Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III burst onto the scene last season as a rookie by leading his team to the playoffs and quickly becoming one of the league's best signal-callers. RG3 and the 'Skins have fallen on hard times so far this year, but playing the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6 will cure Griffin's ills.
With a record of 2-3, the Cowboys are the co-leaders of the NFC East by default along with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins are just 1-3, but even though they have struggled mightily this season, they are still very much in the hunt.
Griffin tends to excel in big games, and Sunday night's encounter with the Cowboys is huge. A win would vault Washington past Dallas in the standings, and it could very well put the Redskins all alone in first depending upon how the Eagles fare against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
RG3 was obviously the driving force behind the Redskins' magical 2012 campaign, and his dip in play has a lot to do with Washington's failures so far this year. Griffin has been especially bad in the first half of games as he has the second-worst QBR in the NFL this season in the first two quarters of play, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
It would be very easy to place 100 percent of the blame at Griffin's feet, but Washington has often fallen behind early in games, which has forced RG3 to press. The Redskins' defense is allowing 28 points per game and more than 440 total yards per contest, which is the worst in the league.
With that in mind, it's difficult to fault Griffin for gripping the football a little too tight. He has been at a competitive disadvantage all season due to poor play from his defense, and the fact that he is still working his way back to normal after suffering a knee injury last season in the playoffs doesn't help matters either.
RG3 did have 320 or more passing yards in each of the Redskins' first three games this season. Most of that yardage came with Washington well behind, though, as it lost all three of those contests. His performance two weeks ago against the Oakland Raiders wasn't quite as good from a statistical standpoint as he threw for 227 yards and one touchdown, but he didn't throw a single interception, and Washington won the game.
While Griffin's numbers this season don't look too bad at first glance, he's clearly not the same player that he was last year. RG3 has a QBR under 50 in all four of his starts this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info, which is something that happened just twice last year.
An unwillingness to run probably has something to do with that as Griffin is still trying to get his legs under him. Griffin had one of the best rushing seasons by a quarterback in NFL history last season with 815 yards, but he has gained just 72 yards on 18 attempts this year, which means he has largely been a pocket passer.
The emphasis on pocket passing may be a great thing for him in the future, but RG3 needs to use his legs while they're still spry. Griffin had a week to rest as the Redskins were on the bye in Week 5, so look for him to be utilized more often as a runner against the Cowboys.
Also, Griffin just so happens to have Dallas' number. RG3 beat the Cowboys twice last season, and he scored five total touchdowns in those two starts. He was especially impressive in Dallas as he completed more than 70 percent of his passes for better than 300 yards and four scores.
The Cowboys have struggled against the pass this season as they have allowed 326 yards per game through the air, which is second-worst in the league. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw for more than 400 yards against Dallas last week, and while RG3 is no Peyton, he knows how to put up numbers against America's Team.
If that isn't enough, Griffin even has some bulletin-board material to feed off of. According to NFL: Around The League, Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr said that Griffin hasn't been the same quarterback this season as he was last year.
Carr may be right thus far, but it probably wasn't a good idea to wake a sleeping giant. The stars seem to be aligning for RG3 and the Redskins, and everything will finally come together on Sunday night.
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