Few NFL fanbases have as many smart talented beat writers as the Washington Redskins. Either through sheer luck our good fortune, the fans lucked into a group that doesn’t kiss butt, but also presents criticism in a fair and balanced manner. Sports reporting can often be all about hot takes and not the actual sport. When a beat guy it’s timing plays on a stopwatch, that’s dedication.
Unfortunately, there’s always a couple bad apples that spoil the bunch. Washington Post columnist Jason Reid isn’t as cartoonishly heelish as his co-worker Mike Wise, but he is known to fall into the same click baity foolishness that Wise indulges in. And so often it’s targeted at young star players, like John Wall, who didn’t deserve max money because of his tattoos. (No, seriously. That was the basis of a whole article.)
Now he’s started in on Robert Griffin III, and the results are just as baffling, scattered brained and poorly sourced as anything Peter King has written. Let’s go on a journey through this, shall we?
Even during Griffin’s electric rookie season, some within the organization and others close to it raised concerns about Griffin displaying a know-it-all attitude.
Straight away we run into our first vaguely worded “inside info”. We live in an age where anyone can say anything anonymously to defame anyone and it didn’t matter. But even here, did you notice there’s no direct quotes to back this up? No sort of insight into who said this?
Was it a bitter ex-coach? A front office member? A scout? The secretary? An equipment manager? His mailman? Grumpy Cat? Who knows. It’s just some people.
It’s likely the same people who fed Sally Jenkins her lines in October of 2013, back when Mike Shanahan was just starting to pull an Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale on the team.
Where is that fresh kid with the unbeatable combination of modesty and limitlessness? In his place is a player who’s coming off as an unteachable know-it-all.
Interesting. Jenkins doesn’t come right out and say someone on the team says he’s s know-it-all, but Jenkins and Reid both drop this nugget in the same manner; out of nowhere and with no.sources or facts to back it up. And all sounding like it comes from the same bitter source.
Back to Reid’s article.
We know what happened next: Emboldened by his success, Griffin pushed for changes in the offense he was not ready to execute.
This statement is problematic for a couple reasons. For one, it ignores the fact that RGIII was recovering from a torn ACL in 2013, which didn’t help him in his growth.
It also puts all the onus for getting better squarely on RGIII’s shoulders. I wrote about how RGIII’s mechanics got worse in his sophomore season at HTTR24-7. RGIII’s pre-draft QB coach Terru Shea remarked that the Shanahans had “dropped the ball on his footwork and fundamentals”.
This, combined with Shanahan essentially skipping crucial stages of his development, and a lack of trust after Kyle Shanahan continued calling read-option plays after Griffin initially hurt his knee, are why Griffin pushed for change, not simply because he was a hard-headed know it all.
The elder Shanahan was so frustrated about Griffin’s hardheadedness — and too tired to fight with other high-ranking team decision-makers about Griffin — he followed the fire-me playbook and got out of Washington while collecting the final $7 million on his contract.
Is this the part where we feel sorry for the head coach that finished his Redskins tenure with a 24-40 record, and was ready to quit even after his team won the division? Spare me if I’m not crying because Shanahan got frustrated that someone wasn’t willing to deal with his “my way or the highway” approach.
Whenever new Coach Jay Gruden speaks, Griffin listens. Although Griffin finally wised up and again became receptive to coaching, he still needs more help than Gruden, who is responsible for the entire team, has time to provide.
That was evident on the first day of training camp, when Griffin separated himself from everyone else on the field by wearing a black sock and a black cleat and a white sock and a white cleat.
I’m sorry…what!? Am I the only one who thinks these two paragraphs don’t go together? Gruden is responsible for the whole team, so he can’t closely monitor Griffin’s sock choices?
Actually, why are we talking about socks. Not a game, but socks. What does this have to do with anything?
Griffin explained it was something he has done since college to represent the “yin and the yang. White and black working together. We’re all brothers. We’re doing it together.” Okay. Whatever.
First, context is important. Here’s what Griffin actually sounded like answering the question about the cleats and socks.
Does that sound like an entirely serious, deep answer to you?
Second, we’re talking about socks! This has no relevance to the team. RGIII has always done the sock thing. It’s never been an issue. Why is this a thing now, unless you’re trying to mangle this into a larger narrative…
But Griffin’s ineffectiveness and feud with the Shanahans led to the relationship being detonated. How could Griffin think it would be a good idea to stand out from his teammates on a day that marked a new beginning for the group?
What does RGIII’s feud with the Shanahans have to do with wearing different colored socks and cleats. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No teammates complained, no coaches complained. It was a quirky camp tidbit, not a reason Griffin needs to grow up. This is worse that the Patriots blogger who didn’t like DeAngelo Hall and DeSean Jackson wearing their college numbers in practice. Not a game! Practice.
And Griffin’s insistence on clinging to his college days is tripping him up in the pros.
A small training camp indulgence is an example of Griffin clinging to his college days. This is getting ridiculous.
