One year ago to the day, the Redskins were getting ready for their first home playoff game in 13 years. They were fresh off the franchise's biggest win and best regular season in recent memory. They were the "hot" team entering the playoffs and were considered a legitimate threat to go deep.
Even better, all signs pointed to a very bright future. They had finally found their "franchise" quarterback. Robert Griffin III's rookie season was one of the most exciting in NFL history. The front office looked shrewd for pulling off the deal to get him while the coaching staff looked innovative for the way they leveraged his unique skills during his first season. Optimism reached a 20-year high. What followed was the Skins' version of October 1929. Their market crashed.
One year after the franchise was stretching to a 20-year optimistic high, it’s back in the gutter again. How they got here for the most part comes down to what happened on one day in one game, one year ago--The Seattle game.
No single event over the last year changed the fortunes of the franchise like the Seattle game on January 6, 2013. The optimism heading into that early January playoff matchup was genuine and justified and it grew during the early portions of the game.
Up 14-zip in the first quarter, the hottest team in the NFL was on the verge of becoming a trendy Super Bowl pick. The 7-game winning streak to end the season was nice but a playoff beat-down of the bully Seahawks would’ve legitimized them as one of the teams to beat.
Then came the crash. It started with an injury. Then came the decision to keep the injured player in the game. A few hours later, the game was lost, the season was over, and the franchise and its fan base were heading into a deep depression that nobody saw coming.
The circumstances of what happened on that January evening caused the collapse. It started with the injury to Griffin. It continued with the decision to keep him in the game. After the game, things began to get ugly. First, the diagnosis of torn ACL/LCL. Then, the mean-spirited criticism from everywhere of a coach for not saving his quarterback from himself even though the doctors and trainers assured him he was okay and Griffin himself would’ve forced Shanahan to come onto the field and fight him before he would leave the game.
The playoff game produced the physical damage that started the crash. The psychological damage came over the next eight months courtesy of immaturity, selfishness, and vanity.
There was a rehab that came with its own marketing campaign. Griffin was “All In For Week 1” before he was able to walk.
There were passive-aggressive shots from all the key figures. Shanahan talked about Griffin needing to learn to slide. Griffin couldn’t keep his mouth shut and even when he did, he texted and tweeted out alternating vague and direct shots at his head coach that began to turn an idolizing fan base against him.
And then there was Mr. Griffin. There was no reason for him to become a key figure but that didn’t stop him. I can only imagine the Ashburn head-shaking over a parent going public with his own offensive playbook.
With training camp came threats from RG3. "Play me if the doctors clear me" or else.
Chris Cooley said last week on his show that Griffin told him that he didn’t think Mike liked him and couldn’t understand why. Delusionville is a nice place to be when the reasons are obvious and unflattering.
Shanahan missed his opportunity to spare everyone including himself from the carnage that unfolded during a dreadful 3 and 13 season. He was the adult with the authority and he didn’t act like it or use it.
He wimped out. He should’ve rounded up the owner, the GM, and the quarterback and let em all know who the hell was in charge. Beating the Eagles in the opener was the goal; validating the Adidas campaign wasn’t. If Griffin wasn’t interested or able to run the offense they asked him to run, so be it. Start Kirk. If the owner didn’t like it, Mike should’ve told him to fire him.
Instead, Shanahan allowed himself to get run over and then defended himself in a cowardly way. Armed with a phone, he leaked his quarterback and owner under a bus instead of manning up and solving the problem by addressing them eye to eye...man to still-growing men.
January 6, 2013 was a day that began so bright and bullish. Amazingly, one year later, things are bleak and bearish....once again.
Here we go again. Another new beginning with a splashy offseason to hype all that is shiny and new. Gruden, Cowher, the RG3-Briles reunion….it’ll be a show I’m sure. More on that in a moment.
