With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
Can RG3 bounce back from a subpar 2013?
Robert Griffin III wasn’t the same a year ago. There’s no debating that. He rushed himself back from a serious knee injury, missed the entire offseason and, as a result, was not ready for the challenges that awaited him as a second-year NFL quarterback. On top of all that, tension between RG3 and the previous coaching staff simmered in the background all season and ultimately resulted in his benching. So far, everything about 2014 has been different. Griffin is healthy and has ditched the cumbersome knee brace. He’s had seven months to gel with new coach Jay Gruden and learn the playbook. Indeed, things are looking up. But until he actually does it, there will be doubts.
El-Bashir: I’m bullish on Griffin’s chances of returning to his 2012 form. Why? Three reasons: he’s healthy, he’s grown up a lot over the past 18 months and, most important, he put in the work this offseason. One of the first things on Griffin’s to-do list after last year's debacle was to reach out to Terry Shea, the quarterback guru who worked with him before the draft. They got together on multiple occasions. Shea helped Griffin rediscover all the things that helped him win a Heisman at Baylor and break out as an NFL rookie. The two worked together on ball placement, protecting the ball in the pocket, footwork, etc. “He knew what I looked like before the injury and before some of the mechanical things I was asked to change [by the Shanahans],” Griffin said Monday on 106.7 The Fan. “I wanted to get back those basics, get back what I was doing at Baylor and when I came out. He told me I got back to it real quick, within two days. I’m excited about the results.” Add to that Griffin’s newfound maturity, a coaching staff that he believes in (and vice versa) as well as the additional weapons that now surround him, and this should be a good year for RG3.
Tandler: Comeback player of the year is not an award that most players aspire to win simply because it means that you had a bad year and adversity from which you had to come back. I’m not a betting man but one of the safest wagers you could make would be that Griffin will be the 2014 winner of the comeback award. His stats this season will be much closer to those he put up in 2012 than to what he posted last year. As a reminder, while winning rookie of the year honors he completed 66 percent of his passes, averaged a league-leading 8.1 yards per attempt, threw 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions, and set a rookie record with a passer rating of 102.4. What happened last year? Call it an excuse, call it what you want to but he had no chance of getting better last year after spending all of the offseason rehabbing his knee rather than working on his game. This year he got in plenty of work with both Shea, as Tarik mentioned, and with his teammates both old (Pierre Garçon) and new (DeSean Jackson). Take it to the bank; Griffin will have that comeback award to put on the trophy shelf next to his rookie of the year hardware.