Last season, without Griffin, they were 3-5 at the same point.
Still, the NFL is, more than ever in these pass-happy times, a quarterback-first league. Teams that don’t have one must get one. The Redskins finally have theirs, and Coach Mike Shanahan chose to focus on that when he was asked after the loss to the Steelers whether he was encouraged by what he sees eight games into the season.
“I’m very encouraged,” Shanahan said. “I’m very excited. When you get a guy, as a quarterback, that can do what he’s done in the first half of the season, where he’s one of the top passers and the top rushers offensively — he’s doing some good things, as you can see.”
In a conference call with reporters Monday, Shanahan added that he is disappointed with the team’s record. He said that, going into the season, he believed the team’s defense would be its strength, but the Redskins have felt the effect of losing six or seven players who would have dressed for games.
But he also said the Redskins are making progress.
“We all know the record defines who you are,” he said. “But if people can’t look at the offense and figure out we’re a different team, then they don’t have a background in football.”
Griffin indeed has arrived as a standout player much sooner than the Redskins or anyone else reasonably could have expected entering his rookie season. He was the league’s sixth-rated passer entering Monday night’s play. He has frustrated opposing defenses with the accuracy of his passing, the speed and agility of his running, and with his improvisational skills. He has shown an ability to lead and a knack for rising to the occasion with games on the line. He has been everything that was advertised upon his arrival, and more.
He didn’t have one of his better games Sunday, but that wasn’t all his own doing. The Redskins had, by Shanahan’s count, 10 dropped passes as part of Griffin’s 16-for-34, 177-yard passing day. With rookie tailback Alfred Morris mostly a non-factor, Griffin had little help on offense.
“You feel good that a quarterback can come into this environment, still have the number of drops and in the fourth quarter you’re still into it with five minutes left,” Shanahan said.