WASHINGTON — The Redskins have outdone themselves this time. Usually the embarrassment doesn’t begin until the regular season starts, but here we are in week 3 of the preseason and we are at DEFCON 1. Conspiracy theories, members of the media trading jabs on Twitter, accusations, name-calling, neurologists, backroom deals, QB controversy, and a fan base that continues to wonder how it will survive 18 more weeks of the soap opera that is the Washington Redskins.
How did we get to this point? Redskins quarterback, Robert Griffin III, will not play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens after an independent neurologist reversed a decision clearing him to play football earlier in the week. For a competent NFL franchise that headline might generate a blurb on the front page at ESPN.com and possibly some tough questions for the team’s medical staff. For the Redskins it means…WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??
If you have managed to ignore this franchise all preseason, please stop reading now. Keep your head in the sand, it’s for the best. If you hate the Redskins, and bask in the schadenfreude we supply you each week, by all means, read on. For the diehards, you might want to pour a drink.
To start this journey we’ll have to go back to February 2015. Liz Clarke of the Washington Post writes, “After last season’s quarterback carousel produced just four victories, Gruden planned to stage an open competition for the starting job. In February, the coach publicly flip-flopped and anointed Griffin his starter heading into the 2015 season.” This offseason, many speculated that the relationship between Gruden and Griffin was tenuous, at best, and that the decision to dub Griffin the starter had come from a front office that was desperate to see if they could rekindle the magic Griffin displayed in 2012.
You can choose any number of moments over the course of the last four years to figure out how RG3 and the Redskins got to this point, but I choose that moment in 2015 because it highlights the biggest problem with this franchise — meddling. There is no separation of powers. There is Dan Snyder — the rest is smoke and mirrors.
I’m not a reporter. I’m a fan. I have loved this team since I can remember, but something changed when Snyder bought the team in 1999. It wasn’t clear at first, but I see now that we have been doomed ever since that day.
His incompetence for the game of football is well-documented, but he is a shrewd business man, and a fan at heart, so I had hoped that a decade plus of failure would teach him that distancing himself from football decisions was for the betterment of the team. Being the genius that he is, he took steps to make it appear as though he would be less involved in football operations. When he hired Scot McCloughan in January of 2015, it appeared as though many fans’ prayers had been answered. We should have remembered the one constant since Snyder purchased this team — nothing is as it seems.
What has transpired these past six months has Snyder’s fingerprints all over it. The media can’t make heads or tails of anything because they never get a straight answer. The PR machine in Ashburnistan, as Clinton Yates of the Washington Post so aptly christened it, churns out deceptive information at a rate that would make Kim Jong-un swoon. Consequently, the media is forced to speculate and use their past knowledge as a guide. Negative speculation from the media leads to attacks from fans, accusing the local media of being haters who “have an agenda” against the franchise. The fan base then goes Lord of the Flies on each other, drawing the battle lines between those who support one theory, or quarterback, over another. It’s a vicious cycle that is not unique to the RG3 situation.
Today our starting quarterback has a traumatic brain injury, or maybe he doesn’t? That was the debate last week and it will be the debate next week, unless something truly traumatic occurs in Saturday’s game. The only certainty of this debacle is that we will never receive an honest answer from the team.
Friday, Aug. 28th 2015 is the lowest the Redskins have sunk since Daniel Snyder bought this team. This is the apex of ineptitude. As soon as the news broke that RG3 would be benched because of a last-minute second opinion I texted the most downtrodden Redskins fan I know and we immediately began commiserating, theorizing what sequence of events led to this point.
Below you will find a list of ten theories that we came up with. There’s a theory here for everyone, regardless of your sanity, so go ahead and pretend you are a member of the Redskins’ media and choose your own disaster.
- RG3 actually had a concussion last week and the Redskins don’t care about the league’s concussion protocol. The medical staff is inept and somehow let Griffin practice within 72 hours of a concussion. He went through a week of practice and then an independent NFL doctor came in, on Friday evening at 7 p.m., and said, “Hey guys, sorry I couldn’t get here earlier in the week but did you notice that your QB’s pupils are dilated.”
