So I'm in the press box during Monday night's Redskins-49ers game and a thought came to my mind. Wow, this is bad offensive football. It wasn't just compliments of burgundy and gold though. Putrid pigskin was all around me, offensively that is.
Robert Griffin and Colin Kaepernick electrified fans and terrified defenses a year ago with their ability to both scoot and throw. The latter was so dominating, his team (49ers) told its original starter, Alex Smith, no thank you when he returned from a concussion. They eventually threw him in the trash truck headed for Kansas City. My mind is still blown by Kaepernick's 444 combined yards against Green Bay in last season's playoffs.
Robert Griffin's ball skills were just as awe-inspiring in 2012. On the field he was efficient, accurate, aggressive, and dominant. Off the field, he articulately rocked the mic at press conference after press conference.
Washingtonians were in love, ready to go to Jared's, get the ring and make it a lifelong commitment. Washington and Griffin together forever!
A year later, here's what we know. Neither Griffin nor Kaepernick were as good as their greatest moments in 2012. In fact they have a long way to go.
The pistol offense, in my opinion, is gimmicky in that it masks a quarterback's inexperience in reading defenses. I think it also stunts the development of a quarterback in the most important area. Matriculating the football down the field!
Griffin was bad Monday night. Real bad! His passes sailed, they were inaccurate, he threw them up for grabs, and he made poor decisions.
More troubling to me, however, is Griffin's lack of swagger. Where's the mojo? His confidence looks shaken. He looks like a quarterback unsure of everything. This isn't the rocket Robert Griffin that I thought I knew. This is more Brandon Weeden-esque.
Colin Kaepernick isn't much better; he locks in on receivers and forces balls into coverage. His saving grace, however? A great defense that allows him to struggle, yet stay in ball games.
Eventually, Kaepernick made a few throws downfield Monday night and the 49ers pulled away. Make no mistake though; if the 49ers make a Super Bowl run it'll be because of their defense, not their offense. As bad as the Redskins were on offense Monday night, it was 10-6 at halftime. 10-6!
Reality check here. Neither Griffin nor Kaepernick are very good passers right now. When they had defenses on skates last season, it was easy to overlook their passing deficiencies. Go back to Washington's 2012 Week 17 NFC East Division clinching win. That night Robert Griffin threw for...wait for it...just 100 yards.
Defensive coordinators went in the lab in the offseason and crunched hours of game film to devise strategies against guys like Griffin and Kaepernick. The results have been good for defenses, ugly for Griffin and Kaepernick.
Entering Monday's game, Kaepernick had topped 200 yards passing only twice this season. Griffin's interception total has doubled in 2013.
The eyeball test tells me even more. Washington is not confident throwing the ball down the field. Yeah they've done it at times, but most of Kyle Shanahan's play calling features horizontal bubble screens and shorter passes. There is nothing about it that scares a defense, especially one like San Francisco's.
After last season, some predicted Robert Griffin and Colin Kaepernick were revolutionizing football. Wrong. Turns out, many of us jumped the gun on that.
Football hasn't changed, the best teams have quarterbacks who can consistently throw the ball for scores, and not one's who run for 150 yards. That's just not the way it goes.
Robert Griffin has the ability to get there but he needs time, and more weapons. Unfortunately, time is not always a luxury you have in the NFL.