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Hogs Haven Interview: Mike and Mike weigh in on RG3 and the Redskins Monday Night matchup versus the Eagles

Dan Ciarrocchi interviewed Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning and talked RG3, the read option, Monday night's matchup with the new-look Eagles and the Redskins 2013 outlook.

SUBWAY Famous Fans Mike Golic, left, and Mike Greenberg of ESPN pose behind the counter at a SUBWAY restaurant in New York, Thursday, September 5, 2013, as part of the “FOOTLONGS and Football ANYone?” event celebrating SUBtember
SUBWAY Famous Fans Mike Golic, left, and Mike Greenberg of ESPN pose behind the counter at a SUBWAY restaurant in New York, Thursday, September 5, 2013, as part of the “FOOTLONGS and Football ANYone?” event celebrating SUBtember
Diane Bondareff/Invision for Subway Restaurants/AP Images

Editors Note: I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic of ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning, who spent Thursday in New York City doing a promotion for Subway's SUBtember, where all regular footlongs are five dollars. They spent the afternoon celebrating the 2013 kickoff by asking trivia questions to fans, and having Golic show off his sandwich making skills in the meantime.

I caught up with them over the phone and covered a broad range of topics in just 15 minutes, ranging from RG3's offseason headlines, to the new-look Eagles coming into FedEx field Monday night and also predictions from each of them on how the Redskins will fare this year. Also, we talked about sandwiches because of course we did:

Dan Ciarrocchi: Gentlemen, it's a pleasure to be joined by you. Now, I'm just trying to get a feel for what you guys have been up to all day. I'm of the understanding you guys have been having a lunchtime celebration in New York City for Subway's SUBtember. What's been the highlight of your day so far doing this?

Mike Greenberg: The highlight of my day was definitely watching Golic's artistry when it came to making sandwiches. We were at a Subway in midtown Manhattan, where we were asking sports trivia questions-- and giving sports fans on this joyous celebratory day where we kick off the pro football season-- a chance to win free Subway to kick off SUBtember where all regular footlongs are five dollar footlongs. So I was asking the trivia questions and Golic was helping make sandwiches, and I must say, he was just fabulous there with making all the sandwiches, the hot ones, the cold ones, rolling everything up. Mike, you were like a chef back there.

Mike Golic: Yeah, when it comes to food, food is my middle name. I treat food with the care that you'd treat a newborn (with). I was right in my element preparing that food.

DC: Now, there's a common thread connecting Subway and the Washington Redskins, and that of course is Robert Griffin III, who's a spokesman. Yesterday, he said something very interesting in a conference call to members of the Philadelphia media and I just wanted to run this quote by you guys. This is on the concept of defenses countering the read option by hitting QBs and he said "I don't know what to expect from defenses. They're always going to try and throw something special at you. But you've got to be careful when you talk about targeting quarterbacks. That sounds a whole lot like a bounty to me." Now, I think that's an interesting choice of words with Monday night coming up. So my question for you guys is, did Griffin just make the target on his back bigger or smaller by dropping the "bounty" word before a game?

Greenberg: Well it's interesting because these obviously are the offenses' talking points of pro football in 2013. Jim Harbaugh, the coach of the 49ers, who has a quarterback who is similarly athletic in Colin Kaepernick and runs the pistol offense as well, made similar comments. He didn't actually use the word "bounty," but he came very close when describing the way he expects teams to attack. So I think this is clearly the approach, that offenses that want to run this dynamic package, are using. They want to send a message. They want to put the idea in the heads of the officials and in the heads of the national football league that these quarterbacks need to be protected. They cannot have teams saying "at all costs, take the quarterback out of the game when you have the opportunity to get a shot on him." They're clearly trying to get that thought into people's heads and it'll be fascinating to see how the league reacts to it, and what you will see interpreted by how the officials react to it.

Golic: Yeah, and you notice what the offense people are saying. They're saying the "targeting" word, and I get what they're trying to do. But at no point will guys like Clay Matthews, Jr. or other defenders say "we need to hit the quarterback in the knee, we need to hit the quarterback in the head," or "we need to take out the quarterback." But they need to hit the quarterback. Since the game of football started, quarterbacks have been hit. Now, that's still when he's in the pocket and throwing the ball that they need to get hit, but now it's a little different if they're going to run this option, if they're going to hold the ball or fake a handoff, they're clearly runners and you can hit them. Hit them as hard as you want. And I'll say it, and it's not "targeting," that I would try to hit a guy as hard as I could legally. If he doesn't get up and has to leave the game, so be it. That's the way the game is, and that's the way the game's played. And nobody said "hit them in the knee," and nobody said "hit them in the head." All they said is "you're going to get hits on the quarterback." If they want to call it "targeting" to get the league to protect them more, go ahead. That's their job, and that's what they're trying to do. But hopefully- and again, I'm cool with it- but since the beginning of dawn, defensive players will hit offensive players with the ball as hard as they can. Sometimes they get up, sometimes they don't.

DC: Now, another big talking point from this offseason is protecting Griffin coming off of that knee surgery, and he showed a bit of-- you could call it impatience or eagerness-- in wanting to get back onto the field. And that kind of spiraled into a perceived rift with Mike Shanahan. So I wanted to ask you guys, does any part of either of you think that the RG3/Shanahan potential rift is smoke leading to the fire, or really just smoke and mirrors, and just something to talk about in the dog days of the offseason?

