Many people, including myself, thought that Brian Orakpo's injury was a curtain call for the Redskins season. Although we may have seen that a great pass rush is 40% of a good pass defense, I for one did not see the Rob Jackson freight train coming.
Nothing that Kirk Cousins did in the Cleveland game today came as a surprise to Michigan State football fans. The Spartans play a pro-style offense. Cousins was more pro-ready than Robert Griffin III when he entered the NFL. Cousins has been clutch for a very long time.
Football trivia: Russell Wilson, Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins were available when Cleveland Drafted Brandon Weeden #Justsaying— Anthony Brown (@SkinsHogHeaven) December 16, 2012
Hog Heaven considers Cousins an equal talent to Russell Wilson (Wisconsin), so yes, I'm saying the Seahawks would have been as successful with Cousins at quarterback as they are with Wilson. The Redskins are so much better off now with Griffin and Cousins at quarterback than last year with what's his name and what's his name.
Mike and Kyle Shanahan got well-deserved accolades for adapting pieces the Baylor offense for Griffin III. How did they answer mindless questions about Cousins' ability to run that offense? The Shanahan's didn't ask him to. Some parts of the Redskins' offense today looked vaguely familiar, like the Spartans' offense I watched Cousins run in East Lansing.
How did Griffin's absence hurt Alfred Morris? Not all. Morris rushed 27 times for 87 yards and two scores. Thank you.
I am comfortable if the team doctors take another week to green light Griffin's return to the active roster. I'm just that comfortable with Cousins. Perhaps Redskins fans are, too.
The win and the Giants' loss gives the Redskins contested lead of the NFL East. The Redskins own tie-breaker advantages over the Giants and Cowboys going into the last two games this season. The eight win is one game better than I expected of them this season. Any more that happens is gravy. Whether the Redskins make the post-season of not, they are giving their fans a hellava run.
Mr. Snyder and Mike Shanahan have some thinking to do about the future of the team. They will get feelers about Cousins before the 2013 Draft, and about Kyle Shanahan after the Super Bowl. Washington hasn't been in this strong a position at quarterback in 30 years. Both Cousins and young Shanahan (can't believe I just wrote that) are part of the formula.
I'm in no hurry to see changes. There are huge implications for the future – enough for 50 blog posts over the next six months.
See also Dan Graziano's Rapid Reaction: Redskins 38, Browns 21.no comments
Deep down, we all expected that Kirk Cousins would start for the Washington Redskins against the Cleveland Browns today. Deep down, most of us wondered if a win against the Browns today was worth the risk to Robert Griffin's knee, which means risking the next five seasons of football success. Cousin's start is both relief and white-knuckle moment for fans.
The Redskins have a game to give in their march to the post-season. Beating the Ravens last week provided a cushion. If a loss is in the offing, it's best to come against an AFC team. Hog Heaven contends that no NFC Beast team will win 10 games competing against each other and the AFC North. The Giants have a tough out today against the Falcons in Atlanta and next week against the Ravens in Baltimore.
Today's game is a test. The Cleveland Browns would be a challenge even if Robert Griffin III started. Cleveland is the most dangerous team on the Redskins' schedule because the 'Skins have the disturbing tendency to play up or down to the level of the opponent. Think no further than the 2011 Vikings, or the 2012 Panthers, or the last five games against the Ram. The Redskins lost to the Rams three times, including this year right after winning a big game against the Saints.
Championship teams hold their won against contenders, but always beat the beatable teams. The Redskins have been iffy on that front. They are a danger to themselves for that.
Don't sleep on the Browns. They are a young team that seems to have found its way. Five of their offensive starters are rookies or second-year players. Their quarterback is a member of the Golden Class of 2012. Their running back was thought to be the best rusher in the Draft. (We know better.) This is a statement game for them. They will play over their heads for the Redskins. That's something our guys have to manage if they are true contenders.
What to expect from Kirk Cousins
Expect smart play. The pre-Draft knock on Cousins was that he was "cerebral." You go with what you've got.
Griffin does not have RGIIIs athletic gifts. Who does? Look for Griffin to throw the ball away when Griffin might run. Look for Cousins to slide sooner even if short of the first down. Look for a quarterback well versed with the playbook who will keep rookie mistakes to a minimum and will place the ball where it should be.
