Today, I Wear the Clownsuit

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And while it’s itchy… it fits.

Sadly.

I bought it. I bought him. I bought it all.

I bought that Robert Griffin III was SURELY the least culpable person in last year’s pathetic 3-13 season. I blamed the Shanahii, I blamed his recovering knee ligaments, I blamed the porous defense and the laughable “special” teams.

I was wrong.

There’s plenty of things wrong with Robert, that are now showing up in spades. His self-awareness borders on the delusional. His mobility is clearly not even close to his “ELECTRIFYING!” levels as a rookie. His pocket presence is Blaine Gabbert awful.

griffin_opens
This play resulted in Robert sliding right (INTO pressure) and throwing the ball away for an incompletion.

And if he can read defenses, it sure as hell isn’t showing. Right now, he can’t read a basic Cover-2 look with subtitles in braille while holding a striped cane.

So here I sit, hoping the internet forgets my jeremiad’s about giving Griffin the full run of 4 years to see if he can be a good starting QB in this league. (Oh, the internet never forgets).

What changed?

Well, to put it simply, the Tampa game shook my faith to the ground and rattled my fillings. Not only was he beyond terrible in that game doing basic stuff – see Gruden’s blistering public critique – but his “blame taking” post-game comments in the ill-advised Elmer Fudd hat, quickly veered into what can only be seen as petulant delusion.

Go ahead, re-watch the comments, and see how he delivers them in tone, and facial expression. It’s astonishing, really.

I had a hard time computing how he could be so maniacal and focused in his various injury comebacks, and yet not quite as maniacal in his efforts to play the position better.

I think I now get it: the maniacal comeback ethos, and the constant crafting of his corporate brand… were actually elaborate FRONTS to the fact that he KNOWS (deep down) that the complexity of the pro game is quickly and surely overwhelming him.

I wouldn’t call Griffin a CON MAN, per se. But when a guy’s whole pro career is looking like a ponzi scheme that is falling apart, it’s only natural for the con man to desperately reach for one or two more big financial “scores” to extend the game, and give that guy time to “work things out.”

The thing was unravelling as early as August, when I got word from people who know that Griffin’s training camp was nothing short of a shit sandwich. The ankle injury hit the pause button for six weeks, but didn’t change the overall trajectory. When Griffin returned, the data points on his failure to play the position at an even minimum level of competency kept pouring in.

And for his “supporters” like me, I assumed a basic level of functionality at QB in order to justify seeing more of the movie. But after two of the most painful performances I can remember these last two weeks, there’s no reason for me to be stuck on stupid.

griffin_crouches
Griffin fails to maintain eye level downfield, compounds mistake by spinning in pocket. Sack.

To roll Griffin out again for another start, would be more than just insulting to the rest of the team. It would be downright cruel. Furthermore, you would risk doing more damage to Griffin physically, emotionally, or both. When a guy is drowning a full 5 weeks away from shore of the NFL season, you throw him a life ring.

You don’t just yell at him to swim harder.

Going forward, there’s no reason to start him again this year. In fact, I like to see more Cousins instead of McCoy, since Colt has more NFL tape on file. In May, there’s now absolutely NO way you can commit to giving him that 5th year option at $15 million. Going forward to July, you can’t really say he must compete for the starter’s job and earn it. I mean you could, but I don’t see him wanting to play that game, do you?

And I sure as heck don’t see him winning it either, be it against Colt McCoy or Kirk Cousins.

So now, the endgame is afoot. Can you trade him? What do you accept as a “pennies on the dollar” price? A 5th round pick? Personally, I’d ask for a lone 3rd rounder, and quietly take anything that comes close if you can’t find any suckers…. er…. suitors.

In the end, Robert Griffin III will go down as one of the most fascinating QB case studies in league history. A stunning fall from both skill and grace from his rookie season. He doesn’t fit the mold of petulant babies like Ryan Leaf, purple-drank swilling morons like Jamarcus Russell, or system coddled college stat monsters like Blaine Gabbert.

Or maybe he does, a little bit of each?

He will join the recent ranks of first rounders like Tim Tebow, Christian Ponder, Jake Locker, and Brandon Weeden, who all for a few hot seconds looked like they might be pretty good. The landscape is further littered by guys like the Duante Culpeppers, Joey Harringtons, Vince Youngs, and Mark Sanchezes who all seemed to have NFL staying power, before sudden and steep falls.

It’s ok to fail at picking your franchise QB in the first round. Many teams do. Just don’t spend the equivalent of 4 picks on that guy. Never, ever, ever do that.

I sit here today in my clown suit of shame, thinking Griffin was headed back to stardom for this team, and in this league. But at least I was right the day of the trade, explaining that a team flirts with a roster Chernobyl when you push that many chips onto one number.

