Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
The biggest gamble of the 2012 draft could pay dividends before Washington ever has to worry about those first-round picks.
Not many teams would trade three first-round picks and a second for anything, even if the reward was one of the best quarterback prospects to come around this century. Even if you included a ham sandwich, an Andy Benes rookie card, and a cornball fryer. Then again, not many teams have had quarterback competitions between Rex Grossman and John Beck.
I'd wager that would make a coach do just about anything, even if it did seem crazy.
But is Robert Griffin III a transcendent player that can overcome a trade that seems so lopsided? This Harvard Sports Analysis article shows that the Redskins overpaid by a lot of something called eCAVOA's in order to acquire Griffin and he'd have to be Tom Brady or something in order for it to work out. What that equation failed to account for was this:
If X + Y / Shanahan - Snyder x RG^3 = Super Bowl win, then it was all worth it.
Less than a year after the trade, after seven straight wins, Washington only needs four more W's and they will never have to worry about the picks given up to get Griffin. It would only be the 32nd pick anyway! Either way, the Redskins clearly have one of the best talents to come into the NFL in the 2000s and a player that is literally changing the way that professionals play football. Consider the alternative for a moment and imagine a world in which the Redskins did not trade up with St. Louis to get RGIII. It's easy to point out that they "only moved up four spots and paid way too much" but they didn't move up four spots. They didn't trade for "the No. 2 pick."
They traded for Robert Griffin and that's what they got. What if they had stuck where they were? Would they have Ryan Tannehill and Janoris Jenkins instead? Mark Barron and Stephen Hill with Kirk Cousins as the starter for 16 games? We can never know what would have happened, but we do know what actually happened: Washington got a damn good player and won the NFC East after Mike Shanahan went 11-21 in his first two seasons.
The only question that remains now is, 'Can they win four more?'
Why the Redskins Win the Super Bowl
3G in the House
(In reference to an episode of Family Matters called '3J in the House.' It's a stretch but I got to reference 3J from Family Matters so whatever.)
I expected Robert Griffin to be good and eventually to be great. I would have taken him over Andrew Luck. Maybe not in a heartbeat, but eventually. More like 'in a Andre Smith 40-yard dash.' He exemplified just about anything that I would want in a quarterback, from character to arm strength to athletic ability and Kyle Shanahan has done an excellent job of molding to him and not the other way around. If there was any gripe about him coming out of Baylor and is still a potential issue today, it's that he just can't go through progressions post-snap and locks onto his intended target more often than you'd expect a quarterback to do so. Everything was just so easy for him at Baylor and now the NFL game is too smart and too fast to catch up.
Except that wait, holy crap, they clearly can't catch up to Griffin.
Since the merger, perhaps only two quarterbacks have had better rookie seasons than what Griffin just did: Dan Marino and, would you believe it, Russell Wilson. Is anybody talking about how these two young rookie studs are playing in the same game on Sunday? They really should talk about that.
65.6-percent completions, 3,200 yards, 20 TD, 5 INT, 8.1 yards per attempt and a QBR of 71.41 thanks in large part to 815 rushing yards and seven more touchdowns. Griffin led the
country league in yards per attempt and could win a national championship Super Bowl with his perfect blend of speed and throwing ability. He was fifth in QBR, behind only Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and Aaron Rodgers.
I ask you this: Would you trade three firsts and a second for Aaron Rodgers?
The Redskins were 26th in scoring in 2011 and fourth in scoring in 2012. They had the fifth-best Weighted DVOA offense, sixth-best passing game and second-best running game, per Football Outsiders. Washington got a couple of other new and talented players in the offseason, but make no mistake that this jump in offense all starts with Griffin. And he's really damn good.
ALF's Special Christmas
It's going to be hard to keep this theme up.
Everybody knew that the Redskins were getting something with Griffin. Nobody made a fuss about a sixth-round running back out of Florida Atlantic who was taken two picks after a kicker. We're making a fuss now.
It seemed like Alfred Morris didn't stand much of a chance in Washington this year. Roy Helu looked very good at times in 2011. Evan Royster was a "favorite" of Mike Shanahan. Tim Hightower is a running back and was also on the roster and once did some OK things. Where was there room for Morris? Well, Morris said 'Timeout' like his brother Zack Morris and found himself as the opening day starter. (Oh, how I felt Zack wasted those timeouts. You can freeze time and you're wasting it to talk to US?)
