Mike Shanahan discusses RGIII

Is Mike Shanahan trying to rehabilitate his image by speaking up now about Robert Griffin III?

Shanahan has plenty to answer for, as many of us felt he committed coaching malpractice by letting RGIII take a beating as they implemented the read-option in RGIII’s first season. In many ways that season was a smashing success, but there was a price to pay with those injuries.

Of course, the real story is more complicated, and frankly Shanahan has been giving some pretty candid interviews about what happened.

Shanahan defends what they did with the read-option, pointing out that they took advantage of what RGIII did best. Ok, that’s a fair point. Yet he tries to argue that RGIII’s injuries came from more traditional QB plays as opposed to designed runs. That may be true, but the real reason for the injuries had to do with RGIII’s poor judgement about when to slide. Shanahan addresses this, comparing RGIII to Russell Wilson who has been brilliant using his judgement on when to run and when to slide:

And Wilson doesn’t care how many yards he gets. He gets as many yards as he can, and then he falls to the ground. You will never see him get hit running the read-option, or very seldom, because he knows when to give it, when to keep it, when to slide, and that’s what quarterbacks who run the read-option have to do. He knows there is nothing more important than him staying healthy. For all these analysts that say, oh, you can’t run it because you take too many hits, well, that was true about Robert. Robert did take too many hits. One thing I didn’t do a very good job of is trying to emphasize to him that you can’t take a hit; you’ve gotta slide, you are too valuable. But was hard for him, because that’s not what he did in college. He was such a good athlete, and he was used to being faster and quicker and sometimes bigger. But in the NFL, these guys all can run and they all can hit, so you have to give yourself up. He was very competitive, and he didn’t want to do that.

Shanahan’s admission here that he didn’t do a good enough job teaching RGIII when to avoid contact tells the real story. The success of the read-option only reinforced RGIII’s willingness to take chances, and it was in this context that Shanahan let things get out of control.

Shanahan’s larger point is that judicious use of the read-option can be a huge advantage, and that argument is persuasive. He points to RGIII’s initial success, the success of Russell Wilson, and the success of Colin Kaepernick before he and Jim Harbaugh made the mistake of focusing way to much on pocket throws.

The question now is how will RGIII do in Cleveland with Hue Jackson. Shanahan likes that Jackson is very flexible and he thinks Jackson will use some read-option principles to take advantage of what RGIII does best. But he seems to put way to much emphasis on RGIII not being able to do much from the pocket. It’s hard to imagine RGIII being effective without making at least some progress on that front.

The good news with Jackson is that he focuses much more on play-action and deep throws to stretch the field, as opposed to the complex West Coast Offense employed by Shanahan and Jay Gruden in Washington. One can argue that the West Coast Offense was the worst fit for RGII, and he may have a better chance to succeed in a more vertical passing game that takes advantage of his strong arm.

We’ll see how this goes.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Seahawks on verge of luckiest Super Bowl ever; end with biggest choke job ever

This was the greatest Super Bowl ever. The ending was stunning in so many ways, from Tom Brady leading a fourth quarter comeback against the Seattle defense, only to be followed by another miraculous catch that seemed to spell doom again for the Patriots, to what can easily be described as the worst play call in NFL history.

Here are some thoughts with some real time tweets mixed in:

– I’m not a Russell Wilson fan, and I wasn’t looking forward to eating even more crow had he managed to win his second straight Super Bowl. Still, there’s no way I can blame Wilson for the last interception that cost Seattle the game. We can pick apart his throw and the decision (some are explaining you have to throw that ball low at the goal line), but this all comes back to Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell making that asinine play call. Also, looking at this shot below, you can see why Wilson threw the ball and just how brilliant Malcolm Butler was as he broke to the ball to make that play:

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Bizarre Percy Harvin trade

The NFL world was pretty shocked yesterday with the news that Seattle traded Percy Harvin to the Jets. It started to make more sense, at least from Seattle’s point of view, when reports started to surface that Harvin was a cancer in the clubhouse. In fact, the move seems brilliant all of a sudden from their point of view. Pete Carroll has established himself as one of the best football coaches out there, and he doesn’t tolerate players that don’t buy into his culture. When you have references to “anger management” issues connected to Harvin, it’s no surprise that Seattle decided to move him. The Seahawks have some issues this year as the rest of the NFL seems to be figuring out that you need to punch them in the mouth if you want to beat them. Carroll obviously concluded he didn’t want to put up with Harvin’s bullshit.

Still, even though Harvin’s production wasn’t that impressive, just having him on the field posed a real problem for defenses, and even as a decoy he was extremely valuable to an offense that relies heavily on scheme and misdirection. Let’s see how this affects Russell Wilson’s production going forward.

Turning to the 1-6 Jets, this deal seems to make a lot less sense. Does adding a talented player who has trouble getting along with others make any sense for a bad team? Sure, Idzik has taken heat for not giving Rex Ryan enough weapons, but this seems like a desperation move.

Perhaps Harvin will react better to the Rex Ryan atmosphere over the intense Pete Carroll approach. Also, if you look at the schedule for the rest of the year, the Jets should be in every game. Maybe this sparks a turnaround? It just seems like a move that bad franchises make. Getting a couple more wins in a season where many expect Rex Ryan to be fired seems pointless, and Harvin has a ridiculous salary for a player who has been dumped by two franchises for being a malcontent. The circus in the New York media won’t help much either.

At the very least we have a story worth following for the rest of the year.

Is Russell Wilson an elite quarterback?

This question is being debated quite a bit since Russell Wilson dazzled recently in prime time against the Redskins. Frankly, Wilson is capable of making some incredible plays, and he’s definitely one of the best improvisers in football.

I was never high on Wilson and he’s made me and other critics eat my words. That said, he’s in the perfect situation with a great defense and a dominant running game. Like Big Ben before him, his situation has allowed him to grow into his role.

But now the hype is in full force as to where he ranks among the best quarterbacks, and this week against the Cowboys we saw many of Wilson’s limitations. If you keep him in the pocket and force him to beat you with just his arm, then Wilson can struggle particularly when his team is playing from behind.

Also, even if you go back to a game where he seemingly played well, his reliance on running from the pocket makes him pass up some big passing plays as pointed out by Pete Prisco.

Much of his success can be traced back to the scheme, giving him easy running lanes and open receivers. Then he excels by making plays when he leaves the pocket, and his vision downfield is very impressive when he’s moving.

Yet in the pocket he’s very inconsistent, so when comparing him to someone like Andrew Luck it’s not even close at this point in my opinion. Luck can do so much more and he can do everything Wilson does well.

So while Wilson is definitely a very good quarterback, let’s not put him in the elite category just yet.

Seattle dominates Green Bay

The first game of the 2014 season is coming to an end, and it still looks like the 2013 season.

Seattle still tackles well, and the Packers still suck at tackling. And while Aaron Rodgers is still very good at playing quarterback, he can’t beat the Seahawks by himself.

I know the Packers won a Super Bowl with Dom Capers running the defense, but that unit has been a disaster ever since.

Meanwhile, with a healthy Percy Harvin, the Seattle offense is even tougher to stop, as Russell Wilson continues to do a good job distributing the ball to his playmakers.

It will be hard to bet against them at home.

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