RG III over Rex, an obvious choice for the Redskins.
"He's the starter. Period,"
That was the somewhat obvious, but completely unexpected statement from Redskins Head Coach/EVP Mike Shanahan on Sunday in front of over 50 members of the media, assembled on a humid late morning/afternoon in Ashburn.
Of course, "he" is Robert Griffin III, and while practically nobody expected him to be the 2nd string in New Orleans as the Redskins open up the 2012 campaign, I figured that Mike Shanahan would do everything he could to push, poke and prod "RG III" with motivation and a good old fashioned 'controversy,' by keeping the competition open publicly or by listing Rex Grossman as No. 1 in the first unofficial depth chart.
That's not happening according to the man that matters most.
"We're going to put him with the first team when we come back … We'll have our first team on one field, working against our second defense, and we'll have our second team on the other field, working against our first defense," Shanahan said on Sunday.
I have to admit I was stunned. Not at the fact that Robert Griffin III was anointed as the starter, but just the timing. It was very unusual for Mike Shanahan to be that bold, that upfront, THIS early.
"I thought it was very important to start with Robert with our first unit. He's able to do it and pick up the system as quick as he has, which is always good, to go out there and be able to call plays and feel good with what you're doing, and I've seen that over the last five practices."
It tells you the obvious desperation of the franchise and management, but also it is a credit to Griffin III that he has caught on so quick.
Shanahan explained "Any time you pick a player with the second pick of the draft and you give up another two No. 1's and No. 2 and you move up four spots, you've got a game plan in mind. We're going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable with, and we'll watch him grow, and we'll do what we feel like he does the best."
That's all fine and good, that's what every staff does. It is what Mike and Kyle Shanahan did with Donovan McNabb as well.
Despite Donovan's claims, as my colleague Kevin Sheehan points out, and as we talked about routinely on the air in 2010, the Shanahan's dialed up a lot of screens and the deep ball, accentuating McNabb's skill set.
Just color me surprised. I have attended just about every Mike Shanahan press conference since he became the head man in charge. He is a coach who has been honest with the media about not always being honest with the media. In other words, he has admitted to fibbing, to protect certain things.
I would be astonished if this is nothing but 100% truth, I just didn't expect it. It speaks volumes for the 'intangibles' side of RG III.
His new teammate, offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus told reporters, "it feels like he came in, and already new the damn playbook."
His head coach gushed some more, "He's great. You can see what an incredible athlete he is," Shanahan said of Griffin. "I was impressed with the first day. He didn't have one bust on a formation or a play call, and I've never had that in all the mini camps I've been involved with."
On Monday, I asked General Manager and Executive Vice President, Bruce Allen why the Redskins were so up-front about their plans, which again is extremely unusual.
"We're excited. We feel good about Robert. If we can surround him with proper talent, we'll be OK. We think he's a unique talent. What coach envisions for him, what we think we can do with our offense, we think we can achieve our objectives. The sooner we get too it, the better."
Allen was speaking to a group of reporters at the annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society charity golf outing, hosted by Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.
The bottom line is this. If Robert Griffin III was not the starter for Week 1 in New Orleans, it would have been somewhat concerning. If Robert was not listed as the number one starter on the 'public' depth chart in training camp, it would have been a controversy. If Kirk Cousins would have looked better at mini-camps and training camp, it would have been well, unexpected.
Now, the Redskins can just move on without the daily questions about depth charts. For now.