Griffin’s stats told part of the story: 320 yards passing, two touchdowns, no interceptions, 73 percent completion rate and a 139.9 passer rating. A history lesson is needed for the rest: In being selected as the NFC offensive player of the week, Griffin became the first rookie to win the award after his first game, in either conference, since its inception in 1984. He is also the first rookie to throw for at least 300 yards in winning his first game.
We thought Griffin, 22, wouldn’t need long to show the NFL he’s advanced for his years. As it turned out, Griffin already seems all grown up.
“With what he went out there and did . . . I don’t know why any fans wouldn’t be excited again about the Redskins,” tight end Fred Davis said. “I mean, isn’t that what fans want? Don’t they want to have a guy like that on their team to root for?”
Absolutely. True fans possess a never-ending belief that, no matter how poorly their favorite teams have fared recently or historically, their devotion eventually will be rewarded. Whether their teams routinely finish near the top or the bottom of the standings, fans are most drawn to players who possess the ability to achieve individual greatness while providing the cornerstone of team success. Watching the best athletes work — while they foster the belief that, at any moment, they can accomplish something truly astonishing — is what makes sports fun.
In the NFL, teams such as the New England Patriots, New York Giants and Green Bay Packers are leaders in providing those faith-rewarding moments to fans. The Redskins haven’t been on the list since Joe Gibbs packed up his office the first time.
When Gibbs was winning Super Bowls, longtime Redskins observers say, the District was like a close-knit small town. The Redskins’ success — and the players who entertained while helping Washington win — inspired a feeling of community.
It’s too early to declare that the Redskins are headed for a better-than-most-expected season. But after a summer of watching the Nationals unexpectedly break through barriers, Griffin’s first outing has us wondering whether the Redskins could surprise as well.
The Griffin-generated wave of optimism was in full force Monday. As everyone opened another work week, the chatter among fans was about what they’d seen and might be in store.
The Redskins’ next opponent definitely took notice. St. Louis Rams Coach Jeff Fisher said he “saw the same thing everybody else saw,” he said. “As people were saying, that’s historical.”