Foremost, the season was a success because quarterback Robert Griffin III established himself as one of the NFL’s brightest new stars. Even while slowed because of a knee injury he suffered late in the season, Griffin inspired his teammates and long-suffering Redskins supporters to dream big again. Griffin also had a lot of help as the Redskins closed the season with seven consecutive victories. Rookie running back Alfred Morris was always ready when called.
With Griffin still not in top form against Dallas, Washington relied on Morris. All he did was set career-high totals with 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns en route to breaking Clinton Portis’s single-season Redskins rushing record.
Washington’s defense, which no football fan would confuse with that of the 1985 Chicago Bears, got the job done during the streak. Sunday was no exception, though there were some scary moments when Dallas trimmed the Redskins’ lead to three points with fewer than six minutes to play.
The Redskins (10-6) matched their longest streak during the regular season since they reeled off seven consecutive victories in Weeks 2 through 9 of the 1996 season. Since 1992, the Redskins have won 10 games in a season twice previously (1999 and 2005). But this season was the first during that span in which a franchise quarterback emerged around whom the Redskins could build long term.
In his third season in Washington, Coach Mike Shanahan finally rediscovered his winning touch. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan proved he’s much more than simply Mike’s son. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett delivered one of the best coaching performances of his career and Morris showed that standout players are available even in the lowest rounds of the draft.
Griffin, however, was the engine that powered the Redskins’ resurgence from 3-6 to the top of the NFC East. He’s the primary reason Washington is headed back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season.
The franchise’s future appears bright because the Redskins hit the jackpot when they drafted Griffin. Let’s take a look at who cashed in the most — and what’s ahead next week in the first round of the playoffs against Seattle:
The biggest winner
Washington’s principal owner since 1999, Snyder had little to show for the millions he lavished on players. His method of roster building often produced big headlines during free agency and few victories on the field. Along the way, Snyder drew the ire of Redskins fans for, well, way too many things to mention in this space.
Clearly, Griffin helped to improve Snyder’s image one victory at a time. Redskins fans were happier this season than they have been since Joe Gibbs clutched his third Lombardi Trophy. Happy fans tend not to dwell on past mistakes (Jim Zorn, Albert Haynesworth, Steve Spurrier, etc.) and live in the present. That’s great for Snyder.