Long one today, and we don't do "TLDR" around here, so consider yourself warned! Hahahaha...
1. Well...that spiraled out of control quickly. Even for us. You know, someone recently asked me what I meant when I called the Redskins organization "dysfunctional." They think it is just a buzz word for "a down period" or an overblown representation of reality. People will invariably say we are just drama queens here in D.C. or that we prefer everything with a side of shenanigans. As much as I think we would all wish to know that the norm in the NFL is closer to our experience than not, the truth is that our experience is far removed from the one shared by MANY other fanbases. The good news is that things could be changing for the better right in front of our eyes. The bad news is that ripping off this band-aid is going to hurt like a bitch.
2. I said (last week) that I would not be surprised if what just happened...happened. I think unsurprising is not the right word for the situation though, because the look on our faces and the thoughts going through our heads are those of people who are at least a teeny bit shocked. As far as the roster moves ahead, I would not characterize this as "giving up" on a player. Instead, I would suggest that moving on past RG3 is a matter of normal football team management (I know...foreign concept). As in, when a rational, professional individual surveys the situation, a course of action becomes crystal clear. It doesn't HAVE to be such a "Sophie's Choice" drama, but I am not sure if we know any other way. The Redskins are like a blind guy trying to navigate through a field full of horse manure. Except, we're not blind...and we slam our feet into the middle of every pile of manure in a shockingly deliberate manner. And then we walk around trying to figure out what that smell is, accusing everyone else of poor hygiene. We are beyond the point when this kind of talk is speculative or rooted in a lack of understanding of how things actually work. We know how they work. We see it with our own eyes. Worse, the differences between how we do things and how others do them has never been easier to discern.
3. First, let's address moving on past RG3. Three years after mortgaging the future to bring in a player that everyone thought could succeed in the NFL, this is where we are. By NFL standards, it is truly shocking. Sure, people bomb out all the time. Sure, teams overpay for talent on a regular basis. There is more to this particular story though. Griffin led the league in yards per carry, yards per pass and touchdown-to-interception ratio in his 2012 season (check me on that James!). To go from that to where we are today is not something you see every day--I can't think of a quick comparison. It begs the question: how? On one hand, injuries happen and they kind of stir the Kool-Aid in the NFL. Griffin may never again be capable of physically repeating that 2012 performance. That could be true...it is probably even likely true, but that is not my point, because I think there are other things dwarfing the injury topic. I waited for years to even say it out loud, but in the last year, I have been saying it on every show I get invited on. I believe that Dan Snyder succeeded in creating the perfect place for people to fail. We all--for the most part--work somewhere. We all understand the dynamics involved with different kinds of management styles and different kinds of interpersonal relationship skills, etc. We have probably all experienced "good" bosses and "bad" bosses. When you go to work, you know how you feel about the work environment, and you know intimately how it impacts the way you perform. This article isn't about anonymous sources or unsubstantiated rumors, but I have known--personally--a fair amount of employees that worked out in Ashburn. The story from them has been pretty consistent over the last ten years or more, and that story has been a negative one (no quotes here or secondhand stories, but trust me when I tell you I believe what I have heard...please feel free to arrive at your own conclusions). If you are looking for hard evidence, ummmmm, have you watched Sportscenter lately? Have you read the Washington Post at all the last 20 years? Have you been to FedEx on Sundays or even just watched games? What you see on the field is an extension of the manner in which the team conducted its business. Simply put, the Redskins organization has been a place where people have been inspired to give far less than their best efforts--proof...pudding. This is about SO much more than Griffin, and it is very important to remember that. People are going to want to harp on it being a Griffin thing, and I think that is a mistake. This is about the way the Redskins have been run since Dan Snyder arrived. In fact, if all we do is solve the Griffin matter now, we are still in extremely dangerous territory. If we are, instead, solving the Dan Snyder matter, this might be a great day--although not for #10, unfortunately.
