December 21, 2014

Five takeaways from Washington Redskins Game 15 win over Philadelphia Eagles

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 27-24 win to the Philadelphia Eagles, improving their record to 4-11:

1. Robert Griffin III does enough to get the victory.

With Colt McCoy being placed on season ending IR this past week, Robert Griffin was given another opportunity to show why he should be back as the starting quarterback going into training camp next season. Although Griffin didn’t fill up the stat line, throwing for a somewhat mediocre 220 yards on 25 drop backs, he had his best game of the season in terms of executing a game plan. Griffin took three shots to DeSean Jackson deep resulting in two 50+ yard completions and one interception.

Both of the completions ended in Redskins touchdowns. Moreover, the threat of Griffin tucking the ball and taking off not only led Alfred Morris to average four yards per rush, but late in the game it forced the Eagles’ linebackers to creep forward. Griffin took advantage of an open middle of the field by hitting Pierre Garcon on a classic 2012 play that eventually led to the game winning field goal. [Read more…]

OPINION: Dysfunctional Washington Redskins need major overhaul once again

With the Washington Redskins 24-13 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, the Burgundy and Gold will finish in last place in the NFC East once again, which makes it six of the last seven years. With the double-digit loss seasons piling up, and the ownership obviously not changing, someone has to be held responsible.

Team president and GM Bruce Allen is an easy target. At least superficially he’s the architect of this mess. The Redskins inability to scout, draft, develop and manage personnel properly runs as a current though the entire organization and goes back for the full 15 seasons Daniel Snyder has owned the team, so it’s deeper than Allen himself. But that where it all starts.

Think to yourself: When was the last time a player, coach or administrator left the Redskins and had success anywhere in the league? This is where folks in the NFL go to get paid then ride off into the sunset, and it’s been that was forever now.

Take Dan Snyder’s money? Sure. But you carry that stink on you for the rest of your days.

Regardless of what Snyder decides on the RGIII/Gruden debate, Allen was responsible for both hires, so he has to answer for crippling the franchise yet again. Don’t want to fire him outright? Fine. “Promote” him to what he does best — marketing and alumni relations. As a personnel evaluator and organizational executive, he has failed — miserably.

The player personnel department? Scouting and development? Anyone ever associated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Gone too.

Snyder should seriously seek counsel of the Commissioner’s Office to determine the best candidate available to take over managing every single aspect of football operations. There’s precedent — in the 70s Pete Rozelle forced the Mara family to hire George Young to rescue a moribund and dysfunctional franchise in the league’s premier market and all Young did was turn the Giants into perennial contenders.

Roger Goodell is a self-identified Redskins fan. He considers Snyder as one of his strongest allies. He should counsel Snyder in this issue to hire a competent executive then force Snyder to get the hell out of the way — really out of the way — for the first time in his ownership. Let that executive build the franchise back from the ground up. Scouts. Personnel department. Offensive and defensive linemen. Defensive coordinator.

No more glad-handing high profile free agents. No more coddling first round bonus babies. No more roaming the sidelines at training camp. No more personal relationships with any of the active players. No more meddling and undermining the football operations by blurring the lines between ownership and football management.

It’s a daring concept, I know.

Unfortunately, the more likely scenario will be Snyder leaving Allen in a position to waste more time, effort and money. The two will fire Gruden and hire the only man they can at this point to coach the team, Art Briles — Griffin’s college coach at Baylor — in a last-ditch effort to resurrect the once franchise-saving phenom. We can all watch as that plan backfires, as it always does, and wait in wonder what Snyder will do again for an encore.

We’ve only been watching it for 15 years, what’s a few more at this point?

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 14 loss to the New York Giants

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 24-13 loss to the New York Giants, dropping the Skins to 3-11:

1. Colt McCoy gets injured after not looking 100% to start.

In the beginning of the week it looked as if Colt McCoy would be unable to be ready for this game, but he recovered enough and was named the starter. After nicely marching the team down the field on the opening offensive possession, McCoy aggravated his neck injury when getting pushed forward by the offensive line after being wrapped up by Jason Pierre-Paul.

