Washington Redskins: Most Important Games for RGIII on the 2012 Schedule
In arguably the most highly anticipated season in decades, the Washington Redskins embark on 2012 with a confident coaching staff, a newly established culture and a franchise quarterback, better known as RG3.
Everything appears in place. Although fans won't go as far as to say the Redskins are Super Bowl bound—maybe not even playoff bound—everyone tends to feel pretty positive about the expected product this year.
And above all else, the anticipation of Robert Griffin III is what has fans on cloud nine. After watching his electrifying play during his Heisman season last year, in combination with his gripping personality off the field, Griffin is everything fans want and then some.
Like most rookies, Redskins fans should expect both ups and downs with Griffin this year. But from taking an early peek at the schedule, a few games in particular are going to really stand out for him in 2012.
Week 1: at New Orleans Saints
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With so much excitement, why wait?
Aside from being the first regular-season game of Griffin's NFL career, the matchup itself is also very intriguing. With the recent happenings of Bounty Gate, in combination with one of the hardest stadiums to play in, Griffin could cause ESPN headquarters to erupt if he throws up some crazy numbers in his first professional outing.
Try to picture this: Griffin goes 17-of-25 for 275 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. The Redskins defeat the effortless Saints, 31-17.
Not to be misunderstood, I'm not making predictions here. I'm simply painting a (hopeful) picture.
Week 3: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
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After spending the first two weeks on the road playing in loud dome stadiums, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins return to Washington to host their 2012 home opener at FedEx Field.
While fans would probably prefer a more significant opponent for the home opener, the Cardiac Cats are no slouch. Both Griffin and the Washington defense will have their hands full with an up-and-coming Bengals team that is looking to make big strides this season.
Even in a losing effort, this game will hold some sentimental value. We might not be holding back tears, but it will certainly feel good to hear 80,000 fans embracing their new face of the franchise.
Week 7: at New York Giants
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So many things go into this Week 7 game at the Meadowlands.
For starters, this will be RG3's first NFC East division game. And despite the entire division being made up of stellar pass-rushers, the New York Giants are the most intimidating defense.
Secondly, this is a chance for Griffin to shock the masses. As the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Giants expect nothing less than an NFC Championship. What would it mean to have a division rival with a rookie quarterback knock you around a bit on your home turf?
And finally, from a personal standpoint, I'm a huge hater of the Giants. Every year—sometimes even more than Dallas—I want to sweep the Giants. If RG3 can handle this one on the road, the Redskins are halfway there.
Week 9: vs. Carolina Panthers
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Two main things stand out to me in this Week 9 matchup against the Panthers at FedEx Field.
At the beginning of the draft process, it seemed as if tons of people enjoyed comparing Robert Griffin III to Cam Newton—the No. 1 overall pick just one year prior.
As a full-time couch quarterback and scout, I had always stood by my thoughts that Griffin and Newton were two completely different quarterbacks. Not to say that I'm right and someone else is wrong, but this game taking the shape of an O.K. Corral between RG3 and Killer Cam would sure be entertaining.
Then, getting away from my selfish side, this game marks the last one before entering the bye week.
Not to sound like Captain Obvious, but entering the bye week with a win is exponentially more beneficial than going into it with a loss. Reason being, the team takes the entire week to recover and rehabilitate. The last game, whether it be a win or a loss, resonates with players and coaches. A win can work wonders throughout the bye week and result in two weeks of positive momentum going into the team's next game.
It should also be noted that the Redskins are at home for Week 11—the game immediately following the bye. Not only is this good for travel and players feeling comfortable while staying around home, but it's also nice to draw the Eagles at home first.
Week 11: vs. Philadelphia Eagles
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In his first bout against the Eagles, Robert Griffin III gets them at home immediately following the bye week.
It will be interesting to see how the Redskins come out of the gate against Philly. In addition to being a division rival, RG3 and the gang are set to play five division foes in their remaining seven games after the break. In that sense, fans should be grateful for the late-season bye.
From a pure entertainment standpoint, the matchup between Griffin and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick should be a fun one to watch. As most Washington fans can remember, Vick single-handedly beat down the Redskins two years ago on a Monday night prime-time slot in front of a home crowd. Not only did that celebrate Donovan McNabb's newest (and short-lived) contract with the 'Skins, but it also earned Vick the second nine-figure contract of his career.
How about a little payback with the rookie, RG3?
Week 12: at Dallas Cowboys
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As he admitted prior to being drafted, Robert Griffin III didn't grow up a Cowboys fan. And while he didn't refer to it specifically as hatred towards the girls from Dallas, Redskins fans can sleep well knowing that the rookie should have no problem developing it.
Griffin and the Redskins have to wait until Week 12 to take on their archenemy Dallas Cowboys, but it's bound to be worth the wait. The Redskins draw them after their bye week, Griffin should be somewhat tested by this point in the season and the rivalry itself always makes for insane gridiron action.
Oh -- then add in the fact that it's Turkey Day.
Week 13: vs. New York Giants
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As mentioned before, marking my own calendar for every game against the Giants is a personal favorite. Sometimes more than any other opponent in any other sport, I pray for a sweep of the New York Giants.
This particular game, however, will be significant for reasons other than my personal agenda.
Monday night, December 3, 2012, will mark the first prime-time game of RG3's career. And, unfortunately, the only prime-time game for the Redskins all season.
Whether or not you're a fan of the Redskins or Giants, all eyes will be on Robert Griffin III.
Week 14: vs. Baltimore Ravens
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Make of it what you will, as we all know how much media attention it will receive around the DMV.
Some call it a rival, while others understand that it's just fan-made bitterness. Either way, the Ravens-Redskins matchup is an entertaining spectacle in the area for the sheer fact that you're equipped with bragging rights when you head into work the next day.
Perhaps the greatest draw in this game will be how Robert Griffin III stacks up against Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco.
Although RG3 is only a rookie, Flacco has proclaimed himself to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. As a result, the spotlights could be more on Ol' Joe than they are Griffin.
Week 17: vs. Dallas Cowboys
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Hopefully we're talking about meaningful Redskins football at the end of the year rather than anticipating which top-10 pick Washington will receive in the draft. And if that's the case, then a season finale against the Cowboys could potentially be the Redskins' most intense football game of the season.
As a side prayer to the football gods, why not ask for an opportunity to sweep the Cowgirls for the final game of the season? Regardless of playoff contention, taking Dallas down for the second time in one season would feel pretty good.
Also at this point, analysts and fans alike will be breaking down RG3 and his stats on the season. Are the Redskins playoff bound? Is Griffin a hero? Are the Redskins a disappointment? Is RG3 a bust?