2015 Preseason, we hardly knew ye…
If you’re anything like me, you’re losing most of your interest in the preseason. It’s dull, tedious, and loaded with manufactured controversies. It’s a forum for players to injure themselves and others in the name of securing a roster spot. And now that roster cuts have begun, any intrigue regarding personnel decisions has become fleeting and predictable.
Sure; there’s real controversy. There are headline-grabbing issues, and legal proceedings, and shocking depth chart decisions. There’s even a smattering of on-field issues to consider and wholly overanalyze.
In that vein, let’s talk about stuff. NFL stuff. Since the preseason is slogging to its seemingly-interminable conclusion, it’s all we seem to have. For now.
End zone foibles
In Saturday night’s Ravens-Redskins “tilt”, Ravens reserve running back Buck Allen fumbled a presumably clean handoff at the goal line, ruining a chance at an easy score. Allen was disconsolate after the game, and has vowed to “never let it happen again”, which is what most would expect to hear from a rookie trying to make his first NFL roster. It also has the benefit of being the right thing to say.
But you know what, Buck? No one cares.
It’s the preseason, and as a fourth-round selection for a team with little running back depth, it’s safe to say that you’ll keep your job. Do it in the regular season, and it’s highly possible you won’t. Although your coach can be a bit hotheaded , it’s doubtful that he’s going to deal with you in in the same manner that erstwhile Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson dealt with Curvin Richards. There’s been plenty of other bobblers that did it on much larger stages than you did, including Leon Lett’s infamous showboating in the 1992 Super Bowl, and perhaps most famously, Ernest Byner’s fumble at the goal line in the 1987 AFC Championship game.
So Buck up, kid. You’ll be fine. Just don’t let it happen again.
I’m writing this prior to Judge Richard Berman’s ruling on the fate of New England quarterback Tom Brady’s fate and presumably his reputation, but let’s be honest here: Brady’s reputation was tainted and far from the model citizen he purports to be long before “Deflategate” ever came to life. In New England, he’s revered, and rightfully so, as he’s procured, whether by honest means or no, four Super Bowl titles for a region whose biggest claims to success prior to 2001 had been rooted in the mechanics of the Boston Celtics.
He’s despised almost everywhere else, and by association, so is the franchise he hails from. I’ve called Brady disingenuous and unlikeable, and I stand by that description. Outside of New England (with the possible exception of a number of 12-year old girls’ postered walls), most people appear to agree. The veneer is a little too perfect, the lifestyle a little too polished and controlled. We see people like Brady as arrogant and entitled, probably because…he is.
But that doesn’t necessarily convict him of the offenses he and his legal team are churning through. Haters or no, his personality casts a pall over those that might otherwise believe him and his protestations. They might see it as an affront to the sanctity of the NFL’s punitive measures, which is a laughable and indefensible position to take. It’s clear, once the hate is removed, that there are egregious holes in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s case. To stress, it doesn’t mean Brady is innocent. But it also means that Goodell’s shoddy investigative procedures may well prevent him from ever proving Brady guilty.
Just get it over with, Your Honor. Please. I’d hate to see an entire football season revolve around the PSI levels of the balls themselves. And I’m sure I’m not alone.
If you’ve shut off all social media and news outlets over the last 72 hours, you might not know that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has been named the starter for the entire 2015 season, displacing former starter and ridiculously high draft pick Robert “RGIII” Griffin, who may or may not be suffering from a concussion, and who has clearly lost the favor of his coaches and, rumor has it, teammates.
I’m here to explain it to you. But where to begin…?
Griffin endeared himself to the DC fanbase by winning games during his rookie season in 2012. ‘Skins fans have become so jaded and delusional that any success, however brief, constitutes crowning the ‘Skins the best team in the NFL, so naturally, the talk – and the expectations – increased dramatically after the team captured its first playoff berth since 2007. There’s HOPE, they said. He can only get better, they claimed. With head coach Mike Shanahan at the helm devising plays for Griffin, the sky was the limit.
Then came the injury. Then another one. Then the debate over whose fault the injuries were. Then the firing of Shanahan, presumably because the injuries were his fault. Then the hiring of middling offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as head coach. Then more injuries, benchings, and possible redemption stories.
RGIII may well get another chance to prove his draft position wasn’t entirely unwarranted; after all, the NFL is sorely lacking in good, consistent quarterback play, and there are any number of general managers that will take a flyer on a former #2 overall pick. But until Griffin realizes that his mechanics, his reads, and his footwork are all in dire need of remedial teaching, he’s just not equipped for it. Whether he chooses to believe it or not, Mike Shanahan represented RGIII’s best chance for long-term success in the NFL, solely because he understood Griffin’s limitations and created a scheme to accentuate the things he actually did well. Once Griffin was taken out of that scheme and forced to reside in the pocket, he became almost useless, as he has little experience with checking off his targets and – essential for successful QB play – sliding in the pocket to maximize his protection.
It’s not as though Griffin is alone in his “bustiness”; indeed, the top half of the 2012 NFL draft reads like a ghastly postmortem, with three of the top ten picks having any long-term degree of success.
But a few more occurrences like this, Robert, and you’re probably better off going to Canada, where your skill set may actually be in demand. I’d think about it seriously, if I were you.
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Enjoy these last few days of preseason, folks. Ain’t it grand?