Tag Archives: Robert Griffin III

Champs Again: Eagles Should Win a Weak NFC East

5 Sep

Order of predicted finish: 1. Eagles 2. Washington 3. New York Giants 4. Dallas Cowboys.

Note: Because the nickname of the Washington NFL franchise is considered to be an offensive racial slur to Native Americans, The Chris Murray Report will no longer use that name in its editorial content.

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—After all the OTAs, off-season acquisitions and sitting through preseason games, we are finally into the regular season. The Eagles will open the 2014 season against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday (1:00 p.m. CBS).

LeSean McCoy says the Eagles offense will be even in better in 2014.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

LeSean McCoy says the Eagles offense will be even in better in 2014. Photo by Webster Riddick.

The Birds will come into the 2014 season as the defending NFC East champions and there’s no reason to think they will not be in that same position when the regular-season ends in January even with a tougher schedule and the loss of speedy wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

I don’t know if Nick Foles (27 touchdown passes, two interceptions) and LeSean McCoy (314 carries, 1607 yards) will put up the numbers they did last season, but they have a year under head coach Chip Kelly’s fast-paced, no-huddle read-option offense and they are expecting to be even better.

With additions like speedy veteran running back Darren Sproles on the team, McCoy said he’s expecting the Eagles offense to be even better in 2014 whether he touches the ball more than 300 times or not.

“I think with the mix of Sproles doing different things, sometimes a 65-yard carry can be the same as a 65-yard (pass) route with Sproles,” McCoy said. “I’m learning that it doesn’t take a lot of reps or a lot of touches to be more productive and get what you want done. You could do it with less.

“I know I’m going to be the key guy they’re watching … but the guys up front with the way they’re blocking and the guys around me, especially with Sproles in there mixing it up with screens and runs and passes. With Maclin getting back and healthy, we have a guy that can stretch the field and do things across the middle. We definitely have weapons.”

Eagles’ fans are no doubt wondering if Jeremy Maclin, who hasn’t played in a regular season game since the end of the 2012 season, can be the deep receiver that can stretch the defense in the way that Jackson did last season.

The question for the Eagles is whether or not the defense can improve upon their performance late last season in 2014? The Birds ranked fourth in the NFL in the takeaway-giveaway category last season, but was 32nd against the pass.

But the big concern for the Eagles is whether they can generate a pass-rush, something that hurt them in the loss to the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs last season. During the preseason, the first team didn’t get a sack.

Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said he’s confident in his defense because his players are more familiar with the team’s 3-4 scheme. He won’t know how better his defense is until the lights come on against Jacksonville.

“Every year is a new year, so you don’t know until the final whistle goes off in the Jacksonville game, really what our starting point is,” Davis said. “But we are more confident because we know them better.”

Both Davis and Kelly said they are expecting big things from backup defense end Vinny Curry and inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks. The Birds added a pair of free agents in veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins and former Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll to bolster the secondary.

The Eagles will win the NFC East because quite frankly the rest of the division isn’t that good. Look for them to finish 10-6. Actually, 9-7 might be enough to put the Birds over the top.

Washington (Predicted finish: 8-8)

Robert Griffin III is expected to make more plays from the pocket in 2014 under new head coach Jay Gruden's offense. RGIII struggled during the preseason.

Robert Griffin III is expected to make more plays from the pocket in 2014 under new head coach Jay Gruden’s offense. RGIII struggled during the preseason.

Among the teams other than the Eagles that could win the NFC East, the Washington squad could be that team.

With defensive coordinator Jim Haslett running the defense and veterans like linebacker Brian Orakbo, defensive lineman Ryan Kerrigan and linebacker Trent Murphy, along with newcomer defensive end Jason Hatcher, who had 11 sacks for the Dallas Cowboys last season, Washington will be decent on defense.

The Redskins will have a veteran secondary with players like safety Ryan Clark and cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

The question is whether Washington’s offense with Robert Griffin III at quarterback can be consistent. The team has the weapons on offense with running back Alfred Morris and wide receivers like DeSean Jackson, Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon.