So much for the owner’s declaration last year….”we’re in good hands with Mike and Bruce”. As it turns out, at least two of those hands weren’t used for much good. Mike Shanahan should’ve used one of his hands to massage and stroke his star quarterback into feeling good about his commanding officer. The other one should’ve been used to yank the owner away from his star quarterback. Instead, he used one hand to wave a white flag and the other to call Adam Schefter and Dan Graziano. What an utter S-show this place is.
Back to the shiny and new. It won’t be an easy hire. For starters, this organization is perceived and justifiably so as toxic. It’s not the job most quality NFL men have as #1 on their list. With that said, the money is good and the overall football situation isn’t as bad as many have made it out to be.
It was much worse four years ago. Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato’s final 2009 roster included an incredible 55 players who are no longer in the NFL. That includes players who were on IR and the Practice Squad at the end of that season but still, 55 players on one team no longer playing professional football a mere 4 years later. Wow, that was a true "cupboard is bare" situation. Throw in the miserable cap situation at the end of that year and if it wasn’t clear then, it should be now….they left the place in shambles.
While Shanahan isn’t leaving a roster full of superstars, there is an attractive young nucleus of Griffin, Morris, Garcon, Reed and Williams on offense with at least a couple of legit players/intriguing prospects on defense (see Kerrigan, Cofield, Amerson and Jenkins). There are others like Thomas, Crawford, and Thompson that may prove to be impactful but haven’t had the chance because of injuries and a few more like Hankerson, Riley, Baker, and Bowen that have showed occasional promise.
As far as draft picks, after one more RG3 first-rounder goes to St. Louis this year, they’ve got all of them after that. In terms of cap space, they’ll have more room under the cap than every team in the NFC except Chicago with roughly $28 million to spend if they choose to. Add to that, Shanahan will leave a roster full of team-friendly contracts. Don't underestimate the importance of that to a prosepective new coach. It's a major plus that there won't be any Albert Haynesworth or D-Hall 400-pound contracts sitting on the chest of the new coach when he gets here. For those that have written and spoken about how Shanahan has left the “football” situation in worse shape than Zorn, it’s not even remotely close to true. The toxicity of the place aside, the “football” situation should be viewed as a potential quick fix with just a few solid moves.
It gets old trying to figure out the best course of action for this group but assuming Bruce Allen is staying, I’d like to see him be given the authority to hire a new personnel director and new coach. It would be nice if both were good, got along, and had compatible philosophies on the type of players they desire. Allen could continue to handle contract and cap management along with Eric Schaffer.
As far as the new coach goes, Allen’s top priority should be to find someone capable of molding Griffin into a top-flight NFL quarterback on the field while also nimble enough to deal with everything that comes with a still-maturing Griffin off it. I'd also prefer someone who understands how to manage the clock. This is the one area you could compare Shanahan to Zorn. Both seemed confused on how to do it and apparently too insecure to admit they needed help.
After the seedy drama of the last few weeks, answers to the coach question are around the corner. After that, their typical splashy offseason marketing machine will motor through the months of March, April, and May at warp speed. And then after all of that, the answer to the most important question will have to wait. Maybe it takes a year, perhaps 2 to 3. The most important question when all of the BS smoke of the last month clears is this....do they have a franchise quarterback or not?
The Redskins lost 27-26 in Atlanta on Sunday, but is it possible to lose a sixth straight game and win at the same time?? Hypothetically, yes. In reality, no but in the overall short and long term view - it is pretty clear they did.
Let's take a look. We will start with the cold harsh reality first.
**The Redskins dropped their sixth straight game and dropped to (3-11). Clearly, that's the bottom line.
**Washington turned the ball over SEVEN (7) times in the contest. According to ESPN stats and Information, they had not turned the ball over that many times since Week 2 of the 2004 season against the Giants.
**The Redskins seven turnovers on Sunday, were the most by any team in any one game this season. They had five lost fumbles, a stat that is best illustrated by the fact that no team in any game had lost more than three fumbles in a game all year.
