You have to say this about Robert Griffin IIIhe makes it interesting.After getting knocked around by the Cincinnati Bengals for most of the first half and looking at a 17-point deficit, Griffin brought the Redskins back. The Redskins ultimately lost but Griffin made it close.How close? Possession in the red zone with time enough to run a few plays, thats how close.The rookies ended up going 21 of 34 for 221 yards and one touchdown. For the second time in his three career games, he did not throw an interception. Griffin also ran 12 times for a team-leading 85 yards.But the numbers dont tell the story.Trailing 24-7 with halftime approaching, Griffin got his team going. He got a drive jump started with an 11-yard run on third and 10. That set up a field goal to cut it to 24-10 at intermission.In the second half, Griffin and the offense got on a roll. Back to back drives that covered 80 and 86 yards resulted in touchdowns that tied the game up at 24 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.During those two drives, Griffin was 4-4 passing for 52 yards and a three-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss that capped the second drive. He also ran four times for 19 yards.But when the offense slowed down, the Redskins defense let Cincinnati take control of the game. After forcing two three and outs and a fumble, the defense turned back into the sieve it was in the first half of the game. Back to back Bengals touchdown drives of 80 and 72 yards put the game out of reach.Almost.After a penalty pushed the Redskins back to their own 10, Griffin accounted for 100 yards of offense during a 12-play drive (a 10-yard holding penalty let him pick up an additional 10 yards of stats). He was 8-10 passing for 93 yards and he ran twice for seven yards including a two-yard quarterback sneak that brought the Redskins within a touchdown with 3:35 to go.Niles Paul touched an onside kick attempt just before it passed the required 10 yards and Cincinnati got the ball at the Washington 44. The Redskins were out of timeouts. Three plays later the Bengals punted and the ball rolled dead at the Redskins two. Griffin came in with 98 yards to go, not timeouts, and needing a touchdown to tie the game.He did manage to get them into the red zone. Griffen passed to Josh Morgan for 11 yards, to Leonard Hankerson for 12 and they he scrambled for 10. A 15-yard personal foul was tacked onto the end of that run when Griffin was hit out of bounds (the defender went sprawling to the ground after the hit, RG3 stayed on his feet). Two plays later Griffin ran for 19 yards and all of a sudden the Redskins were in the red zone at the 19 with 29 seconds left. Could he do it?No. Griffin averted a couple of sack attempts as he scrambled to make a play but he was finally corralled by Geno Atkins for a loss of 15. He spiked the ball to kill the clock but after a false start and a confusing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Hal Mary came from the Washington 41. It was short and incomplete and that was that.
As the discussion rages around what the Redskins should do with free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, $75 million cornerback Josh Norman made clear he wants the passer back. Norman explained that the 'Skins struggles should not be pinned to Cousins, but rather, a Washington defense that finished the year near the bottom of the NFL.
"We got to help him out of defense, and stop somebody on the field," Norman said on FS1 (click here for full video). "We did not help him out at all. I'll be honest with you. We got to do our job."
Norman's comments came during a spirited argument with Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Cris Carter in what amounted to a festival of hot takery. Whitlock's argument was that Cousins is not a franchise quarterback, and shoult not be paid as such, largely for losing the final two home games of the year against Carolina and the New York Giants.
Cousins passed for nearly 5,000 yards this year, a statitstic Norman pointed to in his defense of the QB. He also explained that Cousins still has room to grow.
"He only had two seasons," Norman said. "Cam Newton had five seasons."
Drafted in 2012, Cousins was just named the 'Skins starter in 2015. He's started every game the last two seasons and gone 17-16 while passing for more than 9,000 yards. Norman played with Newton in Carolina before signing with Washington last year, and got to watch the quarterback develop into the league MVP in 2015.
Norman described Cousins as a 'great guy' and leader in the locker room, but he allowed that, "I know a great guy don’t translate into wins. I'm not saying that."
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As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.
No. 9 worst play of 2016
Steelers at Redskins Week 1
10:18 left in Q2, Steelers ball 4th and 1 at the Redskins 29, Redskins leading 6-0
Ben Roethlisberger pass deep left to Antonio Brown for 29 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
Tandler: Things were looking up for the Redskins prior to this, even though they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone in two forays deep into Steelers territory and had to settle for field goals (a taste of things to come all year). The Steelers drove down the field and went for it on fourth and one. Because Joe Barry opted not to have Josh Norman travel from side to side with Brown, it was Bashaud Breeland with one-on-one coverage on the right side. Brown beat Breeland and DeAngelo Hall was late giving safety help and Big Ben put the ball on the money. The score put the Steelers ahead to stay.
More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities
Finlay: It's easy to forget now that the Redskins had an early lead in the opener against Pittsburgh. In fact, their defense started well, until this point. In something that would be repeated throughout the year, the Steelers did not hesitate to go for it on 4th down against the Washington defense. Breeland was in pretty good position on the ball, though Roethlisberger's throw was right on the money. It would be only one more week until Josh Norman would then start traveling to cover other team's best receivers. Beyond the immediate impact of this play, it also seemed to stay with Breeland as he struggled somewhat in the first half of the season.
10 best plays countdown
10 worst plays countdown
- No. 10—A symbolic conversion
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!