RGIII struggled in preseason so badly that former Washington quarterback and TV analyst Joe Theismann said the team should start Kirk Cousins instead of Griffin. The former Michigan State star did a better job of moving the team during the exhibition season—albeit against second and third string competition.

In Griffin’s defense, Washington’s first team offensive line didn’t do a good job of protecting the quarterback during the preseason. The same could be said for last season as Washington quarterbacks were sacked 43 times.

One of the things Washington did to get better for 2014 was cut center Will Montgomery, who reportedly made incorrect line calls that probably caused some of the sacks of Griffin and Cousins. This season, Kory Lichtensteiger was moved from guard to center and they also signed six-foot-3, 315-pound guard Shawn Lauvao, who played with the Cleveland Browns.

The offensive line will be the key to protecting Griffin and making holes for Morris.
New head coach Jay Gruden is sticking with RGIII as Washington’s starter for now. If Griffin struggles in the early going will Gruden pull the plug and go with Cousins?

Under Gruden’s system, Griffin won’t be running the read option. He has to make plays from the pocket and not take off and run when his first option is not open. That may be an adjustment for Griffin, but he’s also smart enough to discipline his game to do it.

If RGIII can get off to a good start and can be consistent with the weapons he has on offense, Washington can make this a competitive race and perhaps win it if a few things break their way.

New York Giants (Predicted finish: 7-9)

Eli Manning threw 27 interceptions and got sacked 39 times in 2013 behind patch-work offensive line.

Eli Manning threw 27 interceptions and got sacked 39 times in 2013 behind patch-work offensive line.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning had the worst season of his career in 2013. He threw 27 interceptions. Coming into this season, New York hired former Green Bay Packers quarterback Ben McAdoo as the new offensive coordinator who will install a West Coast-style offense.

With the sudden retirement of running back David Wilson due to a neck injury, the Giants running game will feature former Oakland Raiders ball carrier Rashad Jennings and former Boston College star Andre Williams, who gained 2,177 yards as a senior and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

At the wideout position, Victor Cruz should be the beneficiary of the Giants new West Coast system. New York also has rookie wide receiver and former LSU star Odell Beckham, who has been slowed down by a hamstring injury. The G-men will also return Reuben Randle who has shown flashes of brilliance at times.

The key to Giants on offense will be their offensive line, which was the main culprit of the Giants woes last season. New York will have a revamped offensive line with left tackle Will Beatty (6-6, 319 pounds) as its most experienced player.

The Giants will need to develop some chemistry along that offensive line to make sure McAdoo’s schemes can work.

On defense, the Giants are hoping that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul can have the kind of season he had in 2011 when he had 16.5 sacks. The Giants also have veterans Mathias Kiwanuka and Cullen Jenkins. Key free-agent acquisitions include corner back Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain.

The Giants are average at best and don’t necessarily scare anybody on defense. But then again no one in the NFC East does.

Dallas Cowboys (Predicted finish: 7-9)

Much-maligned Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo maybe the Cowboys only hope to be a winner in 2014 for a team with a bad defense. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Much-maligned Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo maybe the Cowboys only hope to be a winner in 2014 for a team with a bad defense. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Speaking of defenses that don’t scare anybody, the Cowboys were awful on defense last season even with DeMarcus Ware and they will be awful without him this season. They lost former Penn State star Sean Lee to a season-ending knee injury during OTAs.

The Boys will be without injured cornerback Orlando Scandrick and cornerback Morris Claiborne didn’t play during the preseason. Throughout the preseason, the Cowboys got pushed up and down the field.

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will have to figure out a way to make chicken soup out of chicken bleep or lemonade out of lemons. However you want to look at it, Marinelli has to make something out of a defense that is destined to give up a whole bunch of points and a lot of yards this season.

The good news for the Cowboys is that they are stacked offensively.

Everybody’s favorite whippin’ boy, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is not only coming off of back surgery, he’s also coming off a season in which he threw 31 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.

In week 16, his last game before his surgery, Romo rallied the Cowboys from a nine-point deficit in the last five minutes to beat Washington to keep their playoffs hopes alive to that point in the season.
With receivers like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, the Cowboys are going to put points on the board.

