OPPOSING VIEW: Robert Griffin III isn't quite as explosive yet

Posted Sep 21, 2013

Washington Post NFL beat writer Mike Jones takes a look at Sunday's Lions, Redskins game

This week's opposing view comes from Washington Post Redskins beat writer Mike Jones. Jones covered the Washington Wizards for the Washington Times and from 2007 to 2010 before covering the Redskins for during the 2010 season. He joined The Post’s staff in February, 2011. He can be followed on Twitter at @MikeJonesWaPo.

1. Robert Griffin III says his knee is fine, he even challenged WR Pierre Garcon to a race in the conference call with Detroit media on Wednesday, but is he the same RG III of 2012 coming off that ACL injury?

I think he can be, but he isn’t yet that guy that we saw last year. His knee is structurally sound, and he’s still quick. But he isn’t quite as explosive yet. There’s muscle memory and just a general feel for the game that he still has to sharpen after not playing since January. This essentially is his preseason. In a couple of weeks, I think it’s possible that he can regain last year’s form.

2. What has been the biggest issue these first couple weeks for a Redskins defense that's on pace to set a new record for yards allowed in a season after the first two games?

That’s really a mystery – probably the biggest mystery of the season so far. You know the offense is struggling because Griffin isn’t quite himself yet. But the defense returns all but one starter from last season. Rookies David Amerson and Bacarri Rambo are seeing a lot of time at cornerback and free safety, respectively, and they must go through growing pains. But the struggles of veterans like DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, London Fletcher and on and on are rather perplexing. Poor tackling has been largely to blame. None of the players can explain why, but they appear to have forgotten how to tackle. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett placed a high emphasis this week on improving tackling technique so the team can do better in this area. There are coverage weaknesses as well, but that’s not as easily correctable.

3. Slow starts have plagued the Redskins the first two weeks. What's been the biggest issue there?

In week one, the offense couldn’t hold onto the ball, and that kept them from getting on the board in the first half. In Week 2, they were able to move the ball on first and second downs, but then failed miserably on third down where they went 0-for-7 to start the game and didn’t pick up a third-down conversion for a first down until the third quarter. Poor pass protection, off timing between Griffin and his receivers, and drops by the wideouts are to blame for those third down struggles.

4. The first two Lions opponents have played a lot of two-deep safety to take away their vertical passing game with Calvin Johnson. Can we expect more of the same from the Redskins? Do they view Johnson as the No. 1 threat to stop Sunday?

They absolutely view Johnson as the No. 1 threat. DeAngelo Hall will be matched up with him in a lot of man defense, but there also likely will be a lot of safety help over the top. They know they can’t shut Johson down. They just hope to limit his impact and slow him down.

5. The Redskins are facing a 0-3 start with a loss to Detroit Sunday. What is the vibe you're getting from the locker room and the fan base to how important this weekend's game is for the Redskins?

The Redskins haven’t come right out and said this is a must-win game, but they know that it is. They can’t afford to dig themselves further into the hole and still have a chance to make the playoffs. For now, they remain confident in their ability to dig their way out of this mess. The fans, meanwhile, are a little shocked and concerned. They’re holding their breath, hoping to see a dramatic turnaround.