Monday, December 01, 2014

If You Only Care About Results, the RG3 Benching Makes No Sense

So, let me see if I can understand and summarize the week that was in Redskins Nation. It will not be easy. My head is spinning faster than Jay Gruden is spinning his rationale.
Last week, Gruden decided to bench RG3 in favor of Colt McCoy, largely because RG3 was not producing points and the Redskins were losing. So, let's ignore the poor defensive schemes and defensive coaching and defensive breakdowns and try to imagine that all of the Redskins losses are due to poor offensive production.
Now, try to imagine that RG3 did not play in a pro-style offense in college against great competition and carry his Baylor Bears to a bowl win for the first time in decades. Try to imagine that the passing statistics that RG3 put up in college were not GREAT predictors of NFL success as RG3's college passing numbers blew away the college statistics of NFL QBs who had great success in the NFL. Try to imagine that RG3 did not have the best all-time season as an NFL rookie QB when he blew away the old rookie passer record with his 102.4 passer rating, beating Ben Roethlisberger's old record by 6% and confirming the analysis that his Heisman Trophy career statistics would lead to NFL success. Now try to imagine that RG3 did not put the 2012 team on his shoulders when they were 3-6 (after the head coach had already given up on the season) and carry the Redskins to the division title. It will take some imagination to forget all of those things, but Jay Gruden, apparently, has a great imagination.
So, let's look at RG3 with a more critical eye.
By most accounts, RG3's 2013 season was a complete bust, and it seemed especially so after the record-breaking year he had in 2012. Yet, in the Skins first ten games last year, when Griffin was still in the Shanahans' good graces, Griffin's offense was scoring over 25 points per game. They were 3-7, but the offense was scoring points. RG3 didn't look like the 2012 version, but he was still leading the offense to the end zone. The defense and special teams were absolutely atrocious, but RG3 didn't play defense or special teams.
So, do you know which division-leading or contending NFL teams THIS YEAR score 25 or fewer points per game--and in many cases significantly fewer than 25?
San Francisco
New Orleans
San Diego
Kansas City
And Baltimore is averaging just slightly over RG3's production in 2013.
In other words, RG3's offensive production in the redskins first ten games last year--a monumental bust--was as good as practically EVERY contending team's offensive production is this year. After the tenth game, the team had checked out and RG3 was benched for the last three games in favor of Kirk Cousins, who could not win even one of those games because he turned the ball over multiple times per game.
So, explain to me again how the Redskins weren't winning last year and this because of RG3?
Now, lets look at the results of this year's benching. Sure, RG3 got hurt again and lost time and probably some timing with his receivers. But, the main difference between RG3's rookie season and the last two? In his rookie year, all five starting offensive linemen played almost every snap. The last two? Hardly. He has had very few drop backs in the last two years when he wasn't harassed. But, to blame it on Griffin, one would have to see that his replacements performed better.

Kirk Cousins? He melted down in practically every game. He didn't win any of his starts last year or this. Let's move on.
But before I address Colt McCoy, let's remember that McCoy enjoyed a couple of things yesterday that RG3 hasn't had much or any of in the last two years: 1) Four times McCoy had a short field thanks to a sack fumble of Luck and an interception of Luck; another fumble; and good defense on one series along with good special teams; and 2) a healthy Jordan Reed playing TE. Other things McCoy had yesterday that RG3 didn't have last week: All Pro Trent Williams protecting his blind side; David Amerson helping his defense. 

So, how many points did the McCoy offense score after being given a short field four times? 6.
Why only 6 points? For many of the same reasons RG3 has not been able to lead his team to the end zone. The O Line is a sieve and McCoy has been harassed (that, and McCoy underthrew wide open receivers all day).
In all, McCoy put up 390 yards, but most of that came in garbage time and he got big chunks on poorly thrown balls on which his receivers made great plays. For example, his long TD to Jackson was horrifically under thrown but the defender didn't see it. Jackson did see it and came back to the ball. But, with 6 minutes left in the first half, with the game still within reach, McCoy had -3 yards passing (yes, that's a minus sign).
Now, McCoy was sacked 6 times (and fumbled twice), so the blame is not all on him. But, whenever RG3 was sacked multiple times in a game, Gruden stated that RG3 held the ball too long and wasn't seeing the things that were there. Colt was sacked more times yesterday than RG3 was in any game this year, yet there was no mention of McCoy holding the ball too long; no mention of having to look at the film to see why McCoy missed open receivers; no mention of McCoy failing to exploit four series in which he had a short field, an advantage that Griffin was not given this year.
So, if these losses are not the QBs' fault, the question is not who can win from week-to-week for the remainder of this year, but who is more likely to be a future franchise QB: A) the Heisman Trophy winner and Rookie of the Year who led his team to a division championship as a rookie and set an all-time passer rating record for a rookie just two years ago; or B) the journeyman who never had success in the NFL and who is six years older?
I know my vote.
But, it is apparent now given all of Gruden's post-game comments that RG3's benching is not temporary and it is not being used for motivational purposes. Gruden has given RG3 just five injury-interrupted games this year to prove himself. The rest of his career doesn't matter to Gruden, not even RG3's division-winning results when healthy. For reasons I cannot fathom, Gruden favors any QB over RG3 and it is unlikely that RG3 will be a starter again for as long as Gruden is head coach.

Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post said after this game, that it is clear that not only are the Redskins not a good team, they are not a well coached team either. I'll have lots to say about that in addition to Gruden's personnel decisions. Remarkably, this is the first time that I have had major disagreement with Brian Mitchell's take.

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