On this week’s three and out let’s look at the top storylines for Week 13 in the NFL. Jay Gruden and the job he has done in Washington despite the many obstacles he has faced. Why the Raiders trades are just getting worse on their return and why the New York Jets may be keeping Sam Darnold out of the lineup. On Fourth down we look at the impact of Urban Meyer in college football. Remember to subscribe for all the latest content.
Thanksgiving has come and gone and while you may be recovering from your food coma enjoy an extra helping of dessert with this week’s episode. There were two big takeaways from the Thanksgiving games and I break them both down and why they resulted in the winners being very thankful moving forward. See why these teams were successful yesterday on what your team might have to do to turn it around moving forward.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. When the Washington Redskins traded up for Robert Griffin the Third in the 2012 draft, the once proud Washington franchise has their savior. For one season Griffin flashed a rocket arm and blistering speed propelling the Redskins into the playoffs. The Offensive rookie of the year looked poised to become a star in the NFL.
My how things have changed. Ever since leaving the field to an injury in the 2013 Wildcard game Griffin’s career has been marred by what could have been as the once promising star is facing the real possibility that his once promising career is going down in flames.
It’s been a plethora of issues of Griffin. From his health, relationship with the organization, and players raising major issues in Washington over the past few seasons the divorce between Griffin and Washington seems to be inevitable.
After suffering a concussion in the preseason game against the Detroit Lions, Robert Griffin’s health has become a major liability to an organization that has been buried in the NFC East by its more talented counterparts. With a lack of draft picks in recent years, thanks to the Griffin trade, the Redskins have a depleted roster and have constructed a poor offensive line that allowed Griffin to be beat up and eventually knocked out of the game against Detroit.
At this point the best thing for both parties is to move on. Griffin has won only five games over the past two seasons for the Redskins, after winning nine his rookie year, and started only 20 games over the past two years. It’s just not working in D.C. and Washington has already fired on coach in Mike Shanahan during the Griffin regime and shouldn’t blow up the organization once again to try to make it “work” with RGIII.
Griffin hasn’t exactly made it easy for the Redskins. From spats with teammates to saying “I think I’m the best quarterback in the NFL” just days before the preseason game, Griffin has become a lightning rod and has made himself a bigger target. It’s one thing to be confident and make statements, but you have to back it up. So far, Griffin has not proven since his rookie season that he should be the quarterback and face of the Washington franchise. Not only has the off the field baggage hurt RG3’s chances in Washington, but more importunely his on the field play has.
Here’s the ugly truth, Griffin will probably never be the same player he was in his rookie season. His knee has already hindered his once great speed, and he’s already proven that he doesn’t have the body to survive being a running quarterback in this league. Coupled with bad throwing mechanics that Griffin has not refined it’s hard to imagine Griffin becoming an elite pocket passer.
Still the major problem with Griffin is health. Like Sam Bradford they have the talent to be great quarterbacks in the NFL, but not the durability. Part of being a successful player in the NFL is having the ability to stay on the field and protect your body. Griffin has not learned how to do that, and until he does it’s hard pressed to see him surviving through a sixteen game schedule.
Divorces are ugly and unless Griffin can drastically turn it around and stay healthy for the 2015 season, this will be his last year in the nation’s capital.
This pick has seemingly been locked for a long time. Winston has been the consensus top quarterback in the class and has been almost locked as the top pick for months. Barring some trade or a bold decision, it looks like Winston will be a Buccaneer. It makes too much sense. Tampa Bay has been desperate fort a franchise quarterback for years, Winston is from the Tampa area, the small market could help the media exposure around Winston, and Tampa has some great weapons on offense. With the state of the NFC South, it’s not that far-fetched that if Winston can play well from day one, the Buccaneers could compete for the division title.
The biggest question about this year’s draft will be where will Mariota go? Will he be drafted high or fall? Will a team trade up for him? Which team could trade for him? In this scenario I have Tennessee grabbing him here for one of two reasons. First, they need a franchise quarterback and Zach Mettenberger is probably not the answer. The other reason he could go here is that Tennessee could play the leverage game and try to trade him for more draft picks. Either way Mariota will probably be off the board sooner than later.
Every year quarterbacks go earlier in the draft then projected. It is a quarterback driven lead after all and teams will be aggressive to get a quarterback before they come off the board. With two first round picks, the Browns have the luxury to use one of the picks on a quarterback while still getting a talented player with the other. I have Petty going with the later pick. Cleveland has made it clear that they are no longer sold on Manziel and Petty has the type of character make up a franchise would want at quarterback. Petty will need some time to sit and learn the playbook and with Josh McCown now on the Browns it has made it the perfect situation for Petty to sit and learn rather than playing right away. It also could give Cleveland the excuse to move on from Manziel.
The Washington Redskins could be looking to move on from Robert Griffin III. However, they probably will not want to use a first round pick on a quarterback even if Mariota is available. In the second round Washington could take a shot on Garrett Grayson who has been battling Hundley and Petty to be the third quarterback off the board. Grayson has the size and enough arm talent to possibly be a future franchise quarterback in the NFL. While Griffin has more physical talent, the problems with his leadership and durability will have Washington looking for a possible replacement plan.
