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Redskins Griffin among NFL's most influential but should he be?

Redskins Griffin among NFL's most influential but should he be?

It’s the time of the year for rankings and we’ve seen how one analyst ranks Robert Griffin III among the 32 NFL starting quarterbacks (spoiler: it couldn’t be much worse). But because Griffin has been so good and so bad during his brief NFL career, he is among the most influential players in the NFL, according to the same website that ranked him poorly among the starting QB’s.

The list is the MMQB 100, compiled by Peter King and his staff. The introduction to the list doesn’t give a firm definition of “influential” but it does say that they are emphasizing influence on the field over off-field concerns. Therefore Tom Brady is No. 1 while commissioner Rodger Goodell is No. 2. The list is a mix of players, coaches, front office types, league executives, and others around the game.

Griffin checks in at No. 28 on the list, just ahead of NFL vice president Eric Grubman and just behind Saints QB Drew Brees. In explaining the ranking, Andy Benoit (yes, the same writer that did the QB ranking, says that it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider the Redskins offense to be “loaded”. He notes the upgrade on the offensive line with Brandon Scherff, quality at running back in Alfred Morris and intriguing rookie Matt Jones, and top-shelf pass catchers in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and, if healthy, Jordan Reed. How productive they are will likely come down to the effectiveness of the guy pulling the trigger.

“The only real question is at quarterback,” writes Beniot. “Robert Griffin III is so badly lagging in his mechanics and understanding of defenses that the question isn’t how well Griffin will fare, but rather whether or not he’ll retain his starting job at all. If Griffin doesn’t keep the job this season, his once-promising career could be headed down the Tarvaris Jackson track, making coaches and GMs rethink the proposition of drafting a run-oriented quarterback.”

First, although it’s slightly off topic, let me address the Jackson comparison. Jackson never had a season remotely resembling Griffin’s 2012 season. In fact, Jackson’s career numbers in completion percentage, interception percentage, passer rating, and average net yards per attempt are worse than Griffin’s were last year, a performance that has everyone wondering about his future. So comparing Jackson to Griffin is not very credible.

Back to the topic at hand, Griffin could be highly influential in the team’s success but it’s possible that the less influential he is the better off the team will be. It seems that the team used a lot of resources this offseason to making the team less reliant on the quarterback to win games. With considerable free agent dollars going to attempt to upgrade the defense and the efforts to improve the running game, it seems that the Redskins would like to be able to win games when the quarterback play is uneven.

No doubt, if the defense gets better, the running game improves, and Griffin reverts to something close to 2012 form, the Redskins could have a good season. That’s why he is No. 28 on the list. But no matter where you rank Griffin, I don’t think that he should rank ahead of another member of the Redskins organization who is not on the list at all.

That would be new general manager Scot McCloughan, the man responsible for the personnel moves and a draft that possibly added some solid pieces for the future. The defense clearly will have his stamp on it, with three of the four secondary starters coming in under his watch as well at two thirds on the defensive line. If the Redskins do turn it around, McCloughan will be the man most responsible.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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