Hasn’t anybody ever heard of Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis, Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams? Has Mike Shanahan’s résumébeen forgotten? The NFL is (repeat after me) a quarterback league, a head coach league, a playmaker league, a pass-rusher league and a left-tackle league. The Redskins have ’em. There aren’t 14 teams better stocked at those spots, no way.
Washington has holes. But the Redskins also have their best quarterback since Sonny Jurgensen, their best coach since Joe Gibbs I, a 1,600-yard rusher, a deep threat receiver, a big-play tight end, two scary edge rushers and a Pro Bowl left tackle. In Kai Forbath they may have their most accurate place kicker, relative to the standards of his era, since Mark Moseley.
These are Key Spots in the NFL. If you cross your fingers and say, “London Fletcher still has one more good season left in him” as fast as you can, then maybe they have that crucial QB-mind-reading linebacker, too.
All right, I know they gave up 388 points and (gulp) 4,511 passing yards. I didn’t say they should be Super Bowl favorites, or second or third or fourth. I just said that you have to be nuts to think an RGIII-Shanny team that’s the defending NFC East champion and won its last seven games (some with Griffin gimpy) has only one-fifth the chance at the Lombardi Trophy as the Seahawks (7 to 1). Yes, that Seattle, a team the Redskins were manhandling in the playoffs when Griffin re-injured his knee. Both the Cowboys and Giants get better odds than Washington. The losing Saints and .500 Steelers get more credit. In fact, every single team for which you could make any credible case is favored over the Redskins.
What’s up? Is virtually everyone in Washington completely blind to a multitude of Redskins flaws? Does the smart money know that RGIII’s knee isn’t really healed; or that an antidote for the read option has been found; or that Bad Mike has gone soft and turned into Sunshine Shanny?
Put me down for “none of the above.” What we’ve got is entrenched Redskins Hating — building for 20 years, often for good reason. It dies hard.
Old habits cling like kudzu, especially when they’ve been good to you. For eons in sports-media time it’s been fashionable, and flattering, to pick against Washington. No franchise wasted more money, did more preseason bragging (then seldom backed it up) or had an owner who was easier to caricature as a meddling football know-nothing than Washington, the NFL Offseason Champions.