NFC East: 2012 Week 5 Wrap-ups
October, 7, 2012
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
Some thoughts on the Washington Redskins' 24-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field:
What it means: Almost nothing that happened in this game matters as much as what happened to Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who was knocked out of the game in the third quarter with a concussion and did not return. Griffin was hurt on a big hit from Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon near the sideline while trying to scramble for a third-and-goal from the 3-yard line. He will have to pass all of the league-mandated concussion tests in order to be cleared to play next week against the Vikings. His status is likely to be monitored more closely in Washington than even the Nationals' playoff series and the presidential election.
The backup: Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was criticized for picking quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round of this year's draft after taking Griffin in the first and not having a pick in the second. The thought was that other needs could have been addressed with that pick. But Shanahan liked Cousins, and the idea of being deep at the most important position on the field. Well, Cousins made him look good with a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss, but he was 4-for-8 for 34 yards and two interceptions on his other passes. Should Griffin have to miss time, it's reasonable to believe Cousins could step in and do a good job. It's unreasonable to think the offense could operate as well as it has so far this year under Griffin, who was drafted 100 picks earlier for a variety of good reasons.
The defensive MVP: Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has not slumped at all since fellow outside 'backer Brian Orakpo went down for the season with a pectoral injury. In fact, Kerrigan has stepped up his play and been one of the most fearsome linebackers in the entire NFL this season. He opened the scoring in this game by intercepting a Matt Ryan pass and returning it 28 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The other rookie: Running back Alfred Morris, picked in the sixth round of this year's draft, continues to roll. He had his second straight 100-yard rushing game, picking up 115 on 18 carries and catching a 20-yard pass for good measure. No other Redskins running back got more than one carry. Morris has a stranglehold on the job.
And the kicker: Billy Cundiff missed a 31-yard field goal for the second week in a row and is now 7-for-12 on field goals so far this year. He was brought in for his ability to kick touchbacks on kickoffs, and in that area, he has performed as advertised. But there was clearly an assumption that he would be a more reliable field goal kicker than he's been to this point, and a second straight rough week could lead the Redskins to evaluate other options, which are always out there.
What's next: The Redskins host the Minnesota Vikings at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday at FedEx Field.