I do not think the Redskins vary the playbook much. Their offense is conventional. Griffin is more of an option threat, but play-action is his staple. Cousins played in Michigan State's pro style offense. This game will be won on the ground.
Three Stats that matter
Passer Rating Differential
Redskins QBR 103.5, Opponents QBR 90.7, Differential +12.8
Browns QBR 72.8, Opponents QBR 81.8, Differential -9.0
This is tricky. Washington's quarterback rating is 99 percent on Robert Griffin III. Cousins has a slightly higher rating than RGIII, but on a much smaller sample size. He's making his first start, meaning he's as much a mystery to the Browns as he is to us.
Cousins will be what he has always been, solid but not spectacular, with different strengths but the same talent level as Russell Wilson.
Third Down Stops
Redskins Third Down conversions 45%
Browns Third Down conversions 36%
Cleveland is the league's seventh-best in this category. Washington is dead last. We are beyond lamenting the Redskins' performance, thanks to the disruptive nature of the defense. But this speaks well of the Browns defense. Without Griffin's mobility, the Browns are a tough nut to crack.
The sure-handed Browns do not fumble. Brandon Weeden has been careless with 15 interceptions to go with 15 touchdown passes. The Browns have an offense that DeAngelo Hall should love.
The #Redskins' defense has helped out by forcing turnovers, scoring. Weeden has thrown 15 INTs, but just three in his last four games.— Zac Boyer (@ZacBoyer) December 16, 2012
Hog Heaven's Magic 8 Ball "As I see it, yes" for Redskins win.
The 8-Ball don't lie. It's made the correct call for the last five games.
Fight on, Sons of Washington. Fight on.
One day. One man. Two opposite views of Robert Griffin III.
Georgetown public relations grad student Beth Jarvis praised the Redskins quarterback in a Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post today (Page A18, Thursday, December 13, 2012). Ms. Jarvis did not set out just to applaud Griffin for his on-field exploits. As a Communications major, she marveled at his innate skill of finding the right touch for every crisis.
"His courageous display after injuring his knee Sunday helped the Washington Redskins achieve a victory and solidified his standing as an inspirational leader and master brander.
"Already in his short NFL career, he has shown an ability to look adversity in the face and win that is becoming legendary. And, at age 22, he's just getting started.
"Tylenol, Toyota and US Airways are generally the case studies we cite in classes when talking about stellar crisis-communications plans. Even though RGIII is a rookie, I think it's time to add him as a case study to our [Georgetown] curriculum."
What a neat letter about one who has impressed Redskins fans since his college football bowl game to now. I mentally filed it away as a story idea of yet another example of how the cultural significance of Griffin III is greater than his role as athlete.
Griffin is a man with a plan beyond the NFL. He may well be positioning himself for the future, but his steps along that path feel genuine.
I was going to say that Griffin is an ideal that all
young people should aspire to be like. I was also going to warn that nobody is as perfect as Griffin appears. He's as human as everyone else is. It's inevitable that he will be knocked off the pedestal we've put him on. I suspect that will come in the future when the absolute adulation we dump on him corrupts him absolutely. But it may come from his past.
That guy who went to Baylor with Griffin thought he had something that was worth $1 million hush money. I do not care, nor wish to know, what that is. Whatever it is, I would see it as the ramblings of a teen-ager on his own for the first time, testing boundaries that once inhibited him and doing something he wouldn't want his mother to know.
I'm not guilty any such thing, of course, but have my doubts about the rest of you.
Race card about to ruin another career
That would have been the end of a cute little fluff piece. And then the matter took an ugly turn. Panelist Rob Parker asked on ESPN's First Take Show if RGIII was authentically black.
"But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”
I've been black all my life, but have never heard the term "cornball brother." Griffin said several different times that his aim was to be world class at everything he tries and not to be constricted as the "best black" anything.
It goes beyond the pale (no pun intended) for Mr. Parker to wondere if Griffin was distancing himself from black people. Parker said this was not his idea – a clue that it really was. Parker heard it from others, so he check with friends in the DC area. He learned that Griffin is engaged to a white girl. Parker suspects him of being a Republican. And Griffin has braids. You can't be straight-laced and have braids. You just can't.
Rob Parker is a black racist. Yes, Virginia, you can be black and racist. In Parker's case, he –
• defined a role along racial lines that Griffin was supposed to play.
