Can RG3 Make the Skins Into the Giants of 2012?
The Giants ended last night's game with the Washington Redskins in sole possession of first place in the NFC East but somehow it didn't feel that way. Unless you just want to believe that the Giants are going to pull off another postseason miracle after stumbling through another indifferent regular season -- and with tough road games coming up against Atlanta and Houston, it isn't likely Big Blue will finish much better than 9-7 -- what you saw last night probably gave you cause for concern.
Yes, anybody can lose a game 17-16 on the road to a division rival, but the way they lost it was particularly ugly. I don't mean that crazy fumble that you're seeing over and over on ESPN that resulted in a Redskins TD. I mean committing nine penalties for 73 yards which also wiped out 28 yards in gains. And most especially, I mean the crippling inability to stop the run: How can you expect to win when you give up 207 yards rushing, with the other teams averaging 6.7 yards per rush?
Of course, let's not try and pretend that it wasn't Robert Griffin III's show. What I admire about this kid beside his enormous ability is his restraint. Any other young hot shot QB would have gone out there and tired to gun the ball 40 or 50 times a game and been sacked four or five times and thrown 2-3 interceptions and ended up losingby a point or two. RG3 only needed 21 passes -- of which he completed 13, gaining 163 yards -- and he gained 70 more yards running the ball five times.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan knew that the Giants were having fits playing run defense and planned his game accordingly, and not only did Griffin carry out the plan, he audibiled on at least three occasions in the face if a Giants blitz, calling for a running play every time. (One his own for a 12-yard gain and a first down.)
Watching the game, I couldn't help but think what a great defense you'd have if you could combine Washington's ability to stop the run with the Giants' pass defense. Ultimately, it's probably the Redskins' soft pass defense (the residue of one of the three or four worst pass rushes in the league) which will keep them from going far even if they get into the playoffs, a long shot in itself.
Still, who knows? The presence of Griffin makes the Redskins competitive against just about anybody, and you can see the team take confidence in the second half -- in which they overcame a 13-10 Giants lead -- and if the Giants got a miracle last postseason, Washington might have one up their maroon sleeves this year: they have the same record, 6-6, as the Giants did after 12 games in December of 2011.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.