They also have a solid running game with DeMarco Murray, who gained 1,121 yards and scored nine touchdowns last season. If you have Bryant, Witten and Murray on your fantasy team, you will no doubt score points.

It is also no doubt in my mind that Dallas’s defense will also give up just as many points as Romo and the Cowboys will score. Dallas will win games by scores like 38-31 or 51-48 and they will lose games like that as well. When you’re playing from behind or having to score on every possession, mistakes are going to be made.

Romo will throw a few “Hell-no’s” along the way which means you’ll be hearing a lot from his critics.

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Jackson Signs with Washington, Eagles Have to Find his Replacement

3 Apr

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Former Eagles and now Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson apparently did not get along with Birds head coach Chip Kelly. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Former Eagles and now Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson apparently did not get along with Birds head coach Chip Kelly. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Eagles and the City of Brotherly Love have not seen the last of wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Five days after the Birds kicked Jackson to the curb, he signed a three-year, $24 million contract ($16 million guaranteed) with NFC East rival the Washington Redskins, making him part of an offense that already includes quarterback Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Pierre Garcon.

In a phone conference with the Washington media, Jackson avoided the subject of his departure from the Eagles and his relationship with head coach Chip Kelly.

But he disputed reports saying that his attitude was what got him released from the Eagles.

“People that know me, know what type of player I am, they respect me and know that I am a team guy,” Jackson said. “(Attitude) has never been a problem.”

The 5-foot-10 Jackson is coming off a career year with 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. With his ability to stretch the field in the deep passing game, Jackson’s deep speed kept opposing safeties from closing the box, something that helped running back LeSean McCoy lead the NFL in rushing in 2013.

Getting released by the Eagles was the best thing for him after having the best year of his career, Jackson said.
“It was a humbling experience and me being at the peak of my career and doing some great thing …I’m very humbled to be released like that,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s ability to stretch defenses also enabled players like Riley Cooper, who recently signed a five-year deal, to have career years. Since 2008, Jackson has been one of the league’s most dangerous deep threats and 35 receptions of 40 yards or more. In six years with the Eagles, Jackson caught 356 passes for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns.

On his Instagram page, Jackson posted a picture of the ESPN report announcing the deal with Washington. The caption, in all capital letters, read: “ITS GOIN DOWN!!BURGUNDY AND GOLD.”

The Eagles parted ways with Jackson last Friday, but have yet to come up with an explanation for why they let him go. It has been widely speculated that Jackson’s relationships with alleged members of the Los Angeles street gang, “the Crips” played a part in his dismissal.

About an hour before the Eagles cut Jackson, NJ.com released a story that focused on the ties that Jackson reportedly has with L.A. gangs. Oddly enough, the Los Angeles Police Department said Jackson has never been involved in gang activity or connected to a crime.

Neither General manager Howie Roseman nor Kelly spoke to reporters after word got out that Jackson was cut, a move that has drawn criticism from fans. Much of the team’s African-Americans fan base and members of the local and national media felt the team leaked the story in an effort to justify releasing the wide receiver, who had been trying to get his contract restructured at the time.

The bottom-line here was that Kelly did not feel that Jackson was a part of the culture he wanted to create for the team and didn’t get along with the former Cal-Berkeley star. Perhaps if the team would have said as much it might have minimized some of the public acrimony.

Another thing bothering fans is that not only did the team not get anything for the speedy Jackson, he signed with NFC East rival Washington. If Griffin III is healthy, the combination of Jackson and Garcon will be a formidable challenge to the Eagles secondary.

Now that Jackson is gone, Eagles fans are focusing on next month’s draft and wondering if the team is going to pick up a wide receiver in the draft to replace Jackson’s contribution to the offense. The Birds have the 22nd pick in the draft. Because the draft features a deep class of wide receivers according to draft experts, the Eagles could find someone to pick up the slack left by Jackson’s departure.

But what if they don’t?