After settling for a field goal on the drive, McCoy headed to the locker room with the same neck injury. Although he returned to the sidelines before the next offensive possession, he did not return to the game. [Read more…]

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 13 loss to St. Louis Rams

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 24-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams:

1. Will Colt McCoy continue to start for the Washington Redskins?

McCoy opened the game bad just like he did against Indianapolis with a overthrown ball over the middle that resulted in a pick which ended a decent drive. However unlike last week, things did not get any better. McCoy could not even get his team back into plus territory until garbage time started as he was under constant harassment from pressure.

Gruden addressed that he did not want to throw Robert Griffin to “the wolves” when the game was already lost. Griffin did come in after McCoy suffered a “neck sprain”, which Gruden said could play a role in his availability next week. Griffin threw for a first down, took a sack, and failed to convert on the game-ending fourth down. With the recent rumors coming out the ownership will side with RG3 over Gruden it will be an interesting story to watch as the week wears on.

2. Defense continues to play poorly against a weaker opponent.

The Rams clearly watched the Coby Fleener tape against the Redskins last week and used it to their advantage. The Rams were able to get a long touchdown to a wide open Jared Cook on another coverage bust for the Redskins secondary. Later in the game, the defense turned Cook completely loose on the goal line for an easy pitch-and-catch for another touchdown.

Again there were flashes of spark from the defense as Ryan Kerrigan continues to play well as the pressure has been beginning to be a factor. The downside is that the defense has players like Chris Baker dancing after celebrating a sack when the ball was loose on the ground up for grabs. There are few pieces outside of maybe Ryan Kerrigan, Keenan Robinson, and possibly Baushad Breeland that can be part of the future for this defense and the offseason cannot get here soon enough.

3. Special teams take on a 2013 approach.

The special teams for this team have been poor again this year but a definite improvement from last year’s constant debacle, but that did not show today as they got beat on every single special teams play. First, I applaud the Redskins guts to try a fake punt, but think it was poor execution to make a guy rush ten additional yards just to get back to the line of scrimmage before being able to fight for the marker while the other team is given a chance to react. This led to the Rams getting the opportunity to earn back a point from their missed PAT as their punter/holder on their next PAT threw for a two point conversion with ease.

After another three-and-out and Tress Way punt, Tavon Austin danced around east and west before turning up field for a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown. To add insult to injury, Andre Roberts foolishly decided to field a punt inside his own five yard line and got nothing on the return. This was just another bad phase in an entirely poor game.

4. Running game continues to be a non-factor without Griffin under center.

It is no longer a coincidence that Alfred Morris’s best games this season were with Robert Griffin at quarterback. Without that threat, Morris was completely taken out of the equation today rushing for less than one yard per carry (on just eight carries) after having a 12-yard gash to open the game. This in turn made the offense completely one dimensional, which in turn has led to the offense being unable to succeed in anything they do. Alfred Morris clearly has potential in this league but not only is he not a prototypical Jay Gruden back, but also needs a steady threat in the passing game to avoid being keyed on by defenses.

5. Next week a return to division matchups and shakeups could be looming.

The Redskins will get a look at possibly the next big thing in the NFL with Odell Beckham Jr. next week as they head north to face off with the Giants coming off a dismantling of the Tennessee Titans. Luckily there were no major additional injuries, but there will still be drama surrounding the Redskins this week on whether Robert Griffin will return to his role as the starting quarterback.

Either way you look at it, this team is destined for a busy off-season, where they need to evaluating every facet of the roster. The big question remains: Who will be evaluating the talent; Jay Gruden, Bruce Allen or the owner?

