Wise veteran Santana Moss is trying to tamp down the expectations for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. He told ESPN 980, One thing I want everyone to understand that he comes here with the big hope of turning everything around. We are all hoping that. We all want that, but I dont want that pressure on him as if he has to be the one.The thing is, in a quarterback league, Griffin does have to the the one. Yes, the rest of the team needs to play better around him but Griffin is going to have to play well if the Redskins are to reach their goal of making the playoffs on a regular basis and making a Super Bowl run from time to time.We have seen what improved quarterback play can do for a Redskins team. The 1998 Redskins got off to an 0-7 start on their way to a 6-10 record that nearly cost Norv Turner his job. Trent Green started 14 games at quarterback and Gus Frerotte started two. They combined to complete 53.8 percent of their passes for 3724 yards (6.6 yardsattempt).Green left as a free agent and Frerotte was let go so the Redskins traded for Brad Johnson. Working primarily with receivers Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell, the same guys who where lining up for Green and Frerotte, Johnson started all 16 games and completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 4005 yards (7.7 yardsattempt).The defense went from bad in 98 (24th in yards allowed) to worse in 99 (30th). And the Redskins improved to 10-6, won the division, and hosted a playoff game.To be sure, Johnson was not the only change on offense. There were some new faces on the offensive line but it is not as though a bus pulled up to Redskins Park and dropped off the 1991 Hogs. Rookie Jon Jansen replaced Shar Pourdanesh at right tackle and veteran journeyman Andy Heck came in at left tackle. Fourth-year running back Stephen Davis had a breakout season with 1405 yards, a marked improvement over the 1242 yards that Davis, Skip Hicks, and Terry Allen combined to gain on the ground in 1998.The Redskins did not build on their 1999 success. In 2000 Johnson was first injured and then in a funk about his contract sutiation. He left as a free agent in 2001. But for that one seasons Johnson clearly was the difference maker.Can Griffin make such a difference in 2012 and turn the Redskins around into a team that wins double digit games? Its a tall order for a rookie but he doesnt have to be an elite performer to beat the numbers the QBs put up last year.Despite Moss wishes, the pressure will be on RG3 this year and we will see how well he responds.
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.
—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105
Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.
Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016
(originally posted January 28)
As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.
The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.
The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.
The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.
While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.
Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.
The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.
Much of the Redskins offseason has been focused on players like Josh Norman and Kirk Cousins, or the addition of guys like Terrelle Pryor and Zach Brown. Further down the roster, however, is where games are won. Here's a look at three players that will have the opportunity to make a big impact in 2017.
- Kendall Fuller - Let's be honest: the second-year Hokie had a tough rookie year. He started the season injured, and probably wasn't all the way up to speed when he began playing Week 4. Early on he produced at a good level for a rookie, but quickly, the league saw how to beat him. In a November game against the Vikings, Fuller repeatedly got beat on the inside by Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs. After that, the Redskins coaching staff looked elsewhere for a slot corner. 2017 is a new season, and Fuller will be a full year removed from his knee injury. He still has good vision and hips, an NFL pedigree, and should have the first crack at the slot corner role. If he can produce like many expected from him in 2015 - when he was an assumed first-round pick - Fuller could make a big difference for the Washington defense. Third round draft pick Fabian Moreau might also push for snaps at corner, once he gets healthy.
- Stacy McGee - A new addition to the defense, McGee might be the answer Redskins fans want at nose tackle. Last season was by the far the best of McGee's career, and he emerged as a strong run stopper in Oakland. With his frame, and Jim Tomsula's coaching, McGee might play a big role this fall. His biggest hurdle? Staying healthy. In four seasons in the NFL, McGee has only played 16 games one season. Last year, he was limited to just nine games.
- Spencer Long - A free agent at the end of the season, Long comes in to 2017 looking to prove he can be a top tier center in the NFL. He excelled in pass blocking and calling the assignments on the Redskins line, but his run blocking could improve this fall. The literal centerpiece of a strong, young 'Skins line, 2017 will be a big opportunity for Long. Don't forget Washington moved up to draft Chase Roullier from Wyoming in the 6th round, and he played center and guard in college. Life in the NFL always has pressure, and Long will be facing some.
Always something on social: Enjoy the weekend folks.
See you Tuesday fam pic.twitter.com/NINvMBljUT— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayCSN) May 26, 2017
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