Maybe it's because my power is back on and my house is once again air conditioned. Maybe it is because I just heard Jamie Dukes extol the virtues of our rookie passer and his impact on our W-L record. Maybe it is because the Nats have me in a crazy good mood. Whatever the reason, I just felt like it was the right day to do some italicizing...how about some Boldly Hoping?
As I mentioned earlier in the week, having Robert Griffin II as the named starter throughout the summer has had a calming effect on the fanbase. It isn't that we are less excited about what this guy can do for us on the field, or less anxious to see him in action. To be fair, there is only so much "calmness" we can lay claim to with #10 set to kick off his rookie campaign, but not wondering who the starter will be is at least partial relief for a fanbase that has spent countless summers over the last decade in mental fits over the quarterback position.
Even during summers when we knew (or were fairly certain) who the starter was, didn't we still spend a lot of time debating our relative happiness about it or agreement on it? Sure, on draft night and in the days following, I continued to press for Rex Grossman to start on the road the first couple games before handing the rock to RG3 at home against Cincinnati. I was operating under the premise that Shanahan would insist on the quarterback being "won" in July and August--he does enjoy competition at pretty much every spot on the roster. But...I was wrong. Naming Griffin the starter back in May was a good decision then and looks like a better one now.
In practices and OTA sessions since, Griffin has won over the majority of his teammates and coaches with his obvious talent and willingness to work. You know how when you watch NFL Network and ESPN and they interview veterans on teams with rookie "can't miss" stars? You can almost always tell when an established veteran is not sold. We aren't seeing or hearing those things in D.C.
The Washington Redskins have been a destination for a variety of talented players over the last decade--rookies and veterans alike. Of all the things that have come out it (sifting through the good and the bad), a healthy skepticism is probably the biggest result of our journey. Skepticism on the part of fans. Skepticism on the part of the "experts." Skepticism on the part of players. Granted, we do love our offseasons, but prior to RG3's selection in the NFL draft, there have been very, very few things that have inspired honest-to-goodness hope. Hiring Gibbs for his second run is probably the closest thing we can compare to drafting RG3.
Hope is a funny thing. It doesn't win you ballgames, but the complete and total absence of it can certainly cost you on Sundays. Robert Griffin has so far been extraordinarily successful at winning the hearts and minds of fans, experts and players. He has inspired hope in all of us. Let's not diminish the value of that.
But let's not just settle for hope. What if Dan is right, and committing ten less turnovers than ol' Rexy had in 2011 nets us a vastly improved time of possession? I believe RG3 is capable of limboing under that bar. What if our defensive scheme becomes more instinctive for the players after a season of learning it? That kind of second-year improvement could work to minimize the impact of starting fresh at safety (now that is some bold hoping y'all). What if Graham Gano aims for the goalposts and not the line of scrimmage (cheap shot or chip shot...you decide)?
The time is coming soon enough when winning hearts and minds will no longer be a goal. Winning games is what we will of course focus on. Without putting it all on his shoulders, here's hoping that RG3 is as successful in the W-L column as he has been at winning over...well, everyone (so far). It says here that he will be--I only hope my 10-6 prediction isn't too low.