• exposed his own limiting stereotype of the "brothers" like him, I suppose.
• failed to expand his perception of young black men by dismissing Griffin's parentage, accomplishments and well-spoken thoughts.
Rob Griffin Sr on RParker:This gentleman's comments are not for me to expand on I have more important issues, Homeless Veterans etc @wusa9— David Owens (@DaveOwensWUSA) December 13, 2012
Parker said he spoke with friends. Hog Heaven would like him to name names. I'd like to know the dumbass local SOBs that would says such things. I mean, who wouldn't want to claim RGIII as their own?
Parker didn't use the N-word, or deny RGIII his financial due or block the entrance to Redskins Park with police dogs. Parker's statements weren't the vilest form of bigotry. They still were ugly, stupid, universally condemned and career damaging – to Parker.
That lesson should have been learned long ago when Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder said something silly about breeding slaves to be outstanding athletes to explain why African-Americans were excelling in the NFL. Snyder meant it as a compliment, but he disappeared from broadcasting for that. (Black people call that the Mandingo effect. If you are black of a certain age, this needs no explanation.)
Don Imus made disparaging remarks about the Rutgers Women's Basketball team after the NCAA Championship Game, at one point referring to them as "nappy-headed ho's." Imus claimed he was mimicking hip-hop artists for the amusement of his audience. It's not OK with me when hip-hoppers say this.
Imus made a vain attempt to save his career through an appearance on Al Sharpton's radio show in New York. CBS suspended him anyway.
Poor Donovan McNabb caught it both ways. Rush Limbaugh accused McNabb of being an affirmative action prop of the NFL and the media.
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
It's always the media with Rush. His career as an ESPN football analyst ended shortly after his statement.
J. Whyatt Mondesire, owner of the black-oriented Philadelphia Sun newspaper and head of the local NAACP chapter heaped scorn on McNabb for lack of leadership in the Terrell Owens affair and the notion that McNabb did not run like a black quarterback. The national NAACP repudiated Mondesire and distanced itself from his statement.
Parker made his statement on ESPN's First Take, where host Skip Bayless maligned white Redskins fans predicting they would call for Kirk Cousins to replace RGIII if Cousins ever had a good game. Cousins had that good game against the Ravens.
There is no quarterback controversy in Washington. The white people who want to sit Griffin this Sunday fear that by playing him, the Redskins are risking the next ten years for football success.
Hog Heaven thinks little of Bayless and his less of Rob Parker. We suspect we will see less of Parker on ESPN.
Griffin III has said the three areas he would not comment on are race, religion and politics. Whenever he gets around to this, you may be sure of one thing. His response, as Ms. Jarvis has said, will be the right touch for the situation.
UPDATE: Add Rob Parker to the list of sports pundits suspended for disparaging Griffin in an artificial controversy. Race is an underlying issue in American society and it should be discussed more. But sports analysts are shallow thinkers by nature, and sports audiences flock to ESPN to escape real-world issues.
Sports is life in microcosm. Sometimes, an analyst has an insight in a sports moment that reflects a larger issue. It's a rare occasion, though. It's better for sports media to keep its eye on the ball for the escapism we crave.
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As Mark Twain famously said, 'there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics."
What is the best way then from all the possible numbers to determine who is the Rookie of the Year and who is the league MVP?
This problem is especially complicated by the fact of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (assuming he plays more and produces more this year) have great numbers in different areas. In total wins and passing yards, it's Luck. In passer ratings, in TD:INT ratio and rushing yards, it's by far RG3.
Everyone agrees that the bottom line in the NFL is wins and therefore Luck should be Rookie of the Year, right?
Not so fast.
Even in the wins measurement, there is something that the pundits are leaving out. We have a somewhat scientific way to measure how well RG3 would be on the Colts and how Luck would be on the Redskins in terms of wins. The Redskins acquired Pierre Garcon in free agency, the #2 Colts receiver last year, to be the Redskins #1 receiver. Garcon has been able to run in about 4 games. RG3's wins with the Colts #2 receiver active? 4 wins, 0 losses.
Now let's imagine Luck as QB with the Redskins throwing Rex Grossman-like interception numbers. Let's see, with our stellar pass rush and pass defense, it's easy to see Luck's record as the Redskins QB being somewhere around 2 wins 10 losses.
