After three games the team was struggling with a losing record and it looked like the season was going to spiral out of control. The defense couldn’t stop anyone and some fans were calling for the defensive coordinator to be fired. Both the game and the durability of the young quarterback were being questioned.
The scenario above is being played out now, of course. It also was being played out exactly 12 months ago. The Redskins were coming off of a 38-31 loss to the Bengals in a game that wasn’t really as close as the final score made it appear. In the first two games it looked like rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III would revolutionize the game with his running ability. The Bengals slammed Griffin to the turf multiple times and he often took a few seconds to pick himself up off of the FedEx Field turf.
It got to the point where Griffin had to talk about his toughness in the postgame press conference.
"I don’t know how many times I got hit, I got hit a lot . . . The one thing I won't do personally is quit or play scared. I've never played scared in my life. So it doesn't matter how many times they hit me, I'm going to continue to get back up," he said. "Even if they have to cart me off the field, I'm going to get off that cart and walk away."
At that point in the season, Griffin had run the ball 33 times for 198 yards.
The defense was getting torched. They were 30th in the NFL in terms of yards allowed (1,288) and they had give up 101 points, also 30th in the league.
But after allowing 31 points or more in each of the first three games, the Redskins’ defense settled in some. They allowed more than 27 points just twice in the remaining 13 games and the Redskins won both of those games.
Things got a little better as the Redskins came back the next week to beat the Bucs. But they lost four of their next five to fall to 3-6. We all know what happened after that.
There are some differences this year. Even though there is only a one-game difference in their record, having that zero in the wins column is a huge psychological factor. Griffin is not yet nine months removed from reconstructive knee surgery.
But there is much more that is the same. The team has the same coaches, and almost all of the same key players. The schedule in front of the 2012 Redskins looked daunting, just like the upcoming games do for this group. And Redskins fans, and many in the media, were in a panic a year ago and many of the same people are now saying that the sky is falling.
History will not necessarily repeat. The fact that last year’s bunch recovered to post the Redskins’ best season in over a decade doesn’t mean that this year’s bunch will get it together.
But it does mean that it’s possible and that we do tend to overreact in the moment. The Redskins are right to resist calls to bench Griffin and/or fire defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. They will make some tweaks to the schemes and playcalling and perhaps give different players some additional playing time on both sides of the ball. But in the big picture they will continue to do what they have been doing. They have some history on their side.