The Washington Examiner’s John Keim takes questions from fans about last season and next season in this installment of "Redskins Mailbag."
Q: What a horrible way to end a great run! My question to you is it appears to me that throughout the year RGlll took multiple unnecessary cheap hits from opposing teams and RGlll’s teammates just stood around nonchalantly after the hit. I know his teammates love and respect him. After the hit that [Bruce] Irvin, the Seahawks DE, put on him, I was hoping to see Kyle Turley come charging out of the stands and teach him a lesson! Since I am watching these games on TV, I may be missing something that you see at the event. At the least one of RGlll’s teammates should get in the face of the perpetrators of these cheap hits. — JKC
JK: The hit by Irvin? I assume you mean after the second touchdown pass, and not on the bootleg late in the game. I will say teammates love Griffin, so if they didn’t react, they might not have seen it, since it was more just an [unnecessary] shove after they sort of bumped into one another after the play. But I wouldn’t say Griffin has been cheap-shot all year. There were a couple questionable hits, no doubt, but I think if they thought there was some serious cheap shot, they would have reacted. This was a close team, and one reason was how Griffin handled his role/fame, etc. And I’ll also say you can’t just retaliate for a tough hit; it had better be something legit.
Q: First of all, great job all season covering the Skins. It has been a roller coaster, and you navigated us through it excellently. Looking ahead, of course, the RG3 rehab will be stories 1, 1A and 1B, but nearly as important for the team to get to the next level are the rehabs of Orakpo, K. Robinson, Carriker, Helu and Davis. Four of those players are part of the "young core" that makes the future promising, so what have you heard on them and their availability to participate in the full offseason program? Keep up the good work, and get some rest before free agency starts! – John Little
JK: Thank you. Orakpo’s rehab was expected to take four to six months, and I haven’t heard anything to suggest he won’t be ready when offseason work begins on April 15. Helu said he’ll be ready for OTAs, though he said he can’t yet sprint because of his turf toe. Carriker also was expected to need four to six months while recovering from his torn right quad. It’s been almost four months since his injury. Davis, who tore his Achilles’ tendon, is three months into a recovery expected to take five to six months. I have not heard any negative reports on these players, though Helu admitted his is a slow recovery.
Q: As always thanks for the great work. What can you tell us about the mysterious red shed that RGIII retired to last week against the Seahawks? With a year of perspective, how does this locker room compare to others of recent memory? From an outsider’s perspective it would seem more healthy, less disgruntled. Is it a case of winning curing all ills? Who are leading candidates for contract restructuring? Thanks again. — Andrew
JK: Well, there’s not a whole lot to it. EB of the Junkies tweeted a picture of it (I had never seen the inside before), and it’s just a little room with a table and some tape where they can work on a player better in private. Looks almost like the pediatrician’s office I take my kids to, minus the giraffe drawings and the half-ripped magazines and books. This locker room was excellent. There are always a couple players you don’t particularly enjoy, but as a whole this was one of the better ones in recent memory, a good professional group. It was telling to me how much fun Chris Cooley had upon his return despite being in a role much different than in the past. Also, I did a radio show with 106.7 The Fan the other day at Velocity 5. I was told nine different players showed up at some point during the five-hour show. That to me was impressive and suggested that: 1) they loved the season and enjoyed being around one another and were looking for a way to hold on. I don’t blame them. As for restructuring, both corner DeAngelo Hall ($7.5 million) and receiver Santana Moss ($4.15 million salary and a $6.2 million cap hit) have high totals.
Q1: As for RGIII, I recall reading -- I believe it was from a Seattle newspaper writer -- that Russell Wilson should be considered the better player because, everything being equal, he knows how to mitigate injury risk where RGIII has no clue. I am as big fan of RGIII as anybody, but I think that argument has merit. RGIII is clearly a smart guy, but couldn’t it be argued that he doesn’t play smart in terms of maintaining his health or at best is delusional about what he can withstand?
RGIII clearly has an ego, nothing wrong with that, and he seems to be aware of what is said about him. For months he is going to hear how Andrew Luck was the safer and better pick, evidenced with this injury, and that Russell Wilson plays it smarter and safer. He will hear recriminations about his coach. Heck, and he probably doesn’t win the Rookie of the Year Award partly because of his subpar performance post-injury. In short, the conversation has changed to a degree from him being a great player but to a reckless one with a questionable future. And will that conversation affect his mindset for the better? Granted [I] am asking you to guess, but you’ve been around RGIII some and, I gather, know him to some degree.
