NFL Unfiltered Week 3: Is Robert Griffin III the cause of his own downfall?
The Washington Redskins are 0-3 and tied for last place in the NFC East after a 27-20 home loss to the Detroit Lions. Their embattled head coach, Mike Shanahan, is unquestionably one of the reasons why.
Clearly, Shanahan is too reliant on quarterback Robert Griffin III’s running prowess and is allowing the love of his son—offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan—to cloud his judgment. If that were not enough, he remains committed to defensive coordinator Jim Haslett despite the team ranking in the bottom third in points allowed in each of the last three seasons.
Still, there is another figure in D.C. even more responsible than Shanahan for the Redskins’ demise- quarterback Robert Griffin III.
That is likely an unpopular opinion, but it has merit.
When we think of selfish players, we often think of former NFL standout Terrell Owens because we believe he placed himself above his team. We believe former Bengals’ receiver Chad Johnson found more pleasure in buffoonery than winning football games.
However, selfishness isn’t always so apparent. Sometimes it’s hard to see the diva in a player because he receives constant praise from the media and generally looks like a good guy. Yet if you pay attention to RGIII’s actions, you realize he is every bit as petulant as T.O. once was.
Who demanded he start and continue playing in last season’s playoff game against the Seahawks, even with an obvious limp? Who decided to tell the world his plan to start the opener versus the Eagles, despite the fact he had a full knee reconstruction? Whose rehabilitation became an ESPN documentary? Can you really blame Shanahan for losing control of this circus?
Nevertheless, it will take an act of Congress before scribes tell the truth about Griffin III because his charisma and mega-watt smile make him difficult to criticize.
Unlike the Panthers’ Cam Newton, RGIII never dealt with a pay for play scandal in college and he does not come across as surly as the Jets’ Geno Smith. Yet every time RGIII speaks, he reminds us he is a part of the problem instead of the solution.
Most recently, he made a point to explain his versatility as a leader. He wanted us to know he prefers to lead by example but is capable of boisterous acts of guidance should the need arise. Why bother to share that with us? Is he that uncomfortable in his own skin?
Regardless, it is clear RGIII is full of hubris.
In my view, backup Kirk Cousins beats the Lions this past Sunday and perhaps the Eagles in game one had he began the season as the starter. At the very least, Cousins spent the entire offseason developing a rapport with his teammates, which lends itself to rhythm and continuity- two things the Redskins’ offense currently lacks. Now, it’s too late.
To anyone paying attention, RGIII is no longer a novelty. He isn’t one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the league anymore, and it’s primarily his own fault.
Not that anyone notices.
THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 3
-It’s still my contention Chip Kelly is a college coach at heart. The Eagles had better hope USC and Texas look for a head coach elsewhere at season’s end.
-Andy Reid failed to bring Philadelphia a Super Bowl title and deserves criticism for his failures. However, his single-minded pursuit probably cost him a son.
-Now we know why Oregon struggled against SEC teams and Stanford. Those schools have terrific athletes on defense, just like the Kansas City Chiefs.
-Speaking of the Chiefs, there is nothing sexy about quarterback Alex Smith’s play, but a good coach can win football games with him.
-Reggie Bush is a nice acquisition, but the Detroit Lions are still disadvantaged in every game because of coaching and intelligence.
-Apparently, RGIII must play every snap like it’s his last. His 2nd quarter interception inside the Lions’ 20-yard line is the kind of decision a quarterback makes when he only cares about himself.
-In another example of how one poor 1st round draft choice sets a team back, the 49ers selected wide receiver A.J. Jenkins with the 30th pick in 2012. It took one season and two training camps before realizing he couldn’t play. Consequently, they traded him to the Chiefs. Unless the front office corrects this mistake, Colin Kaepernick is going to play like he has the last two games.
-Hostilities among teammates and/or coaches on the sidelines are an overblown storyline. Keep in mind, Buddy Ryan threw a punch at Kevin Gilbride during a game the Oilers won 24-0 to conclude a 12-4 season.
-History shows Pete Carroll’s cheerleading style isn’t sustainable in NFL locker rooms.
-Tim Tebow isn’t a good NFL quarterback, but he’s interesting, which cannot be said about Chad Henne, Christian Ponder, Terrelle Pryor or Jake Locker. By the way, those four aren’t NFL quarterbacks, either.
-Over the last sixteen years, haven’t we exhausted the “Peyton Manning looks unstoppable” regular season narrative? His playoff performances are no secret and the Super Bowl (assuming the Broncos advance that far) is in New Jersey, so let’s all slow down.
Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.
Contact Earl at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII
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RG III photo: nfl.si.com
Chip Kelly photo: CBSSports.com