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Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) runs into the Cowboys secondary during their NFL game last Sunday.
THIS COLUMN has
The fiscal cliff? Who cares! Those crazy politicians who can't get anything done? Put 'em on a barge and ship them down the Potomac. We've got more important fish to fry.
Or should I say, "Birds [as in Seahawks] to pluck."
You have to go all the way back to the days of John Riggins and Joe Gibbs to come up with the amount of enthusiasm generated by this year's Redskins team.
Fans in this part of the universe are wild with excitement--except for Dallas Cowboy followers, that is. As for those guys, well, maybe there's room on that political barge for them, too.
Of course, after last Sunday's loss to the 'Skins, most of those Dallas fans probably jumped into the Potomac on their own.
Washington winning the NFL East and hosting a playoff game! Whoda thunk it, especially after the burgundy and gold started out 3-6?
At that point, when everyone else had given up on Washington, some ESPN football analyst predicted that the 'Skins would win the East. I don't remember who the analyst was, but we need to find out and start his 2016 presidential campaign.
Now I admit that I am not the greatest football fan in the world. To me, the NFL is second-rate entertainment that fills the gap between the end of one baseball season and the start of another.
But right now even I am excited. I'm not jumping up and down, but there was a John Wayne movie on TV opposite the Redskins-Cowboys game and I didn't flip the channel once. That's dedication! Why, I sneaked a peak at "Rio Bravo" when my first child was being born.
I like this team. It is fundamentally sound. Why, against Dallas I watched London Fletcher actually wrap up a runner while making a tackle.
Both arms around the runner's legs! No defensive player does that anymore. They just halfheartedly throw a shoulder into the guy, who then runs 10 more yards.
One amazing thing about this season is that we have made it all the way into January without a quarterback controversy. The last time that happened in Washington, Lyndon Johnson was president and Pat Summerall was punting for the Giants.
Robert Griffin III has made believers of us all. He is the quarterback the 'Skins have been looking for since Joe Theismann went down on Monday Night Football.
In fact, they didn't get just one good QB in the draft; they got two. Kirk Cousins, their fourth-round pick, could be starting on many other teams in the NFL.
Alfred Morris, the running back who no one had ever heard of before the first game of the season, would be a good candidate for Rookie of the Year had it not been for Griffin, who is almost a shoo-in for that honor (either Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning will probably be MVP).
What changed Washington from a 3-6 team to a legitimate Super Bowl contender? The defensive secondary.
During the first half of the season, I could have completed passes against those guys. Then, for whatever reason, they actually started covering receivers. That does help.
You have to give Washington's offensive line some credit, too. In past years, Redskin quarterbacks watched most of the game from their back. This year, both Griffin and Cousins got some pass protection.
The real hero? Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the head coach's son. During whatever crisis that arose, Shanahan has been able to modify his offense to get the very most out of it.
Most fans think that Washington got to the playoffs Sunday night. They didn't! They got there on Dec. 9 with 4:19 left in the game with the Baltimore Ravens. With Griffin hurt, Cousins came in and threw an 11-yard TD pass to bring the Redskins to within two.
Needing a two-point conversion to tie, Shanahan called a quarterback draw and Cousins made it into the end zone almost untouched.
Brilliant? Cousins is a drop-back passer, not a running quarterback like Griffin. The Ravens might have considered the possibility that Griffin would run the conversion attempt but never would they--or anyone else in America--have guessed that Shanahan would have allowed a non-runner to run the ball on the most crucial play of the season.
If I want the ESPN guy as president, I want to back Kyle Shanahan at the poker table.
Yes, the 'Skins have this not-all-that-much-of-a football fan looking forward to Sunday's game. I'm not so excited that I would sit in the stands at Fed Ex Field and freeze (baseball is played at a much warmer time), but I will be in front of the TV with a hot fire and a pan of chocolate-chip cookies.
And the best part of the season? Owner Dan Snyder has stayed out of sight.
If he keeps hidden, the 'Skins may go all the way.
Whup them Seahawks!