Call it a conspiracy theory, but the Washington Redskins seem to be a team best suited for success when their collective backs are against the proverbial wall.
It started in 2012, when the same core group of players weathered every loss mathematically possible before surging to an improbable division title.
Even after a disappointing exit from the playoffs and a bleak diagnosis on
But even in those games, the Redskins would fall behind early and climb back to within reach. Despite trailing by an average of 22 points at halftime, the Redskins lost by only an average of 12 points.
Then came Week 3, where the Redskins lost a hotly-contested game to the Detroit Lions, which set them up for heaps of criticism and doubt that the team could win on the road in Oakland.
Naturally, the team won its first game more than 2,500 miles from home, beating the Raiders by 10 points, (and only after falling behind 14-0 to start the game).
Throw in a series of lost opportunities in Dallas on Sunday Night Football, and this sets up a nightmarish 1-4 start for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. But this seems to be the situation that brings out the best in the burgundy and gold.
"I think for a lot of guys in this locker room, nothing has ever been easy for us as far as in life," Griffin III told the media on Wednesday. "It’s never been given to us. Some guys in this league get a break and some guys don’t."
Putting aside ongoing media distractions off the field, this team has weathered injuries and inconsistency at key positions, leaving holes in otherwise cohesive units.
Griffin III noted that it isn't the fans or media whose aspirations for 2013 have been let down the most--it has really been their own.
“There’s just an expectation," he said of the locker room. "Whenever you play the way we played as an offense in general – not just myself – moving the ball, making big plays, putting points on the board...and you come back the next year and you don’t play like that and your quarterback has a significant knee injury in the offseason, the scrutiny is going to be there."
Much like last year, the Redskins find themselves coming up on a series of must-win games in order to keep pace in a mediocre NFC East and keep distant playoff hopes alive.
How they intend to pull together is much the same way that they stayed together last year, even as criticism piles up around them.
"The good thing about the locker room is that we do have a strong locker room," Griffin III said. "And Coach [Mike Shanahan] says it all the time: we have too much character on this team to fold.
Robert understands that the power for revival starts with him--both in what he does on the field and how he presents himself to teammates.
"The only way to get away from being 1-4 is to go out and win football games, and you do that by having fun," he said. "You come out to the practice field ready to go. You have a smile on your face. You can’t let anybody steal your joy. You can’t let your record steal your joy.
"People say, ‘How can you smile when you’re sitting there at 1-4?’ Because that’s all you have to do. If I come out here with a frown on my face, no one’s going to want to be around me, no one is going to want to play hard for me.
"I have to be that leader in that respect and put that smile on my face and get the energy up in practice so we can get ourselves out of this hole."
As the team enters the familiar territory of playing each game like a one-game playoff, Griffin III said the locker room is singularly focused on beating Chicago this weekend.
“It’s big. It’s big for us to get a win. There’s no doubt about it," he said. "We’ve got to go out there with the mindset that there’s no way we going to lose this game.
"Chicago’s going to come in here and try not to let us win that game, but it’s not even about them. They’re a great team. They’ve got a lot of great players. We’ve just got to go out there and accept the challenge, and not just go out there and compete.
"We’ve got to go out there to win."