Politics as usual in Washington?

President Obama with the First Dog, Bo

You know what they say, “If you want a friend in Washington…get a dog.”

That’s good advice, whether your game is politics or football. Just ask President Obama. Or Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who may have been caught up in political crossfire when he was benched this week for the season by head coach Mike Shanahan.

Shanahan claims he was motivated by concern for Griffin’s health. RGIII has been hit repeatedly each week and his performance has been nothing short of disappointing. The second overall pick in the 2012 draft, Griffin missed the entire offseason last year while recovering from knee surgery. The 2014 offseason would be the first in its entirety for RGIII to spend working with the playbook and his receivers. And Shanahan says that time is too valuable to risk.

Rational? Maybe.

But then, consider this…

A story circulated earlier this week claims Mike Shanahan wants out of Washington. That he almost quit at the end of last season. That he’s fed up with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder’s preferential treatment of his star quarterback. And that he’s interested in the Houston Texans head coaching job.

So, where was the concern for RGIII’s health last year, during the playoff game against the Seahawks? When Griffin was limping and obviously injured, before suffering that final devastating blow to his right knee?

Shanahan was loudly criticized for keeping Griffin in the game. At the time, he defended his decision-making, saying RGIII was cleared to go back in (a claim Dr. James Andrews denied). And that even hurt, the quarterback gave the Redskins the best possible chance to win.

And now? Mike Shanahan says he made the wrong decision. That he should have held Griffin out. That in retrospect, he wasn’t effective. And that he regrets it.

Shanahan won’t have to worry about the playoffs this year. At 3-10, the Redskins are in last place in the NFC East. A healthy Robert Griffin III will watch backup quarterback Kirk Cousins lead the Redskins through the remaining three games and into the offseason. What that offseason looks like for the Washington Redskins is anyone’s guess.

Money and politics make the world go round. That’s true of Washington, D.C. And the Washington Redskins.

(Photo: terezowens.com)

Sometimes, the only friends you have are the ones you buy.

Dan Snyder with Mike Shanahan  (Photo: nfl.si.com)

Redskins owner Dan Snyder with Mike Shanahan
(Photo: nfl.si.com)

And sometimes, not even then.


Fans respond to ESPN and blame Cutler…for everything.

Dear ESPN,

Congratulations! One show. One segment. One ridiculous graphic. That’s all it took to accomplish what no one else in sports has been able to…unite the entire NFL fan base behind one unlikable player.

ESPN Sports Nation (DEADSPIN)

ESPN Sports Nation (DEADSPIN)

Sports Nation had no idea the favor it was doing for the Chicago Bears quarterback when it aired a graphic asking viewers: “How much do you blame Jay Cutler for RGIII’s injury?”

Fans reacted on Twitter with the hashtag #BlameJayCutler, pinning everything from global warming to bad grades on the notorious sourpuss quarterback.

Here are a few of my favorites:

So, just so there’s no misunderstanding…No. We do not. Blame Jay Cutler. For RGIII’s injury.

At all.

P.S. Cutty says, “Thanks!”



Kneedless surgery for RGIII?

Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III is helped off the field (AP-Patrick Semansky)

Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III is helped off the field
(AP-Patrick Semansky)

It was with great discomfort that I watched Robert Griffin III limp his way through the Redskins – Seahawks game at FedEx Field on Sunday night. The Washington Redskins quarterback had injured the same knee earlier in the season (and in college) and had obviously aggravated it during the first quarter of the game. As the clock ticked down, I was shocked every time Griffin came off the field…only to return immediately.

Yes, it was a playoff game. But RGIII was obviously hurt. And he wasn’t helping his team at that point either. And the Redskins had a competent backup quarterback in Kirk Cousins. Competent and healthy.

As discomfort turned to anger in the fourth quarter, I fired off the following tweet at 6:51 PM:

At 7:08 I followed it up with this one:

It was a matter of seventeen minutes. That’s all the time it took for RGIII to go from hopping to hobbled. And the fans were hopping mad. #RGKnee was trending on Twitter immediately. And the Redskins did themselves no favors with the conflicting stories between Head Coach Mike Shanahan and Dr. James Andrews, the renowned knee expert who is treating Griffin.

We could go back and forth placing blame and pointing fingers, but that’s already been done. Here’s what we do know…Dr. Andrews released the following statement on Wednesday:

“Robert Griffin III had successful knee surgery early this morning. He had a direct repair of his LCL and a re-do of his previous ACL reconstruction. We expect a full recovery and it is everybody’s hope and belief that due to Robert’s high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season.”

We will likely never know exactly how or when the injury was sustained. Whether the turf was to blame or the impact of the game. And if the doctor or the team know, good luck getting it out of them. But this was not the rookie quarterback’s only controversial injury this season. RGIII suffered a concussion during week five that went unreported by the team. They were later fined $20,000 for it.

If the NFL is going to put an emphasis on player safety, the Washington Redskins have now raised enough red flags to warrant an investigation into its reporting and handling of injured players (and specifically injuries to Griffin; their top draft pick, starting quarterback, and the future of their team).

On a side note…am I the only one who wants to know what happens in that little red shed on the Redskins’ sideline? Or, maybe I don’t.

But if the NFL does investigate…that’s probably a good place to start.



Coffee Cup Quarterback | Week 13: The week of the rookie quarterback

Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III

If 2012 is The Year of the Rookie Quarterback in the NFL, then week 13 is the Week of the Rookie Quarterback.

