Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Race, Insecurities, and The Fear of Buyer's Remorse: The Fans' Defense of RG3

By. Mike Baxter

The more things change, the more things stay the same around the DC Sports scene. Put all the DC sports franchises into a hat and randomly pick one out, and you're most likely going to get a scenario that played out last season, and the season before that one, none of which produced a title or favorable result.

So goes the Redskins and the conversation at Quarterback just one pre-season game into the 2015 campaign. Twitter and sports talk radio was already full speed ahead into the "Kirk or RG3" talk, and we're still almost a month away from when the real games start.

Following two descent performances from both Griffin and Cousins in the pre-season opener at Cleveland, in which Robert- tho limited on time, looked comfortable enough and whose numbers should've been more inflated than they were, Pierre, AND Kirk- who started his night off completing his first 9 passes, tho against second teamers, the flood gates were open for debate and the takes were scorching hot.

So why not another hot one?

ESPN 980's Kevin Sheehan, who is my favorite annunciator of words during football season, especially when he passionately talks about his Redskins and Terps (and when he says the word 'roster'), opened up his segment the day after the Redskins pre-season opener, and loudly proclaimed his vote for Kirk Cousins:

"If we're being fair, Kirk Cousins should be competing for the starting Quarterback job. No Quarterback, on a team that has won 7 games in the last two years, with said quarterback playing poorly in most of the losses, should be handed the job. Griffin wasn't even close to Kirk Cousins in operating that offense. What's obvious is that Kirk Cousins is better for Jay Gruden's offense. Robert wasn't bad last night, but Kirk was 10 times better. And if you want to convince yourself that Kirk was playing with twos and threes, and that's why he looked good,  than go ahead. Griffin hasn't had one game with Jay Gruden that approaches the game Kirk Cousins had last year at Philly. At the very least, this should be a Quarterback competition, not a 'handed over the job' situation."

The phone calls that followed were nothing short of an all out verbal assault on Sheehan, by mostly-I've got to say- black callers. Which I'm going to tell you- because if you're too ignorant to recognize that there is a race element in this entire conversation, I want you to quit reading this post immediately, and I'd just assume never speak to you again.

Race is one of the "things" clouding fans' judgement on Griffin, and the entire "Kirk or RG3" conversation.

And it works both ways, as I've heard and I know some of the white fans are pulling for Kirk for the same dumb reason. I've heard it for 3 years now from the callers on sports talk radio, and I've seen it on Twitter. It exists, and you have people picking sides, as ignorant and pathetic as that is, because Griffin is black and Kirk is white. So don't tell me that it doesn't exist, because it does.

It would be nice to have the conversation, all things considered, with the emphasis on the only two colors that matter in this conversation, the burgundy and gold. More on "all things considered" in a minute.

Secondly, I think its pretty sad when there is a segment of the fan base who have seemed to adopt Griffin's perceived (or maybe it's real...) insecurities and the threat Cousins poses. You can't even consider the fact that maybe long term, Cousins is better, without those fans jumping your shit when you suggest it. You bring up this notion or if you even pay Cousins a compliment, these fans want no part of the conversation and they'd just assume Cousins would go away.

He is? Why is that? Please explain.
They'll talk about how much Robert's foot work has improved and how much more confident he looks, while dismissing any notion that Cousins should be considered.  Its gotten so bad that a lot of these insecure geniuses would prefer the Redskins just simply get rid of Cousins, to essentially take this threat away from Robert.

This group thinks Cousins' 9 game sample size, plus his relief both in 2012 against Baltimore and last year against Jacksonville, is all they need to see and its time to move on from him.

Are these fans that ignorant? Yes. Are they not as smart about football as they think they are? Yes.

If anything- based on the very same logic they're using to continue to be in favor of trotting Griffin out, while hoping Scot Mac pulls the trigger with someone on a trade that sends Cousins packing, this falls under the category of systematically hypocritical.

Seriously, explain this one to me....

You dismiss Cousins' small 9 game sample size, yet I'm the ignorant one to question Griffin's abilities, following the 22 mediocre starts he's had since his 2012 season ending injury? And Cousins has had some pretty monster plays/stats for a guy whose essentially a back up. But to be fair, let's consider all.

You have Griffin- who was the 2012 rookie of the year, who brought the excitement back to Redskins football, and made it fun again to be a Redskins fan. That season, though ending so brutally at home with Griffin lying on the shitty turf of Fed Ex Field, was one for the ages and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. He completed 66% of his passes for 3,200 yards, threw 20 TDs to just 5 picks, and added another 800+ yards on the ground and 7 rushing TDs.

