Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why not bench Robert Griffin III?

Everywhere I've gone today — and for the last several days — anybody who knows me (which means they know I'm a football fan) have asked me my thoughts on quarterback Robert Griffin III being benched. After all, who else regularly wears Washington Redskins gear in Northern Ohio?

Washington Redskins third-string quarterback Colt McCoy
runs away from Dallas defenders Oct. 27, 2014.
(Tom Pennington/GETTY IMAGES)
Here in Norwalk, Ohio, the 'Skins-related talk among my buddies has been the same it's been with sports writers and broadcasters: Is anybody surprised RGIII is being benched in favor of third-string QB Colt McCoy? How will McCoy do against the Indianapolis Colts? What's going on with Griffin? Will he ever come close to being the kind of quarterback he was during his jaw-dropping rookie season?

As I've said many times, I think it would have been smarter for head coach Jay Gruden to start McCoy against Minnesota in Week 9 instead of giving Griffin his job back.

After all, McCoy was coming off a great performance on "Monday Night Football" against the dreaded Dallas Cowboys.

Since the Redskins don't have the greatest record following a bye week, why didn't Gruden give McCoy the chance to start versus Minnesota? Had McCoy started, I firmly believe the 'Skins would have come out with a victory over the Vikings and given Washington much-needed momentum heading into the bye week. Then on Week 11, after the bye week, Griffin could start.

Robert Griffin III runs for yardage.
(Wesley Hitt/GETTY IMAGES)
But that didn't happen.

Instead, Griffin has done nothing but struggle. RGIII has been sacked multiple times, overthrown open receivers and short-hopped passes. Also, he is holding onto the ball for too long. As Gruden pointed out, the QB has failed to do basic fundamentals, such as taking a three-step drop when he should have taken five steps.

There's been a lot of talk about Gruden and Griffin not being on the same page, the QB's leadership and of course, RGIII calling out his teammates. The truth is a victory or two would make this a non-story.

Here's the reality as I see it about Griffin — and the four reasons he's played so poorly this season:


  1. RGIII is struggling to become a pocket passer. Gruden wants him to beat teams with his accurate passing, strong arm and an ability to read defenses and zones. Griffin hasn't had enough success on a regular basis as a pocket passer to know that means — or what it takes. 
  2. The NFL has figured Griffin's game out to some extent. He's a stallion who loves to run — and he's damn good at it. But NFL teams have learned how to stop/defend the read-option offense; that's an offensive scheme Griffin won't be running under Gruden. Going back to my first point, RGIII needs to have a pass-first/run-second mentality and he doesn't have that mindset yet. If Griffin can master the art of being a pocket passer (again Point No. 1), he again can gash defenders with his running when it's needed and prudent. One of his problems is Griffin is overthinking the entire situation (see Point 4 below).
  3. Too many injuries: Griffin is recovering from his second major injury in three seasons. RGII has yet to play a full 16-game season. He has to wonder if he's injury prone — and with the intense pressure of all the media focusing on this, I suspect this makes him second-guess himself. 
  4. And finally, given all those factors, Griffin must be too much in his own head about it all. How can a naturally talented athlete use his God-given gift to his potential when he's thinking too much? 

And the bigger reality is the Redskins haven't looked like a team which can win. In fact, they've been losing ugly.

So why not bench Robert Griffin III? Why not start McCoy?

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