As much as I like Jeremy Maclin, I’m not convinced that he’s fully recovered from his knee injury and I’m not sure if Riley Cooper will find the open spots he found last season because there’s no one to fear now that Jackson’s gone. Quarterback Nick Foles needs to have a game-breaker at the receiver spot.

If the Eagles think they can get by with the wideouts they have on the roster now, they’re deluding themselves.

Unless they get someone in the draft that can equal Jackson’s production, it’s going to be a long year for Gang Green.

 

Eagles Defense Shuts the Door on Washington’s Comeback Hopes

18 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Brandon Boykin's four-quarter interception of Robert Griffith III preserves the Eagles 24-16 win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Brandon Boykin’s four-quarter interception of Robert Griffith III preserves the Eagles 24-16 win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The Eagles 24-16 win over the Washington Redskins Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field was more of a stark contrast to where this team was last season going into a bye-week.

Back in 2012, the last game the Eagles played before their bye-week was a heartbreaking loss to the Detroit Lions who came back from a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes in regulation to win the game in overtime.

After the Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the third quarter on a one-yard run by LeSean McCoy, the Redskins made things interesting in the fourth period on a couple of Robert Griffin III touchdown passes and a pair of two-point conversions. With the offense unable to move the football in the final stanza, the Eagles defense needed to come up with one final stand to hold off the surging Redskins.

Brandon Boykin's interception in the end zone was the exclamation point to a huge win for the Birds. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Brandon Boykin’s interception in the end zone was the exclamation point to a huge win for the Birds. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Washington drove from its own four-yard line down to the Eagles 18 with 40 seconds left. It looked like it was going to be another example of the Birds defense blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter.

But Eagles nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin saved the day with a drive-killing interception in the end zone that helped to preserve the win for the 6-5 Birds, who will head into the bye-week in sole possession of first-place in the NFC East. It was the Birds first win at home since Sept. 30, 2012 when they beat New York Giants on a late field goal.

“Everybody knew that someone had to step up and make it,” said middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “There was no sense that we were going to let them get into the end zone. Everybody had that type of attitude that we were going to make a stop.”

In all honesty, the Eagles win over the Redskins was the type of game they would have lost last season.  To their credit, they found a way to pull off a huge victory when it looked like they were about to fall apart.

“Really, how are you going to react when things don’t go exactly the way you planned?” asked Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “That’s what I think I’m most proud of today, is how they reacted when it didn’t go our way, when they faced a bit of adversity, to kind of dig down deep and make a play when we had to make a play. That was a big sign for this team.”

Boykin, who remembers all too well how the Eagles defense had trouble closing out games last season, said the coaching staff under current defensive coordinator Billy Davis has done a good job of preparing them for late-game situations.

“It’s no panic, it’s not anything new to us. We practice this, so when you’re in a game situation, you treat it like practice,” Boykin said.

The Eagles also played well on defense in the other three quarters as well. For the sixth straight week, the Eagles have not allowed a team to score more than 21 points in a game.  The Birds sacked RGIII four times including his fumble in the red zone after a hard hit by linebacker Connor Barwin.  Linebacker Trent Cole also had a pair of sacks for the Eagles as well.

“They did a good job coming out in the beginning of the game and shutting down a lot of stuff that we were trying to do,” Griffin III said. “They were there where they needed to be; they were taking away the routes we were trying to run. That’s disheartening, but we have to make sure we come up with something to counteract that.”

Davis said his defense has progressed well since the first game of the season and especially since the loss to the Denver Broncos on Sept. 29.

“We know at the end when it gets all pressure-packed that you have to back to your fundamentals and your technique and your training,” Davis said. “This is what separates you.”

The Eagles scored their points on offense on a pair touchdown runs by LeSean McCoy and a four-yard run by quarterback Nick Foles. Alex Henery had a 24-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Eagles Uptempo Offense Wears Down Washington

10 Sep

LESEAN McCOY COMES UP BIG FOR BIRDS 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

LeSean McCoy ran roughshod through a worn out Redskins defense for 184 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown.

LeSean McCoy ran roughshod through a worn out Redskins defense for 184 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown.