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 12 loss to Indianapolis Colts

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 49-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts:

1. Jay Gruden’s decision to start Colt McCoy looks questionable to start, but then shows potential.

More than midway through the second quarter, the Redskins had negative three net passing and only one first down via an Alfred Morris rush. Gruden’s decision to bench Robert Griffin III who put up relatively better numbers against a much better defense was coming into some serious heat. Then similarly to Griffin last week, McCoy generated a scoring drive right before the half. In my opinion this saved McCoy from being benched at halftime similarly to Griffin’s predicament last week as he did not take advantage of great field position.

Coming out of the half, McCoy drove his team down the field once again and capped off the drive with amazing elusiveness to avoid three potential sack attempts before dumping the ball off to Logan Paulsen for a score. On the next offensive possession, McCoy could not find a receiver on fourth and a yard and was subsequently stripped of the football which was then returned for a score. McCoy came back and led a drive that finished in a DeSean Jackson deep touchdown pass after Jackson readjusted to the usual underthrown ball. McCoy finished the game moving the ball but unable to finish off drives with touchdowns. All in all, McCoy played a good latter two and a half quarters, which has assured him of a start next week.

2. Undermanned Redskins defense get obliterated after being opportunistic.

As well as McCoy was able to move the ball after the beginning of the game, he had no chance to lead his team to a comeback as the defense was getting beat every which way for big plays on busted coverages. After producing back to back turnovers to start the game, Andrew Luck settled down and started dissecting the Redskins secondary which was without E.J. Biggers and Brandon Merriweather.

First, Luck hit a wide open Coby Fleener on a seam route along the sidelines where David Amerson was supposed to pick him up after a Trent Murphy jam. To the start the second half, the defense let Daniel Herron gash the defense for a 49-yard touchdown after multiple poor angles were taken on potential tackles. Following a three and out by the offense, Luck methodically marched his team down the field for another touchdown score.

In the second half it was more of the same. The Redskins defense gave up three more long touchdowns. The two to Donte Moncrief were again huge busted coverages by the secondary that caused the final separation. In between those two was a missed tackling clinic on Coby Fleener who avoided at least three potential tacklers. This defense could not get a stop for their lives and as the season wears on the limited depth in the defense will continue to haunt this team.

3. Fundamentals still the biggest problem of this team.

The offensive line still is not protecting McCoy enough as he was harassed constantly and took six sacks on the game, which is not much better than the indecisive Griffin in the last few weeks. Moreover, the offense could not cash in on the amazing field position given to them by the turnovers caused by the defense but similarly to last week they only mustered up three points off of those three turnovers.

Defensively, coverage assignments and tackling are still a struggle for this team and it leads to big plays for the other team week in and week out. Without these fundamentals that are taught in Pee-Wee football, this team will not be able to have success anytime in the near future.

4. More injury concerns.

Ryan Kerrigan, Will Compton, and Keenan Robinson all got banged up in the game and missed a limited amount of plays. The more major concern is for Brandon Merriweather (toe), Chase Minnifield (concussion), and DeSean Jackson (fibula contusion and other leg injury) had to leave the game after getting injured.

Although the x-rays came back negative on Jackson, the injury did not look good as he was again trying to readjust to an underthrown McCoy deep ball. It would be a big blow to this offense if there lone deep threat were to be out for the rest of the year; however, the long term options of Jackson must be taken into account first.

5. Next week against a St. Louis Rams team coming off a perfect game.

The undermanned Washington Redskins will travel to St. Louis who beat the Oakland Raiders 52-0 after a superb all-around performance by their team. Colt McCoy has been informally named the starting quarterback for next week after getting the offense moving through the latter stages of the game. However, he may have to lean on Jordan Reed once again if DeSean Jackson is forced to miss any time. Additionally, Alfred Morris had a significant reduction in production relative to the game with Griffin under center which could play a role in making the offense one-dimensional with McCoy under center.

OPINION: Washington Redskins and Jay Gruden drop the ball on Robert Griffin III

“I think as a man and as a competitor, I think Robert does have a future in the NFL, but I’m not going to predict it.” –Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.

