One of the worst days in franchise history. The good, bad, and more from the game.
1. The fans that showed up at the game. On one of the worst weather days in team history, props to the diehards that showed up.
1. Overall effort. A no-show by the team.
2. Coaching. I disagree that the team wasn't ready in recent weeks but today, they weren't ready and that's on the head coach. Additionally, some of the worst Sp Teams coaching decisions you'll ever see. To continue to punt the ball to Dexter McCluster was outrageous.
3. Tackling. Laughable.
4. Running game. Non-existant.
5. Quarterbacks. Both were bad.
1. Franchise is at rock-bottom again. This week should be interesting to say the least. Shanahan, Snyder, who starts at QB....total S-show.
Robert Griffin III may want a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator in 2014. Being careful with my words here, I stress the MAY part.
I strongly believe he does, but that is just my opinion. As I've said many times, I also feel that Mike and Kyle Shanahan should be back for one more year, as they are part of the problem, but not THE problem in my eyes.
Griffin said all the right things on Wednesday but you have to wonder how sincere it really was considering all of the tension and friction that has been simmering, if not boiling behind the scenes here at Redskins Park.
“I think these guys (the coaches) have a great future. I love having them here and that’s all I can say. We’re focused on Kansas City, they’re focused on Kansas City and that’s all we can control.”
That all sounds great if you just read the quote, or hear him say it. However, does he tell Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen exactly that when they inevitably ask him for his opinion or thoughts?
Does he even get asked or do they already know that the relationship between this group is broken beyond true repair?
Griffin III could have easily said "I believe in Mike and Kyle Shanahan. I trust them," or something similar. He chose not to do that. That's his right, but it would have been a much needed dose of good public will to a franchise that was sitting on top of a big oak tree at the end of last season, fell off and got punched by every branch on the way down.
“I think everyone’s going to have an opinion and it’s an outside opinion. Only the people that are inside – us, coaches, anybody else in the organization – knows what goes on around here. Whenever you have a year like we’re having, sitting at 3-9 when we had higher hopes and higher expectations, people are going to try to sink the ship. Our job is not to focus on that stuff, so I personally just focus on Kansas City.”
Without trying to read between the lines, it would have been and will continue to be in Robert Griffin III's best interests to publicly, strongly support his two top coaches. Even if it is only for good public relations, you can always voice your thoughts and opinions privately.
Griffin will not come out of this looking awful, no matter what the situation really is. That's because the team has miserably underachieved and I would say roughly eight-out-of-ten Redskins fans that I see and have communication with, are fed up with the Shanahans and the entire coaching staff.
“I think whenever you have competitors like us, losing can be tough. But at the end of the day, just like when I came in here, me, Coach, Kyle, all the rest of the coaches and all the rest of the players, we all want to win. That’s a winning recipe whether you’re doing it on the field or not. So that’s the way I look at it. We’re all competitors. We all get heated at times, but at the end of the day, we all want to win," Griffin III said.
There's nobody that doubts just that, but only somebody that is totally naive would believe that the impending situation is just about wanting to win. Everybody wants to win. Griffin has to feel comfortable. He has to believe, he has to trust.
“As much as it can develop in a year-and-a-half, two-year span. I haven’t spent a lot of time here, obviously. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the league. It takes time to build that trust over time with a coach anytime,” Griffin said on Wednesday when asked about that trust level he's built.
Here is a more than fair and relevant question that I haven't heard anybody really address or talk about in this form. Mike and Kyle Shanahan have both stressed that the reason for Griffin's struggles this year is directly linked to his lack of an off-season while recovering from his multiple ligament knee surgeries.
Totally fair in my eyes. NO doubt, you grow significantly as a player during the off-season, especially as a quarterback that is in transition. Say Griffin III gets that opportunity this upcoming winter and is able to make it out of the next four games, with his health intact.
Would he truly be able to reap that benefit IF Griffin III has to learn a completely new system of offense and entirely new set of terminology? Think about that. Instead of only getting more comfortable and capitalizing on two years of experience, Griffin III would now be charged with learning a different 'language' with different instructors. He would also be facing changes at wide receiver and on the offensive line at the very minimum.
Griffin still might have to go through just that after 2014, but at least nobody can say that both sides did not try to make it work. He would then have to learn that different system. However, his growth curve would be much different. He would be able to go thru this winter refining what he already knows. Then, assuming there would be a change at the end of 2014, he can focus on a new language and system, instead of doing both with his head swimming.
