Turning The Ship Around In Washington
After an extremely disappointing 1-4 start by the Washington Redskins, it seemed as if their season was over. Robert Griffin III didn't seem like himself, the offense couldn't get going until the second half, and their defense was allowing an unprecedented amount of points and yards. The season was pretty much over before fall had a chance to set in.
Then their Week 7 game against the Chicago Bears happened.
Washington played the Bears at home at FedEx Field. The Bears, boasting a 4-2 record, were tied atop the NFC North and appeared to be primed and ready for a playoff appearance. Chicago had been playing strong defense and was getting great production out of their offensive leaders QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, WR Brandon Marshall and TE Martellus Bennett. Another loss loomed over the Redskins and their playoff hopes seemed to be ever deteriorating.
However, the Bears couldn't shake the Redskins. The first half of all of Washington's games this year seemed to go the same way. RGIII would struggle throwing the ball, the team would go down big early, and the team as a whole simply couldn't fit the pieces together. But in this game, the Redskins were able to score 24 first half points, with 21 of them coming in the second quarter alone.
RGIII was throwing the ball well and even running the football. He finished the game second in rushing for the 'Skins with 84 yards from 11 rushes; flashes of RGIII's rookie year were evident. Washington finally seemed to have their franchise quarterback back: a player that cannot only distribute the ball to his receivers but can run and evade defenders with his Olympic speed.
An argument to the Redskins playing well against the Bears could be that Chicago had their backup QB Josh McCown playing. To debunk that theory, McCown completed 14-of-20 passes (70-percent completion rate) for 204 yards and one touchdown, while also only playing two-thirds of the game. In addition to McCown's excellent play, Forte also rushed for three touchdowns. In short, the Redskins weren't playing a bad Bears team.
Before this game, the Redskins were lost, and all the hope the revamped team from the season before had created seemed to have disappeared. However, with RGIII seemingly back to his old self, that hope still flickers. And with the recent emergence of rookie TE Jordan Reed, RGIII has another target besides Pierre Garçon to lean on, and Redskins fans have another reason to be optimistic.
Washington Fans, Don't Sweat the Four Losses
While the 'Skins may have been playing poorly the first six weeks of the season, Washington fans shouldn't fret too much as their losses came to the hands of some pretty impressive teams. In week one they lost to the offensive juggernaut Philadelphia Eagles. No team could have prepared for the Eagles and their Oregon styled offense that night. Weeks two, three, and five featured losses to the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys. All of these teams have top 10 quarterbacks and many offensive weapons (Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Calvin Johnson Jr., Reggie Bush, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten to name a few). Combined, these teams have a 15-12 record and include two division leaders. These losses aren't ones to feel too bad about.
Optimism in Washington
What was most uplifting about Washington's win over Chicago, despite their lack of defense and allowing yet another special teams touchdown, was the resiliency they displayed. They came into the matchup 1-4 and simply playing pathetically. Yet they ignored what they had done in the first six weeks and came out to play. RGIII was finally showing accuracy with his passing — a prime example was his key third down completion to Garçon late in the fourth quarter while running to his right towards the sideline. The second year quarterback also showed that he can run with the ball again and that his repaired knee wasn't hampering his ability to do so. In addition to that, the Redskins were able to keep pace with the Bears scoring, and kept grinding out big plays and first downs when needed.
Washington showed the same toughness and resilience last year when they had a 3-6 record and everyone believed that their season was over. However, the Redskins buckled down and notched seven consecutive victories to win the division and make the playoffs. This year at 2-4, they seem to be waking up a little earlier and maybe, just maybe, they can pull out some gritty second half season wins for yet another magical run. Washington and their fans shouldn't give up hope just yet, as Sunday's win against Chicago may have breathed some life into the Redskins and their fanbase.