Washington Redskins: Who Wears the Crown?

Tom NataliCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 23:   Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins drops back to pass against the Cincinnati Bengals during a game at FedExField on September 23, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

What defines who is the best player on their respective team? Is it their talent? Is it their drive or motivation? Is it their ability to perform when it matters? Is it their leadership skills? Is it wins and losses?

To answer the question, it’s a probably a combination of all of that—and then some. To me, the best player can be summed up in one word—reliable.

He’s someone that will go the extra mile, that will not only say the right things, but, more importantly, do the right things. He’s a fan favorite that loves his team. He’s someone that the franchise won’t let go; someone that deserves the big bucks.

So who is the Redskins best player?

Is it the aged, unappreciated veteran in London Fletcher? Is it last year’s rookie in Ryan Kerrigan? Or is it the boy wonder Robert Griffin III?

Let’s start with Fletcher. I love him—in a platonic way of course; however, if you were to look up Washington Redskin in the dictionary, they should have London Fletcher’s picture right there.

He’s done everything that has been asked of him and more. Statistically, he’s Hall-of-Fame worthy. He’s been one of the top tacklers in the NFL year after year. He remains effective in coverage and hasn’t missed a game since he arrived in DC.

He’s been the leader of the locker room since day one. Frankly, he’s been on some bad teams; however, you don’t hear a peep out of London Fletcher. A player of his credibility deserves to play on a winning team, but he loves being a Redskin. He’s put his heart and soul in his job.

He was the best free agent signing of the Dan Snyder era and if the organization is smart, they will find a way to keep London Fletcher after his playing days are over.

That all being considered, as great of a player London Fletcher is, I’ve never said “wow.” He’s an incredible linebacker, but he’s never taken over a game or had a mesmerizing play that will forever live with the Redskins.

As far as Ryan Kerrigan is concerned, he’s a very good outside linebacker. He’s durable (knock on wood), relentless and adaptable (he transitioned from a defensive lineman out of college).

With Brian Orakpo out for the season, the pass rush is heavily dependent on Ryan Kerrigan this season. In order to compete with the NFC East, Kerrigan will need to provide consistent pressure every single game.

That’s a lot for a second year player who has yet to master his craft. When you watch Ryan Kerrigan, however, you see an old-school type of athlete.

Someone who plays with a controlled anger while remained poised. He’s shown a willingness to go out into pass coverage and has been a stud against the run since day one.

Examining Ryan Kerrigan will take longer than just three games into the season; his hands are full for thirteen more games.

Last year, the Redskins beat the Arizona Cardinals in week two in stunning fashion, as the Rex Grossman-lead Skins started off with an improbable 2-0 record.

At the conclusion of the game, I wrote an article titled “Why Not,” in which I elaborated that something special could be going on with that ballclub.

Well as we all know, they won three games the rest of the way. In retrospect, I’m almost laughing at myself for believing that Rex Grossman could legitimately lead a team to promise.

I mean no disrespect to Grossman either, he’s just not starting caliber material. Over the years, the NFL has transformed into a quarterback-driven league. The Trent Dilfer’s are now an anomaly.

You want to win in this league? Find a quarterback that can do it for you, which leads me to Robert Griffin III.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s incredible that RGIII is already the team’s best player. I thought the front office made the right move by acquiring him, but I didn’t expect results this fast.

You can’t blame the 1-2 record on him either; it’s not his fault the defense can’t stop anyone.

Griffin has been as advertised, but even more. By far, he’s been the most impressive rookie to date—maybe the most impressive quarterback no matter what.

From a statistic standpoint, Griffin is already there. With his combination of both his legs and arm, defenses have yet to find a way to stop him.

From a maturity and professional level, I admit I was a bit concerned with all of the commercials I was seeing and unnecessary hype that came along with the brand name known as RGIII. However, I was wrong. He’s been a model quarterback and face of the franchise.

To put it simply, you don’t have to be a Redskins fan to witness what Griffin has accomplished in his brief career.

He’s something special; he has the “it” factor that is needed among the great quarterbacks in this league.

The sky is the limit to the former Heisman Trophy winner and he has no problem putting the weight of a desperate franchise on his shoulders.

In fact, he embraces it and looks forward to the challenge. The work ethic is there, the fearlessness is too.

Just make sure he doesn’t want to get on the cover of Madden. I wouldn’t want to subject him to that curse.