Robert Griffin III can’t fumble without scoring a touchdown. Literally. During his Monday Night Football debut, RGIII led the Washington Redskins to a comeback victory over their divisional rivals and the current Superbowl champions, the New York Giants. The Redskins sit one game behind the Giants in the ultra competitive NFC East. Griffin ran for 72 yards, which puts him at 714 for the season, breaking Cam Newton’s record for a rookie quarterback. And he did it with a “C” on his jersey. The Redskins voted RGIII in as captain of the offense following their bye week.

‘If he stays healthy, he’s going to be a havoc on defenses for a long time.”

-Giants Defensive End Justin Tuck on RGIII

In Manningesque style, Andrew Luck rallies the Indianapolis Colts to a fourth quarter comeback drive against the Detroit Lions and is racking up records faster than Peyton Manning is churning out pizzas. Luck is the first rookie quarterback (drafted number one overall) to win eight games, replacing Sam Bradford’s record of seven wins in 2010. Luck also owns the record for passing yards by a rookie quarterback in a game…and he still has four games to go for passing yards by a rookie for the season (watch out, Cam). Luck has the Colts firmly in place for an AFC wild card playoff spot.

And Russell Wilson continues his campaign of shock and awe in Seattle, leading the Seahawks to a comeback win of their own. In overtime. At Soldier Field. Wilson launched a throwing and running attack on the Chicago Bears, which culminated in a 23-17 victory and their first road win of the season. The Seahawks, at 7-5, sit atop the stack for the NFC wild card draw.

“He just has a tremendous level of awareness and poise and it’s just surprising that anybody could be like that, not just a rookie or a young guy in his first shot playing in Chicago or what not…he just continues to be impressive in all of those ways.”

-Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll on Russell Wilson

These aren’t rookies anymore, people. These aren’t kids. These are players. And they have become men right before our eyes. They are the future of their teams and the future of their sport. These are the players we will be talking about for a decade or more. They will lead, inspire, and leave their names on trophies, record books, and maybe some buildings along the way.

Get used to the Andrew Luck…RGIII talk. It’s not going away anytime soon. Step aside, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady…

The future is now.


Coffee Cup Quarterback (Monday Edition) | Preseason Week 3: The One With the Starters

Ahhh…week three of the NFL preseason.  When the starters actually play and our teams begin to look less like it’s the preseason and more like the regular season.  For some teams, that was good news.  For others…not so much.

The New York Jets were featured on Sunday Night Football hosting the Carolina Panthers.  Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton was in regular season form.  He ran, he threw, he impressed.  And his team went on to beat the Jets 17-12.  No, the Jets don’t have a touchdown yet.  That was four field goals for them.  They have Mark Sanchez, they have Tim Tebow.  Before the season started, we couldn’t stop talking about this duo and what they could do.  And now that it’s started, we can’t stop talking about what they can’t do.  There were visions of hope.  After a thoroughly unsuccessful half by Sanchez (who was booed for letting the clock run down to end it), it was Tebow Time.  Tebow did what Tebow does, which is run and throw to the other team.  At one point, NBC Host Cris Collinsworth was dissecting the mechanics of his unconventional left-handed throw and Tebow broke out for a huge run and first down.  The timing was nothing short of divine.  This is what Tebow can do.  A few plays later…perfectly thrown ball…to a Carolina Panther.  This is also what Tebow can do.

Note to self: take Jets kicker in fantasy draft.  Tebow was eventually booed as well.  Yes, Jets fans booed both of their quarterbacks in one game and it’s only the preseason.  Tough crowd.

And to back up my theory that Twitter has no better use than for in-game football commentary, take this.  For me, the tweet of the night, maybe of the entire preseason:

Michele Tafoya asked Sanchez about the Jets’ lack of a touchdown and he pointed out that there is still a fourth preseason game to be played.  When pressed, he responded, “Looks like we’re saving all our touchdowns for the regular season.”  When they count.  Good plan.

And then we had the battle of the draft picks.  Number one, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts take on number two, Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins at Fed Ex Field.  There was hype.  There was a t-shirt…

In the end, it was just another preseason game.  Both quarterbacks highlighted their strengths.  Luck threw a lot and ran a little, RGIII threw a little and ran a lot.  Both had moments of brilliance.  Both had rookie mistakes.  The Redskins beat the Colts 30-17.  The most impressive drives came from (wait for it)…Rex Grossman.  Yes, Wrecks Grossman.  The guy who has never really been able to establish himself as solid starting material (at least for long), was brilliant.  Grossman finished 8 of 8 for 130 yards, 2 touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating.  Don’t be surprised if he gets traded to the Jets!

Other highlights for week three of the preseason:

We said hello to: Russell Wilson as starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Peyton Manning’s first touchdowns (a pair) for the Denver Broncos, and Cornerback Vontae Davis as a Colt, traded to Indy by the Miami Dolphins.

We said goodbye to: Terrell Owens as a Seattle Seahawk (and possibly as an NFL player), Pro Bowl Kicker Billy Cundiff as a Baltimore Raven (the team chose to move on with Rookie Justin Tucker), and many of the players who will be released by our teams as the rosters are reduced to 75 players.

Lest you forget, the NFL really stands for “Not For Long.”

One thing we do hope is not for long…the replacement refs.  There is confusion, discussion, and an on field meeting with practically every call.  The games are being dragged out, and there have been mistakes.  Plenty of them.  But it is the preseason.  And the games don’t count.  Yet.  The players, coaches, even the fans have been fairly patient thus far.  That will end once those calls result in a “W” or an “L” in a team’s record.  We need better than this for the regular season.  And really, by the start of it.

So, let’s hope week four of the preseason brings renewed talks between the NFL and the official officials.

And…a Jets touchdown.