The Washington Redskins are the champions of the NFC East and will host a home playoff game for the first time since 1999. The hopes all Redskins’ fans had in April when the team drafted Robert Griffin III are being realized far more quickly than anyone could have imagined. There are two reasons why:
1) RGIII is as good as his hype. He has played a rookie season for the ages, and is the unquestioned leader of the franchise in his first year. How many top-of-the-first-round-rookies come to a team, live up to all the hype from the first game, take on an immediate leadership role, and get voted captain by mid-season? Watching Griffin both on and off the field, you forget within seconds that you’re watching a rookie. He carries himself like he’s been in the league for years, but he’s only 22 and if he can stay healthy, he’ll be leading this team for over a decade. Let that sink in for a moment. We’re only seeing the beginning of a potentially historic career.
2) “Team!” It’s not just a word that backup quarterback Kirk Cousins says in the huddle before he calls a play. It’s what the Redskins have become. A team. Griffin has been great most weeks, but when he got hurt, Cousins stepped in and the Redskins kept rolling. When he’s played flat—like in the first half of last night’s game—fellow rookie Alfred Morris has picked up the slack while putting together a record-breaking rookie season of his own. When he’s on the sidelines waiting to come back into the game, the defense has stepped up in each of the last seven games and made big plays. Griffin is the linchpin, of course. Without him, the Redskins would be lucky to have half as many wins, but the rest of the team has raised their own game to match his. For the first time in over a decade, the Redskins aren’t a collection of overpaid, underachieving, me-first prima donnas. They are a team.
And the result? A 10-6 record, seven straight wins and counting, a division title, and a home playoff game. Will it be easy? No. The Seattle Seahawks are the other hot team with a star rookie quarterback in the NFC, and these two teams have to play each other in the first round. One of them has to lose on Sunday and end their season in disappointment.
And the team that wins? They’ll be rolling into Atlanta on a hot streak and may be unstoppable. Like the 2010 Packers and the 2011 Giants, we may see another road team on a roll all the way to the Super Bowl.
And if it’s the Redskins? Talk about “the future is now!”