It takes time to develop relationships. It takes time to build trust. Griffin can work on that, and improving his game starting this January IF he goes to Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen and says the relationship can work and work well for at least one more year.
The Baltimore Ravens fired Cam Cameron as their offensive coordinator last December 10th, a day after the Ravens lost to the Redskins. They replaced him with then quarterbacks coach and former Colts Head Coach, Jim Caldwell. The result? Somehow, Joe Flacco eventually got on an Eli Manning like late December tear and rode that wave to a Super Bowl and a monster contract.
It was known that Cameron and Flacco did not have a great relationship for several years, dating back (at least) to Flacco having a close working relationship with former Redskins Head Coach, Jim Zorn. The Ravens gambled and won. One thing that did not change for such success? Terminology. System. The backbone of the Ravens offensive foundation.
Things were tweaked no doubt. Some things and principles were altered. However, game plans were not drastically altered at that junction of the season. Which brings us to another point. In a recent Washington Post column by Mike Wise, sources apparently on Griffin's side ( his family) expressed frustration or anger over the play-calling of Kyle Shanahan after the initial injury in that Baltimore game.
In a accusation that must be taken seriously , Wise notes "The source of the Griffins’ discontent over the whole episode wasn’t that a gimpy Robert was allowed to continue playing, especially because he did everything but beg to be on the field; no, it was the play-calling of Kyle Shanahan, the team’s offensive coordinator and Mike’s son, after Griffin was first hurt that they felt put him at further risk."
If you go back to watch the coaches tape for those final three games of Griffin's rookie year, it is clear that a couple of instances could serve as the fuel to this fire. However, overall - and this is important in my eyes after going back and watching a lot of the game tape from those three contests this week - it is extremely hard for me to see where Kyle Shanahan or Mike, put Robert Griffin III in a bad situation.
Systems can NOT be altered significantly at that time of the year. You've been working it all year and practicing it all year. That affects everyone. Of course you tweak and manipulate, but you do not make a dramatic overhaul to a scheme that had put the Redskins at the top of the NFL in many statistical categories during a week leading up to a game. You just don't.
Kyle Shanahan's reaction when I asked him on Thursday? “I didn’t feel that at all,” Shanahan said. “We don’t just do stuff that you don’t think someone can do.”
One thing that did stick out, true or not, was Kyle's overall thought about moving forward with Robert Griffin III. "Robert is a franchise quarterback. He’s a great quarterback, and he’s going to have a hell of a career, and I love coaching him. It’s been fun.”
It would be wise for Robert Griffin III to buy into that for at least one more year. It would be a move in the best interests of the franchise, his career and Dan Snyder's bank account.
A good start, bad finish. The good, bad, and more.
1. Brian Orakpo. As active as he's been this year as a run-stopper and pass rusher.
2. Barry Cofield. He's their only legit defensive linemen although Chris Baker is growing on me.
3. Reed Doughty. Despite getting hurt, when he was in there he was what he always seems to be....a solid run-stopping safety and a very good special teamer.
4. Santana Moss as a punt returner. He catches what he's supposed to catch and when he doesn't fair-catch it, he's decisive as a runner. So much better than Thompson, Morgan, and Williams that it just angers me that they didn't put him back there in mid-September.
1. Offense after taking 14-zip lead. After taking a 14-nothing lead early in the 2nd quarter, the Redskins had 9 drives the rest of the game with the following results--184 total yards, 4 dropped passes, 4 penalties, 5 sacks, one fumble, 3 points. As for why the offense fell apart, it's not because Alfred Morris didn't get enough carries. He had 9 carries in the first half for 11 yards. How much more did you want him to get the ball? To whom was it obvious that he was on the verge of a monster 2nd half? Until they proved that they could make plays down-field in the passing game, their conventional inside-zone/outside zone run-game was going to be a tough go. The offense's lack of productivity over the final 3 quarters had more to do with drops, penalties, sacks, and lack of passing game execution.
2. Game-changing Special Teams gaffe. The Redskins had a 17-14 lead with a dominant field position advantage when Kyle Nelson rolled the snap back to Rocca and Rocca had his punt blocked. The net yardage with a holding penalty added on was 8 yards. Giants started at the Skins 46 instead of deep in their own territory and they took the lead on that drive. Not that it was game-over but it was a game-changer for sure.