Five games. Five partial games. Five partial, increasingly worsening games. That’s all it took for Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden to decide that Robert Griffin III is incapable of running his offense. It’s hard to debate, as Griffin has looked more and more lost on the field in recent weeks. Presumably healthy, he has stopped running completely, seems oblivious to open receivers, and has alienated teammates with his play on the field and soap opera drama off.

There’s plenty of damning evidence to say Griffin just isn’t getting it and he needs to be replaced. That’s all well and good — if the team was playing for anything other than pride the rest of the way. Funny word, pride. It’s a buzzword around this organization, but very little of it seems to rub off on the actual players.

Gruden isn’t as invested in rehabilitating Griffin as maybe the organization as a whole, and he indicated as much in his press conference on Wednesday.

“No, not really,” Gruden offered. “I came here with a clean slate and I want to play the best players, period, whoever they are. First-round picks, sixth-round picks, free agents, I don’t really care who they are, where they came from. Obviously the history of Robert and the talent that he has at quarterback, very excited to coach him when I first got the job and I still am. I’m not giving up on Robert. It’s just we haven’t been successful. But the past is the past. We’re moving forward and we’re trying to do what’s best for the Redskins this year and for years to come. Right now, today as I stand up here, I feel like this is the best move for us moving forward to Indianapolis.”

Moving forward to Indianapolis. Not 2015. Not “the future.” The next game.

I suppose Gruden can be excused for being focused on wins and losses this season. Anyone that follows this team knows the owner’s box could grow tired or fickle after one season and give the head coach the boot. The idea that Gruden has to make the switch in order to keep the locker room is further damning the infrastructure this organization has implemented over the past 15 years.

But Colt McCoy is no one’s idea of a long-term solution at the position.

Starting McCoy, the 28-year-old journeyman, over RGIII at this point is applying a band-aid to hemorrhage — lipstick on a pig. With everything invested in Griffin, the organization owes it to itself to fix him, not hide him on the bench in the hopes of winning a game or two down the stretch in another lost season.

It’s hard to believe — nee, unbelievable — that Griffin’s talent has completely sapped. Sure, the injuries have taken their toll on his running game. He’ll never be the same in that regard. But this is the same player that has completed 63.5 percent of his passes in his career and threw for 20 touchdowns and just five picks his rookie season, just two years ago.

Has that player just simply disappeared?

The most alarming aspect of Griffin’s deteriorating confidence is the sheer number of sacks he’s taking. That’s not just on the offensive line, though without Trent Williams it’s about as good as an Arena League squad. But Griffin is holding the ball, stepping into sacks, failing to identify open receivers, almost completely unable to run the offense in any manner whatsoever. Last week, he looked utterly and completely lost.

It’s a crisis of confidence. An dramatic and unfortunate collapse of what seemed like such a promising career not that long ago.

The biggest takeaway from the entire episode is the way that ONCE AGAIN the national media had the news BEFORE the players were informed. This organization does everything backwards and wonders why (recent) former players disassociate from the franchise quickly as possible?

They’ll probably trade up to draft another quarterback instead of investing in the lines first, wasting even more time and resources drafting a talent position without the necessary infrastructure.

It’s how this franchise has been run for the last 15 years; the only thing that’s been consistent is the man that signs the checks.

But just as it’s been in those 15 years, it’s time for the Washington Redskins to completely start over again. And a young man’s future hangs in the balance. It’s a shame that the combination of physical injury, poor management and lack of awareness has derailed such a promising career for what was such a charismatic player.

And on this Thanksgiving, Redskins fans have very little to give thanks about with regard to the franchise that continues to be mired in drama and controversy, ripping their hearts out with every news leak.

Griffin takes more lumps as Washington Redskins continue to plummet

The Washington Redskins fell to 3-8 after losing Sunday to San Francisco, on the road, in another lost season. Once again, we all watched — maybe with morbid curiosity at this point — as Robert Griffin III floundered in a scaled-back offense, unable to provide anything but mere glimpses of the spectacular form he had in 2012, leading the franchise to the playoffs before that season so brutally ended in injury.

