A fresh start means ignoring the past. And Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III enters Sunday’s season opener at Houston in full denial.
“We don’t have anything to prove to anybody else out there,” he said. “All we have to do is go out and be the team we can be. We have a lot to prove to ourselves in this building.”
And people outside the building. The Redskins aren’t picked to win the NFC East by any leading national publication. Only a few optimists predict they’ll have a winning season. Most believe they’ll be one of the bottom handful of teams in the league.
The Redskins could win six to nine games this season. The uncertainty isn’t about an improving defense and revamped special teams, but an offense that was once expected to be a strength.
After a lackluster preseason where the starting offense didn’t score a touchdown in 10 drives, skeptics now surround Griffin like buzzards just two years after they exalted him as a game-changer.
“If I play well, we play well. If I don’t play well, we don’t play well,” he said. “I understand that. They understand that.”
Maybe coach Jay Gruden didn’t truly show his offense in the preseason and it was a monthlong game of liar’s poker, and suddenly the Redskins will have aces falling out of their jerseys. But it doesn’t feel that way.
Timing, penalties and poor blocking aren’t the results of a vanilla offense — they’re the products of a group that’s out of sync.
The fix can’t completely come on a practice field. Washington must find balance against the Texans, who have plenty of potential despite coming off an NFL-worst 2-14 season.
The Redskins’ suspect offensive line must repel pass-rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney from pounding Griffin. Good luck with that.
If Washington doesn’t get out to an early lead, the Gruden era will open 0-1.
Griffin enters his third season definitely needing to prove himself. Was the first year a fluke, catching defenses before they made adjustments? Can he win as a pocket passer?
Griffin’s not the only one facing questions, though.
Can running back Alfred Morris excel without former coach Mike Shanahan’s famed running scheme — which made many runners unexpectedly succeed? Is Pierre Garcon really a 113-catch receiver? Will receiver DeSean Jackson’s relocation revive his game-breaking skills? Will tight end Jordan Reed remain healthy?
The Redskins have so much to prove and no time to figure it out, as a season-opening loss would create a public crisis.
“Our job is to ignore the noise,” Griffin said.
There’s no ignoring that it will be an uneven season, with 7-9 being my pick. At least, until the Redskins prove themselves.
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