3. Drops and penalties. As mentioned above, one of the reasons the offense didn't produce more in the final 3 quarters. Garcon, Davis, and Paulson all had at least one. Davis' drop on the final drive was huge. It would've given the Skins a chance late.
4. The field. Too slippery. Cost the Skins a first-down in the 2nd quarter when Morris slipped after a catch and came up a yard short. Next play, Royster stopped on 3rd and 1.
5. Aldrick Robinson. His effort and ball skills on the one deep ball weren’t very good. He also appeared to have had a big opportunity on a reverse but got less than he should've.
1. Collinsworth is one of my favorites but he went overboard with his praise of everything Redskins-related. He said the following about Mike Shanahan and staff....."if they stick with this group, they'll win the division next year".
2. Why did RG3 run rather than throw a "Hail-Mary" on the final play of the first half?
3. Griffin went to his check-down receiver several times, especially in the first half. It seemed to be an emphasis for him. It almost looked like the coaches made it a point to let him know it was okay if that's where he ended up. It worked for the most part. He was an impressive 16-17 in the first half for 149 yards.
4. The refs blew it on the "1st-down" indication on the Skins' final drive. Bottom line, even if Triplett himself indicated third-down, other officials including at least one that authorized the chains to be moved were handling the result of the play differently. There was crew confusion so he should've stopped the clock and measured the 2nd-down spot. That was the appropriate course of action. They obviously blew it and while it DID cost them a chance to continue their final drive, I've seen enough in recent weeks to believe that their chances of tying the game even if they got the correct call were less than 50-50. We were probably headed for another Minnesota/Philly ending.
1. Jordan Reed and Darrell Young play. Reed is the more important of the two but both are important to an offense that has gone missing the last two weeks. Reed is a difference-maker and gets open for a quarterback who is always looking for him. Not having him for most of the day in Philly and the entire night against the Niners impacted offensive productivity. Young is so much better than Paul as a blocker it's not even worth discussing. Without him, the run game will suffer.
2. Griffin is established as a legit run threat. If it's more important to develop him as a more comfortable pocket passer than to win the game than go for it. But they won't win if he's not a legit run-threat both out of the Pistol in the read-option game and as a drop-back passer.
3. the defense plays at least as effectively as they did vs the Niners. The defense didn't play that well on Monday night despite popular opinion. Yes, it stopped the run very effectively but no, it didn't stop anything else. It allowed 5 scores on 9 real drives. That's not good under any definition of good defense. However, for THIS defense, it wasn't as horrific as other games so it looked great by comparison. If the D can stop the run like they did Monday night, it at least forces an inconsistent Giant offense to be one-dimensional.
Neither team is very good....I'll take the home team. Skins 28-25.
1. Run defense. One of the best run-stopping games of the year for the defense. Niners never got anything going on the ground. Then again, they didn't have to with the success they had throwing the ball. With that said, only allowing the opposition to score on 5 of its 11 drives is reason to celebrate one of the better defensive games of the season.
2. Santana Moss as a punt returner. Major improvement. His 13-yard return was the most impressive punt return of the year (not sarcasm) and the ball never hit the ground except when it hit in the end zone. A bad decision not to have him back there earlier in the season.
1. The offense. A bad night all-around for the offense. It started with sub-par quarterback play, got brought down even further by zero pass protection, mix in a few drops including Morgan's drop after the team got a short field off a turnover, throw in what looked like a bad route by either Paulson or Garcon when they were both in the same area on a play that may have been a touchdown, add a missed potential touchdown when Aldrick Robinson slowed down on a deep ball where he had a step on his defender and in summary....it was a pitiful night for the offense.
2. O-line. The 49er defense is really good but the O-line didn't put up much of a fight. Polumbus was a turnstile and Trent Williams was abused on a few occasions.
3. Robert Griffin III. 2nd straight rough performance. He played with no confidence and made no plays of note. The interception was brutally bad. He threw poorly on several other occasions. Some of his completions were bad throws. He didn't feel pressure well. He held the ball too long. It also looked like he didn't get a play call correct that led to an unnecessary timeout which hurt the team's chances to score a touchdown at the end of the half (may be wrong on that but Shanahan seemed angry with Griffin). With that said, Aldrick Robinson didn't do him any favors when he slowed down on a deep ball that may have been a touchdown.
