When the Redskins hosted the Bengals in week 3, it was Robert Griffin III's toughness that left a lasting impression,not Griffin's ability not to run or throw the ball, or lead his team but his gritty play. The young quarterbacks ability to get back up after being hitafter hitafter hitafter hit...It left many to wonder about the rookie's durability over the course of a entire NFL season.That question was answered just seven quarters later.Sunday, as the Redskins hosted the 4-0, Atlanta Falcons, RG3 was taken out of the game by a shoulder-to-helmet blow delivered by Falcons linebacker, Sean Weatherspoon."It's just a bang-bang tough play. He got outside of our end, I was in pursuit and he didn't go out of bounds, so I just tried to get a good hit on him. Unfortunately he left the game, I wish the best for him, hope everything's going alright," said Weatherspoon."Most quarterbacks either slide or run out of bounds, but he's a tough guy, a tough guy, but I think he'll learn a little bit. He's tough, he's fighting, I commend him for that."Weatherspoon also added that the hit was clean, saying it was, 'a good hit, a good play and it gave us a little bit of energy,' while reiterating his concern for RG3's health while clarifying that it wasn't a helmet to helmet hit, "I'm not that kind of guy to go up top like thatI'm just trying to get a good hit."Weatherspoon said he gave RG3 a tap on the head as Griffin was walking away, and Griffin told him he had done a 'good job.'"He definitely made us prepare" Weatherspoon said with a laugh, "all week man, that's all we talked abouttrying to find a way to stop the run game, even the quarterback running. He's been doing some great things, play action pass, stick it in there and pass it right over your linebacker, so you know, he's a tough guy to go against."Weatherspoon who plays with arguably the hottest QB in the league right now, Matt Ryan, said when comparing RG3 to the veteran signal caller, 'He's an electric player, I know that he's going to do some great things for the Redskins and they'll win a lot of football games with him. I played against him in college so I've seen him for awhile so I know what type of athlete he is, what type of quarterback he is, you know people just think about him being a an athlete but he's a really good quarterback."Cornerback, Dunta Robinson who registered half of a sack versus Griffin said, 'he almost led his team to a victory' and noted that Griffin will have a long and successful season in the NFL.Defensive tackle, Jonathan Babineaux, didn't think the victory was pretty, but would take it to extend the Falcons streak to a 5-0 start to the season. Babineaux also had a tough critique of RG3's performance,"He's still a rookie quarterback, he won the Heisman last year, but he's a professional now. I think for a rookie he played well. He led his team well, he seemed like he was the leader out there, the older guys really seemed to listen to him, so personally I felt like he did a good job. You know he still is a rookie, so we didn't expect much from him, but he did will."It is yet to be determined what Griffin will take away from this game and whether he will continue or curb his tough play. Coach Mike Shanahan said the quarterback did indeed suffer a mild concussion (link to either Tarik or Rich's story) and that he would need to pass an NFL mandated concussion test this week, so while Griffin's future availability may be up in the air, one thing that isn't, is the rookie's grit. He tweeted just after the game that he would be ready to play Sunday as the Vikings take on the Redskins at FedEx Field at 4:25PM.
The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.
That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?
Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.
For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016.
In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it.
Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.
I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.
To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.
Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will.
More offseason questions:
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!
There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans.
Doctson looks ready pic.twitter.com/opUrNtdInQ— ceroy (@ceroy16) February 23, 2017
Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.
His rookie year, however, was a different matter.
The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.
A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!