Before I preview tomorrow’s Thanksgiving NFL games, I need to weigh in on the RGIII drama in Washington. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was benched in favor of backup Colt McCoy last night. McCoy has led Washington to two of their 3 wins this season, Griffin picked up a blowout win early in the year against Jacksonville, while Kirk Cousins went winless starting several games while RGIII was out with an ankle injury. Cousins’ poor play prompted the move to McCoy who was sent back to the bench once RGIII recovered. RGIII was beyond awful in his two starts after the injury taking sack after sack and missing basic throws. Since taking the league by storm in his rookie year and winning the NFC East, RGIII’s career has been in freefall. He tore his ACL in a playoff loss to Seattle, was rushed back to start the 2013 season and was benched after leading the team to a 3-10 record and a falling out with the Mike Shanahan led coaching staff. As detailed above, 2014 has seen no improvement and a late season benching for the 2nd straight year.
The part that really interests me is the Shanahan angle. He had as many losing seasons as he did Super Bowl wins during his 14 year run Denver, 2 each. Despite that, he got the “washed up old hack” label from the media and fans after a largely unsuccessful 4 year run with the Redskins. However, he did turn Washington from last place team to division winner in under 2 years. Under Shanahan in his rookie year, RGII had over 4,000 total combined yards, 32 total TDs, just 7 total turnovers and a 67% completion percentage. The offense was largely based on simple throws and Griffin’s running ability. After the injury in the playoffs, Shanahan was strong armed by ownership to play Griffin at the start of last season. He was clearly not the same player and not healthy. The coaching staff took the fall and everyone was fired after a 3-13 season. Well, now a 2nd coaching staff is failing with RGIII, this one led by Jay Gruden. RGIII is now a fragile QB who has lost his greatest asset, mobility. He hasn’t had rush TD since his rookie year. Lower body injuries have forced Griffin to make more complex throws from the pocket. Something he wasn’t able to do in college and will never be able to do in the NFL. What does it all mean? Maybe Mike Shanahan is not a “washed up old hack” but even more of a genius than his two Super Bowl rings would suggest for winning a division title with a QB who can’t make NFL throws.
Chicago (5-6) at Detroit (7-4) Chicago is up to their hot and cold ways winning 2 in a row, granted is was just the Vikings and Bucs. The offense was always there and the defense is improving. Detroit looks headed for another late season collapse after losing two blowout losses and losing the NFC North lead to surging Green Bay. The offense hasn’t scored a TD in 2 games. I’ve seen this movie before and will take the upset. The Bears have life. Chi 27 Det 20
Philadelphia (8-3) at Dallas (8-3)-The NFC East lead in on the here. However, this is a fairly simple one Dallas is healthier, at home, and has a top 10 rushing and passing offense. I like balance. Philly is terrible on defense. Despite being great everywhere else, that will be too much for them to overcome here. Dal 38 Phi 24.
Seattle (7-4) and San Francisco (7-4)-.This will be a fist fight. Two defensive based teams that hate each other. Colin Kaepernick has been more consistent following the upset loss to St. Louis 3 weeks ago. Seattle is very good, but the defense is just not as dominant as last year. The winner of this game has a real shot at running down Arizona in the NFC West. The loser will have to scrap to make the playoffs. There’s not much between these teams. So, I’ll take the home team. SF 17 Sea 14. Happy Turkey Day everyone! Look for my regular NFL preview post Friday.