Breakdown: There's no easing into the NFL, but assuming Robert Griffin III is the next starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins, the opening stretch of the schedule of his first professional season offers a couple of breaks. The Redskins open with a road game in New Orleans against the Saints, who will be without several coaches and possibly several key defensive players as a result of suspensions from the NFL's investigation of their bounty program. Their second game is against the Rams in St. Louis, and after the home opener Sept. 23 against the Bengals, they go on the road to Tampa Bay. Not that the Redskins are guaranteed to beat any of those teams with a rookie quarterback, but the tougher-looking part of their schedule doesn't come until a bit later on.
The Redskins' only scheduled prime-time game to this point is the Dec. 3 "Monday Night Football" matchup at home against the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, but they will be in the spotlight at 4:15 pm ET on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, when they take on the division-rival Cowboys in Dallas. And if Griffin is off to a strong start, the Redskins' Nov. 4 game at home against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers is likely to generate some advance hype.
The Redskins' bye comes in Week 10, and of the seven games that follow, a whopping five are against NFC East opponents -- one at home against the Giants and both of their matchups against the Eagles and Cowboys. They finish the season with a Week 16 trip to Philadelphia and a Week 17 home game against Dallas, so if they are in contention they'll have their chances to pull something off. And Griffin can wait a while before finding himself in the heat of these NFC East rivalries.
Complaint department: If I were a Redskins fan, it would annoy be a bit that Griffin is only scheduled to play three home games prior to Nov. 4. A Dec. 16 trip to Cleveland has a chance to be pretty unpleasant, weather-wise. And having to play division games against the Eagles and Cowboys in a five-day stretch doesn't look like a lot of fun, either.
Week 2 in St. Lou: Lots of connections between the two teams that will play in St. Louis on Sept. 16. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and new Rams coach Jeff Fisher are close friends. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett served the Rams in the same role from 2006-08 and was the team's head coach for the final 12 games of that 2008 season. And of course, the Redskins wouldn't be in position to draft Griffin if they hadn't traded three first-round picks and this year's second-rounder to St. Louis for the No. 2 pick in this year's draft. It'll be interesting to follow, over the coming years, the progress of the players the Rams take with the picks they got from the Redskins. It's possible that two of those players could play in this game.
Redskins Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at New Orleans, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at St. Louis, 4:05 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Tampa Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Minnesota, 4:15 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 22, at Dallas, 4:15 PM
Week 13: Monday, Dec. 3, NY Giants, 8:30 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Dallas, 1:00 PM