- RG3 had a concussion but showed little to no symptoms and insisted that he was ready to get back on the field, desperate to make up for a poor performance in the second preseason game and mounting scrutiny from the team/media. The team did whatever they could to enable him to play in the third game but an independent NFL doctor nipped that plan in the bud (this still doesn’t explain why the news wasn’t released until 24 hours before a scheduled game).
- Gruden realizes that his job is on the line. He knows that he can’t fix RG3, but the front office needs to see one more season of Griffin before completely giving up on their investment. Both sides are digging in their heels and pushing the concussion issue was Gruden’s way of taking advantage of the situation to get RG3 out the picture momentarily. He plans on coaching the best preseason effort the league has seen since Spurrier hit Osaka. Gruden prays that a strong performance by Cousins will buy him more time, and perhaps save his job.
No concussion theories
- RG3 was banged up against the Lions, but he did not have a concussion. The Redskins brain trust came to the conclusion that this team is going nowhere with RG3 at the helm and they realized the flexibility that a concussion would give them (no guaranteed timetable). Hedging their bets, they want to see what Kirk Cousins can do in the most meaningful preseason game. This would also allow them to return the reigns to RG3 should Kirk completely self-destruct.
- This is the end of RG3, and it couldn’t be more Shakespearean. Snyder, RG3’s biggest proponent, has finally given up on him. All of us will now witness the most dishonorable quarterback benching imaginable. The RG3 we all loved died on that cold, dilapidated FedEx grass in January 2013. What we have seen since then has been a dead man walking — he will never take another snap for this team.
- Gruden wanted him benched and somehow orchestrated this charade through the front office. Snyder says, “Fine, this is your shot but if Kirk sucks this week then it’s back to Robert.”
- The Redskins-iest possible scenario is that it’s the complete opposite. Gruden wants RG3 to play and delusional Snyder is trying to bubble wrap him for week 1 because he still sees him as a superstar. Gruden knows that he’ll have another dud of a game and he’ll then have more leverage to use the quarterback of his choosing. Subscribers to the “Gruden wants RG3 injured” theory, this one is for you.
- Everyone in the brain trust wanted him benched and orchestrated this charade. They want to give Kirk more playing time to see what they have and figured this was the most graceful way to do it (it isn’t). Over the course of the next week, McCloughan will shop RG3 around to see if any team is interested in him (they won’t be).
- After last week’s game, the brain trust did a Jim Fassel-like temperature check, listened to sports talk radio, and made their decision when they heard that the fan base has turned on RG3.
- The Redskins front office is worried about the locality of the Ravens and Redskins fan bases. The Ravens are a pillar of stability and the Redskins are plummeting into the abyss. Realizing that some fans actually choose which team to root for based on success, Snyder and henchmen are sitting RG3 so that when we get destroyed, they can point to the injury as the reason we lost. In Snyder’s mind, this provides a good reason for the fan base to not turn on the Redskins, buy season tickets, and more #Redskins #Brand #ESPN980 merchandise! This is by far the most delusional theory, but nothing is too asinine when it comes to the Skins.
Larry Michael approves of this theory!
Oh hell yes http://t.co/xPyah6Wviv—
Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) August 29, 2015
- Concussion or not, this plan was known inside the organization days ago. RG3 knew he wasn’t going to play on Saturday, hence the sulky quotes earlier this week (e.g. “I just work here, man”).
The team sat on the information to avoid an inevitable media debacle. It’s more difficult for news to make waves on a Friday evening when people are at leisure and the media is a few martinis deep. Nothing in Ashburnistan happens by mistake.
The text conversation with my friend concluded, “So they are either making this up which is bad or they aren’t making this up which is bad.”
It’s week 3 of the preseason and our quarterback’s Twitter is already making me cry.
Trusting in God even when I don't understand why certain things happen. James 1:2-3 (NLT)—
Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) August 28, 2015
You said it, Bob.
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