On January 6, 2013, RGIII hoped to lead his resurgent Washington Redskins over Russell Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks in a clash between two rookie quarterbacks who had taken the NFL by storm. The Redskins finished the season by winning every game after their bye week for a total of seven straight wins. This wild card game was also in front of the 80,000 plus fans in FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Washington or I should say RGIII turned the season around after a start that saw them three games under.500 9 games into the season.
Entering the fourth quarter of this Wild Card game, the score was 14 – 13 Redskins. Up to this point, both of Washington’s scores came off of two TDs thrown by RG3 and Seattle had scored off one TD through the air from Wilson and two field goals from Steven Hauschka. The score stood still for the first five minutes of the 4th until a thrilling 27 yard run from Marshawn Lynch had given Seattle the lead. What made it thrilling was not only Beast Mode acting like Beast Mode, but fans witnessing a block from Russell Wilson that helped Lynch tumble into the endzone. And then two minutes later, Hauschka chipped in another field goal for 22 yards, which iced the game. Redskins fans still believed in RG3 because of his late game heroics throughout the season. However, those hopes were soon dashed a minute later when Griffin’s knee buckled after a bad snap on a late drive in their own territory. At that moment, not only did RG3’s season end, but Washington’s did too. Griffin had an entire offseason to recover from his torn ACL and LCL though and Washington would recover from the reeling loss as well, right?
Wrong. We have one week left in the 2013 NFL season and the Redskins sit dead last in the NFC East, a division they won a season ago. Even more remarkable is the fact that they have the worst record in the NFC. Their nine games under .500 serves as an indication of a team that has witnessed much controversy surrounding their star quarterback, head coach, and owner. Their losses have not even been close with five of them coming with deficits greater than 15. This might be signaling a restoration back to the times when Washington was the perpetual cellar of the NFC. The Redskins have won one playoff game since the turn of the 21st century. Meanwhile, all three of their NFC East foes have been fixtures in the playoffs in the past decade. Washington fans who were ecstatic for RG3 and the future of their team last season are now worried about the franchise and hoping for a high pick in this upcoming draft.
More recently, coach Mike Shanahan decided to bench RG3 for the remainder of the season, a move that seems to be very divided within the sports community. Shanahan claimed that Griffin shouldn’t risk his health for the last three games of the season in a dismal season that has seen the Redskins win a total of three times. In the two weeks that RG3 has been benched, backup QB Kirk Cousins has led the ‘skins to zero wins. Yet, it’s not entirely his fault. There exist a multitude of problems on defense and with the receiving corps, but more importantly, issues with confidence and demeanor. The mental aspect of “winning” has not been at the forefront of the franchise, something that persisted throughout the last three months of last season. Redskins’ fans are hoping that last season wasn’t an anomaly and the team can return to that winning mentality soon. This fan base has not seen a Super Bowl since 1991 and a Divisional Round appearance since 2005.
After last season, Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles fans were scared about the thought of their teams facing Griffin twice a year for at least the next decade. As a Giants fan, it is one less problem to worry about each season. But, the question remains: what happened to the RGIII that was supposed to lead the Redskins back to postseason relevance? His injuries have not deterred his abilities to the point where he is best suited as a backup. Rather, he has the same problem that the rest of the Redskins’ organization has. His mental confidence after the injury is virtually nonexistent. He is less likely to put his body on the line because of the fear that the injury has instilled within him. Throughout his rookie campaign, we saw him sacrifice his body in any way to gain extra yards. That same “fight” has not been evident this year. Instead of running head first, he’s deciding to step out of bounds to avoid the vicious hits. If I were in his position I’d probably do the same to lengthen my career and stay healthy. Unfortunately, compromise is necessary to win in the NFL. Griffin needs to find that confidence again and find a healthy balance between the motives of his team and himself individually in order to be more successful in this league.