Greenberg: My sense, when viewing it from the comparative distance that I am, is that everything is not OK. There is something in the dynamic of the relationship between RG3, Mike Shanahan and Dr. James Andrews that leaves me uncomfortable. Dr. James Andrews has performed surgery on just about every significant athlete that I can think of who has needed surgery. I've never heard him quoted as extensively and I've never heard him express concerns in the way that he has in this case. So something there is not right. Now, I can't pretend I know what it is. They say winning is the great deodorant, so if the Redskins play well- and I think they will-I picked them to win the division. If Griffin stays healthy, which is obviously critical for all things, and for football fans everywhere because he's just so much fun to watch play, then I think it gets shoved under the rug and I think everything will be forgotten. But as of this moment, my sense is that there is something in that relationship somewhere that is not working, but I don't know what it is and I'm not sure we ever will.

Golic: I agree, there's just too much smoke there. You know, the impatience of RG3, that's not surprising. All players want to get back on the field. And he even said "I probably shouldn't have brought up the fact that I don't understand the plan that they have." At that point you just say "whatever coach has, I'm going to do it and if you want to battle somebody behind the scenes, so be it." But there's just so much here that Greeny said with the two of them and Dr. Andrews. I think someday we'll find out a little more and it won't be tomorrow, but Greeny's also right that if you win, all is forgotten. And I think we expect RG3 to continue off of the great year he had last year. But the one thing we have to remember is he has not taken one snap of the preseason, and he's only in his second year, I don't care how good he is. There's going to be some rust to knock off.

DC: Let' shift the focus toward Monday night. The Eagles are deploying a new 3-4 defense Monday night. Mr. Golic, I know you have experience in the trenches of an NFL game. Do you think we're going to see a seamless transition into this new front seven or do you think the Eagles are going to struggle out of the gate?

Golic: It depends on how many players are switching their position. If you're a defensive end with your hand in the ground and now you're going to be an outside linebacker in a two-point stance and have different responsibilities, then it depends on the individual. But mainly you're going with a 3-4 because you think you have better personnel with the linebackers because there's four of them on the field. So that would be my answer. Now, if you have the same guys out there just switching positions and now doing things differently than they've been used to doing, that's a possibility. So for whatever player that has to switch their position, I think there's going to be a little transition period. But [the Eagles] are a defense that struggled. They had that wide-nine and needed to be stronger up the middle than they were. So there will definitely be a transition period, but I think you're going to see with what used to be known as tweener guys who couldn't make it in the NFL, become outside linebackers who can keep up with these running quarterbacks.

DC: What do you think we're going to see from Chip Kelly's offense Monday night when he comes to D.C.?

Greenberg: If you ask Jon Gruden, who was on our show talking about this [Wednesday], he said that he has spent a lot of time with Chip Kelly-I don't know if he used the word "revolutionized"-but he gave us a sense of "you ain't seen nothing yet." I think we'll see formations unlike anything we've seen before. I think he expects us to see a use of up-tempo, high-octane no-huddle offense, more than what we've seen from any other team before including New England. I think he is setting the stage for something that doesn't look like anything we've seen before. You know, I'm always somewhat skeptical of that, but I can tell you Jon Gruden knows Chip Kelly really well and is selling it in a way that he thinks it's going to be something really spectacular. And just as a [football] fan I can't wait to see them. I'm really interested to see what it is they're going to put on the field.

Golic: I think that's a bit overplayed. He's not reinventing football here, so as far as formations we're not used to seeing, I'll be interested to see that because we've seen a whole lot of different formations in football already. So I don't know what "new" he's going to do there. The only thing I'm really expecting and waiting to see is will he be up-tempo all the time like he was a Oregon, or will he pick his spots to be up-tempo, because plenty of teams pick their spots. We know the Patriots averaged the most plays per game last season with 74. Will the Eagles go above that? Will they be in the eighties? Will they be able to be up-tempo the whole game like that? So I think it's a bit overplayed, I don't think he's reinventing football or formations or positions. He just has an up-tempo, high-octane game, which gives you a chance to have more plays and more big plays. But let's also remember this is the NFL. There are a lot more equal teams than there are in college and there's also more room for offenses to make mistakes as well. So I'm just interested to see how long and often he goes with that up-tempo offense.

DC: Now lastly, I want to get a prediction from you guys. But first I want to say thanks so much for taking the time to do this for Hogs Haven and I wanted to take the time to extend my thanks and gratitude personally. But before we sign off, if RG3 plays a full season, how far are the Redskins going to go?

Greenberg: I picked the Redskins to go 10-6 this year and win the division. I think if the team is healthy, there is a real chance they come out of the NFC. Let me put it this way-if they were in the AFC, I would pick the Redskins to go to the Super Bowl. In the NFC, I think they're a team that needs more balance. I think Seattle has more balance, I think San Francisco has more balance and Atlanta may have more balance. But if you were to put a bunch of teams in there and then say "could this team win the Super Bowl?" the {Redskins] would definitely be one of them. I also happen to be a huge fan of their backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, and at one time I was hoping my Jets would find a way to trade for him. And so, even if RG3 does miss some time, I think they're in fairly good hands as he showed last year.

Golic: I actually don't have them making the playoffs this year. I have the Giants coming out of the East and I have New Orleans and Seattle coming out as Wild Cards. But as Greeny said, and I will say, it wouldn't shock me if [the Redskins] did. They're good enough to do that. I think the NFC East could be so close, and it could just be a game that decides it, with nine or 10 wins. I won't go as far as Greeny and say if you put them in the AFC they'd be in the Super Bowl, but I think San Francisco and Seattle are the two tops in the league, and then you start talking about other teams. So I think as long as you put good pieces around RG3 and he stays healthy, they are going to be contenders for as long as he is doing that. But this year, if you ask my prediction right now, I don't have them in the playoffs.