STEVE DeSHAZO: Like they did with the 49ers, ’Skins can’t hold back the doubts
LANDOVER, Md.—Tired of answering questions, Robert Griffin III asked one.
“What am I supposed to do? Come up here and talk about how bad we are?” Griffin said early Tuesday morning. “That’s not my job.”
No, that’s mine.
And Griffin and his Washington Redskins teammates are making it awfully easy for scribes and fans to pile on them—much like San Francisco’s Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith did on the field in Monday night’s 27–6 blowout.
“Everyone’s tired of losing,” Griffin said.
Still, there’s something about “Monday Night Football” that brings out the worst in the Redskins. Washington is 2–12 at FedEx Field on Monday night regular-season games, including home losses of 59–28 to the Eagles (2010), 45–12 to the Giants (’09) and 23–6 to the Steelers (’08).
Twice this year, ESPN has exposed the Redskins as impostors; they trailed Philadelphia 26–7 at halftime in their opener before making the final score a deceptive 33–27.
“We just didn’t show up,” said Alfred Morris, one of the few Redskins who didn’t immediately flee the locker room. “It’s frustrating, because we know we’re better than what we’re putting on the field.”
It’s fair to ask, are they really? It’s also becoming more apparent by the week that another coaching and roster overhaul is inevitable, setting back Griffin’s progress even further.
Not only are the Redskins overmatched at several important positions (namely offensive line and secondary), they’ve been seriously outcoached lately, too.
The Shanahans may have written their tickets out of D.C. with one combined decision Monday night.
After Vernon Davis lost a fumble at San Francisco’s 49 early in the third period of a still-competitive 10–6 game, the Redskins gained 8 yards in three plays. Going for it on fourth and 2 was a reasonable choice by Mike Shanahan; Kyle chose poorly in handing the ball to backup Roy Helu Jr. while pile-moving starter Morris watched from the sideline.
All the energy in the stadium evaporated when Helu was stopped a yard short, and it took just six plays for the 49ers to score and end the competitive portion of the game (not to mention the season and perhaps the Shanahans’ tenure).
Kyle Shanahan’s play call spoke volumes about Griffin’s inaccuracy as he throws off a reconstructed right knee that’s still not right—and his line’s inability to protect him. Late in the first half, Griffin looked skittish and missed a wide-open Santana Moss when the 49ers’ Donte Whitner blitzed.
Such little things often mark the difference between a 10–6 division champion and a 3–8 free-falling team. Anyone who’s watched the Redskins all season have seen their flaws; games like Monday’s expose them to a national audience.
And that has to grate at owner Daniel Snyder, who has learned the ills of his fruitless meddling in the past and kept a low profile. But when his team keeps getting embarrassed on national television, he’s likely to do something.
(As the Redskins keep losing, the real winner is the St. Louis Rams. They have Washington’s 2014 first-round draft pick—which could be No. 1 overall—and can add Jadeveon Clowney or a franchise quarterback to an improving team.)
Mike Shanahan’s handling of Griffin (pre- and post-surgery) also will be scrutinized. It was amplified after Monday’s game when Brooks, whose father played for the Redskins in the 1970s, told CSN Washington: “Everybody can see it. He shouldn’t be playing.”
Griffin hasn’t lost very often in his young life, so this ineptitude is relatively new to him—even if it isn’t to long-suffering Redskins fans.
So is criticism. Griffin denied a report that he asked not to have negative plays shown in the team’s film review—which is good, because there have been a lot lately. “People are trying to character assassinate me,” he said.
To their credit, the Redskins have pointed no fingers—perhaps because there’s blame to be assessed everywhere.
“Guys have to turn it off,” Griffin said of the criticism. “As soon as it comes on, turn it off, because they are not going to say pleasant things. Everyone’s going to speculate. Everyone’s going to tear it apart. We just can’t be a part of that process.”
Griffin then said something that stood out in an otherwise cliché postgame session.
“We choose to get better,” he insisted.
If only it were that easy.
Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443