4. Josh Wilson & pass defense. Colin Kapernick hadn't thrown well for 2 months but got healthy tonight. The Skins did a very nice job of making the 49er offense one-dimensional by stopping the run but they weren't good enough to stop the Niner air attack. Kapernick had his highest QB rating of the season. The 49ers hadn't had a pass play over 17 yards in 3 games; they had 5 tonight, 3 of them were for 30+ yards. Wilson seemed to be the target for the Niners and he didn't disappoint. Receivers were wide open in his area all night long.
5. Special Teams. Nothing on kickoff returns. Kickoff and punt coverage were lousy. Kickoffs were too short.
6. End of first-half use of timeouts. The use of timeouts killed their touchdown chances. They did a nice job however getting the field goal team on the field to get the 3 pts before the end of half. Garcon had the first-down with forward progress that would've allowed a spike to stop the clock and a few shots at the end zone.
1. Perry Riley had a huge Pick 6 opportunity but didn't pull it in.
2. The Vernon Davis fumble gave the Skins starting field position in opponents' territory for just the 2nd time in 7 games. It wasn't deep in SF territory but just barely at their 49.
3. RG3 got hit close to late on a couple of plays including the INT play but didn't get calls other QBs have been getting all year.
4. The new field was slippery.
5. They should go to the "turbo"/hurry-up more often.
6. Merriweather still leads with helmet on tackles.
7. Kyle called a 3rd and 3 RO run and a 4th and long-1 run. Neither worked so for all of those who say run it on 3rd and 3 and 4th and 1, he did. You happy now?
8. Skins real chance came after the Davis fumble early in the 3rd quarter. Offense didn't deliver. Morgan's drop killed the drive.
9. I wonder if Shanahan would've made a QB change if the Skins didn't get those two drives at the end of the first half.
1. they stop the run. Colin Kapernick has struggled as a passer for most of the season in part because he doesn't have many healthy weapons. The Niners can really run the ball but stopping the run has been the one thing defensively that the Skins aren't awful at. If they can make San Francisco one-dimensional and force Kapernick to beat them with his arm, they have a chance to limit points-against.
2. they improve starting field position. The Skins' starting field position is historically bad. The offense has just ONCE IN THEIR LAST 6 GAMES started a drive in the opponents' territory. That's hard to do and it speaks to poor Sp Teams in particular. Their average starting field position of their own 22.8 yard line is the worst in the NFL in 30 years. You could legitimately argue that starting field position has had the biggest impact on their overall W-L record. It's hard for the offense if every time they get the ball they have to go 78+ yards to score. Their Special Teams and Defense must keep field position competitive. The Skins can't get themselves into a situation where they need 50-60 yards just to get into FG range.
3. the offense is productive in the Red Zone. The offense needs to score when it gets into the Red Zone. Their last 3 trips into the Red Zone have gone a) 4th down miss in Minnesota, b) fumble in 1st quarter in Philly, and c) interception to end game in Philly. The Skins' offense is #5 in total yards, #1 in rushing, #1 in yards per carry, #4 on 3rd-downs. They've been very good at moving the football between their own 1 and the other team's 20. They need to finish when they get close.
The discussion in recent weeks has become whether or not Dan Snyder will tolerate a bad ending to an already poor season. There's a chance we're looking at it the wrong way.
While many believe that Snyder may be faced with a tough decision about his head coach at the end of this year, Shanahan could surprise us and make the decision himself. I could be way off but something tells me that Shanahan isn't in love with his situation here.
First and perhaps least importantly, he's never faced the public and media criticism he's faced here over the last 3+ years. Denver was in love with Shanahan for most of his tenure thanks to two Super Bowls. Even in his final few years when he heard skepticism, it was delivered in faint Rocky Mountain tones. He's a Midwest guy softened by 14 years of Colorado's beauty. DC may not be Philly, Boston, or New York but when it comes to its professional football team, it's got east coast passion and when appropriate, northeast rage. Shanahan is absolutely sure he knows more than you and for a while was humored when he was questioned by you. But the humor of those questions is long gone. The 24-34 record gives weight to the questions. He's not used to it and my guess is he's getting sick of it.
