There’s no question that the Washington Redskins are better at quarterback this season than they have been in a long, long time. And as rookie Robert Griffin III continues to develop, he could become even more productive. But Griffin plays one position. The Redskins need to improve at many others.
Facing a one-victory team before beginning their bye week, the Redskins again were ineffective on offense. They converted 20 percent of their third-down attempts, were bad in the red zone and struggled to protect Griffin, who was sacked four times.
The defense, which has played the biggest role in ruining the team’s season, performed better in spurts than it has throughout the recent rough stretch. Still, the secondary was burned for another long pass play — a busted coverage that resulted in an 82-yard catch-and-run — and the Panthers had two touchdown drives of least 90 yards for the first time in franchise history.
The Redskins were booed off the field at halftime. Some fans sprinted for the FedEx Field exits after the Panthers took a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter, and the stadium was mostly empty by the time Brandon Banks caught a short pass from Griffin and was slammed to the turf for a nine-yard loss as time expired.
Losers of four of five, the Redskins are 3-6. It seems their break couldn’t have come at a better time. Management, coaches and players face many difficult questions about where they’re headed. Let’s look at some of the biggest ones:
‘You are your record’
That’s what Shanahan once said in response to reporters’ questions about whether the Redskins, who went 12-20 under former head coach Jim Zorn, were better than their record. In his first two seasons, Shanahan went 11-21. He’s now 14-27.
In fairness to Shanahan, the team’s personnel situation was much worse than he realized before he went to work at Redskins Park. After inheriting a decade’s worth of poor drafts and awful free agent signings, Shanahan is still digging out from the mess. That process takes time.
But your record is the bottom line. In the most important area, the Redskins are still moving in the wrong direction.
Shanahan takes comfort in having Griffin. He believes the Redskins are better because they finally have a franchise quarterback. If the Redskins, however, are making the type of progress Shanahan sees, it certainly isn’t reflected in their record.
As important as the quarterback is in the NFL, he can only do so much. Although Griffin has experienced many more highlight-reel moments than Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Indianapolis is 5-3. Last season, the Colts went 2-14. You know what that’s called: clear improvement.
Defenses catching up?
Historically, NFL defensive coordinators eventually figure out how to attack every newfangled offense. It seems the rest of the league has recently become better at corralling Griffin.