LANDOVER, Md.—If folks were concerned about whether Chip Kelly’s hurry-up would actually translate at the NFL level, Monday Night’s game against the Washington Redskins was an emphatic yes.

For Kelly, it wasn’t as lightning fast as it was at Oregon, but it was effective nonetheless.

The Eagles no-huddle, read-option offense kept the Redskins defense tired and off- balance while keeping the Washington offense off the field. The Birds offense rolled up 443 yards of total offense and came away with a 33-27 win in front of a packed house at FedEx Field.

“I think our guys played with great energy, but we made some mistakes—coaches included,” Kelly said. “I think the way they approached the game and the energy they played with was great.”

Running back LeSean McCoy was the beneficiary of Kelly’s uptempo attack. He gained 184 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown. As a team, the Eagles rushed for 263 yards.

“LeSean is going to have a great year,” Vick said. “I just feel like this is going to be on one of the biggest years of his career.  As long as he’s apart of this Eagles team and Chip Kelly’s here, he’s going to do some dynamic thing.”

A rejuvenated Michael Vick came up huge, completing 15-of-25 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Vick gained 54 yards rushing on nine carries with one touchdown. He had one big run 36 yards to help take some time off the clock.

“I thought he did a nice job and that run he had in the fourth quarter was huge for us,” Kelly said. “We were in a little bit of a lull, but he made a big play for us and got us out of that.”

Until late in the third quarter, the Eagles defense kept a rusty Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in check. They forced three turnovers-two interceptions and a fumble. The Eagles sacked Griffin three times.

One of the big stars tonight for the Eagles was much-maligned cornerback Cary Williams. Known for his fiery temper, Williams channeled the anger into a sack, two tackles, an interception and two passes defended including one on fourth down late in the fourth quarter that ended a Redskins drive.

“I feel like every time I step out on the field, regardless of what happened in the past, I try to come out with something to prove. I want to go out and put my best foot forward, Williams said.

Oddly enough, the game started with an Eagles shortcoming from last season-a turnover in the red zone. On their first possession of the game, the Eagles drove from their own 20 to the Washington four-yard line. But on first and goal, Vick’s pass was batted down by Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

The officials ruled the pass a lateral and the ball was picked up by cornerback DeAngelo Hall for a 75-yard return for a touchdown.  The Eagles challenged the fumble but it was upheld by replay.

After the fumble, the Eagles scored 33 unanswered points.  They got a 48-yard field goal on the next possession from Alex Henery. And then took the lead for good on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Vick to DeSean Jackson. The play was setup by an interception of a Robert Griffin III pass by Brandon Boykin.

“Mike did a great job of holding the ball and seeing it open up and he threw it to a spot where just myself could make the catch,” Jackson said.

On the Redskins next possession, running back Albert Morris mishandled a pitch out from Griffin and was tagged for a safety by Trent Cole. That gave the Eagles a 12-7 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles, using their fast-paced, no-huddle offense, moved 62 yards and five plays to a 28-yard touchdown from Vick to tight end Brent Celek.

On their next possession, the Eagles drove through a visibly tired Washington defense 44 yards and nine plays to Vick’s three-yard run for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 26-7 lead at the break.

The Birds went into the locker room at halftime having run 53 plays– more than the Pittsburgh Steelers had for an entire game and dominated the time of possession.  The Eagles offense rolled up 322 yards of total offense including 115 yards by McCoy against a tired Redskins defense.

“They were tiring out falling on the ground, getting cramps, they were running guys in and out,” said left tackle Jason Peters. “Hands on their hips. They were tired. We were definitely in better shape.”

The Eagles defense opened the second half with a Williams’ interception of Griffin.  After a loss by Vick on first down, McCoy ran through the Redskins defense for a 34- yard run to give the Eagles a seemingly insurmountable 33-7 lead in the third quarter.

Griffin rallied the Redskins to score 20 unanswered points including a 24-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Leonard Hankerson with 1:15 left in the game. After a slow start, Griffin passed for 329 on 30-of-49 passing with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RGIII Ready to Roll Against the Eagles in Season Opener

4 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Robert Griffin III will start against the Eagles in the 2013 season-opener at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md.

