Don't Blame Robert Griffin III for Washington Redskins' Struggles

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistNovember 8, 2013

Nov 7, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) looks at plays on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Redskins 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

You know the age-old quarterback dichotomy: When your team wins, you usually get too much of the credit. When your team loses, you usually take too much of the blame. You're usually the face of the organization, and Robert Griffin III is certainly the face of the Washington Redskins.

He's the franchise, and right now that franchise is sputtering. It's yet to win back-to-back games this season and is coming off an extremely disappointing loss to the Minnesota Vikings, who entered the week with a 1-7 record.

The Redskins are 3-6, but so is RGIII. He's the only individual lassoed with that stain. The secondary is bad, but it isn't 3-6. London Fletcher has struggled, but he isn't 3-6. Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris aren't 3-6, nor are Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and DeAngelo Hall.

Griffin, though, is 3-6.

It doesn't seem to matter that he posted a 114.8 passer rating in Thursday's loss, throwing three touchdown passes and no picks while completing 16 of 21 first-half passes before the offensive line decided to go on strike in the third quarter.

It also doesn't matter that Griffin has a quarterback rating of 101.8 and a solid yards-per-attempt number of 8.3 the last two weeks, or that he's averaged over 6.0 yards a carry in three of his last five games. 

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At least not to fans like these:

Hell, the first topic on ESPN's First Take Friday morning was titled "RG3 and 6."

But would the 'Skins be any better right now with Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson? Would they even be that much better with Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers? We're talking about a team that has given up 31.9 points per game, which is up a touchdown from last season's average and ranks 31st in the NFL. Even with Orakpo back, that defense ranks 20th in the NFL with a sack percentage of 6.5.

We're talking about a team with an offensive line that has looked great at times before disappearing randomly in big moments, such as the second half of close games with Denver and Minnesota. That's almost worse than being bad 100 percent of the time. At least in that case, Griffin would know what to expect on any given snap.

Instead, it's totally unpredictable. The offensive line gave up three sacks and 19 total pressures in Denver, and then it surrendered a league-low five pressures against San Diego. It followed that up with zero sacks during the first half in Minnesota, but then the wheels suddenly came flying off as RGIII went down four times in a 15-play span during a train wreck of a second half versus the Vikes.

We're talking about a team that makes far too many mistakes at positions other than quarterback. The receiving corps has dropped 29 passes, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which is the third-highest total in the NFL. Washington has also been penalized 59 times, which is the seventh-highest total in the league. 

We're talking about a team that has the worst special teams in football, according to Football Outsiders. It's given up three returns of 80 yards or more—two for touchdowns—and it allowed the Raiders to score on a blocked punt in Week 4. Griffin's offense is the only one in football that has been forced to start its drives, on average, inside its own 23-yard line.

So while it's convenient and maybe even cathartic to dump on Griffin, the reality is that it's not fair to pin this on a 23-year-old quarterback 10 months removed from reconstructive knee surgery. The Redskins still have problems everywhere, and RGIII is doing more good than harm.