Secondly, while Shanahan the competitor might be willing to take the hits until he gets this thing right, he probably doesn't like watching his son get battered around. Kyle Shanahan had success as an offensive coordinator in this league without Dad standing next to him but nobody here seems to care. He's the coach's son and the view from the beginning on Kyle has been skeptical. Despite four top 10 offenses in his six seasons as a coordinator, Kyle is thought by many here in Washington to be someone who was gifted the job. Shanahan and son know they are a capable offensive duo and may decide that Tampa, Miami, or Dallas would be more appreciative.
More importantly than the heat he and his son are taking, Mike Shanahan's relationships with his boss and star quarterback will likely determine his future in Washington. The word is that Snyder and Allen felt great about Shanahan and the football operation before the season began. There was recognition that the salary cap penalties of the last two years could impact this year's record if there were a rash of injuries but there was confidence that a healthy team could compete for another division title.
Have they been healthy? If you discount their star quarterback's inconsistent play due to offseason knee surgery then yes. But that's a huge discount. It's not a reach to think that the team would've been better off losing 5 front-line starters in exchange for a healthy RG3 from the start. How Snyder is handling the nuance of their 3-7 is either straining or strengthening the relationship with his head coach. That's a key question that nobody really has an answer for right now but it's probably the second-most important factor in how Shanahan views the job moving forward.
Then there's the most important factor....his relationship with Griffin. Is there a rift or not? And if there is, can it be repaired? Bottom line, Griffin isn't going anywhere and Shanahan knows it. Is he willing to stay if the relationship is irreparable or if it can be fixed, is it worth it to him? If he's come to the conclusion that Griffin is too diva for him then I can't imagine the thought of coaching him is as attractive as we once thought.
Despite what many think, Mike Shanahan and his son are employable if it doesn't work out for them here. Sure $7 million is a ton of money to leave on the table but there will be multiple openings at the end of the season and if Mike is available, he'll get one of them for at least $5 million. Knowing that he can get paid somewhere else in combination with everything mentioned above may lead to a surprise end-of-year decision. A decision he makes all by himself.
A bad loss that for all intents and purposes ends the competitive portion of this year's schedule. The good, bad, and more.
1. The comeback. The defense gave them a chance by stopping Philly on their final 5 drives and the offense made a few plays. I respect the fight till the end but the way they played the first 3 quarters made it too big of a hill to climb.
2. Alfred Morris. He's the best draft choice of the Shanahan/Allen era.
1. The final play. A bad play with the game on the line. He said that he didn't want to take a sack on that play with no timeouts left and I get that but the play he made was both a bad decision and badly executed.
2. RG3. It started with a throw that was 20 yards off the mark to a wide-open Logan Paulson on the opening drive and it didn't get much better from there until the 4th quarter. That miss to Paulson was one of the worst throws you'll see from an NFL quarterback and it killed a potential tone-setting opening drive. Overall, he threw high, he threw short, and he had several balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. After the 3rd and 1 incomplete pass to Paulson early in the 4th quarter that was badly underthrown I thought he should be benched for performance. One more, Aldrick Robinson was open on that 1st down throw to the end zone on that final drive.
3. The offensive play calling. It's LOL funny to hear people complain today about the play calling in the first half saying there was "no balance" when the same people have been begging for exactly that, "no balance". Today however, those complaints were valid. Kyle seemed intent on proving to a certain part of this fan base and media group that you can't run the ball over and over again and win. If that was his point, he proved it. 28 runs and 7 throws in the first half would've been fine if they had scored but it's too hard to score up here as Coach Joe would say without making plays in the passing game. Yes, there were some early opportunities with the miss to Paulson and a drop by Moss but there should've been more play action throws on early downs. After the first-drive miss to Paulson on a first-down play action throw, the Redskins ran the ball on 10 of their next 12 first downs in the first half.
4. Defense until late 3rd and 4th quarters. It was as bad as it's been in the first half and the first drive of the 3rd quarter. Players wide open, screens were a problem, and tackling was an issue even though most teams in the league have a challenge tackling McCoy.
5. Special Teams. Nick Williams' decision-making wasn't any better than Josh Morgan's. He cost them 15 yards of field position on the Eagles' last punt. He also fumbled another but was able to recover it.
