This past week, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden announced that Robert Griffin III’s “audition” period was over, and that while the team wanted him to succeed, if he didn’t start playing with a certain consistency, Gruden was prepared to bench him. This was no idle threat, given that Colt McCoy had won two consecutive games before being “benched” in order to stave –off the possibility that his position solidified, and even Kirk Cousins did not look all that bad comparison in hindsight.
Gruden opined that “Robert needs to understand he needs to worry about himself number one and not everybody else. It’s his job to worry about his position, his footwork, his fundamentals, his reads, his progressions, his job at the quarterback position.” He went on to say the RGIII’s “fundamentals” were not anywhere near where they needed to be. This was obviously a shot across the bow of owner Dan Snyder, who clearly favors , if for no other reason than embarrassment over yet another mistake of judgment.
For his part, RGIII drew snickers from some quarters by trying to compare himself to quarterbacks much more accomplished than he is: "If you want to look at the good teams in this league and the great quarterbacks, the Peytons (Manning) and the Aaron Rodgers, those guys don't play well if their guys don't play well…They don't. We need everybody. I need every one of those guys in that locker room, and I know they're looking at me saying the same thing,” obviously self-conscious about how his own teammates view him.
The problem with his “logic” is that over time, a great quarterback can overcome lack of “talent” and learn to play with what he has; all one needs to do is observe Tom Brady, once he stops whining. RGIII is not the kind of quarterback who makes players around him better (like Brett Favre once did); he needs players around him to make him look “better.”
Jimmy Johnson on Fox NFL emphatically stated that in his opinion, RGIII is “done” in Washington, observing that he is not a “leader” with his choice of words—i.e., throwing his teammates “under the bus” when he should be more concerned about elevating his own play and work ethic. RGIII may not be “done” in Washington—that is Snyder’s call—but he had an opportunity today to respond to the criticism with a solid performance against San Francisco.
He failed. The 49ers overcame three turnovers to defeat the Redskins 17-13, who managed only 213 yards of total offense, converting on only 2 of 13 third downs. RGIII completed 11-19 passes for only 106 yards, and was sacked five times for losses of 29 yards—thus only 77 net yards passing. He had two opportunities to lead the team to a winning score, but fumbled the ball away on the last attempt. RGIII’s future may not have hinged on his performance in this game, but it nevertheless demonstrated that even motivation to play better has little effect.