According to ourpal, John Keim of ESPN.com and ESPN980- "They've turned the ball over 29 times, leading to 88 points -- the offense has scored just 74 points off turnovers. Last year, the Redskins turned it over 14 times and allowed just 51 points -- while scoring 113 points off opponent turnovers. That margin was third best in the NFL. In the past two seasons there have been 30 teams that have scored more points off turnovers than they've allowed; 22 have had winning records."
***Another game, another special teams debacle. I thought Santana Moss was interfered with after he called for the fair catch, the gunner for the Falcons contacted Moss in a leg-whip type motion but clearly the Redskins lost that argument.
**The Redskins special teams coverage was very good (for them) allowing four kickoff returns for 78 yards (4-78, 19.5) and three punt returns for 25 yards (3-25,8.3). The averages are a little deceiving, but again - you will take it. The number that continues to stand out to me is this. Washington had no kick returns because of six touchbacks. Kai Forbath, while connecting on (2-2) field goals in the 2nd quarter, had only one touchback in five opportunities. That's only second touchback on a kickoff since the Redskins were in Denver on October 27th. YIKES.
***The Redskins defense had a poor start. They yielded a touchdown on the Falcons opening drive, because they could not get off the field on third down. Atlanta had a 14 play, 83 yard drive capped off by a Steven Jackson 3-yard touchdown. He completely trucked Josh Wilson at the goal-line for the score. Jim Haslett's defense allowed conversions of 3rd/6, 3rd/10 and 3rd/3. Twice on the drive, the Redskins had a chance to sack Matt Ryan and missed.
***Washington's first offensive drive was just as shaky as their defensive counterpart, as Cousins was blasted on two stretch play-action fakes and then sacked by Osi Umenyiora who beat Trent Williams on a 3rd/10 for a sack and forced fumble.
***The Redskins third-quarter wasn't much to see, as they had 13 net yards of offense on ten offensive plays. Alfred Morris was (2-6) and Kirk Cousins was (3-8, 7, INT) and the offense was (0-3) on third down.
***As good as Cousins was overall, he had two bad interceptions. He took the blame, both were in-cut dig routes and he led both of his targets too far. Kirk sees something and rips it. Coaches will live with those mistakes. One coach told me Sunday that they have no problems with those mistakes and this is what they love about Cousins. "He'll see it and rip it" which is what they prefer over a more conservative approach.
Now the good side.
***Nobody suffered any major injuries, which is of extreme importance especially when playing out the schedule. Trent Williams and Darrel Young battled injuries with Williams leaving and returning. Young had a setback, and sat out the entire 2nd half plus the end of the 2nd quarter.
***The Redskins defense could not get off the field early, but was terrific afterwards from Brian Orakpo to Chris Baker to Perry Riley and Ryan Kerrigan. The loudly booed DeAngelo Hall continued his very good year and I thought David Amerson was pretty active.
***While the Redskins loss solidified their # 2 pick status which is heading to St. Louis - it is important to recognize that they are also in position to have the # 34 overall pick in the second round and subsequently high picks in every round, which makes it a lot easier to jump into the bottom part of the preceding round.
***What I am trying to get at is this: If a player the Redskins really like is still on the board at say for example # 30 ...It's very possible the Redskins could get a first round pick after-all and move up a couple of spots while surrendering their high 2nd round pick and another late round pick.
**The Redskins moved the football very well against a young secondary and a bad defense. Sure, this is all true. However, to say that is the main factor in success is preposterous. They had their third highest net yards total all year, and their highest passing output of the season. Imagine if they actually had any success in the third quarter??
Without being overly critical here, the Redskins offense as a whole struggled mightily against Philadelphia in both games for long stretches, and was largely invisible against a putrid Dallas defense in the 2nd half. Not to mention, a Denver defense that was in the bottom three in the league against the pass. In Minnesota, they had some really good drives and first half success, but left 10-14 points dangling at the one-yard line. The Giants offense looked like the '85 Bears in the last 2 + quarters and Kansas City which had been torched in three consecutive weeks by Peyton Manning (twice) and Phillip Rivers looked like the Ravens in the early part of this century. Sorry this is the reality of the situation, and not some kind of hateful agenda as I have been accused many times of.
