Five weeks are in the books and the Washington Redskins are about on par. With an impressive win against the Saints in Week 1, and some disappointing losses (Rams and Bengals), the 2-3 record is acceptable. Robert Griffin III appears to be better than advertised, but at the same time, the defense is failing to meet expectations.
While the season is less one-third complete, there is still a solid body of work to judge the team against for the rest of the season. With some players far above, and some far below, their expected levels, it is time for the Early End of Year Awards. This piece will explore the Redskins' players who should receive the end of year NFL awards within the Washington organization alone. As part of this piece, no player will be eligible for more than one award.
It should come as no surprise that Robert Griffin III is the Redskins' Most Valuable Player. RG3 has single-handedly transformed the Redskins from an NFL basement offense into an electric, strike at any moment attack.
If you need hard proof to convince you, fine: with the addition of RG3, the Redskins have elevated from a team barely breaking 20 points per game (2011), to averaging nearly 30 points per game (2012). The Redskins offense has also gone from averaging 336 yards per game last season, to over 400 yards per game today.
On a personal level, Griffin is having an impressive season without even looking at the team's success. Through five games, Griffin is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, while throwing for four touchdowns and only one interception. On the ground, Griffin is also a force to be reckoned with, compiling 241 yards and four touchdowns.
Griffin is the clear MVP for the Redskins at this point in the season, and it's hard to believe any other player will challenge him for the award. The only thing that could keep the Baylor White Knight from receiving this award is injury, which he happens to be battling right now...
If Robert Griffin III is the MVP then this year's Redskins' Rookie of the Year has to be Alfred Morris.
Morris, a sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic University, came into training camp facing an uphill battle for playing time and possible position change, with Tim Hightower, Roy Helu, Jr. and Evan Royster entrenched on the depth chart.
Despite the odds, Morris flashed his ability in the preseason and came into Week 1 as the starting running back. Since that day there has been no looking back as Morris has started every game, throwing a wrench in the traditional Shanahan plan of always changing backs.
Through five games, Morris has 100 carries, for 491 yards and four touchdowns. Morris is averaging nearly five yards per carry and just short of 100 yards per game. These numbers are not new to Morris, as he racked up a five-yard per carry average throughout his senior season at FAU.
The Redskins offense has been clicking on many more cylinders this years than seasons past and while most of that is due to the addition of RG3, some praise must go to the running game. Morris appears to be the most stable running back the Redskins have had since the days of Clinton Portis. With contributions like these, and RG3 out of the running (some pun intended there), the award for Redskins Rookie of the Year goes to Alfred "the butler" Morris.
This award may be the most premature of the bunch, but the award for Redskins' Offensive Player of the Year is tight end Fred Davis.
Alfred Morris is the clear staple of the Redskins running game, but no clear leader has emerged in the passing game. Robert Griffin III has spread the ball around quite evenly, completing nearly 100 passes, but with no player catching more than 20 balls. Pierre Garcon was the preseason favorite to lead the team in receptions but has been held back by a foot injury.
Nevertheless, Fred Davis came into the season with some of the highest expectations. Davis was on his way to a career year last season before sitting out the last four games with a suspension. This season, Davis is back to his old ways, leading the team in targets and receptions.
It is still early in the season, and while Davis' stats are not dispositive, the ability and opportunity are certainly there. RG3 appears to be relying on Davis more and more, as the pocket continuously breaks down. Do not be surprised if you see Davis racking up numbers as the season progresses, remaining the leading receiver as the season finishes.
In the preseason, the consensus pick for this award was outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. After a devastating injury sidelined Orakpo for the season, the young linebacker on the other side was forced to take over as the leading pass-rusher. Orakpo's shoes are not easy to fill (literally or figuratively) but second-year linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has continued to build off his quality rookie season as he leads this Redskins defense.
The diehard Redskins fans will remember early last season, when Kerrigan was just getting his feet wet, a beautiful play where the rookie tipped an Eli Manning pass, then caught it and ran for a touchdown. This past week we saw some of the same ability as Kerrigan burst through the pass protection and picked off a Matt Ryan bubble screen in spectacular fashion.
With no Orakpo to worry about, one might expect offenses to worry solely about Kerrigan as the outside rusher, and his numbers to suffer. Well, offenses might be keying on Kerrigan, but the numbers certainly are not suffering.
In just five games, Kerrigan leads the Redskins with 3.5 sacks, 17 tackles, four passes defended, one interception and of course one touchdown. If London Fletcher is the defensive constant, then Kerrigan is the defense's wild card. There is simply no stopping the Purdue pass-rusher who is quickly becoming one of the young leaders on defense.
I'm proud to announce the award for Redskins Defensive Player of the Year goes to Ryan Kerrigan.