WASHINGTON (AP) — Now it’s the Washington Redskins who must face the unknown.
A year ago this week, the Redskins delivered a jolt to the NFL, introducing Robert Griffin III and the zone-read offense. They put up 40 points on the unsuspecting New Orleans Saints, the first salvo on the way to an NFC East title.
On Monday night, the league’s next new, big thing makes its regular-season debut. Coach Chip Kelly, who piled up points at the University of Oregon with a pedal-to-the-metal attack, will try to do the same in the pros with the Philadelphia Eagles, starting with a visit to the Redskins.
“New Orleans wasn’t really sure what we were going to do,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “I think we had a competitive advantage there. There were rumors, there was speculation, but they couldn’t see anything on film, so I think the element of surprise is an advantage.”
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick agreed — “It’s our first time showing anything other than what we showed in the preseason, so it gives us an advantage” — but there is a difference: Kelly’s creativity has been on display for all to see for several years.
“I can only go on what I’ve seen,” Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “I’ve watched 23, 24 Oregon films, and what they did in preseason. If they can do anything else, God bless ‘em.”
With that in mind, here are five things to grab your attention when the Redskins host the Eagles:
RG3 AND THE KNEE: The game takes place eight months to the day since Griffin’s reconstructive surgery on his right knee, a remarkably quick and smooth — and extremely high-profile — rehab by an athlete determined not to lose a step after winning the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award. There’s the natural question of how the knee will hold up the first time it gets hit, which is surely inevitable even though Griffin has promised to be more cautious when he’s running the ball. Griffin will also have to shake off the rust after sitting out the preseason. “I’m pretty sure that switch is going to turn on, and he’s going to be Robert,” Redskins receiver Santana Moss said. “I don’t know how soon or how late, but he’s going to be Robert eventually.”