Wild Card Round in Review
Reviewing my picks
My record: 4-0
Here’s what impressed me
And what I wasn’t so impressed with
My record: 4-0
- I have to pat myself on the back for a perfect showing this week! All joking aside, I did manage to get all the games correct and while that is impressive, what was interesting is how each game actually went down. There were many mitigating circumstances that none of us could have foreseen. So lets dive into it all shall we?
Here’s what impressed me
- Seattle’s poise: No doubt Seattle was coming into a tough situation before the game even started, and it didn’t get easier after play actually began. Early in the game Seattle was getting dominated and was staring at a 14-0 deficit. While it was obvious that Robert Griffin was not right, Seattle never gave up and they never allowed the Redskins into the endzone again. The Seahawks stood strong against a raucous home crowd and rattled off twenty-four unanswered points on the back of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. The defense did not play to its full potential early, but they clamped down on the Redskins offense late. What Seattle showed us is that they do have the potential to be a Super Bowl contender. They do have a stiff test next week in Atlanta however.
- The Packers look like the favorite: I look across the NFC and it is clear that the Packers should be the favorite in this conference. For one they have what is clearly the best quarterback in the conference in Aaron Rodgers. The only one close is Matt Ryan, but we know the narrative on the Falcons in the postseason. With Rodgers they have an advantage over any other NFC team. The other element is the revival of the running game. This guy Dujuan Harris is not dynamic, they do not need him to be, he just churns out positive yards and lets the Packers open up their full playbook. Mike McCarthy is a master at manufacturing a running game with less than talented backs, but having a guy like Harris really helps out his play calling.
- The Ravens and their professionalism: The Ravens were facing an upstart Colts team that also had a ton of emotion on its side. It would have been easy for the Ravens to get caught up in the Ray Lewis drama and get caught sleeping by a Colts team that has shown they are clutch. However, the Ravens came out with a lead and they never looked back. The Ravens looked like the best team pretty much all Sunday and even managed to give Ray a classic home send off. By the way, what’s all the fuss over Ray Lewis being a part of the kneel down team? This man is a legend who got to go out on his own terms in front of the city he has represented for years. Let the man enjoy it, not many players get that opportunity. I tell you, I loved every second of it, good luck next week Ray Lewis.
- Redskins Defense: This defense was much maligned all year, but they put another good game together in the playoffs. They were dominant the first few drives and had many timely blitzes and stops. All the while they got no help from an offense that couldn’t stay on the field and gave the Seahawks the ball in favorable spots more than a few times. This unit has a pretty great front seven and some pieces to build on for next year. If the Redskins can add a starting caliber corner and safety, and have some players return to form from injury, this may be an upper echelon unit.
And what I wasn’t so impressed with
- What happened with the Vikings: It was a sad ending for my surprise team of the year. We learned late Sunday that Christian Ponder’s elbow injury had flared to the point where he could not throw properly. It could not have been worse timing as Ponder was coming off of his best game of the season by far. Backup Joe Webb had to pay and he just stood no chance. He misfired on a number of throws and did not look ready for the big moment he was thrust into. Also I am not pleased with how the coaching staff used Webb. He is an athletic quarterback, but the coaches barely used any read option or shotgun type throws. Instead, they put Webb under center and in a tradtitional “pocket passer” role. He did not sense pressure well and looked completely unable to read the defense. Bad showing by the offensive coaches.
- Andy Dalton: The Bengals have their issues. The clearly are not a mature team just yet and their running game is not very dynamic. However, their biggest issue, in my eyes, is their second year quarterback. Dalton is a major reason why I have not trusted the Bengals the past two seasons and he showed us all why yesterday. He is a limited quarterback who cannot survive when in adverse conditions. Dalton struggles when he has to make more than one read on a play and he is extremely physically limited. While he is a smart player and he also shows good leadership skills, he cannot take over a game with his physical abilities and probably cannot lead a team on his own. As I said when he was drafter, he has the traits of a career backup, not a starter.
- Shanahan and the Redskins’ handling of Robert Griffin: Deep breaths here. Let me start by saying that I am in no way a Redskins fan, even though I live in a Washington DC suburban town. That being said I am still extremely frustrated and angry over what transpired on Sunday evening. Anybody watching that game could see that Robert Griffin was hurting coming into the game, but soon after it was clear he was injured after missing a throw and falling to the ground; note the distinction I made there. He was slow to get up and was limping everywhere on the field. One analyst even said he was “walking around like he had just pooped his pants”. I do not need to explain how bad he looked on that knee as anyone watching could see that. And while it was clear he could not run around like we are used to seeing, what was worse is that the guy could not throw properly! As a quarterback, it is almost impossible to plant your foot and throw a good ball while being that injured. It’s tough to say it about a guy who has been so great this year, but he was a clear detriment to his team being out there. Yet the Shanahan’s continued to call plays that it was clear Griffin could not make and ignored Alfred Morris and the running game. They called deep passes that Griffin fluttered out and could not complete and this contributed to Griffin making some terrible decisions to hold onto the ball and risk his health. However, much more egregious than that was the decision by Mike Shanahan to let his rookie quarterback continue playing. I do not fault Griffin for wanting to be out there, that’s just what players do, have always done, and will always do. If he could stand Griffin would be out there because he is a great leader and a passionate man. That is why we have coaches. A head coach is supposed to be able to look at the player he gave up a boatload of premium picks for and realize “hey this guy is injured and he shouldn’t be out there right now”. All of this with a perfectly capable Kirk Cousins sitting on the bench. Letting Griffin’s desires, and not common sense or what the doctors say, dictate his decision was by far one of the most irresponsible coaching decisions I have ever seen. Shanahan played with far too much risk by letting Griffin stay in the game. He risked the team’s chances of victory as he kept a guy in there who could not make all the throws and hampered his team. But more importantly, he risked the long-term well being of his franchise and unquestionably its most important player. What if Griffin did in fact tear his ACL? If he did, then we have to question whether RG3 would even be able to start the beginning of next season and whether he could ever be the same player again. Lets remember Griffin has already tore an ACL dating back to his days at Baylor. Even worse, what if something catastrophic happened to Griffin on the play where he finally went down? What if permanent damage had been done to a player who should just be starting a special career? All of these factors made this decision by Shanahan a terribly irresponsible decision. This is not being said with hindsight either. I was screaming all of this at the television and over Twitter before RG3 crumbled and slipped on a poorly kept up field trying to recover a bad snap. Robert Griffin needs to be protected much better than what Shanahan did today. Not just from swarming Seahawk defenders chasing him down, but also from himself. Mike Shanahan is paid millions of dollars by the Redskins to always do what is in the best interest of this team, and Sunday he failed miserably at this job, in both the long and short-term perspectives. Despite a great coaching job this season, today Coach Shanahan deserves to be ashamed of himself. For risking the health of his great young player, and for bringing a dark cloud over the end of the first bright season this franchise has had in years. Get well Robert Griffin III, I hope to see you back next year healthy, better, and most of all, protected.