Robert Griffin III will start against the Eagles in the 2013 season-opener at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md.

PHILADELPHIA- After not playing a down of football for the last nine months because of a knee injury in the NFC Wildcard game against the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said he’s not worried about any rust or hurting his newly healed right knee.

Despite not playing in the preseason, Griffin said he’s going to play Monday Night’s season-opener against the Eagles as if he hadn’t missed any time at all.

“It’s not something that I have to worry about. I’ve prepared myself. I trust my preparation. I trust my coaches. I trust my teammates out there to make plays for me and that’s what we’re going to do,” Griffin said during a conference call with the Philadelphia media.

Griffin is coming off a stellar rookie season in which he threw 20 touchdown passes against five interceptions while completing 65 percent of his passes.  The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner also passed for 3,200 yards and had a passer rating of 102.4.  Griffin also rushed for 815 yards while leading Washington to seven straight wins to secure a berth in the playoffs.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said he liked the way Griffin ran the Redskins read option offense on a consistent basis last season.

“I do respect the way is the way he did it last year and putting his team in a position to excel and be successful week in and week out,” Vick said. “It’s a dimension that’s been added and he’s taken it to another level.”

After having reconstructive surgery in his right knee, Griffin said he doesn’t expect to feel any ill effects from the injury nor will he even think about it.

“You always have to play like you were never gone,” Griffin said. “It’s not anything that I’m going to focus on. I will make sure that we get our game plan down and get ready to play this tough Eagles team.”

Meanwhile, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said that he would not put him out there as the starter if he didn’t feel like he was going to be 100 percent.

“He’s been going full speed in game-time situations (in practice), so I feel very good about where he’s at right now,” Shanahan said. “There’s no way you would start a quarterback unless he’s ready to go, especially coming off an injury. If you didn’t feel like he was full speed ready to go, you would put him in that situation.”

With defenses this season looking to putting an emphasis on hitting quarterbacks that run the read option, Griffin said he’s going to be more judicious about protecting himself when he does get out of the pocket and run.

“It’s not something that you want to harp on, but it has been something I’ve heard for the past eight months about sliding and getting out of bounds, but that’s something that I’m going to do,” Griffin said. “It’s a part of playing football. You live and you learn. The thing for me now is to make sure that I play every down and play every game because my teammates need me.”

Against the Eagles last season at Fed Ex Field in a 31-6 blowout, Griffin had a record day, completing 14-of-15 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns. He had a passer rating of 158. 3. He also gained 84 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Eagles cornerback Cary Williams said Griffin’s mobility and arm strength makes it difficult for cornerbacks covering receivers downfield because there’s a short window of time that defensive backs have to cover wide receivers.

“To a degree, you have to cover longer, depending if you can get the guy down in a quick amount of time,” Williams said “(Griffin) is very elusive, he has very good speed and quickness. He makes it difficult for defenders to cover guys for a long period of time.

“I think any guy in this league can cover a guy for eight or nine.  You expect guys upfront to do their job, they’re getting paid, and you expect those things to happen. I trust our guys upfront.”

Williams, who started at cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl last season, definitely knows how hard it is to cover receivers that have a mobile quarterback going up against San Francisco signal caller Colin Kaepernick.

Going up against the Eagles, Griffin will be going up against one of his child heroes in Vick. He said Vick’s success as a duel-threat quarterback paved the way for players like him, Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.

“Vick was definitely that guy, it was hard not to watch him,” Griffin said. “He was a lot of fun to watch out there playing doing a lot of good things. Not just running the ball, but also throwing the ball and he’s paved away for a lot of quarterbacks like myself. “

RGIII hopes to Bring the Glory Days Back to D.C.

15 Nov

A Redskins fan at the NFL Draft outside of Radio City Musical last April. Can he take Washington to the next level. Photo by Chris Murray.

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

A couple of hours after the Washington Redskins made Robert Griffin III their No.1 pick in the NFL Draft last April, a Redskins fans stood outside of Radio City Music Hall in New York City with a large burgundy and gold illustration of Griffin with the word, “Hope,” underneath the picture.