6. Injuries. No Jordan Reed hurt a ton more than no Leonard Hankerson but not having both no doubt limited the offense.
7. Turnovers. The first one was clearly a result of a confused/botched pass protection with Jordan Reed but Robert should've called timeout or thrown the ball away. The last INT....head scratcher.
1. RG3's height/stature in the pocket is a problem. Teams are batting a ton of balls. This is just another reason the drop-back game doesn't work for Skins.
2. McCoy on Kerrigan is a mismatch. Skins need a ton more speed on defense.
3. Santana Moss had the big 3rd and 25 catch but his early drop was costly.
4. Interesting to hear Robert say that the Eagles schemed them up well and that they seemed to know what was coming....shot at Kyle?? He also said that they've been very good on offense the last few games but today nothing seemed to work.
5. Shanahan's challenge of the spot on the Eagle 3rd down late in the game was obvious.
1. they score 35 or more points. The Skins are allowing nearly 34 a game in their last 5 so simple math says they need 35 to win. Treating each offensive drive as if they must score is the mindset required so being very aggressive should be the approach. Specifically, mixing in some of their hurry-up "turbo" offense might help. I hope they consider going for it on 4th and short with decent field position. Any more than 3 punts in this game is a recipe for a loss.
2. the defense gives them something. The Skins' D has given up points on 8 of its last 10 drives including 6 of 8 against the Vikings. Generating at least an occasional pass rush would be nice. Nick Foles has been red hot so getting him out of rhythm with a legit pass rush seems like a must-have. Bottom line, if they can get Philly off the field on half of their drives....say 5 of 10, then that's a good day for this defense and it should give them a chance to win.
3. they make no more than 2 big mistakes. It seems like a given that this team will make an error or 4 on Sp Teams, a penalty or 6 when you least need it, or a mixed up coverage that matches Perry Riley against a wide receiver. To have a chance in Philly, any more than 2 of these types of mistakes will doom them.
This game is a pretty much must-win and in similar spots this year at Oakland and at home against Chicago and San Diego, they've played well.
You are what you are. It is what it is. Always feels good to get a few cliches and boring statements out of the way as we crank up the bus on the highway to football hell.
What's that mean? Oh, it could interpreted in so many ways. That's for you to decide.
Either way, this is shaping up to be one hell of a next seven weeks and the ball won't stop rolling downhill with fury until about June 15th.
The Redskins play in Philadelphia this Sunday, a game they are more than qualified to win. Will they? Again, they could. Maybe I could go so far as to say they SHOULD. However, that hasn't exactly worked out for them recently.
They are (3-6) and have played bit the part.
This is third year in a row that they've been at that meager record after their first nine games. Let's hope for everybody's sanity, 2013 goes much closer to what 2012 was, as opposed to 2011 -- which ended with a robust (2-5) stretch and a (5-11) record overall.
It's very unlikely, perhaps extremely unlikely that you could even hope for (7-0) so I completely just dismiss that notion. Honestly, I think if the Redskins finish (5-2) the rest of the way and wind up (8-8) regardless of the division title or what others do - that's a victory and you should probably be willing to accept that.
My guess? They finish (4-3) down the stretch and wind up a bitterly disappointing (7-9). And then......the fun begins. Bring in the big tent and the clowns, because we are going to the circus boys and girls.
I have been asked this a few times over the last few weeks. Does this first half of 2013 seem worse or feel worse than it did in 2012? My answer is a pretty resounding yes for many reasons.
Let's discuss. While the record is the same, there are many more factors as to why I think we all feel this way. The first reason is...
Expectations: Right or wrong, fair or foul. This team was expected by many to win nine or ten games, and in some circles more. I thought nine was fair, ten if everything broke right. It's not happening. They could still win the division, and while that would be all that ultimately matters - there would be very little to celebrate if say the record is .500 or even (gasp) worse.
It would be very hard to take any huge level of pride in winning a division at anything less than (9-7). Even then, if San Francisco or Seattle were the first round opponent at FedEx, is there anybody alive that would think that Washington would stand a good chance at winning that playoff game?
Maybe the expectations were too much, considering Robert Griffin III's rehabilitation and lofty goal to return by Week 1. I still say he needed more time, but he, they or others did not want or allow that.