The real measurement of who is the Most Valuable Player and to some degree who is the Rookie of the Year are the kids in the playgrounds. Who do they dream they are when playing ball in the park? That's who is the league's most valuable player, the one who ignites our dreams, our passion as fans and by definition, ignites his team.
We can take sample numbers by interviewing children all across America in playgrounds everywhere. Fortunately, we have an easier way for this article. Simply look at the jersey sales. RG3's jersey sales are #1 not just in the NFL, but in ALL U.S. professional sports.
If RG3 can make it back from injury and lead the Redskins to the playoffs, there is no comparison for either award. If RG3 cannot make it back to play this season, I believe both awards should then go to the collective QB Rookie class of 2012, unparalleled in NFL history.
Image: Robert Griffin III, 2012 NFL Draft Night, found here.
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The sports channels are giving hourly updates of Robert Griffin III's knee condition. That's how big the story is. It's gone national. It's gone viral. When you search images of "LCL sprain," you get Google hits on Robert Griffin III pictures.
Coach Mike Shanahan disclosed that RGIII has a Grade 1 LCL Sprain, with a "P." Hog Heaven found the description on MMARMedical.com the easiest to understand. Go there for the full story, but here are the highlights.
A lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain is an injury to the ligament on the outer surface of the knee joint.
"The LCL connects the femur (thighbone) and the tibia, the outer bone of the two shinbones. It is a strong narrow rope of fibers that supports the outside of the knee, limiting sideways movement and keeping the outer surfaces of the joint in close proximity to each other. Of the four main ligaments that stabilize the knee, the LCL is the least likely to be injured but when it is, other ligaments are often damaged at the same time.
"As with the other ligaments of the knee, sprains are graded according to the severity of the injury.
The ligament has been stretched, causing microscopic tears in the fibers, but the joint is still stable."
Treatment for regular people is to stay off your feet to rest the knee. Elite athletes with games on Sunday want active rehab to restore mobility and treatment to manage the pain. Griffin could do in one or two weeks of rehabilitation what takes Hog Heaven readers four to eight weeks to do.
If Jim Harbaugh can be treated for an irregular heartbeat on Wednesday and work a full day Thursday, RGIII can will himself to play in Cleveland on Sunday.
Whether he should play is another question. Expect Mike Shanahan to be coy. It's how he rolls. The question gives the NFL Network and the others a foil to play on all week. Griffin III is as much an NFL marketing property as he is to the Redskins.
Griffin is more important to the Washington Redskins future than he would be on Sunday. The Redskins won its seventh game. That meets Hog Heaven's seasonal expectation. Everything from here is gravy.
Cleveland has an AFC North-worthy defense. We
advise warn Redskins players and fans not to sleep on the Browns. I'll have more on the Browns later. Let's just say this is a trap game if ever there is one.
The game is in Cleveland in December in an outdoor stadium by a Great Lake. The long-range forecast calls for good football weather – 55° and dry. But, it's still December in Cleveland. Robert Griffin III lived in Texas and played college ball in Waco. Kirk Cousins played college ball in East Lansing. If weather is a factor, Cousins is the better cold weather quarterback.
The world will watch Griffin practice all week. I figure Coach Mike to play the "game time decision" card." Lets play along. No need to tip our hand to the Browns.
However, the quarterback who plays should be the one who is the most mobile Sunday.
The NFL Network will air a replay of the Ravens at Redskins game tonight, Tuesday, December 11, at 8:00 PM ET.
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1. – and most important to Redskins fans, Robert Griffin III has a sprained knee.
RGIII's knee flexed unnaturally near the end of the Ravens game. Every fan screamed like a man along with Robert, and Mike Shanahan clinched every bodily orifice. The Redskins didn't wait until Monday to get a MRI. They hustled Robert off right after the game to get the news.
The results were negative. Griffin III does not have an ACL tear. He will return this year, perhaps as soon as next week in Cleveland. Watch the Friday injury report.
2. The Redskins exorcised another demon, this time by beating the Baltimore Ravens 31-28 OT.
The Ravens and Steelers are the most Giants-like of all teams on the schedule other than the Giants themselves. A quality win over a quality opponent marks how the Redskins have improved. Now lets see how they do against a team like Cleveland.
