Griffin and Rodgers embrace following Sunday's game (USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES)
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The Eagles punched the Redskins in the gut last Monday, shocking the Washington organization and their rabid fan base, who thought losing to Chip Kelly in his debut wasn't a possibility.
Sunday's 38-20 loss to the Packers was even more humiliating for the burgundy and gold. Green Bay slapped around Washington, tied them up in a corner and spit on their faces. At one point the Redskins trailed 31-0, a score you'd expect in an Alabama-Troy game -- not the NFL.
Problems are easy to identify for the Redskins, because they're everywhere.
Defensively, no team in the NFL has been worse. In two first halves, the Redskins have allowed 695 yards and 50 points, all but ensuring losses for their team. It wasn't a surprise that Aaron Rodgers (34/42, 480 yards, four touchdowns) carved apart the secondary. Those numbers were some of Rodgers' career bests, but we knew the back line of defense was going to be a problem early in the season.
The more alarming revelation came from Packers backup running back James Starks, who became Green Bay's first 100-yard rusher since October 2010, against, you guessed it, the Redskins. Starks averaged 6.6 yards per carry and also boasted 34 yards receiving.
"It felt like forever," laughed Aaron Rodgers about the 100-yard rusher after the game.
This comes on the heels of LeSean McCoy's shredding of the front seven. The dominant Barry Cofield we saw last season has not showed up yet. London Fletcher is routinely out of position. Maybe defensive coordinator Jim Haslett should come back to the sidelines instead of sitting in the booth. Nobody really had answers in the locker room. Brian Orakpo blurted out on the poor start: "We did this sh*t last year."
But your being naive if you only blame the Redskins defense for the horrendous beginning to the season. The solution is simple. Everything starts and ends with Robert Griffin III. When he's making plays, the entire team is making plays. When he's flat, the entire team is flat.
"We didn't start fast because of me," Griffin admitted Sunday. He knows the pressure is on.
Writing Griffin off is premature and frankly absurd. But the concerns are definitely there. Former Redskins running back Larry Brown stole the words from my mouth when he tweeted: "I am not certain that RGIII is comfortable as a pocket quarterback." We found out today Robert Griffin is not rusty, he just isn't the same player when he's not able to run around and improvise like a magician. It's obvious the play calling and Griffin's playing style have been altered to prevent further injuries. Standing tall in the pocket has been Griffin's biggest weakness this season. He's been crumbling like a cookie. And credit goes to to Philly and Green Bay for making him feel uncomfortable.
The Redskins struggles to start 2013 emphasize how successful the running oriented approach worked in 2012. Looking back on it, the entire passing game was opened up by the run.
Something telling that happened against Green Bay: the read option was barely utilized, because it's proven ineffective thus far. Washington has been unable to establish the run and it has a trickle down effect to the rest of the offense. Griffin's rushed for 25 yards on nine carries this season. Defenses can now play 10-on-11 football, where as opposed to last season they were forced to play 11-on-11. Now that the run has been taken away by defenses for the most part -- Alfred Morris did rip off a couple of nice second half runs en route to 107 yards -- receivers are not able to get open in the middle of the field. Blitzes are more prevalent. And RGIII is lost in reading defenses from these new sets of circumstances, at least at the moment.
So even after all that information I've provided, degrading the Redskins, you'd think I'd be writing the team off, correct? Not at all. It might be a blessing in disguise that rock bottom this season happened in week two instead of week nine. Adjustments can be made.
In week three against the Lions, the Redskins should come out establishing the pass first, to throw off Detroit. A way for Kyle Shanahan to combat all the blitzes being thrown at RGIII? The Redskins need less wide receiver screens and more shots down the field. How about lining up four and five wide receiver sets for a good portion of the game. Take pages from the Green Bay playbook, or gulp, even Philadelphia. As 'Skins film guru Mark Bullock points out, lots of the Redskins success has come from the no-huddle. Griffin will continue to progress throughout the season as a confident, capable pocket passer. That is, if Kyle Shanahan ditches the run game for a pass first attack.
The bottom line is that being 0-2 is not the end of the world. Especially when you play in the mediocre NFC East. I'd wager a 9-7 record may be good enough to win the division. The Redskins can certainly finish with that record. Especially once RGIII fully figures out his new playing style.
Sidenote: If you are calling for Kirk Cousins, what if he comes in and does amazing? Do you then trade RGIII? Stop tweeting this non-sense. The Redskins are married to RGIII, for better or for worse. Until he either pulls himself out of the game or gets injured, Griffin is the starting quarterback. There are such things as sophomore slumps. I know he put these unrealistic expectations on himself, but let Griffin breathe.