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Redskins Need Robert Griffin III To Step Up As Leader

November 15, 2013

The question wasn't whether Robert Griffin III could succeed. It was what would happen if he didn't.

Griffin's 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year season quickly turned sour with offseason knee surgery after he was injured during the playoffs. Missing the offseason kept Griffin from progressing in reading defenses, and the first half of his second NFL season was a work in progress. 

The Redskins are 3-6 heading into a Week 11 game at Philadelphia Nov 17. The Eagles game is a must-win. Pretty much every game from now on is, just as the games were last year, when the Redskins won seven straight after a similar 3-6 start. 

But there's a different feel around the team this season, and it revolves around Griffin once more. Teammates like Griffin. He's a great guy, who tries to lead. But the sense that Griffin could perform miracles, as he did last season when wowing everyone, seems gone. And with that, so is the hope of another miracle comeback. 

Griffin's classic gee-whiz rookie demeanor has understandably given way to a more seasoned approach. But it can go too far. He has been somber at times, and he even threw a few darts at the coaching staff about play calling -- though in a passive-aggressive way. 

Griffin is still the face of the franchise, but even Pro Football Hall of Famer cornerback Darrell Green recently said RG3 didn't appear to be the leader -- that the team didn't have a leader. And that's a problem. 

Being the most popular person in Washington, D.C., where traditionally only the U.S. president is more powerful, can be burdensome. 

"Just the big city, bright lights, big media market -- those are the things," Griffin said. "Our fan base is great. They demand success. They got a taste of it last year, and they're going to want more of that, and we've got to provide it, and we will. I think we will. So I think that those are some of the factors that go into it.

"It's not a small town. It's not a small-city team that doesn't have a big media room like this. It's part of it, and I understand that. Even coming from a small town in high school and a medium-sized town in Waco in Texas, you come, you step up to another level, you're in the big city, bright lights and you've got to perform, and that's what we're going to do."

That's what the Redskins need -- Griffin stepping up. They also need special teams to stop being so dreadful and the defense to quit collapsing, but it all centers off the quarterback. 

"You take life as it comes," Griffin said. "Life's going to throw you curveballs sometimes. You just have got to figure out which ones to try and hit. Right now, it's not a burden. It's a burden if you make it a burden. You've got to believe. It only takes one person to believe so you can have success. I always believe in this team. …

"I understand what comes with being the quarterback of the Washington Redskins. I understand what comes with being a quarterback in the NFL. And yeah, it might be a little harder here because of certain aspects of what goes on around this team. I understand that. I've got tough skin."

Griffin credited his parents, both of whom served in the military, for raising him the right way and teaching him discipline. 

"I'm happy to call them my parents," Griffin said, "and they've done a great job there for me. I have all that inside of me, and that's all it takes. You've got to have it inside of you to make it in this world, and that's what I have got to do."

Griffin's recent outings have greatly improved, and the offense is in the NFL's top five. Yet there's so much more to improve. Fortunately for the Redskins and their fans, Griffin seems to know that.

"I just feel like everything is clicking for us a little bit better," he said. "We are putting up a lot of yards. We are putting up points. But at the end of the day, it comes down to winning the football games, and that's what we have to do."