***Let's get one thing straight. Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan certainly have an agenda. There is no doubt about that. However, and this pains me to say - the decision was warranted in my opinion (based on performance) and justified largely by Kirk Cousins success. Sure, he was far from perfect - but one has to wonder how Robert Griffin III would have fared Sunday. Robert probably would have put up big numbers as well, but I just can't say that for sure because of the stunning lack of success throughout the year against bad defensive groups.
***The Redskins offensive line which was allegedly so putrid all year long, did have a very poor start but rebounded strongly after the first series. They only allowed one sack and three quarterback hits according to the NFL generated game statistics.
By my count, that occurred all on the first drive. When you pass the ball 45 times and run 67 plays, you take that production any day of the week.
***Despite the turnovers (two purely on Cousins), "Captain" Kirk made the decision at least defensible, if not completely justified. Again, Robert Griffin III was benched for protection according to the public record, but privately it was all about the lack of performance and Cousins did what the Redskins staff asked him to do. As one team source said to me late last week "You'll see what we see every day" and certainly Cousins ability to move the offense and get rid of the football quickly was on display. Redskins coaches felt very confident the hits and sacks that Mike Shanahan gave as a public reasoning would not happen to Cousins, and they were proven right. We'll see what happens Sunday against Dallas.
**The final reason why the Redskins won on Sunday is what Mike Shanahan strongly alluded to many times on Monday. He wanted to send a message to Robert Griffin III and Dan Snyder that Kirk Cousins is for real and Griffin has to work his butt off to get better. He has no excuses, none at all. A super motivated Griffin III will be determined to prove everyone wrong.
"The thing that you want on your football team is you want competition – legitimate competition. The better players you have, the more people compete. When you look behind your shoulder and you know that guy is pretty good, that makes you work a little bit harder in the offseason," Shanahan said.
You can read that any way you want, but the way any reasonable mind has to clearly interpret that is Griffin III did a great job rehabbing himself last year BUT now he has to rehab his inconsistent play. Benching Griffin was and is a multi-layered and very involved message. It's not JUST about protection. It's about motivation.
I have no doubt that Robert will get much better. I do worry about having to learn a new system, if that is indeed what happens.
Regardless of who the coach is, Shanahan is saying Griffin III has to stay away from everything but football.
Before you hate, I would also point out that Shanahan has to stop the implosions on his end. Enough already, for the love of humanity.Just zip it. If both sides would have been more reasonable, the Redskins would not be in divorce court.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com -- www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Atlanta Falcons are (3-10) and yet barely a peep. Does anybody even know they exist to be honest? The Washington Redskins are (3-10) and they make so much noise you'd swear they have a military jet strapped to their decaying carcass.
By now you know that it has been a extremely grueling season for many reasons, and has been a complete nightmare from head to toe for the coaching staff, players and even most of us in the media. Some revel in dysfunction, I abhor it. Just can't deal with it properly. Five years of this nonsense has taken a toll and then some on my personal life for sure.
It got even crazier on Wednesday as Robert Griffin III was benched for the rest of the year with Kirk Cousins set to start on Sunday against those very quiet and calm Falcons. Naturally, reaction poured in along with analysis and opinions. It always does. Nothing like a good old quarterback controversy.
The most interesting comments came from ESPN's Steve Young who played for Mike Shanahan and often credits Shanahan for a large part of his success
Very interesting comments indeed, and certainly indicates that either Young has been watching a lot of Redskins tape or Young's opinion and thoughts were garnered via conversations he's had, presumably with Shanahan. My take? Young is saying Griffin III did not play well enough to keep playing.
