****** As Published in RVA Mag ******
What a ride, R-Words. The benching of RGIII signals the end of the roller coaster, a sudden stop that jolts our upper bodies forward over the waist harness. Our hair is frazzled, our eyes are wide, and we left our stomachs at the top of one of those drops behind us. We all look like geniuses. Was it the first drop that took our stomachs, the one where RGIII’s got injured again? That’s when it got really fun. Kirk Cousins was finally getting an unadulterated chance to prove he was the pocket passer of Jay Gruden’s dreams. A few games later is when it got scary. It was that spiral downward in the pitch black tunnel with images flashing in front of us. The screams on the roller coaster lessened as horror set in. Both RGIII and Kirk Cousins are bad? We were thrust back out into the sunlight as Colt McCoy defeated Dallas on Monday night, a collective sigh of relief. Then, as if we hadn’t had enough “RGIII returns” games, we got another. We were drunk on the ride, so we screamed again on that drop. But now we’re excited it’s over. Phew, seriously. Really great. Scary. Not for the faint-hearted. We applaud you, R-Words. Your team of skilled, evil physicists has done it again. “The Fall of RGIII” had the best drops I’ve ever been on, but let’s go get a funnel cake now.
Sorry, there are still five games left? All that happened in only two-thirds of a season? What kind of a sick amusement park is this? Oh, it’s owned by Dan Snyder. The owner of Six Flags and the Washington R-Words is an expert on roller coasters.
At first, we thought “The Fall of RGIII” was going to be about his return to glory. This is his fall, his season. We should have known. No matter what, everyone can agree that Robert Griffin III is playing terribly. Whether one thinks it’s a phase, that he needs time, or that he’s just a particularly bad quarterback, it doesn’t matter. He’s really bad right now. It’s wholly ironic that he’s being benched before the game that was supposed to feature a duel between 2012’s first and second overall picks. While Andrew Luck is fast on his way to becoming the next Brady or Manning, Griffin has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league this season. Griffin hasn’t won a game in over a year, and he’s lost his last nine as a starter. In fact, the last R-Words quarterback to win a game he started and finished since November 3, 2013 is Colt McCoy.
Oh, would that Griffin were never injured! Who knows what could have been if hadn’t gotten injured when he was drubbing the Seahawks in the 2012 playoffs. Ever since, it was assumed Griffin was still on his way to greatness and he was continually rushed back into the starting lineup. In 2013, it was clear during those first few games that he wasn’t ready. He never returned to greatness, but was rarely terrible. Save the Minnesota game, in which he was merely above average, Griffin has been Jamarcus Russell-like terrible this season. He takes too many sacks. He can’t run, or doesn’t know when to. He can’t make reads. He can’t see, or just doesn’t throw to open receivers. No one knows exactly why. Is it his body? Is it his confidence? Did his athleticism once mask how bad of a quarterback he was? Was he always terrible? Either way, the fall from heaven is now complete, but much of that is Griffin’s own fault.
Ever since he’s been in Washington, Griffin has been anointed the starter. His entire career, he has been rushed back into the lineup as if RGIII at 50% is better than any other quarterback at 100%. He was so sure that he was the savior of Washington that he drove a future hall of fame coach out of town when there was a power struggle of coach versus franchise player. But Griffin has been bad long enough to be put back in the category of good play, not legacy, equaling starting duties. Griffin must have breathed a sigh of relief when Shanahan was fired, feeling like he was then the undisputed king in Washington. Griffin had, however, ironically done himself in by driving Shanahan out of town. What Griffin didn’t understand is that a coach’s job security is often linked to a quarterback’s success. Shanahan’s Washington career was mortgaged for Griffin. If he failed, Shanahan was gone. Now, Gruden has no ties to Griffin. He has the freedom to bench any player if they are bad long enough, knowing that his career is not tied to Griffin’s success. In fact, Griffin unwittingly bought himself a shorter leash with Gruden. The sooner Gruden sits a terrible RGIII and moves on, the faster he can shake any ties to Griffin. This is a symptom of Griffin’s biggest downfall: primadonnism. Rumor has it he spends too much time in the weight room, and not enough i n the film room. Many say he’s too concerned with his public appearance and his brand than actual discipline. He is clearly defensive in media appearances, sounding more like a whiny kid than a leader. No one can really know why, but the signs all point to his benching being what everyone needs right now.
It’s one of the great tragedies of any R-Words fan’s life. There’s still hope, albeit slim that RGIII stays in Washington in 2015. How could Gruden move forward with that trashcan fire following him around? The sad thing is that RGIII still has talent, and has shown flashes of his former/future self. The more believable hope for Griffin is that he can one day regain his goodness; greatness is probably a pipe dream at this point. Step 1 for Griffin is to get humbled and benched for poor play. This is a lesson that greatness and leadership is earned, not assumed. Step 2 may, unfortunately, be a change of scenery. This would be the nail in the coffin: yet another R-Words player dropped only to become great in another jersey. With how bad RGIII is playing, that might be a risk Gruden is willing to take.
Brillant, R-Words. Really well done. To have our savior, the one who was supposed to change the game, be crippled and shamed is the ultimate in villainy. The ultimate, final act of this tragic drama will be Griffin one day torching the Washington D in another uniform. We can’t hate you, R-Words. We would have been right to call him savior, after all, wouldn’t we? Is it not a savior’s destiny to be destroyed and return changed and glorified; ie, in a Dallas jersey? Alas, he has sheep of another flock. Dallas, he loved. Washington, he hated.
With five games left, we are on the edge of our seats to see what evil you have in store for us next.
In other news, Brandon Banks returned two punts for touchdowns to single-handedly win a CFL title this week.