Griffin’s performance Sunday — 11 of 19, 106 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs and 11 yards rushing on four carries — were uninspiring, to say the very least. Griffin did not complete a pass in the last 10;40 of the game, which was still very much in doubt until that point and was sacked six times, bringing a three-game total to 16 since his return from  injury.

It doesn’t help that he’s playing behind a makeshift, patchwork offensive line, with its best player off the field due to injury. Still, the RGIII that was an extreme playmaker in 2012 is nowhere to be seen these days.

Hesitant, tentative, unaware …use any adjective you want to describe his demeanor on the field.

Following the game, wide receiver Pierre Garcon was asked what it might take to jump-start the moribund Redskins offense.

Garcon’s locker room comments are no less damning, but much less cryptic, than Desean Jackson’s barely coherent Twitter ramblings last week.

It’s a telling indictment to Griffin’s lack of vision and awareness on the football field right now. Most Redskins fans forget this is a third-year player in name only, having missed significant portions of each season injured or recuperating. But no excuses, Griffin looks like a player regressing in a big way, considering the level he played as a rank rookie.

Some fans complain, maybe correctly, that Colt McCoy or Kirk Cousins didn’t have trouble moving Jay Gruden’s offense and the rookie head coach should turn back to one of them as Griffin’s troubles continue to mount.

But the bigger point is this: Could McCoy or Cousins win a game or two more this season, another in a long line of lost seasons? Yes, they probably could. But no one could reasonably say they have any real future as a starter for a contending NFL team.

Could RGIII still be a star in this league, the quarterback to lead the Washington Redskins back to the playoffs? Yes. It’s easy to remember how good he was and envision him reclaiming that status.

For that reason alone, Griffin should continue to start this season — health allowing — to continue to learn Gruden’s offense in an attempt to recapture the magic he displayed just the season before last, before the  injuries robbed him of two off-seasons and important development time.

This organization has made a habit of building from the outside-in for the past 15 years. Quarterbacks, wide receivers, pass rushers, all-star veteran free agents on their last legs …very rarely has the team built from the inside-out, with stout offensive and defensive linemen, instead relying on a patchwork of lower draft picks, undrafted rookies, and rejects from other teams.

Considering the expense of acquiring Griffin and the damage that’s been done to his career and the organization’s prospects tied to it, one would hope they finally will learn their lesson of buying sports cars but putting discount tires on them. Considering the events of the past 15 years, though, it’s hard to imagine that lesson sinking in if it hasn’t by now.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 11 loss against the San Francisco 49ers

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 17-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

1. Robert Griffin III bad early, shows a small glimmer of hope, but in the end does not come through.

Griffin came into the game today with a reported short leash and it looked like he could have been benched at half time. He completed just one of his first four attempts for seven yards and took two sacks resulting in four consecutive punts. Then Griffin showed some life with a good ball fake to Alfred Morris and hit Pierre Garcon on a crossing pattern over the linebackers for a classic 2012 play. The drive finished off with a touchdown and the Redskins (3-8) were back in the thick of things with the game tied. Griffin completed another 2012 like pass to DeSean Jackson during the third quarter that led to a Kai Forbath field goal.

That was the good of Griffin. However, he still continued to hold onto the ball too long resulting in sacks. Although he did not make any fatal mistakes with turnovers — until the strip sack at the end of the game — he still needs to work on making reads faster and execute better and quicker. Though I believe Griffin showed growth in Gruden’s system, which was acknowledged by Gruden himself, the clock is still ticking on Griffin for the year and moving forward into next season.

2. Defense plays well overall, but not during beginning, middle, and end.

After a three-and-out from the offense and a couple big passing plays from Colin Kaepernick, this game looked like it was heading for the mercy rule to be implemented. E.J. Biggers got beat by Anquan Boldin on a deep corner route, an assignment that David Amerson would probably have drawn if he was not deactivated for violating a team rule.

