It was one of the rare cases of the reality actually being better than the hype.
With five rookie quarterbacks starting their team’s opener on Sunday, Robert Griffin III stood head and shoulders above the rest of his class by putting on one of the most impressive debut performances by a QB in NFL history, and leading the Redskins to a shocking 40-3 victory over the Saints.
Griffin’s stat line - 19-of-26 for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, for a 139.9 passer rating – is impressive enough. In becoming the first quarterback in league history to throw for over 300 yards in a winning debut, RGIII put all of advertised physical tools – speed, agility and cannon for an arm – on display for everyone to see. But considering that he did it all on the road, in a hostile Superdome, in his first game on the NFL stage … it was his poise, intelligence and confidence that really stood out. Starting the game off 8-for-8, Griffin looked like a veteran running Mike Shanahan‘s offense out there.
Meanwhile, number 1 overall pick Andrew Luck threw three interceptions and fumbled once in a loss, Russell Wilson had a mixed performance but came up short on a game-winning drive, Ryan Tannehill was in over his head in throwing 3 picks, and Brandon Weeden looked completely lost with a 5.1 QB rating, the worst pro debut by a QB in modern history.
As Peyton Manning narrows his choices between Denver and Arizona, and the Jets elect to extend Mark Sanchez, the importance of having a franchise quarterback – and the difference between the haves and have-nots – is as apparent as ever in the NFL.
So on Friday, the Washington Redskins pulled off a trade that rocked the league, acquiring the #2 selection in April’s draft from the St. Louis Rams, so that they can choose Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III with the pick.
In order to move up just four spots in the draft, the Redskins gave up their first and second round picks in 2012, as well as their first round picks in 2013 AND 2014. It’s one of the more expensive trades in league history, and Washington GM Bruce Allen and owner Dan Snyder are clearly betting the house that Griffin is the guy to turn the franchise around. And the Rams have to be feeling good about stockpiling draft picks for the next three years, while still having the #6 pick in this year’s draft.
People everywhere are saying Washington overpaid, and it’s certainly easy to have that knee-jerk reaction, and point to Snyder’s historic foolishness as a reason the deal won’t work out for the ‘Skins. But Snyder likely had little to do with this move, with Allen and head coach Mike Shannahan driving the train after becoming enamored with the Baylor QB at the recent combine.
The two biggest stories in the NFL right now are Peyton Manning’s release from the Colts, and the bounty system run by Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams while with the Saints and Redskins before them. And now it seems that those two stories might intersect in a most interesting way, as former colts head coach Tony Dungy has suggested that Manning’s neck issues could be traced back to an injury sustained while facing a Williams-coached Redskins defense in 2006. And if that’s the case, Williams’ little bounty program will have made a far bigger impact across the league than anyone could have imagined.
On the play in question [VIDEO HERE and below], Manning was hit by Redskins defenders Andre Carter and Phillip Daniels in a high-low combo, with Daniels holding on to Peyton’s helmet all the way to the ground, thus twisting the QB’s neck and body into an extremely awkward position. Manning’s helmet eventually popped right off of his head, and he immediately showed signs of being injured, shaking his right arm ”as if trying to get the feeling back in it.” The Colts called a timeout and Manning was able to return on the next play without any immediate ill-effects, but many believe that this was the beginning of the nerve damage that led to four neck surgeries and his current free agent status.
“The guy wouldn’t let go of my head,” Manning said after the game of Daniels, who was fined $5,000 by the NFL for the hit. “I looked at my helmet to see if my head was in it.”
VIDEO OF MANNING’S INJURY AFTER THE JUMP
So far, the story of the 2012 NFL off-season is Colts QB Peyton Manning, and where he’s going to play next season. The back-and-forth between Manning and Colts’ owner Jim Irsay has reached a near-comical level of he said-she said, with Irsay saying on Thursday that they’re currently in negotiations with the veteran quarterback. But the general consensus seems to be that Irsay is just posturing for the media, and that Pey-Pey has likely played his last down as a Colt.
Vegas released updated odds today on where Manning will play in 2012, which place the Dolphins as the favorite to land Peyton at 2.5-to-1, barely edging out “Does Not Play” (currently getting 3-1 odds), for those who believe Peyton’s neck injury could force him into early retirement. The Redskins are next in what seems like a perfect Dan Snyder move, followed by the Colts and Cardinals at 5-1, and Jets at 6-1.
My gut says Peyton will end up in either Washington or Arizona … what do you think?
SEE THE COMPLETE PEYTON MANNING ODDS AFTER THE JUMP
Heading into Sunday’s Redskins-Patriots clash, the Washington wide receivers collectively decided to leap into the FedEx Field stands if any of them scored touchdowns. Their very own version of the Lambeau Leap … the “Landover Leap”, if you will.
So, following his second quarter score, Jabar Gaffney looked to the back of the endzone and launched himself (backwards) into the stands. Unfortunately for Gaffney, he leapt directly into the unwelcoming arms of two Patriots fans who were sitting in the front row. The father-son duo (pictured above) clearly wanted nothing to do with Gaffney as he came over the railing, and recoiled back, letting him fall straight onto the seating floor (VIDEO HERE).
Watch it in glorious GIF format, over and over again [via SBNation]:
Watch and enjoy as 49ers quarterback Alex Smith gets sandwiched by Redskins LBs Ryan Kerrigan and Rocky McIntosh (over and over and over …):
We’ve got an early contender for Hit of the Week, and once again it comes on a poor, unsuspecting cameraman.
Watch RB DeAngelo Williams run roughshod over an elderly photographer on the sideline during today’s Panthers-Redskins game:
Fortunately, the cameraman seemed to be okay after the hit, and was able to recover to his feet relatively quickly.
VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP
Two days after Giants S Deon Grant was caught diving to the turf in an effort to stop the clock and slow the Rams no-huddle offense, the NFL issued a warning that players, coaches & teams caught faking injuries to disrupt the flow of the game could be punished with fines, suspensions and/or loss of draft picks. Although referees are powerless to penalize players suspected of feigning injury during the game itself, the league sent a memo to all 32 teams saying they would be reviewing questionable plays and handing out disciplinary action where appropriate for “conduct detrimental to the game”.
But several players have indicated that feigning injuries has long been a strategic part of the game, and is something that is even coached in certain circles:
“I’ve been places where it has been (taught),” said Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, a member of the players’ union executive committee. “They have a name for it and I’ve been places where it’s been pre-called. I’ve been places where it’s one player who has been designated. Maybe I’m getting everyone in trouble, but I’m just being honest.”
“It’s always been in the game,” Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed said. “It’s all tactical stuff you need to use. Whatever it takes. … If you’re tired, you’re tired. You get a break however you can.”
Added 49ers running back Frank Gore: “Hey, I feel if it helps, do it. I’m bound to do it. Whatever it takes to win …”
Our old friend Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force is back for another season of his “Stone Cold Lock of The Century … Of The WEEK”. Not surprisingly, Carl kicks things off by picking his Giants over the Redskins in Week 1, with the 9/11 anniversary weighing heavily on his mind.
Oddly, this episode features author Chuck Klosterman as Carl’s intended foil, “The Pencilneck” whose attempts at logical reasoning go wildly unappreciated by “The Garden State Stud”.
As always, enjoy, but we don’t recommend taking any gambling advice from Carl … ever.