Griffin game2

We can’t be sure exactly what the appropriate expectations were for a quarterback in his first game after returning from multiple ligament tears, because there’s no history for a recovery of this magnitude at this position. That history was written last night, and the in-game growth of the mended Robert Griffin III aligns with what our expectations should have been.

The Eagles’ eventual win started fast, an adjective commonly associated with all things Chip Kelly. At halftime the score was 26-7, with the Redskins’ only touchdown coming on a bizarre play which barely met the rulebook’s definition of a backwards pass. That was Washington’s only scoreboard refuge, as the pace was relentless.

Shunning the huddle like it was a friend who thinks your mom is hot, the Eagles typically left only about 20 seconds between plays. The result? 53 plays in the first half, the most since the Vikings’ 56 in 1998. Of those plays, 38 of them came in the first quarter, the highest total in the opening quarter since 1991.

Kelly effectively put the Redskins’ defense in a blender.  His offense went beyond the sheer pace, as that’s useless without deception, which existed on multiple levels. Often several possibilities were shown on the same play. For example, Vick would reach to handoff, but then the beginnings of a bubble screen would develop of the far side, while a guard would pull to hint at a run, and a tight end would then sprint up the seam. That’s three possibilities which all deserve equal attention, but only one can be executed. As this was happening we were given reasons to continue our child-like giddiness over Michael Vick’s fantasy sleeper status, and LeSean McCoy’s beastly-ness with the vast holes created by Kelly’s moving targets (he finished with 184 rushing yards and a touchdown).

The Redskins’ offense didn’t help matters. Their general first-half look was one of utter shock and fright, with Washington’s first seven offensive plays ending in two turnovers and a safety. That included Alfred Morris’ fumble on their very first regular-season snap, and layers of rust were then shown when Griffin botched a basic and fundamental play: a pitch in the end zone that went wayward, leading to the safety.

And on it went, with Griffin throwing an interception on his third play of the second half. The creativity of Kelly and the pace of the Eagles’ offense was the hammer, but Washington’s inability to do anything offensively in the first half and at very least give their defense a blow was certainly the opposite of ideal. It wasn’t until the 11-minute mark of the third quarter that the Redskins made their first appearance in Eagles territory.

But really, what did we expect? Sure, the first half was clearly on the lowest of the low end of possibilities for Griffin’s debut after an offseason of recovery, but there was always a hopefully accelerated catchup process that needed to happen. The culmination of that came in the second half, when Griffin straightened out his throwing motion and weight transfer, found his timing, and threw two touchdown passes while leading a half when the Redskins outscored Philly 20-7, though the comeback fell just short.

He didn’t run much for positive yardage, but the read-option plays were present and frequently executed, and Griffin was able to navigate the pocket without hesitation. Most importantly, he took a few solid whacks to various areas, and stood up shaken, but avoided any further knee explosions.

He’ll be fine, and you, the Griffin owner, will be much more than fine.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

The early Arian Foster returns were limited, because he was limited

But he still received a lot of carries, which is the most important takeaway from the other Monday night game that featured a blown 21-point lead which was just so Chargers, though before that calamity we were given hope that San Diego’s offense — and especially their passing game — won’t be a complete dumpster fire. Philip Rivers chucked four touchdown passes, and in a development that shook the Earth’s core, he was given enough time to connect on two deep balls for gains of 34 and 47 yards.

Back to Foster and the early platoon in the Texans’ backfield. Ben Tate was much more effective with his barreling running style, and I suppose actually playing in August helped. Tate averaged 6.1 yards per carry to Foster’s still plodding 3.1. But it’s far too early for any sell low thoughts with Foster only now beginning to have his own personal training camp, and it’s encouraging that he was easily on the high end of the carry distribution (he had 18 carries to Tate’s nine).

Dan Snyder cares little about his team’s offensive nickname, and a lot about money

This really happened, and it bounced around computer screens when the Redskins were still trailing by nearly two touchdowns (33-20).

Because we all know nothing drowns the sorrows of losing during the much anticipated return of your franchise player during a nationally-television game quite like a healthy snack prepared by your local Subway sandwich artist.

Elsewhere in crazy

“Hey man, have you seen my wig and floral shorts?”

