Now, after losing on its home field to Detroit, 27-20 on Sunday, Washington has fallen to 0-3, a record from which few teams recover to reach the playoffs. For the second time, just like the Eagles opener, they lost at home to a team that was 4-12 last year.
Now it’s likely that nobody has escaped anything. The consequences of Jan. 6 are arriving as this new season cracks. Last year, the Redskins won games by one, two and three points, as well as seven, seven and eight. They needed every bit of Griffin to do it. Now, he’s still very good, but his cape is at the dry cleaners. His Superman socks have a few holes. And Washington’s margin of error, even against mediocre-to-poor teams at home, has shriveled to nothing. A tough schedule just became ominous.
RGIII is back, or at least RG (0-III) is. He’s far faster and more mobile than most quarterbacks. He can and should play. He has no gimp. He’s a wonderful future-of-the-franchise quarterback. He’s passed for more than 300 yards in three straight defeats, though a lot has come in garbage time.
But Griffin is not quite the same player. Will he be in a week or a month or next season? Nobody knows. Will he adapt, grow and become some slightly different type of fabulous veteran quarterback? Probably, with time. For example, in the fourth quarter Griffin threw a spectacular 57-yard bomb to Aldrick Robinson that was called a touchdown but, on review, showed that Robinson hadn’t kept complete security all the way through the catch. Coach Mike Shanahan said: “I was not surprised at the result.”
However, at least for now, it appears that Griffin is still a bit of a young project quarterback, in development, rather than the electric leader, playing a step above the NFL that seemed destined to redefine the position for his era.
What is clear after three weeks is that Griffin does not yet have quite enough raw speed to turn on the jets and terrify a defense, or escape from a defensive lineman as if he wore concrete boots, or pass with near-perfect accuracy at a full sprint. Will it come back? When and to what degree?
Twice, Griffin ran on designed plays, intended to show what a threat he still was as a runner. Instead, those plays went a humble 11 yards combined, and actually showed how scary he isn’t. Last year, Griffin accelerated in the midst of a 76-yard scoring run that made the entire NFL gasp at replays for days. Defensive coordinators thought: “Got to stop that.” On Sunday, the Lions shrugged. By game’s end, Griffin had thrown 50 passes but run only those two called plays. Redskins to NFL: We’ll run him a couple of times for show.