At the very end of the first half, John Harbaugh showed guts as he decided to go for a fourth and two just on the plus side of the field. Bashaud Breeland got caught watching the great catch made by Michael Crabtree instead of pushing him out of bounds and ending the half. Instead the 49ers stole three points heading into halftime.

Then at the end of the game, the defense gave up the eventual game winning touchdown. That came after allowing the 49ers to convert a fourth-and-one at their own 34-yard line and then gave up a big play to Boldin preceding a personal foul penalty.

3. The effort from the defense was there.

Even though the defense made their share of mistakes, they played well enough to win this game with an extremely beaten up secondary. The defense caused three turnovers against a team that rarely surrenders the ball and it was not their fault that those opportunities were only cashed in for three points. Moreover, they kept the offense in check nearly all day giving up a mere 66 yards on the ground.

It is shocking that all of this was accomplished while Amerson, Biggers, and Tracy Porter did not play for the duration of the game and Breeland and Ryan Clark also missed plays before returning. This led to Greg Ducre and Phillip Thomas stepping into playing roles, while Merriweather moved to corner. Ducre picked Kaepernick off while San Francisico was trying to pick on him, while Thomas helped stop Vernon Davis short of the first down marker to start the fourth quarter and later recovered a Frank Gore fumble. This loss certainly cannot be put on the defense.

4. Alfred Morris continues to play better with RG3 at the helm.

Alfred Morris again played hard behind a devastated offensive line. Morris finished with 125 yards on 21 carriers. This again is a noticeable improvement over the running game with Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy under center because of defenses leaving one man to account for Griffin’s legs.

Unfortunately for the Redskins, they could not lean on Morris towards the end of the game when time was a factor. However, I question Gruden for not running the ball on the penultimate drive to try and mount momentum when time was not a problem.

5. Another tough task next week against the guy taken before Griffin in 2012.

Next week the Redskins are forced to travel to the house that Andrew Luck is rebuilding. Again more injuries could play a role for the Redskins defensively in the secondary that cannot afford to get torched by the likes of T.Y. Hilton. Moreover, Trent Williams cannot return soon enough as Morgan Moses was beaten up badly all game even, though it was against once of the premier pass rushers in the NFL in Aldon Smith.

If Griffin is given the ball for the duration of the game, he will have to show clear cut strides and production against a lesser defense. This team cannot wait for the off-season to come soon enough, although quarterback controversies will be popping up all over then too.

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Week Eleven loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 27-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

1. Robert Griffin III bad early, cannot settle in with constant harassment.
Griffin started the game off with a roll out from pressure and a dump off to Niles Paul. Paul neither caught nor dropped the pass but double tapped it up in the air where it was picked off. Then after getting the ball backed up on their own end of the field, Griffin was late getting the ball through a small window to Pierre Garcon. The ball was then tipped again by a defender, picked off, and taken back for a touchdown. Although Griffin started to make better plays for the rest of the game including sliding, he was under constant harassment from a terrible offensive line protection scheme. Griffin took countless hits and sacks which he could have avoided by getting rid of the ball sooner, one most hope this is still rust and he will adjust to what he has around him soon.

2. Miscues are costly as usual.
The Redskins were a mess offensively with eight penalties, many being of the offensive pre-snap procedural type. Griffin was sacked six times constantly taking them out of scoring opportunities. This does not help when your previously reliable kicker misses two long and capable field goals both wide right from the same hash. This game could have truly been much closer if Griffin had better chemistry with his receivers, specifically DeSean Jackson. On two deep shots Griffin overthrew Jackson. If each of the balls were thrown with just a little bit more air underneath them, Jackson would have had two touchdowns without a doubt. All of this results in a game that should have been won if it were not for execution mistakes.

