It’s hard to live up to expectations.
Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins were considered by some the NFC favorites heading into the 2013 NFL season.
After an 0-2 start, panic is beginning to set in.
So what went wrong? Why is this talented crew looking at 0-3 right in the eyes?
There are several reasons why they have started off slow, but we’re going to focus on three in particular.
Defense Has Been A Major Liability
Washington’s defense has given up 71 points in two games. They allowed 33 points to Philadelphia and 38 to Green Bay.
After two weeks of play, Washington’s rush defense is allowing 201 yards per game which ranks them dead last in the NFL. Teams are gaining massive chunks on first down, setting up second and short or third and short situations.
You can’t win games if your defense can’t get off the field. Right now, Washington is allowing a ridiculous amount of yards per game. More specifically, they are allowing a combined 512 yards per 60 minutes.
Before you can blink, the Redskins are down double digits before half time because of their atrocious defense. Not even Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers could consistently bring their team back in the second half when they’re down 26-7 to Philadelphia and 24-0 to Green Bay.
The defense has to get better if they want to get this turned around. It starts by performing better in the first half.
Robert Griffin III Is Being Timid
One of the greatest assets of Robert Griffin III is his ability to rush the football from the quarterback position. Under Washington’s read-option offense, where the quarterback decides whether or not to hand the ball off or keep it himself, the quarterback has to be a willing rusher.
So far, Griffin hasn’t been willing. Through two games, Griffin has only rushed the ball nine times for 25 yards.
Last year, at this same time, Griffin III had 20 rushes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. It’s obvious that he’s not very keen on rushing the football coming off of his knee injury that cost him to miss the entire NFL Preseason.
Griffin has mentioned that defenses haven’t been giving him chances to run the football on the read-option and that’s the reason why he only has nine rushes. If that’s the case, which he has had several opportunities but decided to hand it off, Mike Shanahan and the offense need to figure out ways to get him in the open field.
Call a designed quarterback draw. Call something to get him on the edge. Do something creative to utilize his explosive speed and elusiveness. So far, they haven’t.
Opponents Have Been Difficult Matchups
Do you remember when the ‘Wildcat’ first debuted? Miami’s ‘Wildcat’ offense absolutely lit up one of the best teams in this era, the New England Patriots.
They ended New England’s 21-game home winning streak. New England came into that game 2-0 and Miami 0-2, yet that meant NOTHING. Miami won 38-13, they ran for 216 yards on the ground and had four Ronnie Brown rushing touchdowns.
New England fans, coaches and players were stunned by the way Miami used a new, unique offensive style to perfection.
But with every new offensive scheme, defenses figure out ways to stop it. That same style is no longer a feature to an offensive scheme.
Washington went into their Week 1 game against Chip Kelly and Philadelphia’s up-tempo, spread you out, track meet and they were down 26-7 at half time and ended up losing 33-27. They allowed 443 yards of total offense.
Two weeks later, and those same Eagles are 1-2. Washington went into the game not knowing what to expect and they got burnt.
Ask New England – it happens to the best of them.
Now for Week 2.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have put up 84 touchdown passes in the past two seasons. There are no secrets that Rodgers – a former Super Bowl MVP and Super Bowl champion – is a top three quarterback in the NFL.
Getting torched by Rodgers is common. He had three touchdowns against the vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense in Week 1. Last year, Rodgers had at least three touchdowns in eight games.
You never want to be down 24-0 at half time, or give up 38 total points because chances are, you won’t win, but we could almost give Washington a pass for getting lit up in Green Bay.
I’m not making excuses for Washington, but I am justifying why they lost. There is no doubt that this team needs a lot of work, and if they don’t change things soon, the season will be over because teams generally can’t find their way back after extremely poor starts.
Week 3 will be pivotal for the Redskins to get back in the mix of the things in the NFC. With Detroit at home and Oakland on the road in the next two weeks, Washington will have a glorious opportunity to be .500 after the first quarter of the season.
But for that to happen: the defense has to improve significantly and Robert Griffin III has to be aggressive on offense.
And these two things better happen before it’s too late.