EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last of 32 preseason previews in 32 days leading up to the NFL season opener Thursday, Sept 5.
Win total last 5 years: 33
LVH over/under wins (8)
The Shanahan era (head coach Mike, offensive coordinator/son Kyle) turned things around last season with 10 wins, a division title and RG3 – Rex Grossman III.
Just kidding. Actually we have seen more of Grossman than we wished to during preseason as DC’s favorite son Robert Griffin III recovers from knee surgery that kept him out of last season’s playoffs.
Griffin has said he’s healthy, but the Shanahans took a lot of heat for playing him late in the final regular season game when he suffered the injury. They weren’t about to go that same route this preseason.
Backup QB Kirk Cousins proved a valuable commodity as a go-to choice should problems arise with RGIII. As for Grossman, perhaps his stock will rise enough that the Jets might look at him. Nah, the Jets have enough butt fumbles.
While Griffin was spectacular as a rookie, another first year player Alfred Morris was a godsend with 1,613 yards rushing. There’s no reason to think Morris couldn’t put up similar numbers, but there is that sophomore jinx when many take a step back.
In a tight division with the Giants, Cowboys and Eagles such a fall is more the norm than a freak occurrence. Any of the four are capable of winning the division and it has proven to be a good money bet to take any of those teams as a road underdog of at least 6 points.
More good news for the Skins is the return of linebacker Brian Orakpo, who has also been plagued by injuries since being drafted out of the University of Texas. The leader of the defense is the ageless London Fletcher, who beginning his 16th season has never missed an NFL game.
Let’s face it, though, Griffin is way more popular in Washington than President Obama and probably the only thing Congress can agree on. The Skins finally called him ready to start the season opener at home against Philadelphia a week from Monday. The question will be how much will the leash be on RGIII to tone down the running.
The Skins have excellent depth on offense and the fans are counting on Griffin to take them to the NFC title game at the very least. Athlon Sports rated the Washington draft a D grade, not good. The top pick was cornerback David Amerson from NC State.
The Redskins won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season. But if Griffin is Griffin and the Skins return 21 of its 22 starters from a year ago.
So owner Daniel Snyder’s bunch should again be right at the top of the division picture and the NFL’s best fight song “Hail to the Redskins” should be playing a lot even if the books see a drop to 8 wins.
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].