And will all of this influence Shanny, who at best I can say was ingratiating and influenced by the charm of the Redskins best player to a fault or didn’t stress hard enough to him to try to avoid direct contact? Shanny’s reputation is even further on the line if he botches the RGIII situation in terms of when he lets him start playing and if he continues to allow the reckless-abandon style of play like running directly into contact in the middle of the field to gain a couple more yards, etc. – Mike
JK: OK, that’s a lot to digest. In comparing the two, I think it helps that Wilson has always understood his limitations. He’s fast, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, but there were a lot of players with his speed. So Wilson knew he had to take a different approach when running, whereas Griffin, I’m guessing, always figured he could make an even bigger play with his legs because he was faster than everyone. It impacts your mindset. There’s no doubt the Redskins emphasized this to Griffin, but I don’t know how you can blame anyone but the player if he makes a heat-of-the-moment decision to turn the ball upfield. Should the coaches bench him for that? At some point it’s on the player if he continues to be reckless. As a parent, I can tell my kids what to do every day, all day. But ultimately I can’t control them when they’re not around me. And, yes, I do think this will impact how he approaches this in the future. He changed his ways on the zone read early; he learned to slide better after the concussion. He wasn’t being reckless when he was hurt Sunday (if you want to argue the team was being that way in having him play, that’s a different discussion). Griffin did improve at learning when to slide, etc. But he clearly has more to learn. Quarterbacks who run say it can take a year or two to learn how to do this at the NFL level. And one thing Rich Gannon told me for my email report this week was that after talking to Griffin recently, he came away thinking he understood his importance to the franchise – and the only way to help is to be available for all 16 games. He won’t stop running and shouldn’t stop it, either. They can limit the hits he takes by perhaps reducing the zone read plays, but I also know his hardest hits came when he scrambled.
Q2: Is a 3rd qb now a [given] since @RGIII's injury? Plz tell me someone other than Rex will b here. – Hennessy4Me
JK: You could do a heck of a lot worse than Rex Grossman as your No. 3 quarterback. They already have their two young QBs of the future, so I wouldn’t want to waste time with another kid; I’d want someone else in the meeting room who can offer legitimate input. Rex has a good rapport with the other QBs, knows the offense and definitely wants to return unless he can land a No. 2 job elsewhere. Knowing Griffin’s status, I wouldn’t be surprised if he opts to stick around.
Q: What's the chances #Redskins go after Josh Cribbs? – Hennessy4Me
JK: A daily double from @Hennessy4Me. All right. Haven’t gotten very far in free agency talk yet, but it would depend how much he wants. The Redskins won’t have a lot of cap room, but Cribbs is from the area and would give them something they could use. I haven’t talked to anyone in the organization about him, but I’m sure it’s something they will explore at the very least.
Q: in hindsight, should RG3 have been pulled in the 3rd Qtr for performance reasons? Was he missing plays that were there? — JeffLovin
JK: No. That’s the short answer. I know what Kirk Cousins did in one game, but I also know what Griffin did all season, and you don’t pull out special players because they struggled for a couple quarters (remember, got off to a good start). He was off on some of his throws because of his injury, no doubt. I also thought Seattle’s D was very good and disciplined. The linebackers were fast and did a good job avoiding blocks. So they weren’t just struggling because of Griffin (if Leonard Hankerson catches the ball over the middle in the fourth quarter, the Redskins are inside the 50 with nine minutes left and up one. Of course, he didn’t catch the ball). Now, should he have been lifted because he was clearly not right and the offense was struggling? Different story. The first time I would have thought about pulling him was after the limping nine-yard run in the fourth. And I didn’t like how he ran the bootleg in the fourth, right before his injury. He could no longer avoid trouble. As for missing plays, the interception was a bad throw and Garcon was open. Seattle’s D did a good job of fooling him at times (as it did on the bootleg sack) and taking away some of the zone read play-action game. He was off on his throws, particularly to moving targets. And what I saw that he missed were some open running lanes on two occasions that he opted not to take. That was telling.
Q: Offseason priorities: 1. DB 2. OL 3. Another playmaker. Would love to see D. Robinson in 4/5 round. Thoughts? — @geebeinggee
JK: Another playmaker is always at the top of the list – I mean that for any skill position. They could use a playmaking safety. I think DB is the top; offensive line always will be a priority, but I think in this case they’ve done a good job bringing in young kids inside so I’d focus on a tackle – Tyler Polumbus is a free agent. They could use another corner; a backup running back with some speed in case Helu keeps getting hurt, maybe a slot receiver to groom behind Santana Moss (or replace? I think you’d lose something if he’s not around, but he’ll be expensive). Are you talking about Denard Robinson? I’d be curious about him as a better version of Brandon Banks. But I honestly haven’t thought much about the draft. Rather than OGs and DBs I’ve been worried about LCLs and ACLs. We all know which is more fun to discuss.