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In debut, RG3 exceeds great expectations

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In debut, RG3 exceeds great expectations

Expectations in Washington were sky high for Robert Griffin III from the moment the Redskins traded away a boatload of picks to get the right to draft him with the second overall pick in Aprils draft.

What did Griffin do with those expectations in his first game with the team? He went out and exceeded them.

By a lot.

Griffin became the first NFL quarterback since 1950 to quarterback a team to 40 points in the season opener as the Redskins stunned the Saints in New Orleans by a score of 40-32.

The numbers tell part of the story. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. If you crunch those numbers in the QB rating calculator you get a 139.9.

A perfect rating is 158.3 and that is what Griffin had in the first half. No quarterback has ever posted a perfect rating in a half in his NFL debut.

And per the Elias Sports Bureau, no quarterback has ever passed for at least 300 yards with at least two touchdowns and no interceptions in his debut.

When you start reading stats with things like first time in 62 years and first time ever attached to them, you start to get the idea that this was a pretty special performance.

As noted, the numbers only tell part of the story. The moment was not nearly too big for him. Griffin was not at all rattled by the notorious noise at the Superdome, a place where the Saints went undefeated last year. He was poised and he made excellent decisions.

And he put the ball where it needed to be. After the Saints scored a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead, a penalty backed the Redskins up to their own 12. On first down, Griffin threw a dart to Pierre Garon, who was streaking over the middle. The receiver caught the pass in stride and rolled 88 yards for a touchdown. Yes, most of the yardage was after the catch but if Griffin doesnt throw a perfect pass, allowing Garon to keep running at top speed, its a nice play but not a touchdown.

The score put the Redskins up 10-7 and they didnt trail the rest of the game.
Griffin had a lot of help. The defense held the Saints to 32 yards on the ground, allowed the Saints to convert just two of 11 third downs and and let Drew Brees complete fewer than half of his passes. Rookie Alfred Morris, who came in with considerably lower expectations as a sixth-round pick out of Florida-Atlantic, rushed for 96 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns. The offensive line was solid, paving the way for 153 rushing yards overall and giving up just one sack of Griffin.

But the Redskins have had nice rushing games before and they have played good defense before. The difference, for this one game at least, was the rookie behind center.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page

Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS

and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS