Monday, September 15, 2014

" A Guy Who is a Friend of a Guy Close to Gruden Says (Anonymously)..." This Talk is Nuts. RG3 is a Once in a Generation Talent

The Redskins franchise took a major hit yesterday with the injury to RG3. You wouldn't know it from all of the media coverage, which in DC seems downright giddy this morning, but if one takes an outsider's view, it is pretty easy to see.

First, I have to dismiss Mike Wise's ridiculous column published last night.

I like Wise, but c'mon. I paraphrase: "A source close to Gruden who wishes to remain anonymous said Gruden is essentially relieved that he doesn't have to bench RG3 in favor of Cousins who can run his offense better?" Please. There is no head coach in this league would have benched RG3 in favor of Cousins at any point for as long as Griffin was healthy; not even that genius Belichick.
That is no knock on Kirk Cousins who is a player that I believe is capable of winning football games for a lot of teams, including the Redskins. In fact, it would not surprise me to see this team, with its dramatically improved defense and special teams, and awesome running game, to go far in the playoffs with cousins at QB. It's just that Cousins is no RG3. And, as good as Cousins was in relief yesterday against a weak team, RG3 was on his way to having an even better day. Had the refs gotten the call right on the deep ball to Jackson, RG3 would have been 3 for 3 for over 80 yards and at least one TD before his injury.
There have been very few athletes who ever stepped on an NFL field who were as good at their positions as RG3 is at QB. The few that immediately come to mind: Rice at WR, Montana at QB, Lawrence Taylor at LB, and Sean Taylor at S. That is not hyperbole. Those are "step-away-from-the-situation-and-look-at-the-facts" observations. The numbers are there and your eyes are not deceiving you. His all-time record PASSER rating for rookie NFL QBs is one thing. The fact that he redefined the position is another, when as a rookie he made several head coaches around the league adapt their offenses to try to get their QBs to approximate what RG3 was doing in DC. The latter includes Russell Wilson, last year's Super Bowl winner, and everyone's darling Colin Kaepernick.
RG3 is a special talent that comes along once or twice a generation. Smart, competitive, and incredibly athletic. As for being "injury-prone", there is a strong case to be made that a less-athletic player--one with athletic ability merely like the top QBs in the game--would not get injured as severely or as often. The dislocated ankle he suffered was not the result of a hit, but of incredible body contortion in an effort to avoid a hit and still deliver an accurate pass. His teammates are still in awe that he completed that pass. Jackson, who caught the pass, was so surprised by it that he failed to get up from the ground and run it into the end zone. The Jaguars defense was so surprised by it that they didn't bother trying to touch Jackson while he was on the ground. I was screaming at the TV for Jackson to get up and run it into the end zone, but he didn't, and the refs seemed so surprised by it, they blew the whistle to end the play before anyone touched Jackson.
In RG3's contortion, he awkwardly planted his left foot. It could be argued that no other QB in the game would have even attempted that move because no other QB has the talent to make that throw in the first place. The answer to RG3's freak injuries, then, is to have RG3 dial down his athleticism to be more like the merely great QBs in the game as opposed to a once or twice in a generation player.
Which brings me full circle. I like Cousins a lot, but he is not special. I understand the concept of having diversified talent and not vesting so much in one player, even a special one like RG3, but that ship has sailed. The Redskins are vested. When RG3 is healthy it will once again be time to exploit the talent that they acquired because so few teams ever get opportunities like this. There is no reason to settle for a lesser QB merely because he theoretically fits a system better. It is time to make the system exploit the extraordinary talent that is already there. And that includes developing RG3 into a pocket passer because most of his extraordinary talent--most of the reason that he is special--is because he makes great decisions, throws accurately to all parts of the field, and can move around IN THE POCKET better than anyone to buy time and wait for a receiver to break free.

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