It's the poor-performing teams like the Rams, the Panthers, and the 2011 Vikings that bedevil the Redskins. Hog Heaven thinks Cleveland is the most dangerous team still on Washington's schedule. The Browns have won three straight. They play the Redskins at home, outdoors in the cold.
3. RGIII, the QB that might have been for the Browns.
This will be in the papers all week, so get ready. If Mike Holmgren made his best offer up front instead of trying to haggle, Jeff Fisher might have accepted Cleveland's Draft trade offer instead of Washington's, and Holmgren might still be in his job and Mike Shanahan facing the axe.
4. If you followed Spartans football, you saw nothing new from Kirk Cousins. It's who he is and what he does.
Nobody ever confused Cousins as a gifted, mobile athlete, but the man delivered clutch performances for Michigan State for better than three seasons. There were rare lapses, but the Spartans with Cousins did things unseen in East Lansing since the 1960s.
After Cousin's designed run for the two-point conversion against the Ravens, I've been dying to mock two ideas about the RG3 offense.
1)You can't run the RGIII offense with Kirk Cousins.
2)The Redskins run Kirk Cousins too much.
Say anymore and I'll be into Jack Bauer jokes.
5. New people did all the scoring for the Redskins.
It's a "Who are those guys" season. Joshua Morgan, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garçon scored touchdowns. Kai Forbath kicked three field goals. That's before you get to the quarterbacks.
Other teams have a member of the QB Golden Class of 2012. The Redskins have two.
There's always a transition cost when you bring in new people. Players and team need the time to adjust to each other. That cost cannot be avoided. It's paid in installments over the season. This late season resurgence should have been expected.
The Shanahan front office team is doing a good job here.
6. Size matters
Richard Crawford is 5-11, 188 lbs. Niles Paul is 6-1, 233 lbs. Brandon Banks is 5-7, and 153 lbs. Size matters on special teams.
Banks was inactive for the Ravens while his return duties were handled by Crawford and Paul. Paul averaged 18.5 yards per kick return. Crawford averaged 33.3 yards per punt return. Banks averaged a decent 24 yards per kick and a poor 6.8 yards per punt return.
Size is an issue. Crawford ran straight ahead when he fielded a punt. Banks tends to run laterally before turning up field as if he were trying to avoid contact. Hog Heaven does not crawl into a player's head, but I cannot help but wonder what Banks thinks when he sees all those big bodies barreling at him at high speed.
Just for balance I do have a note for Crawford. Don't let the Punter run you down.LOL But seriously, that was a Great return!— Darrell Green (@darrellgreen28) December 9, 2012
8. Fire Jim Haslett?
Hog heaven hasn't joined the chorus calling for the defensive coordinator's head. Firing people is rarely a solution and always means resetting the clock to zero and starting all over. (See "transition cost" under item #5 above.) We're not saying Haslett has been perfect, but the keep or kick decision has to factor who Haslett is working with.
Washington's secondary was supposed to feature Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson at safety. Meriweather played half-a-game and Jackson not any (suspended). Maybe they would have added ss much to the defense as Garçon has done on offense.
Jim Haslett has done an unbelievable job w/ the D.— Joe Theismann (@Theismann7) December 9, 2012
And that's the point for anal Redskins fans. A decision on Haslett has to weigh how well he coached to the team's weaknesses. Normally you expect to coach to strengths. Haslett is coaching the 'Skins defense to do what it does well, force turnovers and score off them.
9. Kyle Shanahan can't win without RGIII
Smart guys are fond of saying of Kyle's father, "Mike Shanahan never won the big one without John Elway," as if Elway won a Super Bowl without Shanahan.
If there truly is a plot to install Kyle Shanahan as Redskins head coach in the future, it will be a matter time before fans say young Shanahan cannot win without Griffin III. All we know for sure is that Kyle can't win with Rex Grossman and John Beck. If Kyle wins a few games with Cousins, this argument dies.
10. Alfred Morris and Ray Rice on the same field.
What a treat to see two of the NFL's best running backs on display.
Trainers tend to Robert Griffin III during Ravens at Redskins game, Getty Images/North America via zimbio.com.
Kirk Cousins spikes the ball, December 9, 2012, Getty Images/North America via zimbio.com.
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