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