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It's crazy to think what has happened since the RG3 and Andrew Luck draft in 2012

It's crazy to think what has happened since the RG3 and Andrew Luck draft in 2012

It wasn't that long ago when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III intended to dominate the NFL. It might seem crazy now, but it wasn't that long ago. 

In 2012, Indianapolis drafted Luck first overall to take over for the then-injured Peyton Manning. It was a tall order, but Luck seemed up to the challenge. Immediately after Luck, the Redskins selected Griffin. His challenge wasn't replacing a legend like Manning, but rather Washington asked RG3 to rescue a franchise stuck in a constant vortex of turmoil. Somehow, even as a rookie, Griffin seemed up for that challenge too. 

Both rookies started right away, and while there were some hiccups, both were great. 

  • In 16 games, Luck completed 54 percent of his passes for 4,300 yards with 23 TDs and 18 INTs while the Colts went 11-5 and returned to the playoffs. 
  • In 15 games, Griffin completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards with 20 TDs and 5 INTs while the Redskins went 10-6 and returned to the playoffs. Griffin also rushed for another 800 yards and seven TDs. 

The hype was so real around both young quarterbacks that a preseason matchup between the Colts and Redskins got promoted as a showdown. A preseason game. 

The truth was both Luck and RG3 seemed like can't-miss prospects. Cannot miss. Luck had the pocket pedigree every QB coach dreams of. Griffin had the arm and athleticism that was going to turn the NFL upside down. 

For a brief time, it worked. 

There were no Super Bowls, no real triumphs, but in 2012, both guys lived up the hype. 

Things quickly deteriorated for Griffin, both through injury and infighting. Who's to blame in the demise of the RG3/Mike/Kyle Shanahan relationship doesn't really matter now. That short glimpse of the perfect player in the perfect offense fell apart, like looking at a solar eclipse for just one second too long; it's beautiful right until it burns your eyes. 

Luck lasted longer in Indy, until he was betrayed by a terrible front office that refused to invest in capable offensive linemen. His body got beaten up, battered, and eventually he lost his love for the game as he was forced into a repeated cycle of rehab and recovery with only snippets of football in between.

Luck retired Saturday night. It was shocking, yet given the full context, understandable. 

Griffin is now the backup quarterback in Baltimore, playing behind a young athlete with a gifted arm that might change the QB position forever in Lamar Jackson. 

Long gone are the days of stadiums chanting RG3. And now, long gone are the days of Luck being the next great pocket passer. 

That doesn't mean it never happened, but in the NFL as in life, there is no such thing as a sure thing. 

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What the Redskins' offense must improve to ensure it's effective versus non-Dolphins defenses

What the Redskins' offense must improve to ensure it's effective versus non-Dolphins defenses

The Redskins' win against the Dolphins comes with a large, aqua and orange, possibly 0-16 sized asterisk.

Yes, Washington was able to notch its first victory this year, and doing that after firing a head coach and making yet another quarterback change is worthy of praise. It's also important for every guy in that locker room, especially with the chatter that was already emerging last week regarding the team possibly losing every game this year.

But still, the entire roster has to be better if it hopes to take down other, non-Dolphins opponents, especially the offense. There are a couple of areas where the unit clearly must improve to have a chance in their final 10 contests. Luckily, they aren't difficult to spot.

The first is their level of aggression.

Adrian Peterson thrived in Bill Callahan's run-focused approach, posting more rushing yards at Hard Rock Stadium than he had in total coming into Week 6. Like the first sentence of this story says, don't get too carried away (pun not originally intended but will leave it in there) because Miami is the worst run defense in the sport, but it was encouraging to see Peterson come alive and break some long ones.

What wasn't encouraging, on the other hand, were a few sequences where Callahan seemed far too content to play it safe.

The most egregious came at the end of the first half, where the Redskins got possession at their own 25-yard line with 1:07 left to play and a timeout to use. A second down Case Keenum scramble advanced the ball to the 34, but instead of hurrying up to get more snaps in or stopping the clock, the group took its time before picking up the first down 40 seconds later.

An incomplete pass and a give-up draw followed, so the Redskins went into the half with a 7-3 lead. They didn't use their timeout, they didn't push for a field goal attempt and they didn't even try a Hail Mary.

Callahan owned up to the sequence at his postgame presser, explaining he was OK with where the score was at. That mindset won't work from Week 7 on, however. Instead of accepting whatever future score advantages the Redskins have, they need to look to widen it in situations like that.

They're 1-5. Why be so conservative?

Of course, it's easier to be aggressive if your QB is locked in. Washington didn't exactly have that luxury in Florida.

Case Keenum was largely somewhat fine to fine in his return to the lineup, and thanks to a few shots to Terry McLaurin and that effort from Peterson, his return ended with a win. Afterward, Callahan named him the starter for the upcoming 49ers contest, but he has to do more if he's going to hold off Dwayne Haskins (writer's note: Haskins should be on the field by now).

That said, it may also help him if he was asked to do a little more, which ties into the first point. He averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt, which is a number similar to that of bottom-third offenses in the league. 58 of his 166 yards came on the two scores to McLaurin, meaning his other 11 completions and 23 tries went for just 108.

At some point, and likely some point soon, Callahan's beloved running game will be limited and the Redskins' signal-caller will have to make some throws and be the one responsible for moving the ball. It'll either be Keenum or, if he is mediocre again, it may then be Haskins. Whoever it is, though, he has to air it out more effectively.

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It’s been a while, but it’s time to praise Ereck Flowers and the Redskins offensive line

It’s been a while, but it’s time to praise Ereck Flowers and the Redskins offensive line

The Redskins bulldozed the Miami defense on Sunday, and it’s been a while since this sentence got written, but the Washington offensive line deserves a big part of the credit. 

For the first time this year the Redskins went for more than 100-yards rushing and Washington quarterback Case Keenum did not get sacked the entire game. 

Regardless of the opponent, that’s an impressive day for an offensive line. Add in the fact that the Redskins O-line got zero penalties called on them, and it’s quite an impressive day. 

“We really wanted to clean up the line of scrimmage penalties we had,” Redskins interim head coach Bill Callahan said after the 17-16 win in Miami.

Coming into that game the Redskins were one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, and the offensive line was a big part of that. A clean sheet on Sunday almost seemed impossible after a slew of holding calls and procedural flags became commonplace during the team’s 0-5 start.

“We try to stay away from holdings, hands outside the framework of the body,” Callahan said. “I thought our players were really focused and concentrated on getting that done.”

It’s also time to credit the Redskins front office for the left side of the line. Pro Personnel director Alex Santos had to really sell veteran Donald Penn on joining the team this August, and without Trent Williams around, Penn has been very important. 

There’s also the experiment of signing Ereck Flowers, a terrible tackle in New York for four seasons, and turning him into a guard. That’s working too. 

The challenge will grow significantly next week when the 49ers come to Washington. San Francisco is almost the opposite of Miami. They’re undefeated with a vicious defensive front and a high-scoring offense. 

For one week, the switch from Jay Gruden to Callahan appears to have worked. When Gruden was fired last Monday, Callahan moved quickly to change the physicality and intensity of his practice sessions and commit to running the football. It worked against Miami, barely as Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly lead a fourth-quarter comeback, but it worked. 

“When you can transfer that type of effort into the game, their preparedness, their willingness to extend themselves physically, that’s invaluable,” Callahan said. “I’m really proud of our kids and how they played today. We’ve got to get ready for a tougher team coming in here this week.”

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