Friday, September 4, 2015

What do you do with Robert Griffin III?

So we're finally at a point where we don't know if Robert Griffin will take the field again as a Redskin. Lots of people will try to tell you they "knew" that Griffin was done before the season started, or at the end of last year, but they're filthy, filthy liars. Anyone who's watched how this team has treated Griffin from the day he was acquired knows that he was always going to be given one more chance to try to recapture some of the magic of his rookie season, when he led Washington to double-digit wins and a playoff berth. This ownership group (aka Daniel Snyder) is reluctant to admit that giving up so much to trade up in order to draft Griffin may have been a mistake.

And it might not have been a mistake. Does anybody actually believe that the Redskins would be championship contenders if they'd kept their draft picks instead of trading them? We might be looking at a couple more 7-9 or 8-8 seasons that would've been just good enough to allow Snyder to persist in the delusion that he didn't need help from football people to run the organization. If you're of the opinion that the addition of Scot McLoughan was a positive one (which I believe I am), then we likely had to endure the heartache of Robert Griffin to get here.

But the more pressing concern is that Robert Griffin III is still on the roster. He may be recovering from a concussion, but at some point, he'll be healthy enough to play. What do you do then? It's a difficult question, made more difficult if Kirk Cousins isn't setting the world on fire (and let's be honest, there's very little chance he does that). Do you run Griffin back out there? Do you slide him in as a backup and let him jump in if things get out of control in a game? Do you trade him as soon as he's cleared to play? Do you cut him?

No, no, no, and no.

You can't go back to Griffin as your quarterback at this point unless it's because you have no other healthy options. He can't be the quarterback in Washington ever again under any but the most dire circumstances. The situation in DC has gotten to the point that Griffin's mere presence on the field is toxic. I don't agree with this sentiment necessarily, but it doesn't matter. The fan opinion of Griffin has shifted to probably 80% negative, and that's untenable. So, he can't be the guy.

He also can't be the guy behind the guy. Remember that 80% I mentioned? Well, they're vocal and angry. And anytime you find a big group of people being vocal and angry in their attacks on someone, you'll find that people with the opposing view become just as vocal and angry. So if Cousins throws a few interceptions (which isn't, you know, wildly out of the realm of possibility), that vocal minority will be shouting from the rooftops IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GAME to put Griffin in at QB. No, backup won't work either.

And to all of the people saying that we should've traded Griffin over the offseason, or last year, or should trade him as soon as he's healthy, what exactly are you hoping to get out of that trade? Because if it's anything other than "7th round pick" or "backup long-snapper," you're fooling yourself. So really, you're only doing the trade if you believe that removing Griffin from the team is an opportunity for "addition by subtraction." You wouldn't be the only one to think that, of course. But I think barring someone losing their mind and trading legitimate value for him, it's foolish to dump him like that. And the Raiders seem to like their guy, so a crazy offer likely isn't available.

And if I don't want to dump him for something small, obviously I don't want to dump him for nothing.

If I know how your mind works, I can guess what you're thinking. "You don't want to play him, you don't want to trade him, and you don't want to cut him. You want him to ride the pine all season? That doesn't do anyone any good!"

I agree, that wouldn't do anyone any good, but that's not what I said. Here's my recommendation:

Don't bench him, and don't play him at quarterback.

Look, from the first day the Redskins acquired Robert Griffin III, I thought they would be best served by acquiring other "quarterbacks" with varied skillsets. My dream team was to partner Griffin with Michael Vick and Tim Tebow, and throw an offense at the opposition that was impossible to gameplan against. You'd have two "quarterbacks" on the field at any given time, and the offense could go in a number of directions. Maybe that kind of "gimmick" doesn't get you a Super Bowl championship, but neither has trying to shoehorn Griffin into being a pocket passer. At least my idea could result in some insane plays, and had the upside potential of being an indefensible offense.

So what do you do now? Well, Kirk Cousins isn't exactly Michael Vick, but he's young enough that he should be able to execute rollouts and trick plays. So you work with Griffin to get him onto the field, but in a receiver/H-back capacity. His speed should play anywhere, and it's worth at least finding out if he's got the hands to execute this kind of playbook.

Griffin won't be back after this season, that much is certain. And because of that fact, there's no reason to run him out there as a quarterback; you invest snaps in guys who might be around long-term. But that's no reason to give up on trying to get something out of him. Would I expect it to yield great results? No, I would not. But with most fans already giving up on this season, it would at least add a little excitement to what looks like a lost year.

PS for Mike: hockey Magic hockey Magic

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