COMMENTARY | Brace yourselves, Washingtonians, for a psychological crash.
The Redskins will disappoint you this season. They got your hopes up last year by capturing the NFC East title. It was the most exciting run the team has had since the glorious Joe Gibbs Super Bowl era that seems like so long ago. Expect lesser accomplishments this campaign. The reasons center on quarterback Robert Griffin III ("RG3") and running back Alfred Morris.
RG3 won't run nearly as much
There is no one cooler in the NFL, and maybe in the entire sports world, than RG3. From his raw athletic talent, to his articulate and appealing comments in press interviews, to his positive attitude and determined work ethic, this guy in only his second Redskins season already ranks among my top three favorite all-time Skins. The fact that I've been following this team for 44 years illustrates the depth of my affection.
But here's the problem: It's the ACL that blew out last season; worse, it was the second time in four years he tore this fragile body part. Knees have only a few ACL rips in them before there isn't much left. Most of his nifty runs he made last season that made the Skins so tough to contend with are going to be curtailed. That will make him easier to defend. Rendered much more of a one-dimensional quarterback, he won't be able to win games running the ball.
Last season, he completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards and only 5 interceptions. But those stats won't be as stellar this fall. Defenses will be able to predict more accurately when he will pass. He won't gain half of the 815 yards rushing he racked up last season.
Even if his knee is the same as before the injury and he can sprint as fast and cut as sharply, coach Mike Shanahan won't let him. This splendid athlete is too valuable a long-term asset to the franchise to risk ruining his career in his second season. I believe Shanahan would rather lose a few more games this season and protect RG3's knee than ruin it and not have him as his quarterback anymore. For playing him with a serious knee injury in the playoffs last season, the coach caught heat. He won't want to endure that again.
So Griffin will be a passer much more of the time when he doesn't hand it off, making the Skins a more pedestrian offense. They will score fewer points because Griffin won't be scoring them running. Fewer points will translate to more losses.
Alfred Morris won't be as great as last season
The second reason the Skins are headed toward a tumultuous season is running back Alfred Morris. Although in his rookie year he gained 1,613 yards, including a robust 4.8-yards per carry, that won't happen again. A virtual unknown sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic University last season, he snuck up on the league.
Defenses underestimated him but won't this season. Don't be surprised if he gains fewer than 1,000 yards this season. How talented can he be if so many pro scouts didn't view him as a top running back and the Skins didn't draft him until the sixth round?
The Redskins and RG3 have been heavily hyped this offseason. But do not expect any Redskins Super Bowl parties -- not even a playoff berth.
Charles Hartley was born and raised in the Washington, D.C.,area. He has been writing about sports, including the Washington Redskins, for more than 25 years.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Alfred Morris
- Robert Griffin III