Robert Griffin III: Making Sundays watchable throughout Washington
By Tracee Hamilton,
It is only one game. Eventually, Robert Griffin III is going to throw a pick, fumble a handoff, take a hard hit instead of sliding. He’s going to make a rookie mistake.
Until then, however, say it with me: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!
And some Sunday, when those inevitable Griffin mistakes appear, or when fellow rookie Alfred Morris coughs up the ball — if there is a more humble quarterback-running back pairing in the league, I’d be amazed — or when the defensive line doesn’t play like a set of Transformers, this team will still be worth watching. Beltway gridlock to FedEx Field? Worth it. The beautiful Sunday afternoons spent cooped up indoors? Worth it.
If this team finishes 7-9, the “7” will be a blast, and many of the “9” will at least be tolerable. For a team that was barely watchable in its 11 victories over the past two seasons, that’s saying something.
Don’t plan those Super Bowl trips just yet. But clear Sunday afternoons on your calendar for the next few months. The Redskins are Must-See TV.
Not that I’m surprised by Griffin’s performance. In fact, “quarterback” might have been one of the few positions that didn’t surprise me Sunday. Scare me, sure. When Griffin takes off, holding the ball out from his body like it’s road kill, that’s scary. When he tries to pick up a first down and decides to gut it out rather than head out of bounds, that’s scary. Maybe his next endorsement should be Depends.
If you want to talk surprises, let’s talk offensive line. I am on record as saying I thought the line could not get the job done, could not protect Griffin and allow the Redskins to build the running game necessary to establish him as a passer.
Like Jake Houseman, when I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong. The line was very good Sunday. Again, it’s one game. (That’s got to be the mantra for the city this week, along with “Remember the Nats!”) But still, kudos to the line.
And kudos to the play-calling and game plan for Sunday. Finally, I think we’re seeing what the Shanahans, Mike and Kyle, have been trying to accomplish here. And if that’s a taste of their offense, in the hands of someone who can really execute it, and with the tools to help him, then good for them. And we probably haven’t reached the final page of the playbook just yet.
No one was surprised by the upgrades at receiver. We saw flashes of that in the preseason, but of course, the preseason can be deceiving. In past season openers, a receiver like Pierre Garcon going out in the first quarter would have been devastating. Instead, Griffin spread the ball around. There’s talent and depth at the position.
The defensive backs have been much maligned yet they managed to hold their own against a potent offense. They need depth — the loss of rookie safety Jordan Bernstine hurts and any time one of them is slow to get up, Jim Haslett calls for a defibrillator — for himself.
When your long snapper (Nick Sundberg) continues to play after breaking his arm, when the kicker you sign at the 11th hour (Billy Cundiff) goes 4 for 4, when the tight end you kept while releasing Chris Cooley makes perhaps the biggest catch of the game (Logan Paulsen), then things are going your way.
What an odd thing to say about the Redskins, who have been the masters of miscues, missteps and a bit of bad luck for a long, long time. There is no question that this season’s transformation started with the arrival of Griffin, who is that rare combination of physical ability, mental agility and sparkling personality. The Redskins hit the quarterback trifecta; in the past they’ve occasionally gone 0 for 3.
But Griffin is the yeast, the special ingredient in the dough that — bad example; who makes bread anymore? Griffin is the Mentos dropped into the Coke bottle that are the Redskins, and Sunday was the first eruption. Grab an umbrella and get ready for more.
For previous columns by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.
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