Washington Redskins: Perception vs. Reality Following Week 3 Loss to Cincinnati
Another week, another crushing loss after a blown opportunity to tie the game at the buzzer.
At least we can thank the officials in the Packers-Seahawks game for blowing a call that got the media attention away from criticizing the Washington Redskins after Kyle Shanahan's tirade on the officials in Landover.
Lord knows what an injury-riddled team needs is a bad distraction.
After the 1-2 start, there's a lot that can be said about the Redskins in this young season. Not all of it is true, and some of it is just misconception. Regardless of how you see it, I'm here to help break down what is really happening behind the perception of the 2012 'Skins.
And, if a fantasy football discussion breaks out, it will be like the third level of Inception. That's too much for me, so please don't let it happen. Also, I have a Facebook page now! So when you finish this article and you like what you see, Like my page here, thanks!
Perception: The Redskins Aren't Running the Ball Enough
Reality: The Redskins running backs aren't running the ball enough.
We all knew that when Robert Griffin III came to Washington, he would take off and run quite a few times. Now, the perception says that the Redskins aren't running the ball enough, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
Griffin, on the other hand, has nearly a third of those carries with a total of 32. The Redskins feature back, Alfred Morris, doesn't even have twice that amount with only 61.
Running backs were meant to take a pounding, but a quarterback (yes, even Griffin) taking that kind of punishment can only be a bad thing. Not saying that I don't appreciate what Griffin does with his feet, because it has made the Redskins offense better ten-fold. They are currently the highest scoring team in the league for crying out loud! When's the last time we could say that?
Washington can't depend on just Griffin as the primary rushing threat, and it needs to start planning around Alfred Morris, who has shown he's more than able to carry the load and be productive, averaging 4.3 yards a clip.
A balanced running game will help keep the pressure off of Griffin, but that may be easier said than done with the offensive line being one of the biggest weak spots the Redskins have. If they are able to open up some holes, that will just make them that much more dangerous.
If defenses have to plan around Morris as much as Griffin, that will open him up for runs on bootlegs for RG3 where he can get to the sideline and not take a huge hit (although the sideline hasn't been much of a safety spot for RG3).
We'll see if the Shanahan's gameplan will change in the coming weeks, but they may want to take a serious look at their running back, who has been rather good this season.
Perception: The Redskins Secondary Is the Biggest Weak Spot
Reality: Alright, the Redskins secondary is a huge weak spot, but it may not be the biggest.
You have to consider the offensive line is likely the biggest weak spot. The pass rush just has not been what everyone expected it to be for the Redskins.
With Brian Orakpo out, Ryan Kerrigan has become the biggest threat, and opposing offenses know that. Last week against the Bengals, the Redskins got a mediocre two sacks on quarterback Andy Dalton and hit him six times.
On the other hand, the Bengals were able to hit Robert Griffin III a total of 13 times in addition to six sacks.
And that's just the Bengals. What's going to happen when the Redskins play the Ravens?
Quarterbacks are able to pick this defense apart without coming under any pressure. Even though the secondary isn't one of the best in the league (they are certainly in the bottom half), they can't be the worst.
As I said last week, the Redskins need to be creative in the way they apply pressure to the quarterback, but Jim Haslett's gameplan has been flat at best, and head-spinning at worst.
On the first play of the Bengals game, how do you allow a receiver to throw a 73-yard touchdown pass? Why was the team's best cornerback, DeAngelo Hall, covering Andy Dalton and not A.J. Green? Were the Redskins worried that Dalton would go deep and blaze by the safeties?
I couldn't wrap my head around it, and I knew it was going to be a long afternoon for the defense. That one was on the secondary, but the Bengals had plenty of other big plays that are going to keep happening over and over if they can't get in the quarterbacks faces.
Perception: Robert Griffin III Is Already an Elite Quarterback
Reality: He is a very good quarterback and dynamic playmaker, but he is not in elite status...yet.
You can't say enough about Robert Griffin III in his first three career games. There's nothing to hate. He makes plays happen out of nothing, he can move the chains and he adds that extra element of surprise that the defenses have to plan around.
However, to get into the upper echelon of the quarterback kingdom, you have to have a larger sample size when it comes to passing.
The Redskins passing offense ranks just 21st in the NFL with a total of 671 yards. Although that is impressive for a rookie (especially one that leads all fantasy players in scoring (here's your Inception reference in parentheses)), we expect a little more out of someone that can throw an absolute dime 50 yards downfield.
Having the most passing yards doesn't always mean you will have the most wins. Just ask the 1-2 Detroit Lions, who have already eclipsed 1,000 yards passing in just three games. This is purely an individual statistic discussion, though.
Unfortunately, the Redskins aren't going to be able to give Griffin the opportunity to be an elite passer unless they get him some protection and Pierre Garcon comes back from injury.
So I'll let it slide for now, but I would like to see just a little more out of Griffin's arm before the season is out. We know he has the ability.
Perception: Fred Davis Is a Lost Cause
Reality: Fred Davis is being under-utilized.
I know I've said I'm ready to give up on Fred Davis, but after last week, I changed my mind back the other way.
He was the leading receiver last week with 90 yards, catching all seven balls thrown his way. It reassured that he can still be on of the top tight ends in the league. He just wasn't being used in the first two weeks.
With Garcon and Santana Moss being legitimate deep threats (Garcon more these days), Griffin certainly needs an intermediate escape valve, and Davis is a great option. The inconsistencies in his use are very familiar, though.
It reminds me of exactly how the Eagles use their top tight end, Brent Celek. One game he will top 100 yards and find the end zone once or twice. Then other games, he will come up with no catches on just one target.
I'd like to see him used a lot more in this offense. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until I'm blue in the face. You can't under-utilize someone this talented so frequently. I would like to see him get six to 10 targets each week.
Whenever I'm about ready to hit the "Bust" button on Davis, he has a game like last week's and I have to lock the button away for another month. Right now, I'm locking it up, but we'll see how long that lasts.