Redskins Built To Win
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 6, 2013, 07:05
The image is seared into the fans of the Washington Redskins’ minds — Robert Griffin III walking off the field hobbling, grabbing his knee. And as his knee buckled, so did the Redskins’ season, thus ending a wild ride.
However, after having reconstructive surgery, Griffin will be able to play this season. Whether that is in Week 1 or in two or three weeks remain to be seen. But truth be told, this Washington squad can survive without Griffin for a limited amount of time.
They are built to win. The league knows and so do the players and coaches within the organization. Even the normally reserved head coach Mike Shanahan was outspoken in the goals of the organization.
“They have set expectations,” Shanahan said during an August 23 press conference. “Anything short of a Super Bowl is a failure. Coaches coach, players play and together all of us can win championships. That’s what we plan to do.”
While every team quietly enters Training Camp with optimism and goal of reaching the Super Bowl, but rarely does a team come out and proclaim their
goals loudly — except Rex Ryan of course.
But the difference between Shanahan’s remarks and Ryan’s is simple. Shanahan can back up the proclamation.
Why the optimism?
First start with an offense that proved to be explosive last season as no one player had the ability to beat a team by themselves, but were a true unit. Nine different receivers caught at least 11 passes last season.
Eight different receivers pulled in a touchdown reception and no receiver had more than 633 yards receiving, showcasing a balanced attack. Leading-receiver Joshua Morgan is back after hauling in 48 passes for 510 yard and two touchdowns while Santana Moss continues to showcase his big-play ability for another season.
And one can’t forget the rushing attack which returns Alfred Morris, a breakout star last season. The second-year man out of Florida Atlantic ran for 1,613 yards to go along with 13 touchdowns last season.
With Morris standing in the backfield, the Redskins will continue to be able to pound the ball down the field, with or without Griffin under center.
In addition, Kirk Cousins did impress last season when Griffin went down with an injury and newly-signed insurance policy Rex Grossman impressed in the preseason by throwing three touchdowns to just one interception.
But Shanahan’s bunch also has a defense that seemingly improved its level of play during a seven-game win-streak to end the 2012 regular season.
The most important player on the defense is London Fletcher who recorded five interceptions last season, one of 10 different Redskins’ players to crack the interception category.
And while returning key members of the offense and defense should inspire confidence, being in a division where no single team is head and shoulders above the others certainly helps.
The NFC East will be a battle throughout the season, one the Redskins should climb out on top of with a healthy Griffin in the fold.
The Giants may be the biggest threats to Washington’s hopes of securing a division crown with their package of young wide receivers and a quarterback who is a seasoned veteran with two Super Bowl rings. However, Eli Manning is also among the most turnover-prone quarterbacks in the league over the past two seasons, totaling 45 turnovers — 31 of those interceptions.
In addition, Dallas has always had expectations bigger than the state of Texas and each time they have faltered. Whether it was a missed hold in the playoffs or severe losing streaks to end the season, the Cowboys can not be trusted as a division contender. However, for everything Tony Romo is criticized for — and there is a lot — he has proven to be one of the top quarterbacks in the game.
Romo has thrown for 59 touchdowns over the last two seasons, totaling 9,087 yards passing. But those yardage gained does not put into perspective the amount of times he can extend plays with his awareness and speed, something that will always make Dallas tough.
But when it comes to Philadelphia, there is no guess of how good nor how bad they will play. The Eagles took a chance to hire Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and let him install his high-octane offense into the NFL. Track records of college coaches having success are few and far between, but Michael Vick surely fits into his offensive scheme. Whether Vick can remain healthy for a full season is another story.
The reborn Vick has been successful when healthy — completing nearly 60 percent of his passes over the past three seasons — but he has not played a full 16-game season since 2006. Too many question marks fill this Philadelphia squad which leaves the Redskins in control.
And this Washington squad is battle-tested and hungry, knowing what this team is capable of after last season.
It’s not how you start a season, but how you finish. After finishing last season by rattling off seven straight wins to enter the playoffs, this Washington squad is ready to take the next step as long as Griffin can stay upright deep into January.