COMMENTARY | The Washington Redskins are a quarter of the way done with their season. After starting off the year 0-3, they picked up their first win against the Oakland Raiders last Sunday. After just four weeks, what grade does the offense deserve?
Before we go any further, it's important to note that it is tricky to really give the offense a fair grade simply because of the situation with Robert Griffin III. Griffin was held out of training camp because he was recovering from a knee injury and his first snap was Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has had to undergo a serious transition back into game action after not getting any real snaps in roughly 250 days.
Even with the transition that Griffin is undergoing, the offense have played well, but have also had their fair share of struggles. Let's break down the offense by position based on how they've performed in the first four weeks of the season. At the end, they'll be given a grade based on the analysis.
We'll start up front with the offensive line. In years past, this has been quite a problem spot with the Redskins, but 2013 has seen some solid play out of the front five. Have they been perfect? No. But, they have played well. They've only given up seven sacks which ties them for fifth fewest in the NFL and Griffin has had ample time to throw on most pass plays. They've also paved the way for 424 yards rushing and an average of 106 per game.
Speaking of running backs, let's take a look in the back field with RG3. Alfred Morris is leading the way for the Redskins in rushing with 296 yards. After only managing 45 yards in Week 1, he then unloaded for 107 yards against the Green Bay Packers and appeared to be on his way to the 100-yard mark against the Raiders before suffering a rib injury. The running game has been improving as the season goes and that will only benefit as they will be able to find balance in the offseason.
In order to have balance, you need to be able to pass the ball. If you want to have a successful passing game, you need to have receivers to throw to. Robert Griffin III has at least three viable options to look to when he drops back to pass. Santana Moss, Pierre Garçon and Leonard Hankerson are all playing well on the edges with tight end Jordan Reed playing well in the middle.
Garçon has been Griffin's favorite target this year as he's been thrown to a whopping 44 times. The next most targeted receiver, Santana Moss, has only been looked to 26 times. When the Redskins signed Garçon and picked up Griffin, this is the kind of connection they hoped would happen. Once teams really begin to focus on shutting down Garcon, Griffin will be able to look to Moss, Hankerson and Reed. All three players are more than capable of taking advantage of one-on-one coverages if Garçon gets double covered.
That leaves only one position left: quarterback. It's no secret that Robert Griffin III has struggled and it isn't a secret that those struggles can be linked to offseason surgery and his lack of preseason experience. However, the quarterback play will need to improve if the Redskins want to make a run in the final 12 weeks of the season.
As I wrote earlier this week, something just doesn't seem right with Griffin. He's not playing scared, he's playing cautious and that's not the kind of play that made him so dangerous last year. Sure, he wants to protect his knee, but he can't be overprotective of it. He's shown signs of his 2012 self, but we haven't really seen the complete package yet. With the Redskins having the week off, maybe this will give Griffin a chance to settle back down and get back to his old self against the Dallas Cowboys the following week.
When stacked up against the NFL, the Redskins rank seventh in pass yards per game (284.4) and 17th in rush yards per game (106). It's been said before, and some of you have commented that you don't like this phrase so I apologize in advanced, that most of the Redskins yards have come in garbage time when the game is well out of reach. That point is true, but it doesn't mean that the Redskins didn't earn those yards.
One thing to keep an eye on from here on out is how often we see the no-huddle offense. Overall, the Redskins have ran 32 plays using the no-huddle offense for 195 yards for a 6.09 yards per play average. They have scored 17 points off of drives that have utilized the no-huddle approach. Against the Raiders, the ran it a season high 18 times for 95 yards and a total of 10 points. When they use it, it works and don't be very surprised if it gets more and more use as the season wears on.
Now comes the tricky part: giving the grade. As I mentioned at the beginning, it's important to take into account the learning curve that RG3 is currently working with. He's been thrown back into the action and has had to make the adjustment quickly. You also have to look at how his ability affects the rest of the team and how the rest of the unit's ability affects him.
The grade that I am giving the Washington Redskins offense is a B-. While they have gotten off to a 1-3 start, the offense has played well and has shown some great potential. However, there is always room for improvement and expect the offense to improve the further along into the season we get.
Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer that contributes to RantSports.com and Yahoo Sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brian_Skinnell.
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- Robert Griffin III
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