It was similar to the illustration of President Barack Obama from  2008 Presidential campaign that had the same word under his picture.

Nine games in to his rookie season, Griffin is undergoing the ups and downs of being a rookie quarterback in the NFL. While he has shown plenty of flashes of brilliance throughout the season, it’s doubtful that he’s going to be that savior to instantly turn the Redskins fortunes around in a single season.

Nevertheless, Griffin is having a solid year for a rookie quarterback and is a candidate for the Rookie-of-the-Year award.

“I see myself as a quarterback that these players, this coaching staff and the fans have been wanting for a long time,” Griffin said in a conference call with the Philadelphia media on Wednesday. “I don’t put myself up as a savior or anything like that because I don’t think anybody should look at themselves in that way.  I look myself as a quarterback for this team that they need and I’ll make sure I’ m there for them.”

RGIII will be leading a 3-6 Redskins squad against the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) who will be invading Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md. Sunday in a game that both teams need to somehow jumpstart their seasons and make the second half of the mean something for at least one more week.

So far this season, Griffin is ninth in the league in quarterback rating at 93.9, the highest among rookies (over 200 passing attempts) and eighth in completion percentage. Only Cleveland’s Brandon Weedon and Indianapolis Colts rookie signal caller Andrew Luck have passed for more yardage among rookies than Griffin.

Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said he has been pleased with Griffin’s progress in the first nine games of the season despite the team’s won-loss record.

“I think Robert has done a great job where he’s getting a great feel for our system and we’re getting a great feel for him,” Shanahan said. “I like his production in how’s handled himself and how he works. He’s got all the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback. As he experiences defenses in the NFL, he’ll get better and better.”

If the Eagles had been higher up on the draft board, Griffin might be wearing midnight green. Head coach Andy Reid said he was impressed by the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner.

“I love talking to quarterbacks and he was one of them,” Reid said. “We weren’t in position where we were going to pick him, but I wanted to see what he was all about and I liked what I saw, yeah.”

It is often said that playing quarterback in Washington is the second hardest job next to being the President of the United States. Griffin said he can handle the pressure of playing in D.C. but also realizes that he can’t do everything by himself.

“I know everybody looks to me, good or bad, to make things happen, so it’s responsibility that I know is going to be on the shoulders of the quarterback,” Griffin said. “Whether it’s the coaches or the players, everyone is looking to me to make things happen.

“What I echo to the players, it’s not just me out there …We’re all in this together.”

Griffin has completed 65 percent of his passes, thrown eight touchdown passes and just three interceptions. The fact that he’s a mobile quarterback that runs out of the Redskins college style spread option makes him difficult to figure out.

“It’s the speed and the athleticism,” said Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. “When he gets you in that run and gun with the option, you’ve got to be sound because you can’t take him for granted. A lot of quarterbacks you’re not scared of their legs and their mobility. With him you fear that mobility, you have to respect it and makes sure you contain it.”

Because Griffin can run with the football, especially in the Redskins version of the spread offense, he has gained 529 yards rushing on 81 carries. He’s tied for 20th in the NFL in rushing yards and leads all quarterbacks in yards gained on the ground.

Griffin’s style of running the football has come with a price. He was knocked out of a game against the Atlanta Falcons and was diagnosed with a mild concussion.

After seeing players like Michael Vick and Jay Cutler go down to injury because of concussions, Griffin is starting to realize that he has to do such things as sliding and do his best to avoid those type of hard hits.

“I told my teammates that I would play safer and make sure I was out there with them every time,” Griffin said. “Consciously I’ll make an effort to play smarter, get out of bounds, slide and things like that. But it’s something I’ll drill myself on in practice so that when gameday comes around I’m not having to think about it, I just go out there and react.”

As one of several African-American quarterbacks in the league, Griffin said he got some valuable advice about dealing with the stereotypes of Black quarterback from former players like Doug Williams that has guided throughout his rookie season.

“The one thing many of them told me was that you can’t fight that battle as an African-American quarterback by yourself,” Griffin said. “You have to go out and let your play do the talking from there.”