From sixth-round pick to the Redskins all-time single season rushing record in less than a year. He could be an alien.
RGIII and that offense help Morris be successful, but Morris' ability also help RGIII and that offense be special. That showed with 200 yards and three touchdowns as the Redskins beat the Cowboys to clinch the division. That'll be difficult for the Seahawks (or anyone) to stop.
Pants on Fire
(From an episode of Dream On. Remember Dream On?)
The Redskins come into the playoffs looking unbeatable because over their last seven games, they've been unbeatable. Since Shanahan seemed to allude to calling it quits after a 3-6 start, Washington has won seven in a row since their bye week. Five of those wins came in the division, which is why they stand where they stand, having a home game in the playoffs. Every game has been a must-win and even when Griffin missed a start against the Browns, Cousins came through in a big way.
Washington also has the sixth-best Weighted DVOA in the league because of their hot finish. Without a doubt, the Redskins are playing their best football at the right time and are just three wins away from a trip to New Orleans and at least one of those games comes at home. But can they do it?
Let me remind you that so far I've said nothing about their defense.
Why the Redskins Won't Win the Super Bowl
The One Where No One's Ready
At least no one on the defense.
The Redskins have a great offense and a great running game. Sweet. Now, are there any other units of football? If no, then you might win a Super Bowl. If yes, you better get lucky. Washington was the least run-on team in the NFL and that's partly because they are one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.
They finished 30th in total yardage (which isn't fair because they were the most passed on team in the league), but still were 24th in net yards allowed per pass attempt, and gave up 31 touchdowns through the air. They might have finished fifth against the run in terms of yardage, but remember: Nobody runs on them. They were 17th in yards per carry allowed. DVOVA ranks them 17th overall, 13th Weighted (more recent games, mostly the last 8-12 games), 14th against the pass and 22nd against the run.
Know this: Seattle has a great running game and is decent against the run. The Redskins have a great running game and are bad against the run and the pass. The Seahawks are GREAT against the pass. In the Wild Card game, I think it would be important for Redskins fans to be thinking they will need at least 28 points to win this game. Their offense is great, but Seattle is the only team to not give up 30 points this year and also has a great offense. The difference is that the Redskins have a fairly poor defense.
The Close Talker
Pierre Garcon is going to wonder why Richard Sherman is so close. Or any receiver than ends up lining up against Sherman, Brandon Browner, Jeremy Lane, whoever is in there. Seattle has physical corners that like to jam you all up and it's worked to the tune of less than one touchdown pass per game and the third-best pass defense in the NFL by DVOA.
I bring this up because I think Garcon is an important player to Washington. In fact, they are 9-1 when he plays. Now, he's been unhealthy in a few games this year and taken out of the game (49 yards in three games while he still recovered from a foot injury earlier in the year), but there is one simple fact about Garcon: That Garcon means boy and that he is the only real receiving threat in Washington.
OK, two facts.
Garcon led the Redskins with 633 yards and when he was out, they struggled to find any good options between Santana Moss, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson. It seemed like every week another player was getting a shot, but at the end of the day, nobody compares to Garcon on that roster. So, what's going to happen if Garcon is limited to a couple of short gains on Sunday?
That's the sort of benefit you get from having a Sherman on your defense. It'll allow Seattle to focus more on stopping the run if they know that Garcon (or whoever is lined up out there, Browner on Garcon isn't a bad matchup either) is taken out of the offensive gameplan.
Again, this is another issue that a team like Washington would face against the 49ers. It's nice to have a defense in the playoffs.
No matter how the Redskins' season ends, even if it's one-and-done, there is no denying that they got a great player with Griffin. You just don't get franchise quarterbacks very often, hey, just ask Washington! They thought you could just win a Super Bowl with Doug Williams every year. But now they know that they have a very special player and should be in championship contention for a long time. Will they run into troubles finding help on defense without a first-round pick in the next two years? Maybe. But if they can find Morris in the sixth, they might be able to find a safety or corner or any defensive position later in the draft.
I am not sure that with this defense they can push past the rest of the NFC, but I know that they'll be in contention for awhile with RGIII. As far as this year, they probably won't make it out of the Pine Barrens.