OAKLAND — The opening month of the season hasn’t quite gone as planned for Robert Griffin III and Matt Flynn.
One year after leading Washington to the NFC East title, Griffin is still seeking his first win of the season as the Redskins (0-3) are off to their worst start in more than a decade.
One year after losing the starting job in Seattle in a training camp battle with Russell Wilson, Flynn was beaten out again in Oakland by Terrelle Pryor. He’s still looking for a chance to start in the NFL.
Flynn could get his opportunity Sunday when the Raiders (1-2) host the Redskins; Pryor missed much of the practice week recovering from a concussion suffered Monday night.
“I can promise you it hasn’t shaken my confidence,” Flynn said of losing a job for a second straight year. “I still believe I can be a really good player, it’s just one of those things to learn from and just keep preparing because you never know.”
Griffin is coming back from reconstructive surgery on his right knee and has not been the same dynamic player he was as a rookie. Griffin has thrown for more than 300 yards in each game as the Redskins have mostly been playing from behind. But he has rushed for only 62 after gaining 815 yards on the ground as last year’s top offensive rookie.
“I think we are getting closer, but you know it’s that old saying, close doesn’t count, especially in the NFL, you’ve got to win,” Griffin said. “We’re getting closer and I think we can get there, but it’s just a matter of us doing it.”
Here are five things to watch when the Redskins visit the Raiders:
WHICH FLYNN: If Flynn does start, the Raiders hope he plays like the quarterback who dazzled in two spot performances in place of Aaron Rodgers. Flynn threw for 731 yards and nine TDs in those games.
Or is he the sore-armed passer who lost a starting job the past two summers? The Raiders say the time off since training camp has helped heal Flynn’s elbow and expect him to be able to fill in seamlessly if need be.
EXTRA PREP: The uncertainty at quarterback in Oakland creates extra work for the Redskins’ defense. They need to prepare for the mobile Pryor and the read-option game as well as a pocket passer in Flynn. Pryor presents a much bigger challenge and will be the focus of Washington’s work during the week as the Redskins figure it will be easier to adjust to the more traditional Flynn.
“We’re getting ready for Terrelle Pryor,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said. “He’s a dangerous weapon. We feel like he’s going to be out there. If he doesn’t show up, then we’ll adjust.”
DARREN DERAILED: The switch from a zone running scheme in Oakland to a power system was supposed to revive Darren McFadden’s career after he averaged a career-low 3.3 yards per carry last season. McFadden did break through for four long runs as part of a 129-yard day two weeks ago against Jacksonville. But he had no room to run against Denver last week, gaining just 9 yards on 12 carries for the worst rushing day for a Raider since 1978, and he had most of his carries between the tackles.
REMEMBERING AL: Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had a strained relationship, at best, with late Raiders owner Al Davis, who fired Shanahan four games into his second season as coach in 1989. The two fought over money Shanahan believed he was owed from Davis and that made for a tense rivalry whenever Shanahan’s Broncos faced the Raiders. Shanahan got the best of it, winning 21 of 28 meetings for his most wins against any franchise. This will mark the first time he has faced the Raiders since Davis died two years ago.
“I always think that when you think of the Raiders you think of Al,” Shanahan said. “I know we had some differences. I have a lot of respect for the man and what he did well and what he accomplished.”
RAW ROOKIE: The Raiders were excited finally to have a first-round draft pick for the first time since 2010, but they are still waiting for a big contribution from rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden. He struggled last week against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, allowing completions on all five throws in his coverage area and missing six tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. He has allowed opponents to complete 72.2 percent of passes his direction.