300 passing yards) while Eli kept throwing picks (four on Sunday, for a total of seven on the year). Thanks again, Peyton, for reaffirming the dominance of big brothers everywhere.
49ers 3 Seahawks 29
Make that back-to-back blowouts of the Niners in Seattle. If the Seahawks get homefield advantage, they’re cruising to the Super Bowl.
Steelers 10 Bengals 20
Here’s all you need to know about the 2013 Steelers to date: Alex Smith has more rushing yardage than the entire Pittsburgh offense. That doesn’t bode well.
Also not good: the Steelers are 0-2 for the first time since 2002. The silver lining? They made the playoffs that year.