Ed: Will Sunday be the final time Mike Shanahan coaches the Redskins? Is that the right decision?
Kevin: It's really hard to say at this point but I think so. One of the largest priorities for any head coach is keeping any drama inside the locker room, so when one has a situation like the Redskins where the head coach is the one leaking things to the media, then what? London Fletcher in his final presser at Fedex Field last week still believes Shanahan is the one to lead this team. I just don't think Dan Snyder, RGIII, and Mike Shanahan can co-exist though.
Ed: What do we make of the whole RGIII/Kirk Cousins thing? Is this just Shanahan sticking it to Dan Snyder, or was this actually a good idea to get Griffin out of harm's way the final few games?
Kevin: I think it is a mix of both. We saw how damaging it was to the Redskins having their QB rehabbing the entire off-season with no first team reps, so what's the point of having him out there in meaningless games behind a criminal offensive line? He is getting pounded, not playing well, and the team is not responding. The Redskins could never say this publicly, but showcasing Cousins these last three games certainly opens the door to legit trade value. It all makes perfect sense and I'm OK with it. A healthy RGIII this off-season should bode well for a 2014 season.
Ed: What are your thoughts on RGIII? Look at all the young QBs -- Luck, Wilson, Newton, Kaepernick -- and he seems to have fallen behind all of them. Is it just the knee and his health? Or, in your mind, are there concerns about the way he plays the position?
Kevin: RGIII is clearly last place in all the QBs you mentioned. There are many reasons all contributing to his downfall:
1.) Knee - Not having an off-season (minicamps, OTAs) to practice timing with his teammates hurt immensely. In addition, skipping all four pre-season games per coaches' decision also contributed to his slow start. When Tom Brady and Carson Palmer tore their ACLs, they both played in preseason games. When watching RGIII in the early games, clearly he was still working to trust his right knee and knocking off the rust. Four weeks into the season, RGIII was still sailing his misses and not getting through his reads. As Jon Gruden alluded to in MNF this past week, simulated games in practice do nothing to mimic real game speed.
2.) OLine - The Redskins OLine is abysmal save for Trent Williams and RG, Chris Chester. Center Will Montgomery continually gets pushed back off the snap removing the pocket to step into and RT Tyler Polumbus is continually getting put on skates. RGIII has gotten pounded on some rushes, which leads to concern on his ability to see pressure. That's one of the things I've always praised about Eli Manning...it's so rare to see him get killed on a rush he didn't see coming. He always protects himself and is on to the next play. RGIII after a sack reminds me of Rocky Balboa getting up in any round past 10.
3.) Pocket Awareness/Reads - There are so many instances where RGIII either threw inaccurate balls to open WRs, didn't get through his progressions, or missed a WR that was wide open. It's very rare for elite QBs to do that....it happened far too often this season.
4.) Read option not as powerful - With RGIII not a threat to run anymore, this means an extra defender in the secondary. Teams have often schemed better to not allow the read option to get wide, and clearly the Redskins are not going to put RGIII in a position to keep it up the middle.
4.) Drops - As of a few games ago, the Redskins led the league in dropped balls. So many first downs and points have been lost because of this.
5.) Agility - The thing about Kaepernick, Wilson, Newton, and Aaron Rodgers is that they all have top-notch awareness of when to get down and the fluidity to execute it. RGIII cannot slide with grace and is continually trying to get the extra yard. He has taken so many excessive hits where I just don't see any way he's still a starting QB past 30 in this league. There was one game this year he dove forward on a scramble to avoid a hit, bounced off the ground, and the ball came loose. Since he fell forward and was untouched, the ground is allowed to cause the fumble. Wilson and Kaepernick don't look like they were shot out of a cannon when they take a hit, which has me most worried.
Ed: Give me some thoughts on young players we should look for Sunday.
Kevin: Seriously, there are none. Stud rookie TE, Jordan Reed, is on IR. CB David Amerson has had a decent rookie season but has been quiet the last month. Sadly, the rest of the starters are older free agents.
Ed: London Fletcher is retiring. Thoughts on Fletcher as you watch him play for the final time?
Kevin: It certainly is the end of the era. There are only a handful of guys left from the Joe Gibbs era, and London Fletcher is arguably one of the greatest Redskins free agent signings of all time (sorry Haynesworth). His on-field leadership and work ethic will be sorely missed, and he has done wonders to help bring Orakpo and Perry Riley along. As much as Redskins fans are thankful for his time, he has been a liability on the field the last two seasons. I'll be at the game this Sunday and will certainly be wishing him the best.
Thanks to Kevin for the time. My answers to Kevin's questions are already posted over at HH. Play nice when you drop by.
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