- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Before the Washington Redskins faced the Dallas Cowboys — the last time this team won a game — quarterback Robert Griffin III, still recovering from a dislocated ankle, appeared before reporters and made the following statement:

“A quote that I stumbled upon during this process of being injured was by Winston Churchill, and it says, ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and do something; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’”

He went on to say that while he was injured, he had been “listening, learning, growing as a player in this offense.”

Well, he may not have done very well with the learning part. But he finally listened.



There was this answer to reporters Wednesday:

“Jay [Gruden] wants me to play better. I want to play better. We’re focused on San Francisco and making that happen. So, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

And another answer to a question:

“Like I said, we’re focused on San Francisco. So, that’s all we’ve got.”

And another answer

“Like I said, Jay wants me to play better. I want to play better. We want to win. That’s all we’re focused on — getting a win. We’ve got San Francisco coming up, and they’re not going to make it easy.”

Griffin may have been sending a message to his critics — the ones from coast to coast who have told him to shut up — when he delivered this answer to a question about talking to the media. “It is what it is,” he said. “You get what you ask for.”

So while Griffin may have been lashing out at those critics with this Belichick-like performance, he was right about one thing — he needs to focus on Sunday’s game in San Francisco against the 49ers.

His future may depend on it — at least his future as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

Don’t be surprised if you hear that Colt McCoy has been getting more work with the first team in practice. And if Griffin has a poor first half Sunday, don’t be surprised if McCoy is behind center for the second half.

Then, don’t be surprised if Robert Griffin III’s career with the Redskins is over.

It’s been a remarkable fall from grace — from the young, charismatic rookie superstar of 2012 who wowed everyone with his play on the field and persona off the field to the embattled 2014 pariah whose coach said he is a long way from being an NFL quarterback and whose public persona has now become a source of ridicule.

I don’t think we’ve seen such a fall from anyone who hasn’t committed a crime of some sorts.

This will make a hell of an ESPN “30 for 30” someday. They can use footage of the documentary Griffin helped produce about himself following his rookie season, “RG3 — The Will to Win.”

People are taking numbers and lining up for a shot at Griffin.

Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young said on the Michael Kay radio show that Griffin doesn’t work hard enough. “I’ve talked to his previous coaches, people I really trust and admire, that know quarterbacks. He doesn’t put the time in,” Young said.

That was former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan — Young’s offensive coordinator in San Francisco from 1992-94 — speaking from the grave.

Gruden may have been in backpedal mode meeting with reporters Wednesday following his harsh criticism of Griffin in his Monday press conference, but nobody is going to forget what we heard from him. The only thing Gruden didn’t criticize Griffin for was his penmanship.

It sounded like he got a talking to after that performance, either from Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, owner Daniel Snyder, or both.

“I think it was a mistake on my part,” Gruden said Wednesday of his harsh criticism of Griffin. “After a loss like that, we were very disappointed in the way we played and the question came up about how he played and all that stuff and I just answered it first thing that came to my mind. And sometimes the first thing that comes to your mind isn’t the smartest thing.”

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the truth. He didn’t say, “I was too harsh, Robert didn’t really play that bad.” And this wasn’t a heat of the moment, post-game evaluation. Gruden had 24 hours to calm down.

And even with Gruden trying to apologize, sort of, for his public criticism of Griffin, he couldn’t stop himself from validating Young’s comments. When asked if he was “comfortable” with the work Griffin does to learn the position, Gruden said, “He does what he’s supposed to do. He could probably do more.”

If you don’t think Gruden was talked to, listen to what he said when asked about long-term planning for the quarterback position.

“The coaches have been let go after one year, two years, four years, you know?” he responded. “I’m not worried about that. I’m just trying to put a product on the field that this city, this team can be proud of and something that we feel like we can build off of for future years if I am here.”

No one except Gruden mentioned coaches being fired. No one except Gruden suggested he might not be here in future years.

“Well, we’re on the same page,” Gruden told reporters, when asked if he received any “advice” from the front office. “Like I said, we just want what’s best for our football team moving forward, and we want to try to squash all the Twitter and all the media and all the things that got twisted around. Whatever happened, happened. I handled it the way I handled it. There’s nothing I can do about it. But we’re all together on this moving forward that we want to stay together as a team.”

There’s only one thing that will keep everyone on the same page moving forward, and keep this team together: Griffin playing well at quarterback Sunday in San Francisco. Based on how far Gruden said Griffin has to go to do that, you can crumple that page up and throw it in the wastebasket.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com

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