And while it’s itchy… it fits.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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….