In some ways, things are exactly the same as they were a year ago. And in other ways they couldn’t more different.
After six games in 2011 the Redskins were 3-3, the same record they have now. They are still very much underwater for the Mike Shanahan era, standing at 14-24 through the two seasons plus six games since he took over as the head coach. And nobody is putting them on their short list of Super Bowl contenders.
But the similarities end there. Last year the Redskins lost in Carolina 33-20 in their sixth game, their second straight loss after a 3-1 start. John Beck had his first start with the Redskins in that game and while his numbers were respectable—22 of 37 for 279 yards with a touchdown and an interception—but his performance decidedly lacked sizzle.
Fast forward to now with the Redskins coming off of a win to move to 3-3. The record is the same but the feel is very different with Robert Griffin III behind center. The knowledge that the Redskins won’t be at a considerable disadvantage at the most important position on the field going into most games, as has been the case for the past two decades, makes for a sunnier outlook.
Make no mistake about it, Griffin will not be the better QB on the field for most of the Redskins’ last 10 games, at least not in terms of accomplishments. They face Eli Manning (2 rings), Mike Vick (4 Pro Bowls), and Tony Romo (3 Pro Bowls) twice each. RG3 also will play on the same field with Ben Roethlisberger (2 rings), Cam Newton (shattered rookie QB records), and Joe Flacco (has won 70 percent of his starts). Of the remaining quarterbacks on the Redskins’ slate only Cleveland rookie Brandon Weeden could be considered to be inferior to Griffin.
But nobody except for the more partisan fans of the teams the Redskins are playing would be willing to say that RG3 might not outshine his more experienced counterpart in a given game. Or in a number of games. Or in the key moments of some games.
Griffin will say all of the right things when asked about the quarterbacks he’s about to play, lauding his accomplishments and saying that he’ll be going up against the Giants or Steelers or Cowboys defense and not Manning or Big Ben or Romo. But you know that his competitive juices will be flowing going into each of those games. Griffin wants to be among the elites of game and there is no better way to get there than by winning against the best in the business.
Griffin will get that chance many times between now and the end of December.