Young on ESPN's NFL Live described some of the challenges of young quarterbacks and NFL offenses, with a partial focus on Shanahan. "They have five receivers go out, but they're only throwing to two, or one even, and that's a lot easier for young players," Young said. "Mike asks a lot and if he doesn't get it, he's the kind of guy who says, ‘Well, let's bring the next guy. I want to take a look,' even with what that means on the team, the city, the organization, everything. It doesn't matter. 'I want quarterbacks who are performing and performing well.' "
Young added "I know him (Shanahan) well," Young said. "He gives very little tolerance for quarterbacks -- including me, John Elway, whoever else is playing -- if you're not playing well and you're not preparing to throw to five receivers every play. He puts quarterbacks in position to have to read sideline to sideline. That's a huge task for young players, and he wants guys that are willing to go work that out and play well. If you're not going to play well he's going to find someone else."
OK then. Sounds like Mr. Young is still very much in support of Mr. Shanahan in this matter.
Then there's John Madden who said, "I mean, you know it's baloney" , on SIRIUSXMRadio Wednesday. “I like Mike Shanahan, and I’m not talking behind his back, but when you say something like that, you know that’s not right — you’re not going to sacrifice regular season games. There’s only 16 of them a year. You’re not going to sacrifice regular season games for an offseason program. I know that part of it was he wasn’t healthy last offseason and that really hurt him, so it would be good if he were healthy this offseason. I believe that. There’s some truth to that."
ESPN's Adam Schefter weighed in on ESPN 980 on his thoughts "He wants to go see Kirk Cousins play. In my dealing with him this week, I did not get the sense at all that this was some sort of message over, veiled, however you want to categorize it at Dan Snyder. I think it's pretty clear how the two feel about each other. I don't think they need to do anything more. I think everybody agrees the Redskins are not keeping Mike Shanahan. Correct? So why does he have to do that? I think we're past that. To me this is something that I think he feels this is something in the best interests of the team moving forward. That's my sense of having spoken to him this week," Schefter said on Wednesday.
Kevin Sheehan then asked if it was possible that Shanahan is directing the message at Robert Griffin III? Schefter hesitated and paused noticeably, before answering "Again, I'm not telling you it can't be. In this case, there is so much going on. there are so many different dynamics, I don't think it's directed at the quarterback so much as this is just what he wants to do right now. For everybody's sake. Period."
You can listen to the entire interview here, but listen closely as Schefter delves into the 'real reasons' for Mike Shahanan's decision. Again, this is a decision about poor performance as much if not significantly more than protection.
McNabb continued, “Mike and Kyle Shanahan trying to show why they feel like Kirk Cousins gives them the best chance of winning. So many things have leaked out, and I’ve always kept my ear on things that are happening with the Washington Redskins, teams that I’ve played with. And when you hear reporters that I know are linked to Mike Shanahan talk about [RGIII’s] preparation, you talk about he’s missing some reads, you know, he’s not reading some things. And I knew that he was big on having Kirk Cousins to get out there and run the offense.”
So you see, it's business as usual here at Redskins Park. Feel free to move on with your daily lives. Only Kyle Shanahan speaks on Thursday for the first time - so things should be much more ummm calm?
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Mike Shanahan gave his reasons over and over for benching Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season on Monday before he made the move and then again on Wednesday after making it official. He didn't however give what I believe to be the real reason.
Griffin III will not play again in 2013, nor is he expected to even dress as a backup. Rex Grossman is scheduled to be Kirk Cousins backup and be active for the first time this year.
Shanahan's rationale makes some level of sense. The timing and the plausibility of it is (as usual) hard to fully grasp. He said he consulted with Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen as early as last week after the Giants Sunday night game and before the Chiefs loss.
"Anytime you’re hit as many times as he’s been hit, I thought it was in his best interest, the organization’s, to talk about if we should continue playing Robert if he’s hit as many times as he’s been hit," Shanahan told the assembled media.