3. Defense plays well against those not names Mike Evans.
Mike Evans was the only player on the Buccaneers that played well offensively as he burned the Redskins defense on a handful of occasions. First, Evans beat the hand fighting Porter on a long catch and run that went for 52 yards in the first half leading to a Tampa Bay field goal. Then in the second half, Evans got past CB Bashuad Breeland who was expecting help over the top from Ryan Clark to concede a touchdown. In a key play that needed to be made to give the offense a chance, Evans gets inside leverage on Breeland to convert on a 3rd and 13. The final dagger came when Perry Riley was mismatched on Evans who caught a bomb from McCown for another touchdown.

4. Running game and Alfred Morris benefactors of Griffin’s legs.
The lone bright spot in this game is Alfred Morris who played hard behind a devastated offensive line. Morris finished with just less than 100 yards while gaining 4.8 yards a pop on 20 carries. This is a noticeable improvement over the running game with Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy under center because of defenses leaving one man to account for Griffin’s legs.

5. Tough task ahead going west to San Francisco, possibly without a key player.
Next week will be a challenge without Trent Williams who suffered a sprained knee and ankle early in the game. San Francisco has a good defense and will definitely pressure Griffin who has struggled to get rid of the ball at times. If fans think this was bad today they might not want to watch what is in store for next week. At some point players need to be evaluated for the future and hope that Jay Gruden has a plan for the future. All in all it is becoming more and more frustrating to watch this team and things do not look to be any better for the remainder of the season.

OPINION: History shows future is cloudy for Redskins’ Griffin

The last three times the Redskins made the playoffs, it was on the back of a second-half surge in 2005, 2007 and 2012. The Redskins entered their bye week at 3-6 much like they did in 2012, but this year, the defense is forcing fewer turnovers. The only game the Redskins were actually out of in the first nine games of 2012 was against Pittsburgh. They had given up a victory with a blown coverage late against the Giants.

Robert Griffin III was fully healthy and playing well back then, after a sensational debut in the first game of the season against New Orleans. With RG3’s health an unknown variable in 2014, the Redskins would be best served trying to find out what kind of quarterback he will be coming off his dislocated ankle. The good news is that this time, no one has made Redskins head coach Jay Gruden backtrack on his comments that he’ll use RG3’s running skills.

Tony Dungy commented that RG3 is no longer the stunning athlete he used to be. He doesn’t have to be. At RG3’s peak, the only quarterback faster than him was Michael Vick, even though many have pointed out that RG3’s speed is more straight-line and not as elusive as Vick’s, even though it doesn’t keep either of them from getting injured. At his best, Mark Brunell ran around a 4.6 40. That’s all you need as an NFL quarterback to make defenses account for you as a running threat, assuming that he was equally good at passing.

It would be best to compare RG3 to other quarterbacks that have suffered knee injuries. Among them, Carson Palmer and Tom Brady are not applicable to RG3’s case because they are primarily pocket passers. Daunte Culpepper was a mobile quarterback, but his case is not applicable because the severity of his knee injury was much greater and catastrophic to the point that it ended his NFL career.

The two closest cases are Randall Cunningham and Brunell. Cunningham suffered a torn ACL and MCL in Week 1 of the 1991 season. Cunningham lost his job to Rodney Peete when the Eagles made a coaching change after the 1994 season. Cunningham didn’t fit Ray Rhodes’s desire for a West Coast-style QB. He was out of football for a year before he resurfaced with Minnesota and led the Vikings offense on a magical run that unfortunately ended in the 1998 NFC Championship Game.

Cunningham never changed his style even after his injury, mostly due to coaching on the part of Rich Kotite, who continued Buddy Ryan’s strategy of having Cunningham make a few plays on offense and then let the vaunted Eagles defense handle the rest. “I remember Buddy used to say to Randall, ‘All I need is for you to make four or five plays a game to make the difference,’ one former teammate told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. “And Randall used to go out and make these unbelievable plays, plays nobody else could make. Buddy was relying on Randall’s athletic ability and not his ability to read or learn defenses, and that turned out to be Randall’s undoing.” Kotite described Cunningham, “If he wasn`t pressured he didn`t run. If he was, he improvised as he does so well.”

