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SNYDER: At long last, feel free to dream big with Redskins

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION: 

In the NFL, lasting impressions have a seven-day shelf life. Seasons can soar and swoon from week to week, careening through the levels of ecstasy to the stages of grief. We know we shouldn't put too much stock into any given Sunday, but we do it anyway.

That's part of being a football fan, dreaming about continued success or extended failure based on what happened last game. But for most teams outside of the elite, the truth resides somewhere in between. They miraculously pull out games they should lose and inexplicably drop games they should win.

The roller coaster can be emotionally draining. But when you catch it at the top, there's nothing else like it. One week into the season, that's where we are with Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

We're in love and all shook up.

"Let's not get carried away with all this," coach Mike Shanahan said.

Too late.

Sure, RG3 will carry us back at some point, probably produce a stinker or three in which he's inept, inadequate and inefficient. There might be games where the Redskins' college-flavored offense demonstrates why it's not prevalent in the NFL. Certainly, there are dumb interceptions and bad sacks and costly fumbles ahead, sprinkled with some questionable decisions on running and/or sliding.

Those occasions will be dealt with in time. But for now, they can wait.

For now, RG3 is the new flavor that everyone's talking about and dying to taste. He's on the East Coast cover of Sports Illustrated (while some guy named Peyton Manning graces the West). He's the NFC Offensive Player of the Week (and the first rookie QB to win such an award for his debut). He's on the mind of national commentators everywhere, such as NFL Network's Steve Mariucci — "This is the most athletic quarterback this league has ever seen" — and, less outrageously, John Madden — "He reminded me of a Tim Tebow who can pass."

Madden wasn't totally innocent of flagrant hyperbole. Earlier during the same radio show, he acknowledged watching Washington's game at New Orleans and blurting: "RG3's the best player in the NFL today."

Yes, that's crazy talk. He has yet to face a defense that studied NFL film on him. Or a defense that ranked in the top 10 last year. Or a defense that had a normal offseason without losing key players because of scandal and breaking in a new defensive coordinator.

We have two choices here. We can let our thoughts run wild and envision Griffin rolling up Cam Newton-like numbers while actually winning. Or we can tamp the excitement and lower our expectations that Griffin will remain as productive (and healthy) as in Week 1.

Killjoys can have the latter. Everyone else can have fun imagining the possibilities.

Imaginative possibilities are what makes RG3 so tantalizing. He has just begun, but the Redskins have just scratched the surface. While the St. Louis Rams are busy looking for weaknesses, the Redskins are tinkering and tweaking to create more strengths. Griffin said the coaches are devising new concepts daily. Shanahan is like a kid with a new toy; he doesn't how everything works yet, but he's having a ball figuring it out.

"We are doing [the offense] a little bit different," Shanahan said. "We are going to have some options in our attack. We are going to roll out and drop back, and Robert gives us the ability to do some things that other teams haven't done."

If the Redskins do things that haven't been done, isn't the same possible for RG3? At least that's the hope in Washington, which for a change has good reason to believe. After watching the carousel of has-beens, never-weres and never-wills at quarterback, fans are overdue for a little genuine giddiness.

And one of the best things about RG3-mania is how much it affects Griffin, apparently not at all. He seems to be having fun with it while not taking it seriously, giving us a free pass to join him.

"I feel good about the excitement about this team," he said, neglecting to acknowledge that 99 percent of the excitement is based on him. "And I think the team feels good about itself just with the way we performed last week; we've got to continue to carry that on."

And we'll continue to carry on about him, until further notice. Check back next week.

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