The End of Robert Griffin III

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How the hell did we get here?

It’s tough sometimes to think that it was only four years ago that Robert Griffin III was the prince of Washington, DC. There was hardly an athlete more beloved, more revered, and more readily embraced by a fan base desperate for change. For a savior. For someone, anyone to pull them into football relevancy and, perhaps, finally get them back to the promise land.

How did we get from that, to people openly decreeing that they can’t wait until he leaves, and that they hope he takes anyone who dares talk about that electrifying 2012 season with them?

Four years ago, Robert Griffin III left an ACL on the battle ravaged, painted green dirt of FedEx Field. That moment — Griffin, in a heap, while millions at home had been screaming all day for then head coach Mike Shanahan to pull him out — is the moment when everything changed. The moment the savior became fallible, and the selfish sought to cover their own backsides, and the fans began to pin decades of frustration, anger and anguish on him.

You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. Griffin’s fall has been recapped over and over, but it always positions him as the architect of his own downfall. He was done in by his own ego, the story goes. He figured that he knew it all, that those around him knew nothing. He was weird, too quiet. He spent too much time in the weight room, not enough in the film room. He was too close to ownership, he was the product of a “gimmick”, flash in the pan offense that he needed to develop out of and yet needs in he’s to have a career going forward.

The blame, it goes, falls squarely on Griffin’s shoulders.

RGIII went from GOAT to goat in four short years. How? Continue reading

Report: Washington Redskins Will Keep Robert Griffin III, Are Slowly Trying to Destroy Your Sanity

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…This make no sense.

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Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins Need To Part Ways. Soon.

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That’s where it’s all going, right?

The Washington Redskins are no strangers to dysfunction. Hell, at this point, their dysfunction is so dysfunctional, teams like the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders would be totally within their rights to point out how out wack they are.

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Robert Griffin III Says a Thing, Content Starved Morons Twist His Words #Redskins

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That Robert Griffin III gets huge press when he speaks isn’t surprising. This has been the pattern for Griffin since his Heisman year at Baylor; RGIII is big business. He generates intense reactions and big media traffic and is a huge draw in a blogosphere that is competing with an ever increasing number of other sites.  When you have to crank out content, an easy attention grabber like Griffin saying anything that be considered controversial is easy money.
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Kirk Cousins, EJ Manuel, and Why Bad Quarterbacks Keep Getting Starting Jobs

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The Kirk Cousins Error is over as quickly as it started. (Yes, I spelled that correctly). Jay Gruden has confirmed that Robert Griffin III, not Cousins, will re-assume the controls as soon as he is mentally and physically ready.

It has not been a good audition for Captain Kirk. Cousins has thrown 7 picks in his last 3 starts. How he managed to avoid getting picked off versus Seattle is a mystery, but four picks versus the Giants and three versus the Cardinals would kill any talk of him being a better fit for the Redskins offense. No one who has turned the ball over 17 times in 8 starts should be the starter if it can be helped.

And it’s not just that Kirk has thrown a lot of interceptions. It’s when he throws them; in the clutch, when you have to have your best players make plays. It’s been that way since he was a rookie; he threw back to back picks in a winnable game versus Atlanta. Versus Denver in 2013, again in relief of Griffin, he threw two forth quarter picks, including a pick six. He threw 5 picks in 3 games as the starter and had a fumble. His passer rating was a 58.4, which ranked him in the bottom of the league amongst qualifying QBs. His interceptions this season have all come in the second half, and his stats worsen as the game goes on. His passer rating just on third down is an astounding 39.8; that’s 20 points lower than any other qualifying passer. His second half quarterback rating is 63.9, which is worse than everyone but Chad Henne.

Why, oh why, would anyone view Kirk Cousins as a viable starter? Especially any head coach or offensive coordinator?

Because a quarterback like Kirk Cousins gives offensive coordinators what they want. Or what they think they want. The same ole tired cliches about quarterbacks that have been dying slow, painful deaths for at least a decade.

You can check off all the boxes for Kirk Cousins, at least at first glance. Good arm? Check. Quick release? Check. Good footwork? Check. Accurate? Check. Played in a “pro-style” offense in college? Check. Looks great in practice with no pass rush and no pressure to perform? Check.

Someone like Kirk Cousins is a safe option. He’s the definition of what a quarterback is. He is the default player you’d create in a video game. And thus it’s easier to fool a Jay Gruden into thinking Cousins fits his system. On paper he had a similar guy in Andy Dalton.

Someone like Robert Griffin III is rough around the edges and learning. Some days he’s up, some days he’s down. Cousins gives you the illusion of consistency.

Until he steps on the field, and you watch your team go 1-5, and all those check marks require white out. Good arm? Sure, if/when he doesn’t flip out at perceived pressure and he has a good base. Quick release? Almost too quick. So quick he doesn’t let the play develop. Accurate? Not over the middle, and not on third down. Good under pressure? Puh-lease.