This continued even after Cunningham broke his left fibula in Week 5 of the 1993 season. Cunningham had led the Eagles to a 4-0 record and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month before that untimely injury.

Cunningham never wanted to change. If you go over some of his quotes from 1992: “I`ll be back scramblin’.” “Those who doubt me don`t believe in me. There`s no doubt in my mind I`ll make it back all the way.” “My instincts are still with me. If I lost my instincts, I probably would have retired. I`m not going to try to be somebody I`m not. I`m going to be Randall Cunningham as long as I can perform at that level.” “I`m not going to sit in the pocket like Joe Montana and complete 70 percent of my passes. I`m not going to scramble like Fran Tarkenton and launch bombs. I`m just going to play football the way I want to and the way the coach wants me to.”

Even if someone pointed out that he was becoming more conventional prior to the 1991 injury, Cunningham said, “I did scramble less, because I was dropping back and completing 70 percent of my passes. But I haven`t changed. I still enjoy that style. If something opens up and I have to dip through and get a few yards, it`s OK by me.”

Brunell is a closer comparison. Brunell, like RG3, was still a running quarterback after his first ACL tear in the spring game after his sophomore season at Washington in which he was named Rose Bowl MVP. When Brunell led the NFL in passing yardage in 1996 with 4,367 yards and ran for 396 yards, he still threw 20 interceptions to go along with 19 touchdowns.

Brunell didn’t become a pocket passer until after he led the Jaguars to the 1996 AFC Championship Game and was rewarded with a big contract. That moment came after he missed the preseason and the first two games of the season after suffering a partially torn ACL, MCL, and PCL in the first game of the 1997 preseason.

Brunell, like RG3, displayed a willingness to adapt to being a pocket passer. “It’s very easy, and this will almost sound too basic, but it’s reps,” Brunell told ESPN’s John Keim. “It’s going through OTAs and minicamps and training camp with the mindset of, ‘I’m dropping back and absolutely have to find a receiver.’ There are four or five receivers in each pass route and your job is to find the open guy.”

After the Jaguars had clinched a playoff berth against Buffalo in Week 16 of the 1997 season, then-Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin said, ”He had a great decision-making game. His spontaneity was better, and he made plays on the run. He also took some pretty good hits and still delivered the ball very well. It’s a shame he had the interception, but he still had a solid game.” Jaguars center Dave Widell said, ”He’s improving with every game and gaining the poise he needs to be successful. That includes not throwing the ball away. He’s leading the offense as he should be.”

“I had to sit in the pocket and throw,” after the injury, Brunell told Keim. “I moved a little bit and not nearly as effectively as before. Going into the ‘98 season, I felt better as a pocket passer. It probably took me a year. I never got to the same speed, but it put me in position where I was forced to develop as a passer. In a way it was one of the best things for me.”

Gary Clark said before the season began that this could be the best offense the Redskins have had since 1991. On paper, it compares favorably with the 1999 offense with quarterback Brad Johnson, running back Stephen Davis, receivers Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell along with tight end Stephen Alexander. One place where they don’t compare well is the offensive line, where Trent Williams is by far the best player, as well he should since he was the fourth pick of the 2010 draft. The Redskins have used precious few draft picks on the line dating back to the Mike Shanahan era.

Tight end Jordan Reed is healthy again, while DeSean Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch. Pierre Garcon is only one year removed from breaking Art Monk’s single season receiving record, and Andre Roberts was brought in from Arizona to be the No. 2 receiver before the signing of Jackson. The running game with Alfred Morris has been coming around since halftime against Dallas.

With the vast array of offensive weapons in the Redskins arsenal, the playcalling has been very conservative thus far. Through Week 8 against the Cowboys, “All three quarterbacks combined have thrown 45.5% of their passes within the 0-9 yard window, with just 12.5 attempts traveling 20 yards or more through the air. The receivers are expected to turn short passes into large gains through their feet, as Pierre Garcon did for his 70 yard touchdown in Week 8,” according to Trey Cunningham at Pro Football Focus.

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