Above every other trait, sources say, rookie QB Robert Griffin III’s fearless approach has been the most refreshing and rejuvenating quality. His confidence even when doubt is high has been the one thing that has fueled the Redskins more than perhaps anything in his sterling rookie season.
Griffin’s poise in the Thanksgiving Day victory over the Cowboys was evident. He rallied the team after a slow start with a second-quarter flurry and then withstood the Cowboys’ late run after what could have been a game-changing interception on an overthrow. Griffin most impressively has set a tone for this team, and despite a 3-6 start, the Redskins now sit at 5-6 and legitimately have a chance to qualify for the postseason in a bad season for the NFC East.
The confidence has rubbed off, sources indicate. Other players in the locker room have stood in lockstep with their belief that Griffin and the team can get it done in tough spots. Despite missing WR Pierre Garcon for most of the season (and what a difference he makes), the Redskins have remained a big-strike offense (10 TDs of 30 yards or longer, seven plays this season of 59 yards or more) that can flip a game on its head. That was not the case last season; the Redskins in 2011 had no plays longer than 51 yards.
Despite the long stretch without Garcon, Santana Moss has become a key guy again. It’s fair to remind people just how close Moss came to not making the team out of training camp, but he and Griffin have become a huge connection this season, especially in clutch situations. In a game full of terrific Griffin plays, one throw stands out: The first attempt after the interception, a 23-yard thread to Moss with good protection, seemed to calm the team and allowed it to run off nearly six minutes off the clock after the Cowboys had cut it to a one-score game.
Griffin’s confidence and aura have been huge factors for a team that is working through its issues right now. There might not be a complete body on defense or every tool in the drawer on offense. But if Griffin is in a groove, the Redskins have to feel like most of the games on their remaining schedule are winnable. That has to scare the heck out of the first-place Giants.