It doesn’t matter how many athletes like Steve Young, and Michael Vick, Steve McNair, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton or RGIII come along. The coaches and front offices that make up the NFL have convinced themselves thay a prototype of a quarterback that continues to prove itself antiquated is the way to go. And in a league where patience is low, it provides some quarterbacks opportunity to play even when they’ve failed countless times, and others left in the dark.

Take the Bills second year quarterback EJ Manuel. Manuel had an inconsistent, injury plagued rookie season in Buffalo, but performed no worse than you’d expect any rookie to play. He had an uneven preseason in 2014, but his team was 2-2 when he was benched for veteran back up Kyle Orton.

Orton forced his way out of Dallas, then signed a two year deal that will pay him $5.5 million a year in average salary. With a number like that, it seemed all too obvious Orton would start if EJ struggled.

But again, there was the 2-2 record. The stats and the film don’t back up the idea that Manuel was a boat anchor holding the team back. Manuel posted a completion percentage over 60% in the teams two wins. Outside observers pounded EJ for settling for checkdowns and not trying to stretch the field, but nearly every time Manuel had an opportunity with one on one coverage deep down the field, he took it, often making good throws with good location. Was his accuracy occasionally squirrelly? Damn right it was. But the Bills have also been plagued by drops and lack of separation.

On top of that, Doug Marrone’s offense is predicated on short passes and utilization of their running backs Fred Jackson and C.J Spiller. When afforded the opportunity, Manuel has no problem hitting the intermediate throws.

So what gives? Who pulls a second year quarterback, 14 games into his NFL career for Kyle Orton?

Kyle Orton is the modern day Steve Deberg. He’s just good enough to get you beat. His career as a starter is a perfect 36-36. He’s thrown 86 touchdowns to 61; for every touchdown he throws, he throws 1.4 interceptions. His passer rating is 80.4. In going on ten seasons, he’s never been able to lock down a starting job.

He once lost his starting job to Tim Tebow. He couldn’t keep Rex Grossman on the bench.

You couldn’t grow a more genetically average quarterback in a laboratory.

But Orton is exactly the kind of quarterback that fools coaches. The idea of consistency is better than the idea of a young quarterback learning the position. Coaches still treat the games’ most important position as though they can throw any average guy into their system, and somehow a guy who’s never been able to elevate a team will become something he’s never been.

It’s why Kyle Orton keeps getting a job. It’s why Jay Gruden can entertain the idea that Kirk Cousins is a “better fit” than the more talented but more raw Robert Griffin III. It’s why his brother Jon went through half a dozen quarterbacks, failing to develop any young talent. It’s why Lovie Smith signed career back up Luke McCown to a pricey deal, rather than see what he has in Mike Glennon, who played well in his rookie season in the midst of Greg Schiano lighting the Bucs on fire.

It’s why Bill O’Brien rather hope Ryan Fitzpatrick morphs into a different player than draft a quarterback first overall, and why somehow Brady Quinn was signed to a team this offseason, and why the Jaguars stuck with Chad Henne despite clearly showing less than their first round quarterback in preseason, and why team after team passed up Teddy Bridgewater after a bad pro day for whatever scrap heap quarterback they had laying around.

The idea, or the illusion of consistency trumps the reality that most all of these guys are just guys. Every once in a while a Matt Schaub gives the general appearance of elite ability, only to fall off a cliff.

In today’s NFL, coaches are rarely afforded the benefit of time. All too often, it’s “win now, or get bent”. And so they’d rather play it safe, and try to win now, instead of trying to win in the future.

It shouldn’t take 1-5 with seven picks in three games to know that Griffin is a better long term bet than Cousins. Manuel gains little by sitting on the bench, while Kyle Orton has only improved the amount of yardage the offense puts up, while turning the ball over 3 times against 3 touchdowns. He’s won one (that he could’ve/should’ve lost if the Lions had a half decent kicker) and lost one.

Bad quarterbacks get starting jobs due to a dangerous combination of fear and arrogance. Fear that a younger, or rougher passer may not be consistently good, but they can turn consistently mediocre into great.

Mediocre is as mediocre does. Jay Gruden now awaits Robert Griffin III’s comeback to get to the hard work of developing him into a franchise QB, because Cousins sure as hell isn’t one. The sooner the Bills, and the league in general, learns that development of talent is actually better than casting retreads and guys who look good throwing in practice as potential franchise leaders, the better.

@JReidPost Writes Asinine Column About RGIII’s Maturity and Socks

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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.

Should Kirk Cousins Start Over Robert Griffin III

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I never got why fans disliked Joe Theismann until Saturday night. At that point I has stopped watching the Washington Redskins’ preseason game because of a Redskins Fact ad. But Twitter blew up after he said it, and it has caused a lot of reaction over the last few days.

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