By Kevin Ross II
The Washington Redskins have a record of 3-5 at the halfway mark of the regular season, and if you think that they are ashamed of this record, then think again. This is the National Football League which boasts the greatest parity in all of sports.
Heading into Thursday Night Football, every goal that the organization set for itself is still there and ready to be seized. What more can you ask for if you’re a player? With eight games left, the lights will be the brightest, and fans will see what this franchise is made of. Do the Washington Redskins have another magical run in them? Or will they soon start to evaluate the young players? Only time will tell, and that’s why they play the games.
Welcome to Week 9 of the regular season. Here is a breakdown of the Minnesota Vikings.
The game plan for defeating the Minnesota Vikings usually starts and ends with Adrian Peterson. Teams stack the box against the Vikings, and are happy to let quarterback Christian Ponder toss the rock. The Redskins will likely use the same formula, and hope that Christian Ponder plays like himself. And in the same breath, the Redskins will hope that Robert Griffin III plays like himself, whoever that is.
Robert Griffin III has been wildly inconsistent this season, at times appearing to be dynamic and at other times he’s just been awful. With Thursday night fast approaching, the local media will frantically analyze the run game and beg for Alfred Morris to carry the ball more, they’ll gripe about the horrific play of the special teams, they’ll talk defense, and they’ll be very critical of Kyle Shanahan’s play calling. All of these factors make for fun radio and print media, but when the lights turn on all of those talking points are mitigated by the one-and-only Robert Griffin III.
Under Griffin’s tenure with the ball club, Washington has consistently proven that they cannot win if Griffin is off of his game. Griffin’s play whether good or bad trickles down to the entire team. If Griffin is inaccurate from the pocket, defenses will crowd the box on Morris, and if Griffin is struggling and not converting third downs, then the defense is on the field getting gashed.
On Thursday night, converting third downs will keep Adrian Peterson off of the field, and will give Washington a path to victory. Coach Mike Shanahan spoke to the importance of Griffin converting on third downs saying, “As you mentioned, the great quarterbacks are the guys that are consistent on third down and I thought Robert had his best game of the year. Anytime you’re over 70 percent in third down conversions, your quarterback is normally playing extremely well. And that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to do that consistently. If you take a look at third down conversions year in, year out, the top quarterbacks are always up there.”
Third downs will decide the game for the Redskins, as this will be a very close contest. These two teams know each other well, as this marks the fourth consecutive season in which these two ball clubs have met.
Team followers and players alike will be hoping for Robert Griffin III to have a superhero like night. Washington will only go as far as Griffin and his knees can take them.
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.