I was a very strong proponent of Griffin III playing in the preseason. As we found out (much too late) it was supposedly Dr. James Andrews who put the kibosh on such a notion. I just didn't feel Griffin would be ready in Week one to take on live bullets with no game seasoning, no true off-season program and a very limited time-frame of 11-on-11 practice.
Once they put the block on not playing in the preseason however, I understood the mentality to get him ready for Philadelphia - because there simply was no other way to get him live game reps. If they would have waited until the bye week or another week, he still would be rusty because there is absolutely no way to simulate actual game conditions.
My point is - I would have been OK with him playing lightly in the preseason and then perhaps taking a few extra weeks of 11 on 11 practice reps before the season opener and evaluating where he was at then - instead of having this pre-determined plan that the powers that be had -- that Robert Griffin III would play unless the comeback train hit a major pothole.
I still think it was the wrong strategy ultimately and I won't back down from that. I believe it would have been the wrong strategy if they were (4-0) or (0-4). You are trying to last a career, not a year. Sorry, not backing down from that.
Clearly, Griffin's return and the early season struggles of the entire team were not just dependent on one medical clearance. Maybe last year's 7-game win streak was a mirage.
Perhaps, the magician reached into the hat one last time - and came away with a dead rabbit? Who knows.
The bottom line is this - we ALL over estimated how good this team was. It has been a total team struggle from start to the halfway plus pole.
The Quarterback is not a rookie anymore: Last year, almost any time Robert Griffin III struggled you could chalk it up to the fact that he was a rookie. Either way, you sliced it - you saw a quarterback clearly on the rise with a wonderful skill set.
You still see it in glimpses this year, but it clearly has not been enough. Opposing defenses have adjusted and taken away the edge at times or the play-action 'pop' passes that were so succesful BUT there has also been a lack of consistency. Even in his two best games, at home against San Diego and Chicago - Griffin had bouts of inaccuracy and inconsistency - along with a mistake or two along the way that left you wanting more or feeling unfulfilled.
Maybe that's the unrealistic expectation, but that's just the way a uber-talent rolls. Griffin III would be best served by a full healthy off-season, something he did not have last year. All of the coaches, along with both Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman strongly believe that you get a significant comfortability with this scheme/playbook when you have a full off-season of on-field and behind the scenes work. Griffin obviously never got that.
I sincerely hope some of the concerns I (and others) had out of Baylor are not justified and the constant reality. Aside from his natural enormous talent, I was very concerned about the beating he would take in the pocket by "staring down the gun barrel" and I worried about his consistent accuracy in the short to intermediate areas.
Last year, it was not a problem. This year, for a variety of reasons, both concerns have been largely present. Griffin has a 60.8% completion rate, with 12 touchdown passes to nine interceptions. The interception rate is one shy of twice his 2012 total (five), in only nine games. Certainly a few were not his fault at all (Green Bay, Dallas) but ultimately, they still count. He also has three fumbles lost (nine total fumbles). Last year, he lost two fumbles and had 12 overall on the entire season, in his 15 regular season games played. His completion percentage last year was a very solid 65.6% on 393 attempts.
This year, he already has 337 attempts, meaning he is 56 attempts away (393 - 337) from his 2012 total. He is 53 completions away (258 -205) from his 2012 total. He does have 2,450 passing yards, which means he's 750 yards away from his rookie total (3,200 - 2,450) and is eight touchdown passes away (20 - 12) from his 2012 mark.
Sure, teams have adjusted and taken stuff away. The major issue that I am concerned about? Griffin III has been sacked 18 times in his nine games, or an average of twice per game. Last year, the Redskins allowed 33 sacks in 16 games (Griffin 30 times in 15 games), so the averages are about the same.
Here's a key in my eyes. At this point last year, the offensive line had allowed 21 sacks in the first nine games, along with seemingly more quarterback hits and pressure, but with a lot more magic, smoke and chicanery to deal with than this year.
The point is - the protection has been better this year than last (statistically) and I believe in reality, and yet - the Redskins have had far less consistent success.
One Mess After Another: One game, one quarter, one series after another - the Redskins have put out one fire only to have another one smoldering. In some cases, they haven't had enough water left in their tank to douse the flames.
Special teams has been a complete debacle from the lack of a return game all year, poor blocking, a blocked punt for a touchdown in Oakland, a fake punt for a first down run by the Raiders in the same game, to two enormous returns (one TD) in Dallas and a punt return touchdown to Devin Hester and the Bears.
