1. The Pierre Garcon effect: The Redskins are 5-1 with him and 1-5 without him. They average 27.8 points with him; 24.2 points without him. Just think if he was healthy. This offense is so suited for receivers to make big plays, provided they can get separation and that’s what Garcon does so well compared to the others. He also displays more suddenness when coming down with the ball. This offense does such a good job creating opportunities for receivers; the heavy play-action fools defenses eyes and leaves them open. It also leaves defenders out of position, which helps the yards after the catch.
  2. By the way, on Garcon’s TD the other night, he snuck behind the linebackers, but the safety tried to stay with him but couldn’t. Garcon was too fast for him.
  3. I don’t understand the harsh feelings toward Andrew Luck, as if everyone is supposed to kneel at the feet of Robert Griffin III (even Colts fans, who should pump their guy up). In some cases there’s legit conversation as to why Griffin is having a better year. In other cases it’s just mocking those who love what Luck has done. There isn’t a person involved in the game — as well as ex-players, coaches, evaluators, analysts – who doesn’t have an awestruck tone when I ask them about Luck. Guess what? They have that same tone when discussing Griffin. Yes, Griffin’s stats are better. Personally, I’d vote for him as rookie of the year. The lack of interceptions is astounding and a major reason why Washington is in the playoff hunt.
  4. In fact, and I tweeted this earlier in the week, the Redskins’ QBs are on pace to turn the ball over 11 times this season – or 19 fewer turnovers than the QBs had in 2011. I don’t think I need to explain the impact of that stat. But it stems from Griffin’s decision-making and also from what the coaches ask him to do.
  5. But Luck went to a team whose coach is sidelined with cancer, that was coming off a two-win season and changed its defense and was widely regarded as lacking in talent. How many rookie QBs would fare well in that spot? So to just look at his stats is to paint an incomplete picture. Here’s the stat that matters: They have eight wins – about five more than anyone predicted. What I know is they’re asked to do different things. I also know the Redskins have done a terrific job with how they’ve used Griffin and he’s done a masterful job operating this offense. I also know the Colts top two leading rushers have combined for 885 yards. They are a passing team first and foremost: Indy has attempted 503 passes and run the ball 326 times. The Redskins have run the ball 379 times and attempted 335 passes. Both are phenomenal players and should be for years.
  6. The good thing about Griffin is that there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll develop as a passer.  Talent + work ethic + brains=major improvement. What stands out to me is how well he avoids interceptions by throwing his man open. Seems to be a mature trait for a rookie. I know there are plays he’s missed because he hesitated, but you also don’t typically see him making hurried mistakes. I saw Eli Manning make a few such plays the other night, leading to missed opportunities, which I showed in the film review this week.
  7. When you’re around Griffin, the one thing you don’t think: The kid is 22 years old. And his leadership never seems forced. The way he plays and works causes players to heed his words and he typically knows what to say. There was a QB here in the past who had his wife put together songs that would appeal to other parts of the locker room. When we were in there that day and he told us I cringed inside. It was forced. It didn’t help that this QB couldn’t play and therefore won over few, if any, teammates. If Griffin was on Twitter asking teammates to “Know your why” and then stunk, there’d be a different perception. But when you do that, and you work as hard as anyone and you succeed, they’ll follow you anywhere.
  8. Still trying to figure out how Will Montgomery received a bigger fine ($10,000) for his role in Leg-fest 2012 on Monday night. A guy was yanking his leg and trying to drag him from a pile. And that same guy tried to stomp on him. Yeah, maybe he didn’t go as hard as he could have, but still. The fact that Linval Joseph received only a $7,500 fine is surprising to say the least. Yes, Montgomery will appeal his fine.
  9. Here’s what Montgomery told us Friday: “I think I had to protect myself. The guy was dragging me across the ground and potentially twisting my ankle or whatever else. I’m not going to let a guy drag me across the ground. And I can’t push him, obviously, because I’m on the ground. So I used my leg to get him off me.”
  10. Before knowing Joseph’s fine, Montgomery said:  “I’m not worried about it. It is what it is. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over with, besides the appeal. I’m not going to worry about something I can’t affect myself.”
  11. The Redskins and Ravens aren’t rivals. Let’s move on. But a lot of players do know each other and often see one another when they go out.
  12. A few concerns I have for this game: who will match up with the physical Anquan Boldin? How will the Redskins fare against a bigger defensive front? It’s typically given them trouble in the past. The Redskins lack of pressure is another worry. Joe Flacco makes mistakes under duress, but can the Redskins put him in those situations? The Ravens’ record after losses is phenomenal under John Harbaugh (15-0). Yes, I know Griffin is a streak buster, but that’s damn impressive. I mean, darn impressive.
  13. I’ve also heard some say the Ravens aren’t a strong 9-3. Not sure what that means. This league is so close that teams with a 9-3 record are legit. Those who aren’t 9-3 are the one’s saying: If we had just made this play in this game, we’d be 9-3 too. Guess what? You didn’t make those plays. They did. They do. I do not feel all that confident with my pick of the Redskins in this one. Not at all.
  14. The Ravens are 3-2 against teams that currently have a winning record. The Redskins are 1-4. The Ravens are the top-ranked defense in the red zone. Their offense ranks fifth in the red zone. Yes, how both teams fare inside the 20 will determine this one.
  15. Also, and this is something I needed to write more about but did not, but the Ravens’ return game is an issue. Kai Forbath still has too many low, line-drive kickoffs in which the return man can get a running start. The Ravens’ Jacoby Jones averages 34.2 yards per return and has scored two touchdowns; he averages 11.0 yards per punt return. He’s a major weapon and will be a factor if Forbath does not get good placement. His hang-time is typically around 3.5 seconds per kick; ideally it would be around 4.0. The Redskins’ kick coverage unit will be challenged.
  16. After Monday, Alfred Morris is now on pace to rush for 1,475 yards. Let that marinate a little bit. If Griffin is the Rookie of the Year, Morris has to qualify as the most surprising one.
  17. A little sidenote: If you like Christmas music — and not the traditional fare — do yourself a favor and listen to the Canadian Tenors. Pretty awesome. Saw them last year at the Kennedy Center; listening to them now.
  18. Since I’m on the topic: I still love watching the Christmas shows, especially with my kids. My favorites in no order: Charlie Brown, Rudolph, Grinch, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street (the original). Oh, and if the Godfather comes on this time of the year. The Don is shot around Christmas; so that counts as an X-mas movie, right? Now you know and we can all sleep better.


 Redskins mailbag.