The Washington Redskins are 3-11 after six straight losses. They rank last in points allowed and 23rd in points scored. And yet, the father of quarterback Robert Griffin III is garnering far more attention than any other subject at Redskins Park.
Head coach Mike Shanahan recently made the decision to sideline the younger Griffin after watching 13 games where the franchise quarterback was notably less dynamic compared to his memorable rookie campaign.
Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network reports other players were informed the decision was based on Shanahan's desire to prevent further injury after last season's knee problems.
I've been in contact w/ Redskins players, one of which tells me, "Prevention of franchise qb getting hurt was explanation in team meeting."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 11, 2013
While Shanahan's decision and the reasons behind it are very much up for debate, the fact Griffin's father returned to the forefront afterward doesn't come as a surprise. He's been a stalwart in the media, as his son rose to stardom at Baylor and made a terrific transition to the next level, at least for one season.
A special report by Jason Cole for Bleacher Report cited sources close to the team that said the elder Griffin was working behind the scenes in an attempt to get Baylor head coach Art Briles, who played a key role in the quarterback's development, to take over the Redskins:
In addition, Griffin’s father has increasingly become the kind of nuisance that some people warned NFL executives about before the 2012 draft. In recent weeks, according to two sources close to the situation, the elder Griffin has politicked Snyder to hire Baylor head coach Art Briles, who coached the younger Griffin to a Heisman Trophy, to replace Shanahan.
Another source compared Robert Griffin Jr. to Earl Woods, the father of superstar golfer Tiger Woods, in terms of remaining extremely close to their respective sons during their careers and basking in the spotlight during their success.
Cole contacted Griffin for a response to what team sources had told him but only received a no-comment response:
The elder Griffin declined to comment on the situation when contacted via text message.
"I am sorry," Griffin’s father wrote. "No comments (are) necessary."
Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports other Redskins sources refute those claims and believe the leaking negative information about the relationship between the Griffins has an agenda to alter the public perception of the quarterback:
Tuesday’s report was the latest in a string of reports that have painted Griffin and other members of the Redskins' organization in a negative light. People familiar with the situation believe that those leaking the reports remain intent on lowering the public perception of the second-year quarterback, who struggled this season—a year after winning Rookie of the Year honors and less than a full year after having reconstructive surgery on his right knee.
The biggest problem in Washington isn't Griffin's father, whose opinion should carry no weight on the future of the franchise to begin with, but rather the fact that the Redskins are letting it become a distraction while sources within the organization keep talking.
What has been the Redskins' biggest problem in 2013?
Instead of setting the record straight, the Redskins have been content on letting anonymous sources do the talking, and that's how things tend to get out of control. That's how Griffin's father becomes the focus of attention over a struggling team.
The only concern the Redskins should have about Griffin isn't his dad's influence. It's how to get him back to playing at an elite level next season.
A major force as a rookie, Griffin was unable to replicate that success in his second season, as he returned from a knee injury. There were flashes of the quarterback who excited the Washington fanbase last season, but they were fleeting.
The combination of lackluster play from the offensive line, less mobility from Griffin and his lack of success as a pure pocket passer led to a major step back offensively. The latter issue is illustrated by ESPN Stats and Info:
Robert Griffin III had a 79.1 Total QBR on passes in the pocket last season. His Total QBR is just 49.6 in the pocket this season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 11, 2013
Robert Griffin Jr. is not a concern. Getting Robert Griffin III confident in the pocket so he can stand tall and deliver strikes is. Improving the offensive line would help, but he also needs to work on his footwork, which has been out of sync in those obvious passing situations.
Last year, the Redskins went 10-6 and made the playoffs. A rebound season from Griffin in 2014 would bring that type of performance back into the realm of possibility, but Washington must eliminate these unnecessary distractions first.
The relationship between Griffin and his father isn't likely to change. But the Redskins can make it less of an issue by being straightforward about his impact (or preferably lack of impact) on the franchise. The same goes for all of the minor distractions.
Otherwise, the circus atmosphere will continue, and its hard to build a winning organization in that type of environment.