Despite three different quarterbacks in 2014, the Arizona Cardinals were able to make the playoffs. However, with Carson Palmer’s health now a question mark the team needs a solid backup plan. Hundley could be the future starter in Arizona, and could be groomed in the meantime under Palmer. Arizona has the defense to be a contender but they will need a quarterback to get there. Hundley could be that option if Palmer is hurt again and Hundley’s skill set is perfect for not only this team but this division. With a division with great defenses and pass rushers, a mobile quarterback in the pocket is crucial. There’s a reason the NFC West has two of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league, it’s because this division has great defenses. Arizona needs a quarterback to get back to the postseason and Hundley is a great security blanket should Palmer get hurt again.
Where will Mariota go? This has been the biggest question when it comes to the 2015 NFL Draft. At the moment, it is assumed that Florida State’s Jameis Winston will be drafted with the first overall pick. After that, the picture gets very murky.
Could the Titans draft Mariota? While the team does have Zach Mettenberger primed to take over the starting role, the Titans may feel that Mariota has more upside and better mobility to make up for Tennessee’s shaky offensive line then Mettenberger.
What about the Redskins? The Robert Griffin saga could be reaching its conclusion with Griffin’s option for next season counting for $16 Million against the cap. The organization may decide that the once emerging star and rookie of the year has overstayed his welcome in the nation’s capital.
The Jets? Even though the Jets front office has been adamant that it will continue to try to develop Geno Smith, head coach Todd Bowles has said that the Jets will look to address the quarterback position in the draft. New York hasn’t had a franchise signal caller since Joe Namath and could feel that Mariota is their future franchise quarterback.
Even beyond those teams there has been numerous speculations especially that Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles, who have been wheeling and dealing all offseason, will try to move up to take Mariota even though Kelly denies this possible option. However, there is one team that people aren’t talking about who could be in the sweepstakes for Mariota’s services and has the ammunition to go up and get the quarterback. That team is…
The Cleveland Browns. Scratching your head? Let me explain. Despite the poor play at quarterback last season Cleveland finished with a 7-9 record and had a chance to make the playoffs. Cleveland is desperate for a franchise quarterback and thought that they might have found one in last year’s draft. Unfortunately, Johnny Football is now Johnny Rehab as last year’s first round pick has careened out of control. While Cleveland still has holes at the wide receiver and tight end, the most glaring is quarterback.
While the Browns have signed Josh McCown
he is a stop-gap at best at this point in his career. The team has no idea when Manziel will be back and more importantly if he can play in the NFL. Cleveland needs a franchise quarterback to build around and has something no other team has, two first round picks.
Cleveland could trade both picks, or move one pick will keeping the other first round pick this year in a package deal to move up and grab Mariota. If they elect to keep a first rounder this year, and presumably give up high future picks, the team could use that pick to give Mariota a play maker. Would Mariota make the Browns a contender over night? Probably not, but Cleveland is in a better spot then people think.
Despite their tough division and poor quarterback play last season the team finished with a decent record. Mike Pettine has a solid running game and an underrated defense. Like Rex Ryan, we know that Pettine’s square will have a formidable defense. If Mariota can come in and make plays then the Browns could make a run at a division title as soon as next year.
Will this happen? It’s anyone’s guess. While it would make sense for Cleveland to move up, they may feel there are better quarterback options later in the draft or they still, I don’t see how, but still have faith in Johnny Manziel. Either way, don’t be surprised if a franchise that’s been desperate for a franchise quarterback decides to pull the trigger and move up for Mariota.
One thing we do know. It’s going to be an interesting draft because Mariota could go anywhere.
After having one of the most successful rookie seasons in NFL history, the once emerging superstar that was Robert Griffin III has crashed to earth. After just two games, it appears that Griffin’s 2014 season is already over. After suffering a dislocated ankle early in the Redskins second week matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Griffin’s career could be in serious jeopardy.
Last year it was clear that he had not fully recovered from his torn ACL, the injury that ended his promising rookie campaign. His ability to run and use his lower half on the deep ball were greatly diminished, and even made him a sitting duck at times. After an offseason with questions about his leadership, it looked like RGIII would be ready to have a breakout 2014. However, early this season, it was clear that Griffin was still not 100%. His speed, burst, and ability to use his legs to drive the ball down the field still paled in comparison to when he was healthy in his first season.. Now with this injury, the Redskins may need to start thinking about a future without RGIII.
After a two touchdown performance while replacing Griffin on Sunday, Kirk Cousins is now poised to solidify himself as the future quarterback for the Redskins. After outperforming Griffin throughout the preseason, Cousins will finally get his shot, and if he can perform at a high level, then the Washington front office will have to make a difficult decision.
It will be a tough decision on what to do at quarterback, especially given the price that the Redskins gave up to pick RGIII in the draft. Let’s not forget the Redskins traded a second round pick along with three first round picks to move up to draft Griffin. If RGIII cannot turn it around, it could be one of the worst trades in NFL history considering the plethora of young talent that St. Louis has acquired with those picks.
So what now? Is Robert Griffin on a path similar to Sam Bradford? A highly talented quarterback whose injuries ultimately ended up ruining a promising career. While Griffin clearly is more talented than Bradford physically, the fact that Griffin cannot stay healthy coupled with the fact that the Redskins have a barren roster with the lack of draft picks over the past three years has made Griffin a serious problem.
Now, do I think it is time for Washington to move on from Griffin? No, but if Cousins can put this franchise in a position to make the playoffs, the clock on RGIII’s career in Washington will begin counting down.