Hard to warm up to a man who’s not hum­ble

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather -

It seems rea­son­able to con­clude that Wash­ing­ton Red­skins quar­ter­back Robert “Su­perBob” Grif­fin III missed some valu­able growth time in the off­sea­son while rehabilitating his re­con­structed right knee. This was ob­vi­ous in the early games of this 2013 sea­son, and while he has played bet­ter of late, the missed de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties still show up, like on Sun­day in Philadel­phia in a 24-16 loss to the Ea­gles.

We saw the RG3 learn­ing curve in the first half Sun­day when the Red­skins were be­ing crushed 24-0. Then we saw Su­perBob take the field for much of the sec­ond half when they came back to score 16. They were driv­ing down the field with time run­ning out at the Philadel­phia 18 when the RG3 learn­ing curve sur­faced again at the worst time. He threw an in­ter­cep­tion on third down in the end zone that would have made Rex Gross­man blush to end the game with another loss and drop Wash­ing­ton to a 3-7 record in the NFC Least.

“I was try­ing to throw the ball in the back of the end zone,” Su­perBob said. “It didn’t get to where I wanted it to go. Ob­vi­ously I was on my heels. Some­thing I can def­i­nitely learn from.”

Here’s some­thing that hope­fully Su­perBob is learn­ing in his sec­ond NFL sea­son that he also clearly didn’t learn in the off­sea­son as well — hu­mil­ity.

The in­ter­cep­tion at the end of the Philadel­phia game was as much about the Su­perBob ego as any­thing — the voice in­side his head that says “I can win the game be­cause that’s what I do.” Not Sun­day — and not most days this year. It’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween con­fi­dence and ar­ro­gance. It’s the fi­nal chap­ter of the book of lead­er­ship.

It’s a les­son that Su­perBob needs to learn the rest of what is left of a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son — and this off­sea­son. He has a ways to go. When asked by re­porters last week about the out­side pres­sures that makes play­ing for the Red­skins more com­pli­cated than other teams, Su­perBob an­swered, “Just the big city, bright lights, big me­dia mar­ket — those are the things.”

Is he kid­ding? He treated the bright lights and big me­dia like it was a Las Ve­gas buf­fet. He showed up at the Heis­man Tro­phy cer­e­mony wear­ing Su­per­man socks, and at the NFL draft at Ra­dio City Mu­sic Hall with spe­cially made Red­skins socks that said, “Go catch your dreams.” Dream time’s over. Wake up, Su­perBob. He played one NFL sea­son and came out with a doc­u­men­tary called “RGIII — The Will to Win.” He turned his knee re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion into an adidas “All in for Week 1” ad cam­paign. And in be­tween mak­ing movies and com­mer­cials and work­ing hard to re­ha­bil­i­tate his knee, he found time for him and

lot of new play­ers [six] … es­pe­cially with los­ing $36 mil­lion salary cap over those two years’ time frame.”

In­deed, salary cap penal­ties im­posed by the NFL have ham­pered Wash­ing­ton’s abil­ity to add depth through free agency. But that ex­cuse does lit­tle to help the Red­skins right now. It’s up to the cur­rent ros­ter to hold things to­gether and give the cur­rent regime the chance to make nec­es­sary up­grades this off­sea­son, be­cause a weak fin­ish could spell an end to Shana­han’s ten­ure.

He has one year left on a five-year con­tract signed be­fore the 2010 sea­son but on Mon­day again de­clined to dis­cuss his fu­ture.

“I don’t talk about those things dur­ing the sea­son for ob­vi­ous rea­sons,” Shana­han said.

So do the Red­skins have vet­eran lead­ers ca­pa­ble of hold­ing their team to­gether? Af­ter the Ea­gles game, in the visi­tors’ locker room at Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field, there were snip­pets of that.

Of­fen­sive line­men Tyler Polum­bus and Kory Licht­en­steiger gen­tly im­plored team­mate Trent Wil­liams to stop rant­ing to the me­dia about the ref­er­ees, one of whom he said cursed him dur­ing the game. Wide re­ceiver Pierre Gar­con made the same point from across the room, but far more em­phat­i­cally. A fine from the NFL is likely headed Wil­liams’ way.

Full­back Dar­rel Young sim­ply smiled at a reporter in the af­ter­math of Wil­liams’ shock­ing com­ments and said “I got noth­ing for you.” Still, he later spoke to wave af­ter wave of re­porters for 15 min­utes.

“No one gave up in this locker room,” Young said. “That’s all you can count on at this point.”

In­deed, the Red­skins were down 24-0 early in the fourth quar­ter and still had a chance late to score and go for a two-point con­ver­sion to send the game to over­time. Cor­ner­back DeAn­gelo Hall strug­gled to ex­plain why dif­fer­ent things seem to go wrong in each game, why Wash­ing­ton al­ways seems to start slow.

“Each week is some­thing dif­fer­ent we’re try­ing to over­come and try­ing to get out the hole,” Hall said. “It’s just a dif­fer­ent prob­lem to deal with, week in and week out. We come in here and we try to make ad­just­ments. We try to game plan and get it right.”

Tight end Lo­gan Paulsen then spoke of be­ing “pro­fes­sion­als” in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. Line­backer Brian Orakpo de­fended his team­mates even as he ad­mit­ted that a 3-7 record was un­ac­cept­able.

“We’re not pack­ing any­thing in, you know? We lost the game, but we lost some of our key, big-time play­mak­ers, and it’s huge for guys to come in and [make] plays,” Orakpo said. “You’ve got a young guy on the prac­tice squad like Nick Wil­liams com­ing in and not los­ing a step, mak­ing plays. You’ve got Lo­gan fill­ing in for our play­maker, [tight end] Jor­dan Reed. You name it. It goes across the board, and guys con­tinue to fight.”

Play­ers talked again about how hard they prac­tice, how ac­count­able they make each other. And, to be fair, the fourth-quar­ter rally showed a team will­ing to act on those words. Credit is due for fight­ing back into a game that ap­peared over.

But this is also the NFL. That’s not good enough. And sev­eral play­ers in the room ac­knowl­edged that. Still, this sen­ti­ment from de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jim Haslett last Thurs­day wasn’t un­com­mon Sun­day.

“I love the way our guys prac­tice and they’re into it. Teams that are go­ing down­hill don’t prac­tice the way we prac­tice,” Haslett said. “Those teams are neg­a­tive. We don’t have that here.”

That’s not en­tirely true. Wide re­ceiver/re­turner Josh Mor­gan, in­ac­tive on Sun­day, re­fused to talk to the me­dia other than a few offhanded com­ments and was vis­i­bly an­gry.

“I’m not al­lowed to talk to any­body. That’s what [Shana­han] said,” Mor­gan said. He later used stronger words on his way out the door, leav­ing team­mates taken aback. It was pure frus­tra­tion from a player who be­gan the year as a starter.

And so the Red­skins will wres­tle with all of this neg­a­tiv­ity over th­ese last six games. The di­rec­tion of the fran­chise may de­pend on the play­ers fend­ing it off.

“Two games in a row we fell short in the fourth quar­ter and I’m dis­ap­pointed that we did lose those games,” Shana­han said. “But I also tried to ex­plain to the team that if we had won those games every­body would be talk­ing the other di­rec­tion. So it’s a fine line. You’ve got to be­lieve in your­self.”

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