- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 30, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

BALTIMORE — It was a rough week for Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden. But, he found peace, however briefly, Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium in a preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Gruden was viciously attacked by a national sports talk show host who called him an “idiot” and said he should be fired for the way he left Robert Griffin III in the Aug. 20 preseason game against the Detroit Lions.

He looked like a fool when he spoke to the media this week and responded to the question about how Griffin seemed to recover so quickly from the “concussion” he suffered by answering, “I have no idea.”

“Concussiongate” gained steam after Griffin’s destructive Thursday news conference, when asked by reporters when — or if — he sustained a concussion against the Lions.



The polarizing quarterback answered, “You’ve got to talk to the people who report that stuff. I don’t report that stuff. I was in the locker room, taking a shower, getting ready to watch the rest of the game, so I don’t know.”

Then when news came out the next day that Griffin had not been cleared by a neuropsychologist to play against Baltimore on Saturday night, it seemed to contradict what Gruden had told reporters earlier when he said that if he was cleared by the neurologist, “He will be ready to go.”

The team announced Thursday that Griffin was cleared and would play Saturday against the Ravens. Then came the Friday statement that he would not play — all of which made it look like Gruden had no idea what was going on with Griffin.

“I know people want to make it out that we’re incompetent, but this had nothing to do with us,” Gruden said after Saturday’s game.

So, when Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh ran over to the sidelines Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium and yelled at Gruden following a vicious hit by Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson on Baltimore’s Kamar Aiken, Gruden gave Harbaugh a look like, “Are you kidding me? This is all I need.”

Gruden said, “I was two feet on the field, and he was all the way on the sideline, and the referee told me to get back. As far as what he said to me and all that, it was just a heated deal.”

Then things got better for Gruden.

Kirk Cousins came back from throwing an interception to lead the offense on an eight-play, 64-yard scoring drive for the first touchdown of the preseason produced by the first team offense. Cousins followed with an even more impressive eight-play, 83-yard touchdown drive to give Washington a 14-13 lead.

Then Colt McCoy delivered an equally impressive second-half performance — completing 10 of 12 for 95 yards and two touchdowns, leading the undefeated Redskins to a 31-13 preseason victory.

While Gruden stood there in the postgame press conference and answered questions about the future of Griffin, and the reports that Cousins will be his starting quarterback week one against Miami, he was clearly relieved to also be able talk about watching his offense finally produce on the field.

“I was happy with our offense,” he said. “The beginning wasn’t too good. We threw the interception to [Terrell] Suggs, but we bounced back and we put together two good drives at the end of the half. A great two-minute driver by Kirk, and the offensive line did an outstanding job blocking. … Altogether, I think they played well.”

Gruden was downright giddy when asked about how Cousins responded following the early interception — something that led to his benching last season.

“I thought it was awesome,” he said. “I was really proud of him. We’ve had issues in the past with that situation. He bounced back, didn’t bat an eye. He was fired up to get this opportunity.”

This week, it’s back to the asylum at Redskins Park for Jay Gruden, and the insanity of the world of Robert Griffin III. But Saturday night in Baltimore he found a safe haven from the noise — the football field.

• 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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