And then there is Cousins, whose only started 9 NFL games, who went for 300 yards plus in 3 of those games, and 400 yards plus in 1 of them. The knock on him is his high turnover ratio, which if you're being honest, is pretty normal by NFL standards, for a rookie/younger quarterback, on top of the fact that he's in his 2nd offensive system in 4 years.

But for me when it comes to Cousins, it comes down to 4 games that Cousins has appeared in, that in my opinion, makes him worthy for further review:

*2012 vs. Baltimore. Straight from the bench, he led the Redskins to the game winning drive and score in 2012, versus the team who eventually went on to win the Super Bowl.

*2012 at Cleveland. The following week, he makes his first career start on the road, throws for over 300 yards and 2 TDs in a win at Cleveland.

*2013 at Atlanta. Throws for 381, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, in a 2013 late season loss.

*2014 at Philly. Ho-hums it for 427 yards passing, going 30-48, 3 TDs and a pick.

Griffin, since returning from his injury and in between his other "dings" (4 total times that he's been knocked out of a game, dating back to the hit he took vs. Baltimore his rookie year), has started 22 NFL games, thrown for 300 yards plus just 7 times, and 400 yards plus 0 times. And oddly enough, which you could critique both QBs for different reasons, their TD to INT ratios are very similar, even while Griffin has started 13 more games.

Cousins 18 TDs, 19 INTs. Griffin 20 TDs, 18 INTs.

Cousins is the one bringing the drama???
You would think Cousins small sample size, coupled with the four games I've pointed out here, would have a Redskin fan clamoring for more, to at least see what the guy could do with more regular reps. But no, they've seen enough of him. And you would think with Griffin's mediocrity since , which certainly helped contribute to a 7 win, 25 loss record over the last two years, coupled with his propensity to get injured, would push fans towards Cousins even more. Which brings me to my final point.

The biggest reason many fans want to hold on to Griffin, is to see if he can replicate that 2012 magic, and to show the world that the squeeze of 3 first rounders and a second round pick, was well worth the Griffin juice. This too, is clouding fan judgement.

There is a lot of pride on the line from the owner on down to the random fan driving to work each morning with his #HTTR sticker in his car window. Nobody wants to punt on Griffin and/or admit that "we" might've really f**ked up in dealing all those draft picks, for a guy who at the end of the day might not be an NFL pocket passer, might be a little too injury prone for the big leagues, might be a little too polarizing for the locker room, and whose magical rookie season- who fans wish they could've bottled up and kept forever- might've just been a flash in the pan in the big scheme of things.

Using a hypothetical, ask yourself honestly- if both Robert and Kirk had been 4th round picks, would you at least want to see a competition right now? You know you would. I think you're idiot if you say you wouldn't, even without the hypothetical in play.

Bottom-line is this, all true Redskins fans want them to win. I've been a Redskins fan for 30+ years. I was fortunate enough as a kid to spend many a Sunday at RFK Stadium with my dad, my uncle, and my grandfather. There was no getting away from the fandom in my youth, and its remained, tho painful, as an adult.

So let's cut the shit- twitter and sports talk caller and anyone else who wants to go thru life with your quarterback blinders on, Kevin Sheehan is 100% correct. This team doesn't have the pedigree over the last 2-3 years, or even over the last 15-20 years, to anoint someone the starting Quarterback job back in April. Especially when the record and performances have been so bad.

And one last bit of hypocrisy, relative to my point.

Its curious to me that in one breath, practically everyone from the media, fans, and even the coaches, have acknowledged that this is Griffin's "make or break" year, relative to staying in DC, and proving that he is 100% back, and that he is a viable starting NFL Quarterback. This alone, is an acknowledgement of uncertainty in his abilities. So how come this variable doesn't come into play when considering your starting Quarterback for Week 1 versus Miami? Doesn't that seem a bit silly?

We're 7 and freaking 25 over the last two seasons, people. What's done is done, relative to the draft picks we gave up for Griffin. His rookie season is not going to be replicated in between the multiple injuries he's suffered since, and the fact that the Shanahans are not running that offense. Let it go. Giving Cousins an equal opportunity to win the job over the next 3 weeks, is the logical thing to do here.

Kevin Sheehan's Friday, August 14th comments can be heard here.

Follow Mike on twitter @Sportsyack 

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