“Counterparts to be counted on” is a 32-part series where we the “Front Office” of couchpotatogm.com analyze one offensive player and one defensive player on each team that MUST have a particularly strong individual season in 2015 for their respective teams to have a successful 2015 campaign. The ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl but a successful season doesn’t always result in hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. No matter what “you” consider to be a success these counterparts are essential to achieving that goal.
Washington Redskins “Counterparts to be counted on” 2015
Robert Griffin III – The spotlight has shined intensely on RGIII since the Redskins sold their future to the St. Louis Rams (3 first round and 1 second round draft pick) for who Redskins Nation thought would be their franchise quarterback for years to come. The Rams then parlayed those 4 picks into 8 draft selections including Janoris Jenkins, Michael Brockers, Alec Ogletree, and Greg Robinson. After a successful rookie of the year campaign (2012) in which RGIII totaled 4,015 all-purpose yards (815 on the ground) with 27 Total TDs and just 5 interceptions, Griffin has been lackluster the following two seasons battling knee and ankle injuries while going 5-15 as a starter. With many doubters within the Redskins’ fan base and the scrutiny RGIII has faced on and off the field it will be a “make or break” year for him. Not to mention he has performed well below his rookie counterparts Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Ryan Tannehill who have already or will be paid handsomely by their respective teams.
Griffin in his second year under head coach Jay Gruden is the offensive “counterpart to be counted on” if the Redskins have plans to get back to the playoffs. Leading up to training camp there have been whispers of an anonymous coach stating, “There’s no coming back. He is done. The reason is, the injury slowed his legs, and his ego will not allow him to hit rock bottom and actually grind his way back up the right way.” To get back to his 2012 form the highly ridiculed quarterback needs to demonstrate that he is completely healthy from his leg injury. Once that box is checked, Griffin needs to (and should have already) learn to play the quarterback position within the confines of the pocket. CPGM believes a quarterback needs to be able to take snaps under center, read the entire field, and deliver the football on time and with anticipation. RGIII to me was hamstrung from the start when the Shanahan regime coddled him (college system) and didn’t allow him to grow as an NFL caliber QB. Although he had great numbers in his rookie season RGIII got away with a lot of smoke and mirrors, which with more game film NFL defenses have adjusted to. Couple that with the harm he and the coaching staff put himself into by running a read option offense, not knowing when to give up on a play, and risking his body outside of the pocket.
With all that said there should be no more excuses for Griffin and no more excuses given by his supporters. Time for RGIII to look himself in the mirror and step up to the plate for a franchise that devoted three first round draft picks to acquire him. The 2015 season will be pivotal for RGIII and Washington.
Trent Murphy – There is a lot of pressure this upcoming season for second year pro Trent Murphy out of Stanford. After leading the NCAA in sacks in his senior season Murphy experienced a steep learning curve and growing pains last season as he only registered 2.5 sacks. He got thrust into the starting lineup after Brian Orapko went down with a season ending injury in Week 7 and now will start opposite perennial pro bowler Ryan Kerrigan in 2015 with Orapko now in Tennessee.
The Redskins desperately need to get after the quarterback after ranking 24th in pass defense and allowing the most passing TDs in 2014. Washington’s issues had a lot to do with a woeful secondary but the quickest way to get better against the pass is by consistently pressuring the QB. That’s why Murphy is the defensive “counterpart to be counted” on for the Redskins as he will be essential to taking pressure off the secondary, Washington’s weakest defensive unit. The addition of second round pick Preston Smith (who I like) will help the pass rush but Murphy will get the first shot to stake that claim.