WASHINGTON — Former Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer had some… interesting things to say about the Redskins this week.
Toomer unleashed his unguarded thoughts on a report which had signaled tension within the Redskins locker room, centered around growing frustration with quarterback Kirk Cousins, who has the Redskins off to an 0-2 start.
This is all payback, in some way, for how Jay Gruden treated Robert Griffin III in 2014, Toomer seemed to suggest.
“You can’t say, ‘Hey, come on guys. Don’t be so hard on the quarterback,’ when you, as the head coach, were,” Toomer said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan. “And now you’re protecting a quarterback who’s playing just as poorly as RGIII was playing.”
Toomer’s appearance with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier had been cut short for time, so Paulsen decided to spend a separate segment rebutting Toomer’s remarks soundbite by bite. Here are Paulsen’s responses, annotated (Toomer in italics):
I think it all goes back to Jay Gruden, the way he treated RGIII. You can’t dog a quarterback in front of everybody, describing how poor his drops were, describing how poor his decision making was, because all that does is that tells the rest of the team, ‘Hey, yeah. What I thought was right. And you know what? If next time a quarterback messes up, I’m gonna dog him, too.’ And that’s what’s happening!
Paulsen: What Jay Gruden did was a mistake. He should not have done that… you shouldn’t do it. You can’t critique your quarterback as vocally as he did. He hasn’t done that since about anybody. There’s a reason why he did it, in my opinion… but as a general opinion that the culture’s created that you can over-analyze and over-critique the quarterback, and everything can be publicly talked about — when he did [it] to Griffin — that’s not a terrible point in and of itself.
The fact that RGIII got ran out of town so unceremoniously, you can blame RGIII all you want, but that’s a toxic situation in that locker room, and it all started with the way Jay Gruden — in an unprecedented manner — totally destroyed his quarterback in a press conference.
Paulsen: First of all, it’s not that toxic in the locker room. Got to be honest with you. The guys in that locker room on the offense like Kirk Cousins and they liked him before the season started. Now, if they keep struggling to score points, I’m sure that’s going to change. Receivers are divas. But nobody this offseason was saying, ‘We shouldn’t have not played Robert Griffin,’ because they won a division. ‘We should have kept him around.’ Nobody was saying that. So this idea that it’s toxic and there’s infighting, not the case. I’m in the locker room pretty regularly, and there’s beat guys like Brian McNally that come on this show all the time that would tell you otherwise.
The other point he’s making is it goes back to the problems that got Griffin out of town started with Jay Gruden saying that at the podium. What about when the last coaching staff didn’t like him? What about when he was benched multiple times before that? That’s not when the problems started. Sorry, Amani. It’s just not.
And you can’t reel that back. You can’t say, ‘Hey, come on guys. don’t be so hard on the quarterback,’ when you, as the head coach, were, and now you’re protecting a quarterback who’s playing just as poorly as RGIII was playing.
Paulsen: You are categorically incorrect, sir. That’s just not true. The Redskins are No. 3 in the league in yards per play. Cousins has thrown for over 600 yards in two games; two quarterbacks have thrown for more yards. Where they’ve been bad, and where he has struggled… I’m not going to sit here and make excuses; nobody needs to do that. Cousins has made a couple terrible throws on interceptions. Cousins has not been sharp in the red zone. Cousins has missed too many throws. But every quarterback in the league will miss throws, on good games, by the way.
Carson Wentz did, should have been a touchdown. Eli Manning in a win this weekend did that. There is a huge difference between playing the quarterback position at a level where you’re moving the football and an offense is working and operating someone’s offense, and then not making every play you could possibly make. That’s the Cousins problem right now: T here are more plays being left on the field. He’s got to do better. He’s not playing well enough. He’s not playing, you could even say, well by the standards set for him last December.
But to sit here and say he’s playing at the same level as Griffin was, who could not operate Jay Gruden’s offense… to compare the Tampa Bay game, where, that’s when Jay Gruden came out and said all the things that he said after that Buccs game, to what Cousins did in a performance where you marched up and down the field while missing some throws is irresponsible and it’s incorrect.
He basically keeps beating around the bush of, ‘Why is he so hard on Griffin but he’s not going to be hard on Cousins?’ Here are some reasons for that: 1) Griffin had just called out his teammates in a press conference the day before. Jay did that. Robert said, ‘Aaron Rodgers can’t be great if his supporting cast isn’t great.’ If Kirk Cousins went up to the podium and made a bunch of excuses for why the offense and he played like he did by saying, ‘Yeah, we had too many drops and these guys aren’t helping me enough.’ Jay Gruden was putting Robert Griffin in his place for what he had said. And on top of that, you can be harder on Griffin if you’re Gruden if you feel like he needs it.
He not only called out his teammates, this is a guy that we heard wouldn’t let negative plays be shown in the meeting room. This is a guy that used to tell the Shanahans he wanted them to clap after completions in practice, from what I was told. There was an element of, as a second-overall pick they traded everything for, they felt like he cannot take any kind of the criticism, that he’s above that. Let’s talk about all the other problems, but we can’t talk about that. So I think Jay Gruden overreacted. Did something he shouldn’t have done, I’ll keep saying that, but overreacted to it’s time to put Robert in his place and knock him down a peg.
Whereas Cousins, the coach’s job is to know what guys can and can’t take, is maybe overly conscientious. Jay always says he puts too much on himself. The body language is not good enough. This is a guy that thinks way too quickly, ‘Man, I sucked. I wasn’t good enough on that throw.’ Whereas Griffin says, ‘What can you guys do better?’ And I think in Jay Gruden’s mind, right or wrong — I’m explaining why he did what he did — that’s what he thought. Griffin needs to be knocked down. Enough with the not showing plays, clapping after completions in practice, calling out your teammates. He needs to know that this is a him problem.
Rouhier: Jay made a mistake, despite what Robert did beforehand at his press conference, calling out his teammates. We all acknowledge that. Jay made a mistake. The idea that we’re upset because he didn’t make that mistake again is asinine. Hey, everyone! Jay made a mistake. ‘Make that mistake again or it’s racist!’
And so now it’s a situation where the team thinks you’re — from the outside looking in, of course — a team that’s like, ‘Okay. Well, you can dog RGIII, but you have kid gloves when it comes to Kirk Cousins. Hmm. Why is that?’ And that’s a question he’s going to have to answer. Surprising how short-sighted some of these new coaches that come in and don’t understand, who’ve been in locker rooms, but don’t understand the dynamic of how things work. And I’m very shocked, and I’m not surprised, that this is turning into a toxic locker room in Washington.
Paulsen: I wonder how much film he studied on that game. I wonder if he watched all four quarters of Redskins-Cowboys for this reason: because you’re saying that was as bad a performance against the Buccs game. Did you crunch all film on it? Did you look at the throws? I don’t know the answer to that. That’s something maybe we can ask him, or I should have asked him, but, again, we had a very short time, but I would just be willing to say — on the outside looking in — the opinions sound good, I just don’t know how much of this is gospel. And those are some of my rebuttals to some of the things that I just think categorically were incorrect.