Robert Griffin III is in dangerous territory and it has little to do with his comments after Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The storm that is brewing in the Nation’s capital over Griffin’s comments is not entirely fair. According to Washingtonpost.com, Griffin did make a remark about his teammates.
“It takes 11 men. It doesn’t take one guy, and that’s proven. If you want to look at the good teams in this league and the great quarterbacks, the Peyton’s and the Aaron Rodgers, those guys don’t play well if their guys don’t play well. They don’t. We need everybody. I need every one of those guys in that locker room, and I know they’re looking at me saying the same thing.”
While the comments do appear to point solely at his teammates Griffin did take the blame on himself.
“All of the sacks are on me. Period. We’re 3-7, and everybody in this room knows that, and everybody in that locker room knows that. We can’t do what 3-7 football teams do. We can’t throw knives and stab each other in the back. I think we have good people in our locker room, men of God that are going to stick together and stay strong. So when you ask me that question, and I say all of the sacks are on me, it’s because I’m looking myself in the mirror and saying, I can do better. I have to do better. I need every man in that locker room, players and coaches, to look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’”
While this is what is grabbing headlines, this is not the biggest problem facing Griffin. In his last 17 starts Washington is 4-13. To be fair, the team has not fared better in his absence but if he is the game changer he is alleged to be, that record has to be better.
Fairly or unfairly, Griffin will always be compared to Andrew Luck. Luck came in to a 2-14 team and with mostly the same pieces won 11 games and went to the playoffs his rookie season. He has done nothing but progress since. On the other hand, it is fair to point out Griffin has regressed since his rookie season.
The problem for Griffin is not simply that he is struggling; it is that he cost Washington so much to thus far just be mediocre. Remember, the team gave up three first-round picks and a second-round pick.
Griffin has not just struggled; he has struggled in coddled conditions. The Shanahan regime remade their entire offense to benefit him. They simplified reads to make him comfortable. When he decided that running the ball is what got him hurt, they cut out most of the running plays. That was in spite of the fact that those running plays helped him throw 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions in his rookie campaign. The plays he was injured on were not called runs but scrambles. Against the Baltimore Ravens he was attempting to make a play and he got hit by Haloti Ngata. In the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, he initially tweaked his knee on a scramble running out of bounds. He then tore his ACL running after a loose ball after a bad snap.
This season, while already having Pierre Garcon who led the NFL in receptions last season and Jordan Reed at tight end, the team elected to bring in DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts to bolster the receiving core. Most his snaps are out of the shotgun formation and the few he takes under center tend to be play-action passes. Few young players ever receive the treatment he has received from his organization.
The team sits at 3-7 this season, clearly out of the playoff hunt. Moving forward will be huge for Griffin. If he cannot get things together with the six games remaining this season and into next year, he will have to be labeled a bust. He would not just be a normal bust either, the amount of compensation used to select him must be considered. It is fair to say giving up that many picks to get Griffin has helped keep the Washington franchise from filling holes on its roster. Griffin then would be a bigger bust than even Ryan Leaf.
At first, that sounds like hyperbole but let’s look at it. Leaf was a No.2 overall pick that never panned out. However, when the San Diego Chargers struggled and wound up with another No.1 overall pick, they were able to trade that pick into LaDainian Tomlinson. Griffin cost Washington the ability to build depth to its roster. If the team were to cut him after next season, the franchise would be three years behind where it should be and still not have a franchise quarterback.
In his quotes after the game of Sunday, he mentioned having to look into the mirror. If he doesn’t figure this out quickly, when he looks into that mirror he will be wearing a different jersey.
Photo Courtesy: AP