Friday, December 13, 2013

Your Handy-Dandy Guide To What's Going On In DC, Football-Wise

Initially this post was going to be about how selective the Hall of Fame's memory was, that they barred the door against even suspected PED users but welcomed in a couple of managers who rode the throbbing, twitching, back-acne spotted fast twitch of the PED generation into the postseason and the record books. But then Rick Reilly wrote something about exactly that same point over at ESPN.com, and I'm not comfortable any time there's an indication that Reilly and I shared a thought process.

So I'm going to talk about the Washington Professional Football Team instead.
Listening to the pundits and promos this week, you'd think the world was ending in the muddy bowels of FedEx Field. That the dysfunction between coach, owner and star QB was something new. That Mike Shanahan being less than 100% truthful in his pressers was somehow a unique form of perfidy that no other coach had ever attempted. That there was some deep and strange mystery to the fact that Shanahan had benched quarterback Robert Griffin III and instead elevated the blandly anonymous Kirk Cousins (seriously, that sounds like the stage name you'd give a soap opera actor born "Taddeusz Kowzinski") to the starting role for Sunday's game. That sitting Griffin was somehow a swipe at team owner Daniel "Otho From Beetlejuice Only More Annoying" Snyder, in order to sabotage the team's season.

Those of you who have felt and/or repeated any or all of these things, please allow me to clarify, in small words and short sentences, what's actually going on.

1-The season is already lost, so nobody can sabotage it. Sabotating this wreck of a team now would be like drilling a hole in the hull of the Titanic - somebody kind of beat you to it.

2-Sitting Griffin, who is the future of the franchise, in order to keep him from getting injured in pointless end-of-lost-season games is a sensible idea.

3-A large part of the problem with Griffin's performance this year was the fact that his knee clearly isn't healed enough for him to be the player he was last season. This is normal and understandable. Giving him more time off and asking him to take less pounding will help that knee further. So next year, when the team has a clean slate and a chance to play games that matter, he will be healthier. And better.

4-Shanahan is done. He knows it and is apparently OK with it. He will finish the season, because there is no point to bringing in another coach now, and then he will be gone, in search of another job. And because he will be searching for another job with another team, it makes absolutely no sense for him to deliberately sandbag Washington. After all, deliberately wrecking the team out of spite might be seen as an undesirable trait in a potential future employee by a team looking for a new coach.

5-Playing Kirk Cousins is smart because that way the team can see what it has on its hands. So can every other team in the league, and if Cousins acquires some of that Matt Flynn small sample size magic, the potential return for Washington via trade could be enormous. For that reason alone, it would be enough to run Cousins out there. The fact that Griffin is one solid hit, in this season of the helmet-to-knee oopsie, away from being out a very, very long time makes it even more sensible to see what the backup is capable of.

6-Every reporter and pundit who breathlessly reported this stuff as earth-shattering conspiracy needs to be strapped into a polygraph and asked if, honestly, they knew better. All of those who say "Yes" should immediately be shunted off to the junior high lacrosse beat for their dishonesty. All those who say "No" should immediately be shunted off to the middle school field hockey beat, because covering professional sports is clearly too hard for them.

You're welcome. And if you ask me, they could probably use a couple of receivers in Washington, too.

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