Noth­ing to see here Will the real RG3 please stand up?

Grif­fin, team­mates in­sist lead­er­ship is not an is­sue

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - MIKE HAR­RIS BY BRIAN MCNALLY

Ev­ery team has those mo­ments that are des­tined to last for­ever. Caps fans of a cer­tain vin­tage no doubt re­call with clar­ity Dale Hunter’s 1988 play­off over­time goal against Philadel­phia in Game 7. The im­ages of the puck go­ing in and Fly­ers goalie Ron Hex­tall smash­ing his stick are hard to for­get.

For the Nats, there’s the gamewin­ning home run by Ryan Zim­mer­man in the first game at Na­tion­als Park as well as the game-win­ner by Jayson Werth in Game 4 of the 2012 Na­tional League Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

Not all th­ese mem­o­rable mo­ments are good ones for the good guys. Robert Grif­fin III, in the short time he

One day af­ter team­mate San­tana Moss crit­i­cized him on a lo­cal ra­dio pro­gram, Red­skins quar­ter­back Robert Grif­fin III ad­dressed a sim­mer­ing is­sue that sug­gested a di­vided locker room was plagu­ing his strug­gling team.

Moss had said Tues­day on 106.7 The Fan’s “LaVar and Dukes” show with LaVar Ar­ring­ton and Chad Dukes that he wished Grif­fin had taken per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for his last-minute in­ter­cep­tion in Sun­day’s crip­pling 24-16 loss to the Philadel­phia Ea­gles.

The two play­ers talked be­fore prac­tice Wed­nes­day, how­ever, and in­sisted they have no is­sues with each other. Grif­fin ad­dressed gen­eral crit­i­cism of his lead­er­ship style later in the af­ter­noon when he met with the me­dia.

“You don’t say any­thing to the guys when it comes to that [lead­er­ship],” Grif­fin said. “The sec­ond you start chang­ing and let­ting what out­side peo­ple say af­fect what you do is the time that guys start to not be­lieve in you. So you don’t do that. You go out to prac­tice ev­ery day ready to work. Me and [Moss] talked. We’re on the same page, and we just want to beat San Fran­cisco. That’s all that mat­ters to us right now.”

One of Grif­fin’s quotes af­ter the Philadel­phia loss ap­peared crit­i­cal of of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Kyle Shana­han and the of­fen­sive game plan.

has been a part of the scene, has pro­vided a jaw­drop­per of each va­ri­ety.

Dur­ing his rookie sea­son in 2012, who can for­get his long touch­down run against the Vik­ings that let the world know this guy was spe­cial? That run was so RG3 2012. Just last weekend, that what-the-heck pass RG3 threw for an in­ter­cep­tion late against the Ea­gles won’t fade from mem­ory any time soon. That pass was so RG3 2013. What a di­chotomy we have on our hands. Who this guy?

Is he the bril­liant, ath­letic mar­vel we saw in 2012 who made us dream of an­nual Su­per Bowl cham­pi­onship pa­rades? The guy who could save the world, let alone the Red­skins? Or is he the seem­ingly con­fused fel­low we’ve watched much of 2013, who ap­pears to lock in on re­ceivers too eas­ily, who doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on read­ing de­fenses and who has al­ready thrown twice as many in­ter­cep­tions (10) as he did all of 2012?

The truth lies some­where in the mid­dle. He’s a lit­tle of both. How suc­cess­ful the Red­skins will ul­ti­mately be with RG3 at the con­trols de­pends on whether he falls closer to the 2012 model or the 2013 model.

For now, we’re go­ing to give the young man — and he’s still very much a young man — the ben­e­fit of the doubt and say he’s much closer to 2012 than 2013. We’ll preach pa­tience and, yes, a lit­tle bit of hope.

While the run against the Vik­ings may have been No. 1 on the 2012 RG3 high­light reel, it was far from his only jaw-drop­ping play. You can fluke your way into a few of those. You can­not fluke your way into 3,200 pass­ing yards, 815 rush­ing yards, 20 touch­down passes, seven rush­ing touch­downs. You just can’t. He was the league’s Of­fen­sive Rookie of the Year for a rea­son. He earned it. So what hap­pened? For starters, de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors around the league have had a lit­tle more time to fig­ure out things that cause RG3 trou­ble. De­spite some con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence to the con­trary seen around th­ese parts now and then, most de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors are pretty bright guys. Some of the align­ments he’s see­ing, frankly, seem to con­fuse RG3.

And as much as any­one with the Red­skins wants to deny it, he locks in on his in­tended re­ceiver early and re­fuses to look else­where. It’s come up in tele­vi­sion com­men­tary, on the ra­dio and in print. Peo­ple aren’t mak­ing it up.

Then there’s the whole thing with his right knee, re­con­structed in col­lege and again af­ter the Red­skins’ loss to Seat­tle in the open­ing round of the play­offs. Be­cause he’s such a hard worker and ath­letic mar­vel, RG3 was de­ter­mined to make it back for the sea­son opener and he did.

Us­ing the valu­able tool of hind­sight, that might have been the big­gest mis­take. In the early go­ing, it was clear RG3 wasn’t as com­fort­able run­ning. The knee be­came story.

My friend and for­mer col­league, Paul Woody of the Rich­mond Times-Dis­patch, wrote less than a week af­ter the loss to Seat­tle that the Red­skins should con­sider RG3 out for all of 2013. They should con­cen­trate on noth­ing more than mak­ing sure he was com­pletely healed. If he made it back for the lat­ter part of the sea­son, it was a bonus.

At the time, I thought Paul had maybe spent too long at the bar be­fore writ­ing. Over time, he’s been proven to be com­pletely cor­rect.

This sea­son is a goner, but that doesn’t mean the RG3 Era has to be writ­ten off. Hope­fully he won’t have to spend the up­com­ing off­sea­son re­hab­bing another knee in­jury. Hope­fully he’ll spend some time this off­sea­son learn­ing more about the game, an­a­lyz­ing de­fenses, learn­ing to look for other re­ceiv­ing op­tions. Per­haps learn­ing some hu­mil­ity, as col­league Thom Loverro sug­gested in Tues­day’s col­umn, will help, too.

He’ll open the 2014 sea­son at age 24, still plenty young enough to have a long, pro­duc­tive and suc­cess­ful ca­reer. Maybe 2012 was an aber­ra­tion and he won’t reach those same lev­els. But 2013 has been an aber­ra­tion, too.

He may not be

good. He is not

bad.

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