The Bottom Line: Longing for 2012 won't help us in the present
Nothing kills a football blog like the home team losing.
It kills blogs two ways. Readers don't want to read why their team is losing. They want to read how good the team is and why they will win the next game.
Bloggers don't want to write about why the team is losing either. Rants carry only so far. That's why this post will be short.
The Redskins' loss to the Broncos was the third demoralizing loss of the season. Philadelphia and Dallas were the other two. Silver lining? At least this was not a conference loss.
Our own Greg Trippiedi's thoughts and observations about the game is more positive than I would have written. (Thank you, Greg.)
Budding blogger @TattooedScorpio graded the Denver performance on his It Is What It Is blog. We'll throw a link his way because kind bloggers did that for us when Hog Heaven was young. (Just paying it forward, bro'. You do the same someday.)
Hog Heaven laments that we cannot use the cool line we would have tweeted if the Redskins won ‒ Mike Shanahan just knows how to win in Denver. Now we are resisting the tweet "Well no wonder Denver fired him."
That would be small and petty of us.
The Redskins upset a writing angle Hog Heaven would have pursued if they won. We would have looked for an emerging trend. Would Robert Griffin III carry his Chicago Bears performance to Denver and extend it against San Diego this Sunday.
Three weeks of performance is enough to see a trend. Sadly, the trend is persistent inconsistency.
Somebody, I think it was LaDainian Tomlinson, said the only time he felt 100 percent as a football player was at the start of his rookie year. Thereafter, he felt his health was 95 percent of what it was the prior season.
Tomlinson was a running back, but Griffin takes a lot of hits. He's playing football nine months after major knee surgery when you and I would be a few months off crutches.
It dawns on us that RGIII might never be the same even if he were as 100 percent as he thought he was.
Recovery isn't the only issue
He's on a learning curve as he perfects his craft as a professional quarterback. The pro game is more reading coverages than reading options. Kirk Cousins was more practiced at a pro style QB than Griffin when both entered the league. Griffin is ahead of Cousins by the experience of 18 games.
That showed too when Cousins entered the field late in the Broncos game.
Donovan McNabb evolved from a rookie running quarterback to a pocket passer. If Griffin and McNabb ever do speak, I hope it's about how Donovan made that transition and not about managing RG's social media presence.
There are two points about Cousins. First, trade-bait, back-up quarterbacks are at peak value before anyone knows how good or bad they truly are. Matt Flynn is the poster boy example.
Cousins entered the Broncos game cold and was as ineffective as Griffin. Denver's defense may have influenced that, but in a no excuses business, Capt. Kirk's trade value took a hit Sunday.
Second, most teams with a young quarterback starter will back him up with a veteran. There is no appetite for Rex Grossman as the No. 2, but there is no viable 2014 free agent alternative to Cousins.
Jay Cutler won't sign anywhere unless he starts. Chicago will re-sign him anyway. After Cutler, every other candidate would be more costly than Cousins' bargain basement rookie contract.
Griffin and Cousins have to up their game, that is all.
Failing the eyeball test
Put no stock in the notion that Washington left Denver only one and a-half games behind division leader Dallas. The 'Skins don't look like they can run with a playoff team right now. Perhaps they can put together another seven game winning streak like they did last year.
That's not anything an analyst can predict.
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Is Kyle Shanahan making a mistake by having Griffin passing too much? Or, does RGIII need experience passing in game situations, in order to grow into the elite quarterback that we all hope he'll become?
Kyle's getting lots of criticism for passing too much. But, if the Skins need a few more years to grow into Super Bowl contenders, isn't it a good idea to put in our time growing now?
@dreadpirateroberts Griffin's injury seems to have thrown the entire offense off kilter. Lack of timing from no offseason work is one culprit. A necessary evolution to NFL pro offenses is another. People I trust say Griffin is not doing as bad as it may appear, but he did not play from a playbook or run a pro set offense at Baylor.
John Keim says the Redskins are not built to be a pocket passing team. Griffin must run for the Redskins to be successful. He can't yet run as well as last year. Defenses have adjusted better. Double whammy.
@SkinsHogHeaven @dreadpirateroberts Do you think Kyle Shanahan is willing to risk a poor won-loss record this year, in order to give Griffin time to mature as a pro passer? Might he be calling lots of pass plays, because he wants Griffin and the Redskins to grow into a good passing team? Even if that risks a less-than-successful 2013 season?
@dreadpirateroberts I do think the Shanahans are scripting game plans that RG can run as his knee gets better and as he hones new skills. However, I don't believe they are trying to tank the season. It just looks that way.
If they believe that Kirk Cousins is a better option, they would put him in. If only that made that decision last January, RG might have avoided extensive knee surgery. The team would have been no worse off, but Shanny would have been crushed by second-guessers.