It’s report card time. For kids in school. For the Washington Redskins. And for me.
Let’s take a look at my grades for the team after nine games. Remember, I’m a tough marker: A “C” is an average grade with me. You have to do something special to get an “A.” With a record of 3-6 (3 wins, 6 losses), the Redskins haven’t done much that’s special.
Coach Mike Shanahan: D
Shanahan is in his third year as Washington’s head coach. The team is not much better than when he arrived. Its record under Shanahan is 14–27. Shanahan says the team is better than its record indicates. But in professional football, you are what your record is. Shanahan’s record with the Redskins is poor.
Wow! Robert Griffin III has been terrific. Washington’s prized rookie is rated among the top 10 quarterbacks in the National Football League (NFL). Griffin has made the whole team better with his playmaking ability and leadership. But I’m worried that the other teams may be catching up to the quicksilver QB. Griffin’s past two games have been his worst.
Running backs and receivers: C-
RGIII is not our only star rookie. Alfred Morris has been a surprise at running back, grinding out almost 90 yards a game. Morris deserves a solid B+. The Redskins receivers are another story. I know Pierre Garcon and tight end Fred Davis are hurt, but no one has stepped up to take their place. The NFL is a pass-happy league. The receivers are sad. They get a D.
Offensive Line: C
It’s hard to tell whether the offensive line has improved or if Griffin makes them look better with his quick feet and slick ball fakes. Still, the Redskins’ offense is moving the ball much better, especially on the ground. And that starts with the offensive line.
Defensive line and linebackers: D+
Injuries have hurt this unit. The defense lost linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker for the season in the second game. So Washington has not put much pressure on the other team’s quarterback. That means trouble, big trouble.
Defensive backs: F
These guys have been a disaster. The team is near the bottom of the league in every stat measuring pass defense. Even worse, they give up back-
breaking big plays, such as Victor Cruz’s last-minute, game-winning catch in the Giants game, almost every week.
Before the season started, I predicted the Redskins would finish the year at 4-12. With a tough schedule ahead, my prediction looks pretty good. But I thought Griffin would struggle and the defense would be solid. Turns out it is the other way around. So I give myself a “C.” That’s not very good, but it’s better than the Redskins.