There's no doubt, their coverage has been a lot better of late coinciding with the additions of Trenton Robinson and Josh Hull - but they have also had to pooch/short kick or intentionally kick towards the sidelines or out-of-bounds on punts, because they could not count on the coverage units executing what many other teams do.
This strategy, while keeping returners like Trindon Holliday and Cordarrelle Patterson off the scoreboard - has significantly hurt the Redskins defense in field position at times, specifically against those two returners in Washington's last two road games.
In addition, Kai Forbath does not have the consistent ability to boom touchbacks in a league designed to do just that, which forces these situations more than the normal amount.
Forbath has also struggled with accuracy or distance this year on field goals, at a (7-11, 63.6%) clip. He missed three games and did have two kicks blocked but Mike Shanahan admitted the obvious that the kicks were too low. Forbath has only tried one kick from 50 + all year (blocked) so that is not a reason. Dating back to Dallas of last year in Week 17, he is seven of his last 12.
In Minnesota, the Redskins ran a fake punt that some players (the targeted receiver, Niles Paul) were not aware of, and even if they were - it would not have counted because of a penalty on Jerome Murphy. That disaster led to a punt by Sav Rocca to Marcus Sherels who promptly returned it for 20 yards to the Minnesota - 44, plus had a Darrel Young bonus gift in the form of a 15-yard personal foul tacked on.
In other words, they started a touchdown drive that gave them the lead at the Washington-41. Can't have it. That simple.
The Redskins have committed 14 (accepted) penalties on special teams this year according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Then there is the fact that many players have expressed publicly and privately that they are not on the same page as new Coordinator Keith Burns. It's not exactly going away anytime soon and might force Mike Shanahan into a difficult corner at the end of the year, for more than one reason.
The Rest of the Rest: Because the special teams nightmares have been so plentiful - the unit earned an entire section on it's own.
There are many other problems, like on defense. It could be a lack of a consistent pass rush to bad tackling at times or a failure to catch an easy interception or a penalty that extends a drive and puts the defense in a compromising position. At times, the run defense has failed and in some games, the pass coverage has broken down in a offense driven league.
London Fletcher has struggled for a third consecutive year in the first half of the season, Perry Riley has not emerged in any meaningful way. Brian Orakpo has been good at times, but far from dominant. Ryan Kerrigan is dealing with a knee that is less than 100%.
Stephen Bowen doesn't appear to have the same consistent explosion, and Barry Cofield has not been dominant since a two game stretch against Detroit and Oakland.
Brandon Meriweather has had his issues from illegal hits and suspensions to even more injuries. Bacarri Rambo was benched, E.J. Biggers played safety in a pinch in the first game against the Eagles and had his struggles.
The only consistent good news for the defense has been DeAngelo Hall, who is the Redskins MVP so far this year. Josh Wilson has been much better in coverage this year, but hasn't made enough impact plays and missed quite a few tackles early in the year. David Amerson has made some very big plays and also has given up some impact plays, which is typical for a rookie.
If we are talking offense -- the offensive line has been spotty at times, especially on the road in the second halves of games. The wide receivers have dropped far too many passes ( 29 of Griffin's pass attempts, 3rd highest in NFL) and outside of Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson, the team has failed to get consistent production from anybody.
Jordan Reed is a tremendous bright spot, but Logan Paulsen has struggled mightily due a very painful knee injury. What more can be said about Fred Davis who is less popular with the Redskins coaching staff than Obama care is with the American public.
The coaches have been shaky at times and clock management has been highly questionable. In other words, this is a football team that has been a slowly sinking ship taking on significant water since before Week 1.
One final reason why this (3-6) is worse? A lack of injuries. Only CB/PR Richard Crawford, LS Nick Sundberg, ILB Keenan Robinson and special teams standout/LB Bryan Kehl have been lost for the season out of the significant contributor category. That's not bad for Week 11 of the NFL season. As a matter of fact, the Redskins on a short week (San Diego --> Minnesota) had their entire roster practice fully twice. Hard to beat that. Certainly, they were more beat up last year.
Not sure exactly what this all means for this Sunday and beyond, but while last year's (3-6) record wasn't pretty -- this year's feels a whole lot worse. That might be an overstatement, but that's the reality the Redskins live in.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980