Washington Redskins: Why RGIII Will Lead 'Skins to Winning Record in 2012
Robert Griffin III has been covered and analyzed from just about every angle by what seems like just about every writer. And why wouldn't he be? His upcoming rookie season with the Washington Redskins has been highly anticipated since they gave up three first-round picks and a second-rounder to get him.
To a lot of the country, Griffin was unknown before he won the Heisman Trophy. Now even the average sports fan seems to know what RGIII has been up to.
Part of this is because Andrew Luck has been considered by many to be the next Peyton Manning since his sophomore year of college. Analysts have made it seem like Luck is a sure-fire superstar, and thus all the question marks fall to Griffin.
People want to know how well RGIII will perform. Is he going to be the next JaMarcus Russell, or the next Cam Newton? Only time will really tell. Yet something about this guy makes him seem like a winner. People have gravitated towards him and are looking forward to see what he can do.
It is not going to be an easy road in his rookie year. It is going to take some adjusting, and there are going to be time where he struggles. Yet Griffin has shown that he can weather the storm and has all the makings of a great quarterback. Because of that, here are five reasons why Griffin will lead the Redskins to a winning season in 2012.
5. Better Possession of the Football, Better Time of Possession
Believe it or not, the Redskins were not too bad as far as time of possession goes in the NFL. They ranked 14th in time of possession with an average of 30.21 minutes per game. They also were ranked 15th in third-down conversion percentage with 37 percent.
That was higher than I expected it to be, but that is in large part due to the style of play Mike and Kyle Shanahan ran, focusing on the run and short passes in an effort to manage the game.
It seemed like—and I'm sure London Fletcher and the defense felt this way—they didn't hold on to the football very long. Fletcher led the league in tackles at age 37 with 166 tackles. Expect him to have fewer this year because Griffin and the offense will have the ball longer.
Obviously a big part of having more time of possession is not turning the ball over. The Redskins were terrible in that area, with a turnover ratio of minus-14, bad enough to tie for second worst in the league. This led to opponents having a short field and scoring quickly. That is another reason the team had more time of possession than expected.
With Griffin holding onto the ball, as well as what seems to be a slightly improved defense, look for the Redskins to hold on to the ball longer and to turn it over less in 2012. It is well documented that if you lead in time of possession and win the turnover battle, you're going to win.
Thus, look for RGIII to bring more wins to Washington.
4. Strength of Schedule
In order to have a winning record, it helps to play opponents who aren't so good. The Redskins have the easiest schedule in the NFC East with the 24th toughest schedule in the league. The teams on their schedule had a combined record of just 125-131, despite the fact that the Skins are playing seven playoff teams from a year ago.
One of those playoff teams from a year ago is the New Orleans Saints, who have had a nightmare offseason with all of the bounty trouble. Washington is going to play them in Week 1, and I expect the Saints to struggle without their top two coaches and top two defensive players. If there was any time to play the Saints, it would be in that first week.
Griffin should not have too much of a problem playing against some of their weaker opponents. The Redskins have a history of playing just below the level of their opponents and making games that should be easy wins into tough ones. For example, the Redskins have given the St. Louis Rams their first win of the year in two of the past three seasons.
With RGIII in charge, that should be much less of a problem. Look for him and the Redskins to take advantage of an easier schedule.
3. Better Receivers
With respect to Jabar Gaffney and Donte' Stallworth, the Redskins did not have the best receiving corps in the NFL last year—to put it nicely.
The 'Skins struggled to throw the deep ball and did not have a receiver who caught more than 68 passes or for 1,000 yards. They only had one reception for more than 50 yards, and that was a 51-yarder to Stallworth.
The Redskins' second-best receiver was tight end Fred Davis, and their fourth-best receiver was Roy Helu, who started the year as the backup at the running back position before Tim Hightower got hurt. All in all, that is not a very good stat line for an offense.
Garcon, despite playing for a team that didn't get its first win until Week 15 of the season, had the best year of his career with 70 receptions and 947 yards as the Colts' No. 2 receiver.
Morgan came at a discounted price from San Francisco after breaking his leg early in the season. If he can stay healthy, he will be a solid option for Griffin to throw to.
The presence of these two guys will free up Santana Moss to be the No. 3 and slot receiver that he is built to be. It should also take some of the pressure off Davis. With all of this and a new young quarterback that has the ability to extend the play as well as throw the deep ball in RGIII, look for a much better passing year for the 'Skins.
Under RGIII's leadership, that will lead to more wins.
2. RGIII's Feet
Griffin has the fastest recorded 40-yard dash time for a quarterback in NFL combine history with a time of 4.38 seconds. In addition to football he was a track star at Baylor, finishing third in the 400 meter hurdles at the NCAA championships and qualifying for the Olympic Trials.
Griffin's feet are going to make him one of the tougher quarterbacks in the league to bring down. They will allow him to extend the play and let his receivers get open. Griffin has shown the ability to throw on the run accurately. He has also shown that when he needs to or sees an opening, he has the ability to run and move the chains.
Because of his great quickness as well as speed, RGIII can also make defenders miss, badly.
Griffin's ability to roll out, run the ball and extend plays with his feet opens up a whole new arsenal for coaches Mike and Kyle Shanahan. It has been well-documented that they had him practicing rolling out to both his left and right many times during rookie camp and OTAs.
Look for Griffin to extend plays and games with his feet, getting the 'Skins more first downs, touchdowns and wins.
1. Leadership, Intangibles
In addition to his great play on the field, Griffin has shown a lot of promise off the field. He has said all of the right things and none of the wrong things.
From his inspirational socks to his motivational tweets, RGIII has shown nothing but pure class off the field. Several players, as well as head coach Mike Shanahan, have said he has tremendous leadership skills.
Griffin is also incredibly smart. In a recent press conference, Griffin said he was starting to just go through the plays on instinct instead of having to think and focus on what the play call was and what was going on. He has learned the playbook very quickly, something that is rare.
Look for Griffin to show his leadership and intelligence both on and off the field this season. It is a huge boost for a team to have that out of the quarterback position and the early signs of a real franchise quarterback.
If Griffin has any say in how this season goes, look for the Redskins to be vastly improved from the year before, even to the point of a winning record.