1. RG3 Hasn't Changed
Robert Griffin III was limping in the second preseason game. Read that sentence again.
The second preseason game.
We weren't supposed to see RG3 make stupid decisions on the field any longer. That's what we heard all preseason, right? This was a new day. A new RG3. It was all Mike and Kyle Shanahan's fault.
Yet there he is again, refusing to slide or still sliding awkwardly.
Jay Gruden: RGIII has a thigh contusion— Chick Hernandez (@CHICKatCSN) August 19, 2014
His accuracy was up and down (which was also supposed to change), but Griffin's inability to comprehend his own football mortality remains his greatest failing.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden told the media after the game, via The Associated Press' Howard Fendrich:
It's something we have to continue to talk to him about—how important he is to this team and this franchise. When he gets out of the pocket, he needs to protect himself. He's had a habit in his career of being able to get himself out of those predicaments with his speed and his athleticism. But here it's a 16-game season, with the great talent across the league in the NFL, (and) he's got to pick his shots and learn how to get down a little bit better.
In other words, this isn't Baylor. There are faster dudes in the NFL, as fast as Griffin, and they want to do him harm, because it's football.
But he is refusing to see that, and that's why there is almost no way he goes an entire season without missing games. No way in hell.
Griffin won't change. He'll pay lip service to changing, but deep down this is how he wants to play.
Which basically means the chances of Griffin making it through the year are almost nonexistent, especially if he's already limping because of a thigh bruise in the preseason.
2. Open Season on Defenses
This is going to be a very bad year for defensive coaches. There will be a lot of hair pulling and temper tantrums. And I won't blame them because the sport will take another turn toward favoring offense.
The NFL wants less hand-sparring beyond five yards, so the league has instructed game officials to monitor the jostling more closely. That's already resulting in a higher number of pass-interference penalties.
Officiating Video – 2014 Rule Changes http://t.co/D1bP9Xc26i— NFL345 (@NFL345) July 30, 2014
The average number of penalties per game in 2013 was 12.2. This preseason, through this past Sunday night, that number was 20.8.
The NFL won't be backing down on this. At all. So what you will see in the 2014 season are offensive records. Lots and lots and lots of offensive records.
Not only will more penalties be called on defenses, leading to the continuation of drives, but something even worse will happen: Defenses like Seattle's, New England's and a few others that rely heavily on man-to-man coverage will be deeply affected.
Defensive backs are going to be scared to play receivers tight. Cushions will be large. Passing lanes will increase.
It will be one big passing fiesta.
3. End of Goal-Post Dunks
I know that a Jimmy Graham dunk led to the tipping of a goal post—and the subsequent rule that you can't dunk over one any longer—but doesn't such a rule seem a bit, I don't know, excessive?
So what if a goal post gets bent? Can't a couple of dudes straighten out the damn thing? Does the NFL really need rules for something like this?
4. RG3 Alienating Teammates
This from Bleacher Report's Matt Miller is dead-on. I hear the same—that Griffin continues to alienate some of the players on the team.
Some in that locker room believe RG3 is frustrated with his slower pace in learning the offense. What's certain is that there's a lot of pressure on Griffin. Mike Shanahan—who was indeed terrible—isn't around to blame any longer.
It's all on Griffin now.
5. Packers and Analytics
The Packers are a little late to the analytics train but better late than never. One thing I've always liked about Ted Thompson, the team's general manager, is he isn't just extremely intelligent—he's also adaptive.
It can't be stressed enough that a significant number of men who are Thompson's age in the NFL (he's 61) despise analytics. They think it's too baseball-y and practically worthless. That sentiment is beginning to change across the NFL.
Every team is bear-hugging analytics now.
6. "It's Insufficient"
The NFL is considering a system in which players involved in domestic violence incidents would receive some pretty stiff penalties. It would be a smart move by the league. It would also not be enough.
"My hope is the NFL doesn't believe such a move would be the answer," said Ruth Glenn, the interim executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "We're happy there could be an increase in penalties, but that's insufficient.
"My hope is that's just a small part of what they're doing. The NFL also needs to focus on prevention. My hope is they get to a point where you don't have to punish players for domestic violence, because the entire culture of the NFL is being educated. The NFL is working to prevent problems while also making the penalties more substantive. That would be the ideal solution."
7. Cris Carter's Son…Wow
Hall of Famer Cris Carter wasn't known for his speed, but he was one of the most technically skilled wide receivers I've ever seen. He ran routes with almost maniacal precision.
His son, Duron, playing in the Canadian Football League, might have inherited some of that skill. Plus, he has some speed his old man didn't have.
This return is unreal. Remember: It's 122 yards.
8. Change the Name
When Pocahontas wants the name changed, you know it's bad.
Also, Phil Simms, always a longtime class act, and Tony Dungy likely won't use the nickname when broadcasting games. Good move.
Also on that subject, this story could be a game-changer, per Jeremy Stahl of Slate.com: "Native American Groups Ask Twitter, Facebook, and Google to Remove Washington NFL Accounts."
9. 49ers Concerns
The team lost its last two games by a combined score of 57-3. No, the preseason doesn't matter. And yes, the 49ers are so talented that they can turn on a dime. The team is also extremely battle-tested. It eats adversity for lunch.
All true. Still, something isn't quite right. It's not time to panic, but it is time to take a close look, and the prevailing theory from people around football is that coach Jim Harbaugh is wearing out his welcome in that locker room.
Harbaugh does grind on the players and has for years—going all the way to his coaching days at Stanford. His act wears thin quickly. He wins and is excellent, but he also engenders a large number of people wanting to punch him in the face.
So that's the theory around the league: Harbaugh's act is wearing down the locker room, and it's starting to show this preseason. Who knows if that's true, but I can tell you that's being said by a lot of team executives in football.
10. Manziel Was This Close to Being a Cowboy
I reported in the days leading up to the draft that Dallas owner Jerry Jones desperately wanted to select Manziel. Some in the Dallas media completely shot down the story.
But a book—Manziel Mania, by Jim Dent—claims that Jones came even closer to picking Manziel than even I knew. Despite the Cowboys' denials, I believe the book's claims.
So I want you to imagine a world where Manziel is now a Cowboy. Go ahead. Right now. Imagine it.
Awesome, isn't it?
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.