Grade vs. Bengals: B
Comment: Aftera second consecutive loss, youve really got to squint in order to see a silver lining. But if you do, youll realize that the Redskins possess one of the leagues most explosive offenses.
And that, at the very least, makes Sunday afternoons in Washington much more bearable.
Robert Griffin III and the offense got off to a slow start against the suspect Bengals' defense. But after a number of astute adjustments at halftime, the unit managed to overcome a 14-point deficit on back-to-back possessions to start the third quarter, methodically covering 80 and 86 yards, respectively.
Unfortunately for the home team, Griffin was unable to author a comeback on the teams final possession, which began at the Washington 2-yard line and ended with a third-and-50-to-go after a sack, a false start and Kyle Shanahans meltdown on the sideline.
But the loss shouldnt obscure this fact: After years of mediocrity (and worse) on offense, the Redskins finally have a potent unit capable of producing points almost on demand. And, at the moment, theyre doing it without the services of the teams second most dangerous weapon behind Griffin wide receiver Pierre Garon, who's sidelined with a foot injury.
Despite Garon's absence, the Redskins lead the NFL in points scored with 99 and the offense ranks sixth in yards per game with 404.3. Last season, they surpassed 400 yards only three times and did not reach 99 points until their sixth contest.
On Sunday, Griffin led the team in rushing with 85 yards and fellow rookie Alfred Morris had 78, making him the first Redskins running back since Stephen Davis in 1999 to open the season with three straight 75-yard or better rushing performances.
The coaching staff also showed some creativity by using Brandon Banks on the option. Twice in the third quarter, Banks was on the receiving end of pitches from Griffin, the first of which he carried for 21 yards.
The 213 yards they racked up on the ground were the most in 77 regular season games.
But there are a couple of concerns going forward. After initially saying he did not believe Griffin was absorbing too many hits, Coach Mike Shanahan reversed course Monday and acknowledged as much, saying, You dont want a quarterback taking as many shots as he did Sunday, thats for sure.
Some of the shots Griffin received Sunday were the result of him carrying the ball 12 times. Others were the result of poor blocking from an offensive line that could be without both starting tackles in Tampa.
Which brings us to the other concern. Jammal Brown has been sidelined all season and its possible the Redskins could also be without Trent Williams against the Buccaneers. Williams suffered a knee injury against the Bengals and if he cant suit up, his replacement will be Jordan Black, a journeyman who was not in the NFL last season.