"Dan [Snyder] thought about it and talked to Bruce [Allen] about it, and at the end of the day we felt that the best thing to do for Robert was to not play him – give Kirk an opportunity to play – so he could go into an offseason healthy. Any time you miss an offseason in the National Football League it does set you back quite a bit, and we thought going into this offseason [after] missing last year, that this was the best way to do it."
OK that seems fair. The offensive unit has been sacked 25 times in the five game losing streak. That obviously doesn't count the quarterback hits that Shanahan more specifically cited as the thing he looked at more.
Griffin III missing last off-season was absolutely a crucial blow to his development. One that he probably never recovered from. Surely, there is nothing better than live game reps and perhaps 13 games with no pre-season was enough in the regime's eyes. The Redskins had 901 total plays, with 456 passing attempts. That means he had more passing attempts in 2013 than his rookie year of 2012 in two fewer games. I suppose the amount of passing plays at least gives a convenient statistic for the reasoning.
This move, provided Griffin III does not get injured during practice at some point the rest of the season, clearly ensures that Griffin III will be able to participate in the off-season program. The problem is he will likely have to spend more time bonding with a new coach and learning new terminology, than he will being able to get better on the field.
Lots has been made about the real motives behind the benching. Was it a ploy by Shanahan to get fired? Possibly. Was it a move to show who is boss one more time? Probably. Was it designed to hurt Griffin's development for the future? I don't know about that. It honestly is hard for me to think that Shanahan would be that hard-core.
However, I strongly believe the real reason has not been getting enough play. I tweeted this on Wednesday morning before the press conferences and still remain convinced of this. Mike Shanahan benched Robert Griffin III because he was not very good this year. He was awful at times. Poor at others. Mediocre at times. Good on a couple of occasions.
Bottom line, he was nowhere close to the quarterback he was last year, and that had little to do with read-option or play-calls or anything like that. Griffin III needed to be a lot better for this team to have a chance and he wasn't. It's OK. Players have bad years, and they have great years. He's probably somewhere in between, with the needle more on the positive.
I believe this to be true with everything I have. Mike Shanahan won't say it because he rarely crushes players in public. This decision was made because Mike and Kyle Shanahan amongst many reasons believe that Kirk Cousins is better off running their offense in practice and in games, and he has earned that right.
They can deny it all they want, but the numbers and missed targets tell a completely different story. Every week, targets are running free and are missed. Take for instance, Griffin III's final interception of the year. Chris Cooley explained to me on our "Monday Morning Redskins Roundup" show on Redskins.com that Logan Paulsen was Griffin's number one read and choice. Paulsen was running free and clear in the left flat. Griffin either did not see him or for whatever reason didn't make the throw and instead threw to his # 2 target on the play, Pierre Garcon. Garcon ran a slant route that was jumped by Derrick Johnson. Easy interception. Bad read. Bad everything. A 21-yard touchdown by Dwayne Bowe was the ensuing result, because the defense was put in a brutal position.
This is the kind of mistake that has been happening several times a game, and just can not continue to happen on a team that doesn't have a great defense and has a horrific special teams unit.
Here's the rub though, The Redskins traded the world for Griffin III and invested so heavily in the quarterback position last year that it cost them a 2012 # 6 (1st), # 39 (2nd), # 102 (4th,Cousins), along with a 2013 # 22 (which St. Louis traded to Atlanta) and what right now is a 2014 # 2 overall pick. That's an enormous bill for one position. A simply ridiculous bill.
You have to put more of the onus and expectation on that one position. You have no choice. If you want to be a franchise quarterback and the franchise pays a kings ransom for you, a lot more is going to be expected out of you. Perhaps too much was expected, but that's the way the world works.
Again, the message should have been made clearer, but Mike Shanahan did answer it in this way when I asked the question about the decision being more performance driven than protection based. “I understand what direction you’re trying to take this, but I’m honestly trying to tell you, man-to-man, we made a decision that I think is the best for Robert."
No doubt, health is a very good thing for Robert Griffin III. However, every explanation must be taken with a grain of salt and I believe this is a case where the lack of production is the real reason.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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.