“No, but hurry the hell up. Kickoff is in 10 minutes”

Skins fans

You’re a buzz kill, Shane Vereen

When Stevan Ridley made his contribution to a week with widespread running back dismay when his fumble led to a second-half benching against the Bills, a sparkly smile stretched across the faces of Shane Vereen owners. Vereen then promptly rewarded said owners who thought he would primarily have PPR value with 101 rushing yards at a blistering pace of 7.2 yards per carry, and 58 receiving yards on seven catches, with the longest a 19-yarder. Joy spread throughout fantasy land with the assumption that, at the very least, Vereen had done enough to draw even with Ridley in the Patriots’ backfield.

Then this dropped Monday, because of course it did…

Insert loser horn here.

A “few weeks” likely means four-to-six, and it’s encouraging that Vereen was able to play through the injury for much of Sunday’s game. After Glazer’s report, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport chimed in with more specific information, saying Vereen dislocated a bone in his wrist, though as other sources also relayed, a fracture remains a possibility.

To us mortals, “fracture” is a scary word. But for Vereen and his inherent ability to heal quicker as a football player, a fracture is actually the preferred outcome here. Injury expert Jene Bramel explains:

The extent of the injury will be key here. If it’s a minor fracture without damage to associated structures, Vereen could be back in 4-6 weeks. If cleared to play in a cast, he could hit the more optimistic end of the timetable. If there’s a dislocation that requires fixation by pin/screw, Vereen’s absence could extend to 6-10 weeks.

The fantasy impact here is obvious, though little is ever definitive in a Bill Belichick backfield. Ridley should avoid his dog house residency and see an increase in workload during whatever time Vereen misses. Remember, though, this is the same Billy Belichick who plucked Brandon Bolden from a homeless shelter last year, and he then ran for 137 yards against the Bills in Week 4. Because Billy hates us so very much, he’ll give LeGarrette Blount carries just for fun.

Vereen’s absence also impacts the passing game, as he was being frequently targeted while picking up the Aaron Hernandez slot role. Between Vereen and likely also Zach Sudfeld missing Week 2, Julian Edelman retains his slot value, and he’s looking increasingly appealing as a waiver wire add sometime today.

Roddy White has some timely advice for you

There was chaos Sunday morning for fantasy owners, which didn’t really make it any different than every other morning between September and December. There was significant concern about Roddy White and if he would play on a severely sprained ankle, and how effective he would be even if he did play.

Play he did, but he was on the field almost only in a physical sense. As in, no two bodies can occupy the same space at the same time. In a football sense, he was barely there, catching only two passes for 19 yards. White, who missed some practice time last week and was limited when he did appear, now has some belated fantasy advice for you.

It’s pretty easy to follow White’s advice while playing the all-too familiar hindsight second guessing game now. But as we’ve learned in other past examples — and even others involving White himself — often with a player who’s questionable heading into the weekend we only know that he’s injured, but he’ll still play. On Sunday morning when fantasy rosters are being finalized, we can’t make a confident determination regarding the severity of the injury. That’s why the safe play was to still to start White, especially after you invested so highly in him (often a third-round pick).

White has appeared on the injury list many times previously even though he’s never missed a game. That’s barely notable, since football players will go through various shades of bruising. But his ability to produce even when hobbled runs against White’s own advice.

As Bramel also quite correctly noted, “limited” is a pretty vague term. Last year during Week 16, fantasy championship week, White was listed as both limited and then questionable with a knee injury, and he then posted 153 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches. Similarly in Week 2 he was also limited and questionable due to a groin injury, and then 102 yards on eight catches with a touchdown followed.

We all wish Sunday decisions could be as easy as you think they are, Roddy.

Real men punch each other hard in the face, repeatedly

Clay Matthews ignited a brief donnybrook between the 49ers and Packers Saturday with his late hit on Colin Kaepernick when the quarterback was well out of bounds. When lineman Joe Staley went about the business of being a lumbering brute, a few haymakers were thrown, or at least that’s what it looked like with the benefit of the game tape to reconstruct the crime.

Yesterday head coach Jim Harbaugh had some advice for Matthews, and some pointers to improve his jab. Mainly, he should stop slapping like a little sissy man.

“If you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap. That young man works very hard on being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.”

This wisdom comes from a man who introduced jive turkey gobblers to the world, and it’s also the same guy who made us question the basic structure of human life.

Pour one out for Jake Plummer’s lasting legacy