It’s forgotten that Robert Griffin III wasn’t the actual first choice pick in the 2012 NFL Draft for the Washington Redskins. Seeing an openings, Washington Redskins’ General Maanger Bruce Allen made the call on a blockbuster trade that saw the St.Louis Rams get the Redskins’ No. 6 overall pick in 2012, and the Redskins’ first-round picks in 2013 and 2014. The Rams also collected Washington’s second-round pick in 2012 and in return for the second overall pick that the Redskins used on whichever quarterback the Indianapolis Colts dis not draft No. 1 overall in 2012, and that was Robert Griffin.
The whole point of the move was, at first, less about getting Robert Griffin III, and more about hoping to get Andrew Luck.
To show you how short memories are, both Washington Owner Dan Snyder and Head Coach Mike Shanahan went to Luck’s pro day at Stanford. They also went to Robert Griffin III’s pro day at Baylor, where they took in The Hooter Girls as much as player evaluation.
But the bottom line is the effort to land Robert Griffin III was more about moving up to hope that Luck falls to them, and if he did not, then they were happy to get RGIII. The person who did the deal was Bruce Allen, but once the arrangement was made, Snyder and Shanahan went out to press the flesh, literally and figuratively.
This was common knowledge of the media who attended the NFL Draft in 2012. Mike Florio, who attacked Mike Silver for saying that Shanahan had nothing to do with the trade, wasn’t even at the 2012 NFL Draft. In fact, he was observing the affair from a distance (perhaps to avoid meeting LSU and now Dallas Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne, who’s learning disability and resulting low Wonderlic score Florio sadly made fun of) and begging my friend and Indy Colts and Palm Springs Radio Celebrity Julie Buehler to get Colts Owner Jim Irsay off Twitter, leading her to blast him in this space.
My pal Mike Silver, who proudly called himself an NFL “Draft Dodger” historically, had profoundly altered his radical ways, seen the light, and was in St Louis in 2012, in the Rams’ draft war room. Point is, Silver was in the room of the people on the other side of the Redskins deal, and Florio was… Somewhere. Tweeting about Jim Irsay and Twitter arguing with Ms. Buehler, who I was sitting next to. And away from being around the constant talk with other NFL Draftniks about the details of trades both pre-and-during the event at Radio City Music Hall.
I, for one, really paid attention to what the Redskins were going to do with respect to Robert Griffin III because of my long-held belief that Coach Shanahan had issues with coaching black quarterbacks. And I point to the issue with Donovan McNabb, which, having happened in 2010, and this is 2013, is still fresh in the minds of many football fans.
Bringing RG3 to the Redskins, to me, seemed to be Bruce Allen’s way of giving Shanahan a chance to prove he didn’t have a black QB issue by bringing in a young man who represents how anyone should be in the 21st Century, but he happens to be black, and that’s RG3. Witness RG3 talking with me at the 2:55 mark, here:
Thing is, RG3’s whipper smart, and I was skeptical of Shanahan’s ability to deal with anyone who was black and intelligent, and that comes from personal experience.
It was when Shanahan coached the Broncos and I had the chance to meet him when I was a member of the press in 1995 – a columnist with The Montclarion, in Oakland. That year, Denver played at the Oakland Coliseum against the Raiders, but injuries to tight ends forced Shanahan to employ four-and-five wide receiver sets. This wasn’t something he announced, but was obvious to me. So when I had the chance to ask him question, I asked why he decided to use that particular design of four and five wide receiver sets – when he easily could have went to three-running backs – and he got visibly upset with me.
I could not figure out what was wrong with the man. So, when faced with an illogical response, one has to go with an illogical reason: race. Sometimes there are people who get really irritated when someone black asks smart questions, and that was exactly how Shanahan behaved.
There was no other reason. I was the last person in the locker room – having waited patiently. I wasn’t trying to embarrass him in front of anyone else. Nothing like that. I just love talking about technical football.
That was the moment the view I have of Coach Shanahan was formed, and little has happened to take me away from it. I actually prayed that RG3 was a signal that Mike Shanahan had grown as a person, but now I’m pretty sure I’m not correct.
The specific problem I have with Shanahan in the RG3 context was evident in the video above, if you watched it. I asked RG3 if the Redskins were going to use any of the Baylor Offense he excelled in. You saw the answer. But what shocked me later was that Shanahan would draft Kurt Cousins in the fourth round of the same draft, thereby sending out the signal that he didn’t have faith in RG3, and wanted someone who was more in the mold of a white male pocket passer.
Then Shanahan doubled down on that signal and basically set-up two offenses: one around the Baylor form of Read Option, and that was installed by Shanahan with help and training by RG3, and a more conventional passing system and play-action system that was for Mr. Cousins.
As I say here:
Thus, Mike has two systems, one for his black athletic guy, and the other for his white pocket passer guy. Having Cousins gave Shanahan the luxury of running Robert Griffin III into the ground, and roughing him up enough so that he would have to give way to Kurt Cousins and a more conventional system.
Perception is powerful, and given my experience and knowledge of the game of football, it’s hard for me to get away from the idea that that’s what Shanahan was trying to do all along. The question is, what should Shanahan have really done?
What Mike Shanahan should have done was created one brand-new offensive approach which married the read option with the three, four and five wide sets, and then had both RG3 and Cousins learn that one new system. Theoretically, that approach would have given both passers more receiving options than the one-look that defenses eventually figured out was the key to RG3’s success – take away the one-read, and he’s lost.
In comes Cousins and the multiple-read passing offense.
You see my point.
That’s not fair to RG3 or to anyone, like myself, who hoped Mike Shanahan has really evolved, or at least seemed to.
I certainly want to be wrong about this. Writing or vlogging that a person in a leadership position has a race-problem is a tearfully painful process.