Redskins Hog Heaven closed our offseason break from football as a guest on All Purpose Roto's podcast focusing the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens. I was the Redskins expert, but you already guessed that.
Don't have time to listen to the 15-minute segment? Here's the one thing I said worth remembering. To be considered a success by Redskins fans, Robert Griffin III just has to be better than Rex Grossman.
It's a low standard of achievement, a point we made on June 1. That just highlights how awful was Grossman's 2011 performance and how achievable for RG3 to beat it.
It beats me how that translates into wins. The Redskins averaged seven wins per season since 1992. The pressure on Mike Shanahan comes from his failure in two seasons to get seven wins from a seven-win team.
Coaches point to success by the third year of their leadership. If Washington fans don't know that, it's because no coach other than Joe Gibbs lasted for three years in the Snyder era.
Chalk one up for Snyder that Shanahan & company get that third year.
If the coach has any confidence in Washington's 2012 prospects, it is because his team — the players he selected — are rounding in shape. Shanahan's 2012 NFL Draft picks mirrored a trend we noticed last season. Shanahan and Bruce Allen pick players who are multiyear starters and team leaders.
The Big 12 and the Big 10 Conferences honored Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins with leadership awards. (h/t to TheHogs.net for pointing me to this story.)
Every 2012 draftee but Griffin III was a redshirt senior. Heisman Trophy-winner Griffin was a three-year starter at Baylor who played the 2011 season as a fourth-year junior. He was granted an extra year of NCAA eligibility to make up for his 2009 season lost after a knee injury.
Cousins was a three-year starter, Academic Big 10 and team captain in Michigan State's pro-style offense.
Every 2011 draftee except OG Adam Gettis, CB Richard Crawford, SS Jordan Morris-Bernstine was the first and therefore the best player picked from their college squad. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz says that Gettis is an equal talent to OT Riley Reiff, the first round pick (23rd overall) of the Detroit Lions. Crawford and Morris-Bernstine were seventh-round picks.
Everybody says character counts. Shanahan and Bruce Allen draft as though character has a tangible effect on winning. We've seen this dating back to Washington's 2010 selection of Trent Williams, a redshirt senior out of Oklahoma. It's enough to call it a tendency.
The payoff on new players comes the year after they were selected. The Draft and free agent class of 2012 are all about 2013 performance. If coach Shanny projects confidence, it must be because he selected players in the 2011 Draft along the same character lines. Those players have a year under their belt.
Washington's prospects this season rests more on Williams, LB Perry Riley, LB Ryan Kerrigan, WR Leonard Hankerson and DE Jarvis Jenkins than RG3.
Washington's challenge is that every team in the NFC East got better. The Eagles, Giants and Cowboys start with a roster more respected than the Redskins. No analyst outside Washington thinks the Redskins will challenge for the division. (Most avoid silly notions of a two-win season like this guy at FootballNation.com.)
The Eagles and Cowboys finished 8-8 and the Giants once seemed headed there before they got hot, ignited by an embarrassing home loss to the Redskins. Washington is not likely to win the division in 2012, but the notion of playing a dark horse-spoiler role against a pair of .500 clubs is not beyond belief.