4. The big story today is not Robert Griffin III. It's not Kirk Cousins. It's MCLOVIN'!!!!! The only way this team makes this decision is if McLovin' wins a huge battle against Dan Snyder. Do you know how big this is? It is the single greatest moment of hope we have had...shit, probably since we drafted Griffin. I kind of walked into that one. If McLovin' won over Dan Snyder on the Griffin matter, it is a watershed moment. It even suggests some deft maneuvering all offseason. Naming Griffin the starter back in February bought McLovin' and Jay Gruden a ton of time. In that time, they were able to placate Snyder, keep Griffin focused on his job and even groom Cousins under the radar (that Jon Gruden/Kirk Cousins work all of a sudden plays, doesn't it?). Nobody can say that the organization wasn't committed to milking as much as they could from such a costly asset. As much as I was OPPOSED to the option being picked up, we will likely soon be saved from that mistake. On so many levels, McLovin' has made moves to change the culture of this team, and the removal of Griffin--regardless of how any of us feels about what Griffin did for us--has to be seen as the signature move of the first-year GM's tenure. It is a statement move and it IMMEDIATELY changes who and what the Washington Redskins are going forward. That is what we asked of McLovin', and we shouldn't sleep on the magnitude of him winning over Snyder.
5. We have no choice but to own the spot we are in, and that means dealing with it and trying to move on productively. We need to understand that this is the last scene of The Christmas Carol--it's Christmas morning y'all!!! We haven't missed it yet! We just have to give ourselves a chance, and that means moving on from RG3. Do I think Griffin will remain unemployed for long? Nope. Two things here: 1) It's still preseason and there are still some very quarterback-needy squads; and 2) There are definitely some NFL insiders (like GM's and such) that ABSOLUTELY think part of Griffin's problem was due to his environment. Griffin will get the chance to go and try out somewhere else. The great news for Robert is that he won't be saddled with living up to personally replacing three blue-chip rookies. He won't be saddled with the desperate hopes of a franchise and its fans, blind to everything but glitz and shine. Maybe he doesn't realistically have 2012 in him again, but he is an elite athlete with gas in the tank, and a ton of pride. He deserves the opportunity to escape this as much as we deserve the opportunity to move on from it.
6. I can't help but think about Mike Shanahan today. We knew--KNEW--that he loved Kirk Cousins. He and Kyle coached Kirk at the Senior Bowl and those of us who were around at the time knew that they were dead set on adding him to the team and building around him. I think we can all agree that trading for Griffin was primarily a Dan Snyder move, and Shanahan went along with it. There was plenty to like about what Griffin brought with him, and Shanny tried to make it work. The only value in trying to envision what a Shanahan Era would have looked like without Griffin is contained in ensuring we stop making these mistakes. At this point, Shanny is completely colored by the whole episode, and maybe it has even cost him the chance at a job or two. I think it could have been much different, well...except for the ego part, but you would take that alongside some wins, right? Kyle Shanahan has remained in demand, which makes me wonder a little about the succession plan we all kind of assumed was in place. It is amazing the ripple effects one terrible decision makes, but again, making it all about trading for Griffin is not the right thing to do here. It is just the current plate we are eating from, and it's time to get rid of the damn recipe.
Bonus/Lucky #7. I can't end this without hitting a positive note, and there is a real positive note here everyone. Maybe it shouldn't have taken this long for Dan Snyder to see the error of his ways, but there are signs that he has done just that. Nobody is wearing the failure of the Redskins organization more than Dan Snyder. If he has truly ceded control of these kinds of decisions to McLovin', and by extension, Jay Gruden, then get ready to see some actual, real live, professional football. Kirk Cousins might not be getting sized up for a Pro Bowl jersey, but we can win games if he plays the way he did on Saturday. I was at M&T Bank Stadium and as I tweeted from my seat, it really felt like the beginning of something as opposed to the end of something. Throw out all the ideas and predictions for this Redskins team. Everything that has been written or said, all the ways we have been written off and marginalized...it's all wiped away. This isn't to suggest that Kirk Cousins makes us a playoff contender, although I do think that. I think our ceiling is higher with Cousins under center because it allows the staff to execute a game strategy that has a MUCH higher probability of success than just crossing your fingers that your starting quarterback doesn't get murdered on every single play. The fact this is happening right before the season starts could be the best thing ever. We get almost NO time to really swim in this water before the season gets started and the Cousins Era begins in earnest. It is not about forgetting Griffin--it is about embracing what is possible under McLovin' and Jay Gruden. When the direction of your franchise is determined and managed by coaches and professional personnel men, and not by the owner and star player, an ENTIRELY different reality is possible. I say we embrace it and move on with love in our hearts, as opposed to being bitter about the cost we have already paid. That could be our way of chipping in to the culture change around here. There is about to be a lot to like about the near future of this team. We can pay Griffin his due without hanging him out to dry on the mistakes he absolutely made here. Moving on is the healthiest thing for everyone involved. So let's do it...we have a season to get ready for, y'all!