Thursday, November 21, 2013
Quick Takes: Moss, RG III and locker room
By John Keim
If I'm Robert Griffin III, I'm a little miffed that Santana Moss chose to air his comments publicly rather than coming to him privately. It clearly made Griffin uncomfortable Wednesday and, when you're 3-7, such comments make it easy to paint the team in a negative light.
But from Moss' perspective, he'd heard enough -- not just from Griffin but from others who were making comments that brought a negative focus (including Pierre Garcon's comments about how the passing game “sucks”. Moss texted him after those comments).
In my years covering the Redskins, Moss has been one of the most professional to deal with and a favorite, even having won the Media Good Guy award one year (and receiving votes probably in the other years). It's not because he dishes gossip or anything, it's because he's always available during the season, upbeat and will answer any question.
So if he felt he had to say something, then it must have been eating him up. He made it clear he wasn't just talking about Griffin, though I don't think his comments were taken out of context.
I remember former Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson being knocked one time for not using the word, ‘I' enough after bad plays or losses. I don't remember it being an issue. I do think it's good for players to sometimes just say, “I messed up.” If, say, there's an interception, it'll be easy enough to find out what happened, either by watching the film or poking around. So, for a quarterback, you don't usually have to explain those away. Teammates will appreciate it.
Here's a good example. After the Detroit game, Griffin wouldn't just say he made a bad decision on his interception in the red zone (when he was about to be tackled). I thought it was a bad decision and remember saying so. Even coach Mike Shanahan initially thought so. But, on the film, it was obvious what happened: Garcon had stopped coming back to the ball. Opinions were changed. Shanahan even publicly stated that after watching it he understood what Griffin was doing. Point is, things are usually discovered.
I don't worry about Griffin's leadership. I don't think it's bad to go through some adversity, not coming back from knee surgery, but something that tests who you are and what you're about. It can strengthen you. And if teammates see you going through a hard time and that you show up to work every day with the same resolve and put in the same time and compete hard? They will follow you even more. I've seen athletes who say the right things, but are not good leaders because behind closed doors they're not living what they're preaching. But media/fans become fooled by their words and make assumptions.
The Redskins insist the locker room is not divided. It's still one of the better locker rooms I've dealt with over the years. This is not like the Jim Zorn era or even the Steve Spurrier days when there was not a lot of confidence in the coach and plenty of backstabbing in the front office and even among coaches. There's definite frustration and perhaps there will be issues if they keep losing. If the Redskins finish poorly, I don't know how you don't question the direction of the franchise, regardless if you think someone's a good coach or not. As a franchise -- players, coaches, etc. -- you can't lose double-digit games three times in four years and think everything's OK. You just can't.
But for now a main reason the Redskins feel like they can have a strong finish is because of their cohesiveness. Again, there isn't proof that they don't.
I've said this before that leadership is not the issue with this team. An inconsistent passing game and a bad pass defense are the problems. That's been the case all season. And special teams, of course (which is where you'll still hear grumbling; that hasn't changed but the players seem to be rolling with it).