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RGIII Restarts Excitement for Redskins Fans
If you tuned into "Monday Night Football" last night on ESPN, you were able to catch a stellar performance from Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (aka RGIII). He helped lead his team to a 17-16 win over the reigning Super Bowl Champs, the New York Giants, and the win also placed Washington within a game of first place in the NFC East and a game out of the wild-card race.
The former Baylor standout and 2011 Heisman winner has been very solid this season and proved to be a tough contender along with fellow rookie quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, but Griffin III has also provided a new resurgence of excitement for Redskins fans.
Today I had the opportunity to chat with Abe Schwadron, the Online Editor of TDdaily.com. Schwadron's work has appeared in SLAM Magazine and SLAM Online as well.
Ngozi Ekeledo: When and how did you become a Redskins fan?
Abe Schwadron: It wasn't a conscious decision. I was born in D.C., so I've been naturally tied to the local teams since before I can remember. I wasn't one of those "Oh, the Yankees and Cowboys are winning, I'll just root for them" kids. I root for and with my city. And I'm proud of that fact. Sometimes I wish I had been born in Boston or New York, though, so I could have enjoyed some type of success...ever in my life. I was in diapers the last time the Redskins won anything.
NE: What was your initial reaction when you found out that the team was
AS: I was in Atlantic City with some old friends from the D.C. area when I found out the Redskins had traded up for the No. 2 pick. There was some mixed reactions amongst the crew, but I was ecstatic (and I may or may not have bought around of adult beverages to celebrate). The Redskins haven't been stable at the QB position for nearly 20 years.
NE: What has impressed you the most about the rookie quarterback?
AS: Well, first off, physically, his speed. He's made some of the NFL's best defensive players look old and slow, and half the time it looks like he's jogging. And then his mental approach is unbelievable for a player so young. He's come in with confidence, poise and wisdom beyond his years. A lot of times, rookies look lost—and understandably so. He's been ready to go from day one, which is a testament to his preparation.
NE: What are his biggest weaknesses that you think teams exploit/have exploited?
AS: There's really nothing he can't do on the football field, but if he has a weakness, it's that a lot of times he will refuse to throw the ball away or refuse to avoid the big hit. The crazy thing is, you can't blitz this kid, because he eats up blitzes with quick throws.
NE: When was the last time that you remember there being so much buzz
about a Redskins team? What is the atmosphere like at FedExField this
season compared to other seasons?
AS: There's really no comparison for this season. I've never seen people this excited about a .500 team. And that's the thing—for all the excitement about this season and potentially making the playoffs, the real excitement in the area comes from knowing we have not only a quarterback of the future, but also a workhorse running back in Alfred Morris, a No. 1 wide receiver in Pierre Garcon, and a team that's been playing so well without key pieces of the defense missing in Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker, and just about every safety that's taken the field this year.
NE: In terms of the battle of the rookie QBs (Wilson, Luck and
Griffin III), who did you initially think would be the most successful?
AS: There's no doubt Luck was the most pro-ready. And even being the Redskins homer that I am, I don't think any of us imagined RGIII would be this good this soon. Luck's been amazing this year, and Wilson would be the talk of the NFL if not for the other two guys. Would I trade RGIII for Luck, though? No way.
NE: Was there a specific play from last night's game [against the NY Giants] that really convinced you that Griffin III is the "real deal"?
AS: I mean, the 46-yard run stands out. Dude can jog his way into the secondary. But there was a play in the second half on a third down when he spun out of a sack and ran for the first down that only a handful of guys in the league can make. It's the fact that he can make those plays, and then turn around on the next play and throw a pinpoint pass 45 yards down the field, that makes him special.
NE: Why do you think the zone-read option offense RGII ran worked so
well last night against the Giants? People have compared Griffin
running this type of offense to when Tebow ran it in Denver. How is
RGII able to be so much more efficient?
AS: Well, to answer the Tebow portion first, RGIII is a far superior passer to Tebow. No one respected Tebow's arm when he was starting in Denver, whereas people fear Griffin's. The read-option worked so well against the Giants for a few reasons. First of all, Alfred Morris is a beast. If you choose to contain Griffin and focus on him, Alfie will take 7 or 8-yard chunks up the middle. The Giants were content to let Morris run the ball a lot on Monday night. And then just the amount of different things Robert can do with the ball—giving him options is a torment for the defense. Stare into the backfield and he'll pick you apart. Take your eyes off him for a moment and he'll dart to the outside. He's so used to running a similar offense at Baylor that those decisions come naturally to him, and then he lets his talent take over. It remains to be seen how long the Skins can ride this kind of offense, but for now, it's rolling.
NE: After last night's win, the Redskins are within a game of first
place in the NFC East. How do you think the team will finish up?
AS: They're also a game out of the wild-card race. If the Bears had taken care of business against Seattle... Anyway, Washington's schedule is favorable with Cleveland and Philly still to come, but it will be tough with a secondary that's falling apart. There's really no excuse for not finishing the year at least 2-2 in these last four games, though the Skins will need to go 3-1 to make the postseason. The realistic, pessimistic D.C. sports fan in me says 8-8 and a narrow Playoff miss, but that doesn't mean I'm not in a full blown Playoff sweat after Monday night.
You can check out even more of Abe's work and opinions at www. TDdaily.com or on Twitter--be sure to give a follow to @TDdaily and @abe_squad. A big thank you goes out to the diehard Redskins fan for giving us some solid insight about the team and their performance this season with RGIII.
Now sports fans, I want to know--what do you think of RGIII? Did you watch last night's game? Check out "KMVT Sports Girl" on Facebook or @KMVTSportsGirl on Twitter and let me know your thoughts!