I'm ready for some football. Even though Redskins at Bills is a pretend game, it beats TV replays of games that do not involve the Washington Redskins.
Robert Griffin III is the most compelling personality of the rookie class. We have been comparing him to big signings of Redskins lore, but interest in this guy is beyond that. Jersey sales for Newton or either of the Manning brothers never shot to No. 2 before their first preseason game as Griffin 3rd's has. If he has any kind of success this year and next, we will reach for comparisons to Nagurski, Grange or Baugh for his marketing impact on pro football. RG3 is a media phenomenon.
Redskins Hog Heaven encourages you to keep your eyes off RG3 for the Bills exhibition game. It's tough to do, but our premise is that 2012 success depends on players already on the roster, especially players in their third season of Mike Shanahan's offense and defense. Look for evidence that these guys are rising to Beast level competition.
Here's what we are tracking Thursday night.
Trent Williams vs. Mario Williams
Word out of Redskins camp is that Trent Williams is a beast. He is playing with an intensity and focus he did not show last season. Were it not for his suspension last season, we'd see this as natural growth. His personal hiccup put his maturity in question. All signs show he has grown from his mistake. Can he take on the likes of Mario Williams?
The Bills plan fewer series for Mario than the Redskins do for Griffin. We may see two or three defensive series for Mario. If Trent can hold his own against Mario he can do it against the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Williams vs. Williams is the most compelling match-up of the game.
Safety at work
Expect Tanard Jackson and Brandon Meriweather to be a little sloppy in their first outing as Redskins. I expect that. I won't be upset to see it, but show us that we will not see season-long shootouts at FedEx Field. The Redskins say nice things about Madieu Williams who is a nice guy, I hear. I suspect that he was to the Vikings and 49ers defense what Donovan McNabb was to the offense. Old.
Pierre Garçon makes all the catches
You hear the cliché about quarterbacks that make all the throws. How about receivers that make all the catches. It is a law of nature that quarterbacks attempt passes; receivers complete them. It's tough for quarterbacks to complete sixty percent of their pass attempts if all the receivers catch less than sixty percent of balls targeted at them. Garçon has never caught sixty percent of the balls targeted at him.
Mike Shanahan believes in Garçon. He is paying Garçon market rates for a No. 1 receiver. I hope to see that faith returned. Otherwise, I shall be compelled to invoke Shanahan's faith in John Beck.
RG3 sets his internal clock
Redskins fans on the Twitterverse voice their hopes and dreams for Griffin magic, starting with this game. "R-G-3" is already a battle cry. I expect Griffin to play like a talented rookie – some plays that will blow your mind, and some that make you pull your hair out. I want to see him enter and leave the game in good health. And, I want to see him get comfortable with the speed of the pro game.
College football and pro football are the same sport. They are not the same game. Griffin's game Thursday evening sets a baseline for comparison in preseason game three against Andrew luck and the Colts.
Any back can run the ball...
...especially in Mike Shanahan's offense where rushers are commodities. The rushers that make the roster will be those that pass block as well as run well. Who steps up to the Clinton Portis standard of pass blocking?
I don't believe in Neil Rackers
If he's so good, why was he a free agent? I suspect the coaches secretly hope Gano saves his job against 35-year-old Rackers, but Gano opened the door to this. He made 5 of 9 field goal attempts between 30 an 39 yards last season. That's gimme distance for a pro kicker. Rackers was 10 of 11 in the same distance.
Why the concern? Field goals are half the job. The other equally important job is kick-off distance. Missed field goals may frustrate you, but which of these guys is more effective at putting opponents in a hole on kick-offs? I don't know why, but I have doubts about Rackers.