With or without Griffin, the Redskins should win the NFC East
In doing so, they've taken the main, and almost only, talking point from Washington’s offseason—the health of Robert Griffin III’s surgically repaired knee—and turned it into a disclaimer for their regular season prognostications.
With that said, let’s examine what’s being said about the Redskins' season outlook on Twitter and other media platforms.
In light of Mike Shanahan announcing that the Redskins have Super Bowl or bust expectations, Redskins fan David Heyman quickly announces that the 2013 season will be a failure:
AP writer Joseph White Jr. alludes to Dr. James Andrews having “concerns” about Griffin in his tweet:
So Dr. Andrews' "concerns" weren't about strategy. If they were medical, they weren't enough to keep him from clearing RG3.— Joseph White Jr. (@JGWhiteAP) September 2, 2013
Randy Moss hedges his prediction on Washington winning the NFC East in this video.
Like Moss, Yahoo Sports’ Frank Schwab also added a caveat to his Redskins prediction:
“In a wide open NFC East, if Griffin is healthy and second-year running back Alfred Morris repeats his great 2012, the Redskins could win the division again.”
While you can see that much has been made of Griffin’s injury outlook, the truth of the matter is this: Washington isn’t nearly as dependent on Griffin as you might think.
One of the overlooked storylines of Washington’s offseason was the return of Brian Orakpo from injury.
With an already elite rushing defense, his return could bolster Washington’s pass rush and help shore up the leaky pass defense that plagued the Redskins last season.
Well, Washington was also the top rushing team last season.
Yes, Griffin, and his 815 yards rushing, played a role in Washington racking up its league leading total.
Nonetheless, in Griffin’s absence, Washington still showed the propensity to be effective in the running game.
Even with Griffin hurt or missing in Washington’s final three regular season games, the Redskins still managed to average 174.6 yards on the ground—topping their regular season average of 169.3 yards.
Lastly, there is the Kirk Cousins factor.
Cousins isn’t in Griffin’s league as a passer or runner, but he’s shown that he can fill in adequately at quarterback for Washington.
Albeit a small sample size, Cousins did throw for 329 yards in his lone start last year.
While his performance was nothing historic, it’s easy to forget that Cousins, like Griffin, was only a rookie last season, making it likely that he’ll only get better.
All these factors, together, remove Griffin’s health as the be-all and end-all of Washington’s season.
The truth is, with a healthy, hobbled or absent Griffin, Washington is my favorite to win the NFC East.