The Redskins last won the NFC East in 1999 and last won a playoff game in 2005. The team has tried and failed with numerous quarterbacks over the past two decades, bringing in players like Jason Campbell, Rex Grossman and Mark Brunell. And while each had a degree of success, the Redskins haven't had a true franchise player in years.
But all that may have changed with one move – the drafting of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The Redskins gave up a king's ransom to draft Griffin III with the second overall pick in the draft. Washington initially held the sixth overall pick, but made a blockbuster trade with the Rams. The deal included swapping first round picks in 2011 and the Redskins giving up their second-round pick in 2012, as well their first-round selections in 2013 and 2014. From that day on, Griffin III has been the face of the Redskins' franchise.
"I know everyone looks to me, good or bad, to make things happen," Griffin III said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "It's just a responsibility I know is going to be on the shoulders of the quarterback. Whether it's the coaches or the players, everyone's looking at me to make things happen. But what I try to echo to the players is that it's not just me out there. If they're not out there doing their jobs, it makes my job that much more difficult. So we're all in it together."
But there was a time, however brief, that Griffin III thought he might be wearing midnight green instead of burgundy and gold. Early in the draft process, the Eagles did their diligence and interviewed Griffin III during the Combine. He said it was the first time he thought about the possibility of playing in Philadelphia.
"I met with the Eagles and Coach (Andy) Reid told me that they were very interested in me," Griffin III said. "You never know what can happen, but I really enjoyed my meeting with them. But obviously things didn't work out, so I'm here with the Redskins and I'm proud to be here."
The feeling in D.C. is mutual. In nine games Griffin III has thrown for 1,993 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also rushed for 529 yards (which makes him the fourth-best rookie rusher) and six touchdowns. And while his team hasn't been winning games, Griffin III has kept them interesting and given Redskins fans something to cheer about.
Sunday will be his second career NFC East game. His first was one of the most memorable games of the season, a 27-23 victory by the Giants that went down to the wire. With both the Eagles and Redskins sitting at 3-6, neither team can afford to make mistakes. That means stepping up and playing well in big games.
"It's like a conference game in college. They mean a lot," he said. "These teams know each other very well, the coaching staffs know each other very well, and it's just about players making plays. That's what I've always said. Players are the ones that make the plays out there, no matter what coach calls. And we have to take the responsibilities out there, so all the veterans tell me, 'You just have to play. You have to step up.' Whenever it's a divisional game, things do turn into somewhat of a fast-paced, bigger atmosphere, and that's what you have to go excel in."
Both teams figure to start rookie quarterbacks, with the Eagles in line to give Nick Foles his first NFL start due to Michael Vick's concussion. And more importantly, both the Redskins and Eagles are looking for a win to reverse the fortunes of their seasons. That starts at the quarterback position, where the Redskins look to have an answer for the first time in a generation.
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