- Let’s assume Robert Griffin III opens the season as the starting quarterback. (Not sure why he would otherwise, unless he’s completely lost in the preseason. When Mike Shanahan kept Jay Cutler on the bench as a rookie, his team was 13-3 the previous year. It made sense. This team was 5-11 and Rex Grossman is not considered a quality starter by any means). For a rookie quarterback it’s not the worst opening. Yes, the Saints will be a tough opponent on the road. But they’ll have an interim coach and a new defensive system (albeit with a good coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo). And it’s a loud place. But it’s a good time to catch them considering at least a couple key defensive players will be suspended for their role in the bounties. And of the first four opponents, three have new defensive coordinators (and ranked 21st or worse in total defense).
- The Redskins have only one night game, the Monday nighter vs. the New York Giants on Dec. 3. They also have the Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas. But they do not deserve much more on prime time. They’ll have RG3, but he’s coming to a team that’s won 11 games in two seasons combined. You can only give them so many prime spots. Next year? Could be a much different story. For now, though, the Redskins haven’t done anything in a long time to warrant anything other than what they have.
- The combined winning percentage of the Redskins’ opponents is .488, tied for 24th in the NFL. But it’s a little misleading. I’d expect the NFC East to be much better this season. If the New York Giants are healthy they won’t go 9-7 again. The Eagles finished strong and remain dangerous and Dallas could be improved too. Point is, the Redskins’ division will be tougher than it was a year ago. They could go 6-10 and be headed in a much better direction than at the end of last season. As of now, they’re not much better than a six- or seven-win team. We have no idea how good RG3 will be as a rookie; the defense must play more sound, especially at safety. Will the receivers be that much better (especially with RG3 having a lot to learn)? Add it up and this season will be as much about watching Griffin develop as winning games (at least from a non-coach’s perspective). I'd rather see them go 6-10 with Griffin starting than 8-8 with Rex Grossman.
- The home opener will be interesting vs. Cincinnati. The Bengals were 9-7 and the rookie QB, Andy Dalton, was a surprise. But they didn’t beat a team that finished above .500 and they were 2-3 in their last five games and lost by 21 in the playoffs to Houston. Not sold on them and need to see more of Dalton, too. But their defense ranked seventh in the NFL. Also, Pittsburgh will be more in transition as it was an aging group. But playing the Steelers on the road is never easy (or at home if they bring, say, 30,000 of their fans).
- The Redskins have a potentially tough last 10 games, with eight of those teams entering the season as legitimate playoff contenders. Six of those games are against the NFC East. Then there’s the Steelers game as well as a home game vs. Baltimore. That’s rough. The Redskins had better hope they have more depth this season to handle such a grind. And it’ll be curious to see how RG3 handles these teams – seven of whom had a defense ranked 14th or higher last year. And one team that didn’t, the New York Giants, should be much better in 2012 – if healthy.
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