Chris Wesseling of NFL.com reported on Monday that coach Mike Shanahan named Griffin the starter for the opener. It was news that everyone expected, but Shanahan still needed to make the official announcement.
Washington went 10-6 last season and won the NFC East. Griffin was given the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. He even won a winner-takes-all game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17. The Redskins jumped out to a 14-0 lead against the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs. Everything looked good, and then things changed in a hurry.
Griffin tweaked his knee in the second drive of the game, but that didn't stop him from scoring points. He continued to play until the fourth quarter, which was too late for the Redskins to mount a comeback.
The team was eliminated, and Griffin was diagnosed with a torn ACL and LCL.
Now, the quarterback must change his style in order to stay healthy. That doesn't mean that he can't run at all, but he needs to use his arm more this season.
He carried the ball 120 times for 815 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry, which helped his team move the ball.
The knee injury now makes him have to rely on his arm. Running the football makes him one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league, but he is more than capable of beating teams through the air.
Griffin completed 65.6 percent of his passes and threw for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns last year. He took care of the football better than anyone in the league. He threw five interceptions and lost two fumbles, and no other full-time starter had fewer than eight interceptions.
The opener will give Griffin a chance to show the league that he doesn't need to run the football in order to be successful.
Philadelphia's pass defense ranked ninth in the NFL in 2012-13, allowing only 216.9 yards per game last season. The Eagles were stingy with yards, but their eight interceptions were the second fewest in the league.
Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and Santana Moss are all quality receivers. Garcon missed time due to injury but still finished with 633 yards and four touchdowns. Morgan had 510 receiving yards, and Moss had eight touchdowns on only 41 catches.
Fred Davis played in only seven games, but he is a good tight end when he is on the field.
Griffin has plenty of receivers to use. They are healthy right now, so it will be the perfect opportunity to show what the offense can do through the air.
Washington will not be able to make the playoffs without Griffin. Staying on the field is the key, and throwing the football will limit the number of hits that he will take.
The quarterback has one of the strongest arms in the league. He can throw in the pocket or on the run, so his receivers have extra time to get open.
He has already returned from a torn ACL in college and performed better than ever. There are only so many times that a player can come back from a serious knee injury.
All that matters at this point is that Griffin is back. Washington has its leader back on the field, and he has something to prove.
The 23-year-old will get his first chance to beat teams through the air in the opener on Monday night against Philadelphia.
Griffin won't be one dimensional, but he is going to have to show off his arm a lot more this season.
*All stats are courtesy of NFL.com.
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