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In debut, RG3 exceeds great expectations

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In debut, RG3 exceeds great expectations

Expectations in Washington were sky high for Robert Griffin III from the moment the Redskins traded away a boatload of picks to get the right to draft him with the second overall pick in Aprils draft.

What did Griffin do with those expectations in his first game with the team? He went out and exceeded them.

By a lot.

Griffin became the first NFL quarterback since 1950 to quarterback a team to 40 points in the season opener as the Redskins stunned the Saints in New Orleans by a score of 40-32.

The numbers tell part of the story. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. If you crunch those numbers in the QB rating calculator you get a 139.9.

A perfect rating is 158.3 and that is what Griffin had in the first half. No quarterback has ever posted a perfect rating in a half in his NFL debut.

And per the Elias Sports Bureau, no quarterback has ever passed for at least 300 yards with at least two touchdowns and no interceptions in his debut.

When you start reading stats with things like first time in 62 years and first time ever attached to them, you start to get the idea that this was a pretty special performance.

As noted, the numbers only tell part of the story. The moment was not nearly too big for him. Griffin was not at all rattled by the notorious noise at the Superdome, a place where the Saints went undefeated last year. He was poised and he made excellent decisions.

And he put the ball where it needed to be. After the Saints scored a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead, a penalty backed the Redskins up to their own 12. On first down, Griffin threw a dart to Pierre Garon, who was streaking over the middle. The receiver caught the pass in stride and rolled 88 yards for a touchdown. Yes, most of the yardage was after the catch but if Griffin doesnt throw a perfect pass, allowing Garon to keep running at top speed, its a nice play but not a touchdown.

The score put the Redskins up 10-7 and they didnt trail the rest of the game.
Griffin had a lot of help. The defense held the Saints to 32 yards on the ground, allowed the Saints to convert just two of 11 third downs and and let Drew Brees complete fewer than half of his passes. Rookie Alfred Morris, who came in with considerably lower expectations as a sixth-round pick out of Florida-Atlantic, rushed for 96 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. The offensive line was solid, paving the way for 153 rushing yards overall and giving up just one sack of Griffin.

But the Redskins have had nice rushing games before and they have played good defense before. The difference, for this one game at least, was the rookie behind center.

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Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

Gruden presser wrapup: Even he's not sure what a catch is

ASHBURN, VA—Here is a look at what Jay Gruden covered in his Monday news conference after the Redskins’ win over the Giants.

—We hit on some of the major injury news but there is the complete list: “DeAngelo [Hall], torn ACL, has surgery – he’ll be out for the season. [Bashaud] Breeland, he got an MRI, he has strained tendons in his ankle – he’ll be week to week. Shawn Lauvao has a moderate ankle sprain, we’re going to evaluate him on a week-to-week basis. [Kory] Lichtensteiger has a moderate calf strain, again, week-to-week. [Josh] Doctson went out to pregame warmup and could not push off the way he wanted to, his Achilles was too sore, so we’ve just got to continue to treat him and figure out the roots of the problem and try to get it fixed. DeSean Jackson aggravated his knee and ankle, came back and finished the game. And [Dashaun] Phillips has a hamstring strain. That is it.”

—Gruden said that the loss of a veteran leader like Hall was a big one. “It’s a lot. He’s a captain, you know? He’s coming along, playing a lot better and better at safety, so it’s pretty significant.”

—He tried to sell the 0-3 Browns as a big threat but he wasn’t very convincing. “It’s a tough opponent, very good coaching staff, and got a lot of work to do.”

—Kirk Cousins was pretty good according to the coach but they need to get touchdowns in the red zone. “We tried a quarterback draw one time and we missed the hole a little bit. Had a couple throws that were covered, just couldn’t get it done. Can’t put a finger on one person in that area. It’s not all on Kirk,”

—Going into it, Gruden was about as confident as a coach could be on the fake punt play in the third quarter. “We did it in practice and Tress Way has a great arm – very accurate. Coaching staff on the special teams side of it saw that it was a possibility. We practiced it. He caught it every time but the first day in the walkthrough.”

—A majority of those in the press box plus the TV broadcast crew all thought that David Bruton had made a spectacular interception when he ripped the ball away from Odell Beckham in the end zone. So did Gruden. “I’ve heard that everybody says it was an interception except for the replay guy. I don’t know what the rule is. We just have got to live by it. I thought his elbow was down, I thought his butt was down, I thought he had control of the ball.” Gruden admitted that, like most of us, he doesn’t know what a catch is.

—The Redskins aren’t thinking about cranking out another winning streak like the one late last year that got them into the playoffs. “Yeah, I think the only thing you can do is… the ultimate clich√© is take it one game at a time. That’s the only thing can do. You can’t look ahead.”

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Why all options are on the table for Redskins' offensive line

Why all options are on the table for Redskins' offensive line

Facing multiple injuries, all options on table for Redskins O-line, including Trent Williams at guard.

For the second year in a row Redskins left guard Shawn Lauvao got injured playing against the New York Giants in Week 3. Lauvao's injury, combined with an injury to center Kory Lichtensteiger, left the Washington offensive line in disrepair. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that both offensive linemen are now on a week to week basis, and it sounds quite possible neither player will go next week against Cleveland. The coach called both injuries "moderate" - ankle sprain for Lauvao and calf strain for Lichtensteiger. 

The injuries mean the 'Skins are likely to bring in new linemen, particularly at center. 

"We're going to have to," Gruden said when asked about new help for the line. 

Once Lauvao and Lichtensteiger were injured in the Giants game, Gruden was forced to try an interesting combination. Veteran left tackle Trent Williams slid down to guard and Ty Nsekhe took over for Williams at tackle.

Importantly for the 'Skins, the results weren't bad.  

"He's so good at tackle but he actually played pretty darn good at guard," Gruden said of Williams. 

"He's a great athlete, probably be a good center too," the coach joked. 

MORE REDSKINS: NEXT MAN UP IS ROOKIE IN WASHINGTON

But Williams playing more guard should not be laughed at. The Redskins showed some of their best run game of the season late in the win against New York with Williams lined up next to Nsekhe.

Further, the coaching staff has repeatedly talked about how much they like Nsekhe as a tackle but that there was no spot for him with Williams and Morgan Moses healthy. As unusual as it sounds, with Williams at guard allows Nsekhe to get on the field at tackle. 

The Redskins do have another option in house: Arie Kouandjio. In his second year out of Alabama, Kouandjio has the size needed to play guard, but he is yet to be active on gameday this season and has been considered more of a development project than a player that is ready to roll. 

If Kouandjio is ready, he can play left guard and Williams stays in his normal spot at left tackle, protecting Kirk Cousins' blind side. 

"We'll just have to evaluate that situation and see how it goes, see how Arie does at left guard," Gruden said. "Ty is an excellent player, there's no question about it, but to move your Pro Bowl left tackle out of the mix to guard is something that's a little unique and hard to do."

Scot McCloughan made some strong moves last season bringing in players as injuries impacted the Redskins. Looks like the GM will again have that opportunity, this time on the offensive line.