Let the full meltdown begin….

clownsuit

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Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Czabe,
    RGIII was nothing more than today’s pop music stars who cannot sing but are auto tuned to success. He is the Danica of the NFL.
    Players like Russell Wilson have the mechanics and have learned how to play the position. We haven’t seen that out of Robert. Either he is immune to coaching or refuses to learn.
    Once again, we see the gap from college to the pro league. Talent only goes so far, you have to work on your core technique and play within a system.

    I pray the Bills don’t see trading for him as a way to exit the EJ Manuel world.

  2. I would say Culpepper proved to be a very good QB but never the same after knee injury. As a Cowboy fan who has a highly criticized QB in Tony Romo, while he hasn’t delivered the championship, he is a helluva better option than most. And believe me, we had a long line of stiffs after Aikman.

  3. I think everyone is a little overwhelmed trying to process this, but suggesting that RG3 has quit on the talent portion of his career and is trying to milk endorsement deals is a leap too far. The QB’s you mention as comparisons are absurd, as none of them, save Culpepper and maybe Tebow, had any success in the league. And Tebow has a career 47% completion.

    Placing the blame on RG3, while he is partially at fault, is missing the forrest for the trees. The failure is borne of a completely corrupted and cancerous organization where failure is now deeply ingrained the culture. I have very little doubt that RG3 will be successful in the NFL, but not with the Redskins.

  4. czabe don’t beat your self up you’re a radio guy with an opinion. it’s not like your the GM of the redskins that mortgaged your future on rg3 and gets paid millions of $ a year to not make this mistake.

    I had reservations that he would be an adequate nfl qb coming out of Baylor because I thought he would be injury prone ( bingo ) and was too short. (doesn’t seem to be the case)

    his down fall in the simple basics of being unable to read defenses that a sophomore high school qb could grasp is what is the most compelling and draw dropping element.

    how he got thru his rookie year without anyone raising an eye brow to his lack of football knowledge is beyond me.

    Happy thanks giving.

  5. Czabe,
    I get it. He was suppose to be your franchise QB, so you didn’t want him to fail.
    That being said, it somewhat bothered me that you couldn’t have been more objective of him on both of your shows.
    When he got injured his rookie year and Cousins went in, Andy said it appeared RG3 was insecure with having Cousins around, but you scoffed at the notion. You did come around after Whitlock wrote his article and said the same things Andy said on the air.
    Like I said, I get it that RG3 was your guy, but if all these issues were ongoing with Cam Newton instead of Griffin, in my opinion, you would have been more critical.

  6. Tick Tock – many of us raised eyebrows at RG3 during (and even before) his rookie season, but we were shouted down and even called racist (just like on Obamacare, and again those of us who have actual knowledge turned out to be correct…!). Learning to read coverages is not terribly difficult, and a person with average intelligence should be able to pick up on it by their 3rd year in the NFL; sure, injury down-time will definately effect transferring knowledge into physical action, but even a rookie ought to know you don’t throw the ball to the middle of the field against a single deep look. A rookie knows that when you see 2 on 3 against a trips formation you throw the WR screen for an easy 5+ yards. He should know these things, even if sometimes he may have difficulty putting them into successful action. A lot of rookies see a single deep and throw a frozen rope to the sideline fade route – the correct choice but a bad throw that they will learn to throw correctly soon enough. A rookie might throw a bad lob that gets batted down on the constraint play, but at least he knows where the ball ought to be thrown. The point is, rookies make physical mistakes all the time, even when they are clearly thinking the right things and reading the defense correctly. RG3 is doing none of this since day one.

    I still think that the Redskins will package him up with like 5 1st round picks and trade him to the Raiders for the right to draft Marcus Mariota in this coming draft. ‘Skins are gonna ‘skin, bro.

  7. I guess I should amend my comment a bit. Knowing how savvy Washington is in the draft, I would not be surprised to see them trade up in the draft and take Jameis Winston who will go on to be a tremendous bust and clubhouse cancer. Meanwhile, Oakland uses all the picks to build a team that is ready to take control of the reigns in the AFC West after the Manning era in Denver ends.

  8. I’m in Wisconsin, so I didn’t see all of his games, but RGIII looked impossibly good as a rookie. What I saw was the fastest guy on the field completing every pass with ease. He was hitting guys in stride with what appeared to be a laser. What happened?

  9. Griffin joins the long line of running QBs unable to transition to the pro game. I believe his ‘track guy’ mentality is ultimately what has doomed him. Have you ever known a track guy that wasn’t arrogant? Still not sure if he realizes he needs to change. That no-pro-bowlers press conference was incredibly revealing.

  10. Well, pass the clownsuit, please. I thought Marc Trestman and Jay Cutler would lead the Bears out of the wilderness this season.

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