Monday, November 10, 2014

Redskins Fans Need Patience and Impatience

Mike Shanahan was hired by the Washington Redskins to take over for the 2010 season as the Head Coach and general manager. The two-time Super Bowl (head coach) winning Shanahan did many things in his tenure with the Redskins, the first of which was to set out and let players know that none of them are bigger than the team. Albert Haynesworth was the key example. Then Donovan McNabb. Then, to a degree, LaRon Landry.

What the Redskins did next was establish youth across the board for the Redskins. Going from one of the oldest teams in the league under Joe Gibbs and Jim Zorn, the Redskins quickly became one of the younger teams in the league (especially at the top of the depth chart) and this was a major part of their ability to contend in 2012 and win the division championship for the first time since 1999.

But youth does not bring great leadership. There needs to be a balance. London Fletcher was a tremendous leader, but his skills on the field were fast-declining and this made it tough for teammates to trust him on the field, no matter how much they respected him off of it. Many players also made stupid mistakes. Fred Davis being one of the major trouble-makers for his late nights, hangovers, and marijuana use.

Robert Griffin III was drafted in 2012 to become the face of the Washington Redskins' franchise, and he electrified early and often, setting team and league records almost every single week. But a torn ACL late in the year/in the playoffs led to Griffin needing surgery and his timetable to return (All in for Week 1) was a major rush. Griffin was cleared, but many questioned if it was a wise decision. Griffin played, and did not play with an explosiveness.

For much of the 2013 season, we wondered if mistakes were made. Then, every week, there were leaked reports of dissension between players and players, players and coaches, coaches and owner--and ultimately Mike Shanahan was terminated.

We all know just how important it is for a quarterback to have consistency in his career. Consistency in his stats, in his growth, in his maturation, in his relationship with other players, and in his relationship with coaches. Ultimately, you would prefer a quarterback stay in one scheme with one head coach and, for as long as possible, with the same offensive coordinator. We watched Jason Campbell here in Washington go through offensive coordinator after offensive coordinator, and his best year was the result of his first time with the same coordinator. But Campbell was inconsistent, on and off the field, and it resulted in him being shipped out by Mike Shanahan only weeks after being promised it was his team.

Entering 2014, with a new Head Coach in Jay Gruden, and a new General Manager in Bruce Allen, fans hoped RGIII would become a more polished version of his 2012 self, with far more consistency than his 2013 form. But inconsistency started in the offseason when Gruden came in with a new system and a new scheme. Griffin not only has to continue to learn to play quarterback in the NFL, but he also has to learn a new set of plays, with new players, and new communication.

Aaron Rodgers did not get to start until his 4th year in the league. He was not a finished product, because he had to learn to play, not just study. Robert Griffin III was thrown in immediately. He is barely in his full third season. He also suffered a dislocated ankle in the second game of the year, so he lost more time.

You may question Griffin's ability to stay healthy. It is logical. He got hurt in college. He got hurt in the NFL, several times. But you have to be patient and allow him to find consistency. For now, the only consistent pattern in RGIII's career is inconsistency. Players need to learn. They need to play. They need to grow. Everyone should agree that Griffin is an electric, dynamic, fully-capable player. Give him the opportunity to grow into the player he is capable of becoming.

But this team is no longer young. Many of Shanahan's "in his prime" players are now in their 30's. Gruden is going to have to find his own youth, while also doing everything he can to give Robert a reliable group to find consistency with. So while you have to be patient with Robert Griffin, you may want to turn your impatience towards the veterans on this team who undoubtedly have to do more to prove they deserve to stay.

Patience will go a long way in helping Alfred Morris be the running back he was in years 1 and 2 of his career. Impatience will push Pierre Garcon to either live up to his contract or crumble and head elsewhere. Patience will help Jordan Reed get the chance Robert Griffin deserves. Impatience should force us to find offensive linemen who can help the offense play at a comfortable level every week.

I will not urge you to be patient, or impatient. I will urge you to be patient AND impatient. But keep in mind, you have to be patient in particular areas, and impatient in others. Robert Griffin III is not the problem. He is not a problem. Give the young guys with promise a chance. Give the new guys with experience the opportunity to grow with the young guys.

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