Friday, August 28, 2015

The Most Dysfunctional Team in the League, Part II

“That’s the coach’s decision,” Griffin said. “As we like to say, I just work here, man. And I just want to go out there and every opportunity that I get, just try to execute the plays like they need to be executed, make a play when I have an opportunity, and let the coaches do the rest.”

Brian Mitchell: “I watch this team. I’m passionate about this team. And I see this one dude who we talk about every day too damn much because he doesn’t know to shut up and perform.”

Chris Cooley: “I’m going to tell you that it wasn’t great offensive line play, but it wasn’t like you’re going to have to get killed if you’re behind that offensive line. And when you ask the question, does this coaching staff have this [film]? Do the other players see this? Yes. And you can talk all you want, you can have whatever hype you want. But when you show up every week and play and put it on film, the people that understand the game see what you’re doing. So they do know. Everyone knows what’s going on here.”

Joe Theismann: “The thing that disappointed me the other night is one of the things that is stressed very, very diligently by the coaches is protect the football in the pocket. Protect the football when you’re trying to escape the pocket. The ball just fell out of Robert’s hands when he wound up getting hurt. That’s a concern for me. That has nothing to do with the offensive line, absolutely nothing to do with the protection. That has to do with the fundamentals of the position, and those are the things that Robert, he can’t be a continuing work in progress.”

Jay Gruden: “We just have to make sure we do our best to put Robert in a good place, with play calls and and getting things going offensively. Hats off to Kirk and Colt. They’ve taken advantage of their opportunities in the second, third and fourth quarters and done some great things out here in practice every day. Robert’s done some good things out here in practice, and we’re judging — not just three drives in preseason games, but the performance through OTAs, training camp, and that’s why we’re going the way we’re going.”

Jerry Brewer (Washington Post columnist): "This should be a year to eliminate tumult and establish an atmosphere in which players, coaches and executives compete like crazy to change a culture. That is not happening as thoroughly as it should right now. And if the Redskins want to be more than a perpetual disaster, then they had better commence with honesty now. The starting quarterback situation can’t be full of factions and determined by the man signing the paychecks. There needs to be a final, frank conversation by all parties about whether Griffin is truly the unquestioned starter, and if so, how long he should have to verify those beliefs. There needs to be better accountability for all the players, veteran or rookie, McCloughan guy or not, star or role player, to create true competition. And there needs to be a crystallized understanding of what this franchise wants to be, in every aspect, that permeates every decision made. Then perhaps the pandemonium can bow to shrewd reinvention."

NBC Sports:
Griffin was sacked 33 times last year while throwing only 214 passes. How rare is that? Not since Hugh Millen of the 1992 Patriots has a quarterback been sacked so many times while throwing so few passes.

The NFL started counting quarterbacks’ times sacked as an official statistic in 1963, and in the 52 seasons since then, only six quarterbacks have been sacked as many as 33 times while throwing as few as 214 passes: Griffin, Millen, Randall Cunningham in his first season, Mike Rae of the horrendous expansion Buccaneers, Bobby Douglass of the 1969 Bears, and Archie Manning — who did it twice while playing behind the awful New Orleans Saints line of the 1970s.

It would be tempting to blame the offensive line any time a quarterback gets sacked that often, but in Griffin’s case it would be incorrect. Washington’s other two quarterbacks, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins, weren’t sacked as often as Griffin. McCoy was sacked 17 times while throwing 128 passes, and Cousins was sacked eight times while throwing 208 passes.

NBC Sports:
As Robert Griffin III morphed from the rookie of the year in 2012 to a huge disappointment in 2013, questions started to be raised about whether his offensive line disliked him. At one point late in the 2013 season, it was observed that Washington’s offensive linemen hardly ever helped Griffin up after sacks, and reports out of the team’s locker room began to indicate that players were tired of Griffin’s refusal to take the blame when things went wrong.

Two years later, Griffin still doesn’t seem to be winning any friends in the locker room.

According to Jason Reid of ESPN, Griffin sidestepping his own responsibility for making the line look worse than it played is exactly the kind of thing that causes him problems in the locker room. Reid wrote on Twitter after Griffin’s press conference that coaches say “several” offensive linemen dislike Griffin.

There seem to be two problems facing Griffin. The more important one is that he simply hasn’t played very well since suffering a severe knee injury at the end of his rookie season. But another problem is that he hasn’t shown that he has the leadership qualities that a quarterback needs. And until he starts playing better, it’s hard to see how he’ll be able to rally his teammates around him.

Earlier this month, Frank Gore told NFL Media's Nate Burleson that Andrew Luck is a "different breed" who "runs the huddle" like no other quarterback he had seen in a decade with the 49ers.

Now Gore is convinced that Luck is a gridiron deity.

"He runs meetings like a coach. Basically, I'm playing with a coordinator on the field," Gore told The Jim Rome Show on Wednesday. "He's a football god. He sees everything. He sees the big picture of everything. ... He lets me know when [there's] something I don't see. He's just different. How he's in the huddle, off the field, in the meetings, he runs it. He runs the show, even in the off-season, he ran it. One day he had running backs, the next day he has receivers. He's just different. He's a football God."

High praise indeed, but it's not just limited to Luck's teammates.

Back in May, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton pointed out that Luck's perspective and understanding is already at the level of an NFL coach after just three years in the league.

"It's well documented that he's a smart guy," Hamilton explained, "but now I think his overall football acumen, or should I say football aptitude, is at a point where his feedback and/or his suggestions, I really take heed of the advice that he gives."

We've lauded Luck's incredible pocket movement as the "eighth wonder of the world." In addition to ideal size and athleticism, his arm talent and willingness to make tough throws rank with Aaron Rodgers as the best in the league.

For all of those obvious physical gifts, though, it's Luck's football aptitude and leadership that have led Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, former Giants coach Jim Fassel and NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly to predict that the Colts' quarterback will end up joining the pantheon of all-time greats.

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