Often, while he bristles at questions about his subpar preseason performance, Griffin points to his success at Baylor as proof he’s headed for a long, outstanding career. Griffin seems to forget he directed a spread offense at Baylor. Gruden’s offense features complex route concepts and requires quarterbacks to make quick decisions and throw in anticipation of receivers being open. Griffin’s history at Baylor won’t help him master what Gruden is demanding of him.
Griffin’s offense at Baylor isn’t much different than the spread offense Gruden’s first QB, Andy Dalton ran at TCU, on a fundamental level. The difference being that Gruden aided Dalton’s transition by immediately implementing the core principles of the West Coast Offense, while also bringing in familiar concepts and ideas.
As I’ve written before, Griffin didn’t have that luxury. He’s starting from scratch. But still, Gruden’s offense is still closer to Baylor’s then Kyle’s will ever be. And Gruden’s willingness to try to adjust to RGIII makes a big difference.
Also, we got to this tortured “let go of the past” stuff because of socks. Did the Post’s editor go on vacation before this was written?
There’s nothing wrong with having fond memories — but memories don’t pay bills. If Griffin truly wants to reach the highest level of the sport, as he claims, being rooted in the present is the only way to roll.
BACK AWAY FROM THE SOCKS, GRIFFIN! CLEARLY YOUR GROWTH IS BEING STUNTED BY THEM! MAKE LIKE ELSA AND LET IT GO! CONCEAL, DON’T FEEL!
That brings me to another of Griffin’s favorite pastimes: social media. Griffin is a 24-year-old athlete who became a star in the age of social media. It would be surprising if he didn’t use the platform to reach his fans. But enough already. Griffin promotes his brand on social media so much, you wonder whether he has time to do anything else.
There is a legit argument to be made that, at times, Griffin indulges to deeply in social media. But Reid doesn’t pull examples of why it’s bad, and only says that he promotes his brand too. Examples, Reid. Why is it bad? Is it because he’s promoting the socks?
Griffin is still young, and still learning that ESPN will literally report on anything he tweets. But that’s part of his charm; he’s been one of the most honest and open athletes in sports, until recently. Now Griff is as tight lipped as any QB, and everything he says it coach speak. Twitter may be the last place the real Robert Griffin III exists.
That’s not to suggest Griffin slacks off in the film room.
This back pedal would wow scouts at the combine.
It’s just that Griffin seems to crave the spotlight. That’s not a good look for someone teammates look to for stability. If Griffin eventually becomes one of the game’s top quarterbacks, he’ll get the attention he deserves.
The idea that you can only get attention if you “deserve” or “earn” it is bothersome, because the goal post always move. If you don’t deserve attention after winning the Heisman, or after leading a bad team to the playoffs, or after being rookie of the year, when do you deserve it?
A good mentor could teach Griffin much of what he lacks. Luckily for Griffin, the ideal person for the job works in the same office. Doug Williams, who rejoined the franchise in February as a personnel executive, saw it all during a nine-year NFL career. (He also played two seasons in the defunct USFL.) Much like Griffin, Williams experienced difficult times after he was a first-round draft pick who shouldered the hopes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers long ago. Williams reached the top with Washington, leading it to the 1987 Super Bowl title.
The former Super Bowl MVP’s office door is always open. Griffin, however, hasn’t walked through it nearly enough, people in the organization say. If Griffin is as smart as he sometimes appears to be, he’ll reach out to Williams, who knows what Griffin must do to develop into the leader Washington needs him to become.
This skips over large parts of Doug Williams career, including Tampa refusing to pay Williams after leading them to the playoffs, and the fact that Williams was better coming off the bench, and eventually lost his job to Mark Rypien.
No one can deny Williams accomplishments entirely, but Williams didn’t exist in today’s 24-7 news cycle, wherein things like your sock choices can be scrutinized as much as your play on the field, or your skin color. When Doug Williams played, ESPN was in it’s infancy and the internet wasn’t a thing. Williams could impart some wisdom on Griffin, but how much could he understand in return of the demands of being young, black, charismatic, and scrutinized in this day in age?
And once again, Reid relies on unsourced, unquoted info as the foundation of his broader point, either not understanding or undermining his idea all together. What high ranking official, or veteran teammate, is going to go to Jason Reid of all people?
That they don’t put their name out in public, or even allow themselves to be directly quoted, tells you ask you need to know about these “sources”.
After giving up four high-round picks for the pick to draft Griffin, Washington is starting all over again with him entering his third season. There’s still time for Griffin to get it right, but he has a lot of work to do and it’s getting late.
I’m sorry Mr. Reid, but I remain unconvinced. Nothing you have suggested here ties into your overall message, which is supposed to be about how Griffin needs to grow.
Pieces like this suck. Unresearched, barely quoted, and unable to dwell on any one thought for too long, because there is no meat. Reid is gnawing on the bone, searching for marrow, and there is none.
Because ultimately this piece isn’t about Griffin. It’s about grabbing eyeballs. It’s about getting you to click, get outraged, and tell him on Twitter, all while the Post gets your ad revenue and Reid collects a paycheck for little wirk.
This is sports writing in the world today; enrage today, claim your check tomorrow, and leave fans in the dark and craving actual information. And I do say, all of us are worse off for it.