RG3 and Redskins are better than you thought, accolades to Mike Shanahan and Dan Snyder

Robert Griffin III, victorious

With that, The Washington Redskins achieved one-third of the season’s total wins that Steve Prisco predicted for them.

It felt so good to say that to naysayers who nay-said the ‘Skins somehow worsened in the offseason than the 5-11 club of 2011. It was idiotic from the start. The 2011 Redskins beat teams they had no business beating (Giants sweep) and lost games they had no business losing (loss to the Vikings at home after knocking Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder out of the game).

Prisco and many others assumed Redskins losses to both strong and weak teams, contrary to their pattern of recent years.

Up next, the still struggling St. Louis Rams who have been a Redskins nemesis of late (three Rams wins in the last five contests). We’ll save the Rams for another post. For now – how ’bout that Redskins-Saints game!

The Washington Redskins are all RG3 all the time. Other parts of the team deserve accolades, too. (Don’t worry. We sing RG3’s praises at the end of this post.)

Both Mike and Kyle Shanahan said that the team had to surround Robert Griffin III with talent for Washington to find success. Coach Mike said the Redskins did that with the young players now on the roster.

Though I am a 50-year fan, you understand my skepticism given the source. It’s not that I’m unforgiving of Shanahan for some many of his past statements, but after blowing smoke about Grossman – Beck, the whisper campaign against Donovan McNabb, the silence about Jason Campbell, the canard about Chris Cooley wanting to be a starter elsewhere when Capt. Chaos clearly wants to be here, Redskins Hog Heaven ignores what Shanahan says to focus on what he does. That brings me to:

Fred Davis and Alfred Davis
Accolade No. 1 – The Shanahan youth movement
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In the “win-now” days of Joe Gibbs II – Vinny Cerrato – Daniel Snyder, the Redskins defaulted to proven talent, the supposed last veteran talent needed to win Super Bowls. Gibbs brought us the only two playoff appearances of Snyder’s active management, but the strategy did not work. Gibbs brought better front office professionalism than before and after his time. The Redskins did not “win now” and Gibbs did not prepare the kindergarten kids to run a 75 year-old enterprise after his departure.

Everybody said Mike Shanahan would do the same. Indeed, that’s how he started. Coach Shanny kicked Campbell for an over-the-hill McNabb, flirted with Larry Johnson, started Jabar Gaffney and traded for Jammal Brown – proven talents all. None helped Shanny improve upon Jim Zorn’s two year record.

Unlike Gibbs, Shanahan turned from tactical (win-now) to strategic. Washington has a cohort of young players on offense and defense that will grow with Robert Griffin III –players you never heard of before Shanahan signed them.

RG3 is not the only reason Washington has a bright future. The running backs are young and fresh. Three or four more games like yesterday and people will say that Alfred Morris is the steal of the 2012 Draft. Roy Helu and Evan Royster only need to harden their bodies for NFL hits to excel.

Trent Williams will be an all pro someday. It’s fun watching Aldrick Robinson, Dezmon Briscoe and Leonard Hankerson develop. Hog heaven reader-lurker Scott Hirsch has great confidence in Tristan Davis’ potential to score.

None of this counts if Shanahan does not give young players the chance to grow. With Brandon Meriweather injured and Tanard Jackson suspended, and with Drew Brees across the line, Shanahan might have started fan favorite Reed Doughty at safety. Gibbs would have. But, no, Shanahan started young and green DeJon Gomes who rewarded the team with stellar play for a player so young.

The move is strategic, by which I mean it helps the Redskins win now and in the future. Mike Shanahan deserves a salute for that. Coach, I salute you.

Daniel Snyder hired Mike Shanahan
Accolade No. 2 – the executive leadership of Daniel Snyder.

I spent most of my productive work life with the world’s largest computer technology company. An executive giving a talk to the company’s most successful business leaders (ahem) one year said, “I became a better executive when I learned to take credit for the work of others.”

It was meant as a laugh line and it got just that. The humor held a hidden truth. An NFL club is not a start-up when the founding owner brings the strategic vision and business value. NFL franchises have more in common with GE than with Snyder Enterprises. Strategic direction is set in collaboration with well-chosen senior executives. Then you stay the bleep out of the way, as your exec team work their magic in unison with the other well-chosen people in the group.  The guy, or gal, at the top takes credit for the good stuff they do. The key thing for the top guy is to find the well-chosen people in the first place.

Mike Shanahan is Snyder’s best executive hire. Shanny is far from perfect, but he did not have the 11-year hiatus of Gibbs and he won more playoff games than Marty Schottenheimer. Snyder had to go along with the block-buster move to position the Redskins to draft either RG3 or Andrew Luck.  Going along with the unproven talent and uncertainties of a youth movement runs counter to everything Snyder has done up to now. He had to have given Shanahan the time to make all this work; the time needed runs beyond 2012.

I don’t know how that really works internally, but Daniel Snyder deserves a hat-tip for executive restraint. Mr. Snyder, I tip my hat to you.

Perry Riley defends the pass
Accolade No. 3 – How ’bout that defense.

Richie Petitbon says he pays attention to two stats when he looks at defenses, turnovers and third-down stops. Washington’s defense forced three turnovers (2 picks, 1 fumble recovery) on the greatest offense in history in their home where they were 8-0 last year. Washington contained Drew Brees to a 46 percent completion rate and under 7 yards per pass attempt (I suspect Petitbon pays attention to that one, too.)

A powerful defense is a rookie quarterback’s second best friend, after an effective running game. It helps when your quarterback lets you defend a lead, but we’ve said that Washington would win more games because of the defensive front seven. Everything we saw yesterday supports the notion.

The defense deserves game balls for whuppin’ the Saints. Game balls all around, fellas.

That said, New Orleans has issues, thanks to that pesky NFL sanction. The Redskins hit them at exactly the right time. Philadelphia is the next Beast team to face them. That happens on Monday, November 5. Interim head coach Joe Vitt returns from suspension three weeks before then.

Robert Griffin III
Accolade No. 4. – RG3 does the impossible by exceeding our impossible expectations.

Superlative is too small a word to describe Robert Griffin III, who is the NFL’s No. 1 quarterback after Sunday’s games. Four quarterbacks are set to play Monday night.

Redskins’ fans figured that Griffin would be better as a rookie than Grossman-Beck. Unlike Grossman and Beck, Griffin helps everybody on the field. Pierre Garçon is the No. 8 receiver after four – four - receptions in half-a-game. Alfred Morris is the No. 6 running back. The line is the No. 5 offensive line that allowed one sack and three QB hits in a shootout. Washington’s offense is the No. 1 offense in yards and tied (with Atlanta) for third in scoring. Kyle Shanahan looks like the most brilliant OC in the game.

Nobody, not stat masters, not TV analysts, not even the most diehard fans saw this coming. The kid already plays like a four-year veteran. 

Jeff Fisher would have been smarter to trade Sam Bradford to Washington for a first-round pick and have selected Griffin for the Rams. Just sayin’.

Robert Griffin III deserves songs of praise. Here’s the best one I know, Hail To The Redskins.

Image credits:
September 8, 2012 – Griffin victorious, Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America
August 24, 2012 – Alfred Morris and Fred Davis, Patrick McDermott/Getty Images North America
January 5, 2010 – Daniel Snyder hires Mike Shanahan, Mitchell Layton/Getty Images North America
August 24, 2012 – RG3, savior of Redskins football, Patrick McDermott/Getty Images North America

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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