"Very impressive.""Explosive.""Elusive."Robert Griffin III continues to garner an immense amount of praise around the league, despite the Redskins eventually falling to the Bengals in their home opener, 38-31.However, one may not expect this kind of acclaim from the opposing team.And while the Bengals D is crushing on the Redskins QB in a respect sense, it didn't stop them from crushing the QB on the field, sacking the rookie 6 times.Defensive end, Carlos Dunlap, said when they saw an opportunity to do so the Bengals seized it, "When he's outside the pocket, it's our chance, you gotta be careful because he Griffin can dodge some hits too. So when you get him, you want to get him good."Dunlap, clearly blow away by Griffin's ability went as far as to say, he was proud of the burgundy's and gold's signal caller,"The sky is the limit for him, man. Mad props to him for taking all those hits and getting back up and bringing him team back. We just happened to finish and get the win today. He brings a different dynamic to the game, man, I'm proud of him."But it was the RG3's toughness that impressed Dunlap the most."Getting up after getting hit, you know, I mean everyone keeps trying to say he can't take a hit and today he took a few of them and got right back up and willed his team back into the game so he's just gotta just keep doing that."Teammate, Michael Johnson, in what is being dubbed as the ('best performance of his young career') thus far delivered three of the sacks, was also left awestruck by Griffin's tenacious play,"He's a tough competitor, because we hit him a bunch of times and he kept getting up...like...that was very impressive. He's going to be a very good player in this league. He's explosive, he's elusive. I can't say enough about him, the way he kept getting back up. I know we hit him a bunch of times, but he would not quit. I tip my hat to him for that."As for Griffin? For him, One hit is more than enough, but he realizes actions speak louder than words, "It's not a show. In college we say it all the time, 'tough guys have to be tough guys.' You can't just talk tough, but then play soft. By no means do I have to be the toughest guy on the field. That's what you have the offensive linemen for. They are supposed to be the guys that are the toughest on the field. But whenever those guys do get to you and those are two big guys that deliver good hits, all you can do is get up from it. The one thing they did late in the game was (Michael) Johnson hit me and got a quarterback hit and he picked me up and told me to get up. I think you earn players' respect. You don't say anything and just get up from those hits."And speaking of hits, both Johnson and Dunlap, repeatedly noted that RG3 would not quit, but at what point does Griffin fail to get up? One has to wonder about his durability over the course of an entire season in the NFL.
When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.
In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.
Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.
What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games.
The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.
As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.
The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
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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.