Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NFL notes: Another Washington shutdown with RG3

Just when you thought the nation's capital had enough controversies and power struggles swirling around, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, right, delivered a vexing veto last week. Shanahan's surprising decision to bench franchise QB Robert Griffin III — and making him inactive for the final three games — has been analyzed and dissected by many. Shanahan says Griffin is healthy but wants to keep him that way heading into next season considering he had reconstructive knee surgery before getting beat up in this 3-10 disaster. "If something did happen to him, I think it would set our franchise back," Shanahan said. Others aren't so sure.

Washington Post columnist Mike Wise writes Shanahan, who reportedly nearly quit after last season, is using Griffin as a pawn to provoke a confrontation with owner Daniel Snyder, making sure he'll receive the $7 million he's owed in 2014 (the final year of his contract). Ex-Redskins QB Donovan McNabb, who also was benched by Shanahan, says the coach is trying to show why he believes QB Kirk Cousins, today's starter, gives the Redskins the better chance to win.

But maybe, just maybe, this might be the best thing for Griffin going forward.

Not playing Griffin would have been unimaginable last year, when the Heisman Trophy winner took the league by storm, getting labeled the franchise's savior after leading it to the NFC East title as a rookie. But this year has been a complete mess with Griffin getting sacked 24 times over the past five games (all losses) and taking shots from teammates for not shouldering enough of the blame for the team's struggles.

Griffin took the high road last week, saying he wants to play but will live by Shanahan's decision. Wise believes it was the right one.

"Robert Griffin III needed to be removed from this sorry drama," Wise writes. "His body, mind and ego needed to be extricated from a lost year of his career. He has been coddled and enabled. Used off the field, abused on it. Vicariously lived and died through throughout this commode fire of a season.

Now it's time to pluck the kid from a house engulfed by flames."

Power rankings

1. Seahawks (11-2)

2. Broncos (11-3)

3. Saints (10-3)

4. 49ers (9-4)

5. Panthers (9-4)

6. Chiefs (10-3)

Mad Megatron

The last thing I'd want to do just before facing the Lions' Calvin Johnson, arguably the greatest receiver on the planet, is rile him up. But Ravens rookie S Matt Elam, apparently, did just that.

The former Florida Gator referred to the two-time All-Pro as "pretty old" on Wednesday: "He's pretty old, so I don't know how physical he'll be."

Johnson, 28, laughed off the comments, saying, "I'll show him what that old man's strength is about."

Johnson also took a subtle shot at Elam: "It doesn't surprise me because he doesn't have to see me on the field. So he can talk all he wants. He plays back, and I don't see him every play unless I run past him. I'm not worried about it."

Even Ravens QB Joe Flacco was stunned to hear Elam's shot at Johnson. "You just kind of look at him and say, 'Dude, what are you thinking? It's Calvin Johnson.' "

Who's hot?

Ravens: The defending Super Bowl champions have awakened from their early season slumber, winning four of their past five, including a dramatic 29-26 victory over the Vikings last week. The Ravens now are second in the AFC North and back in the wild-card chase. But they finish with games against the Lions, Patriots and Bengals.

Who's not?

Redskins: Besides coach Mike Shanahan's controversial decision to bench franchise QB Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season. … The Redskins wouldn't be in this position had they not lost five straight, falling to 3-10 and out of the playoff picture. Washington has been blown out in two of the past three and are an NFL-worst minus-128 in point differential.

Upset of the week

Steelers over Bengals

The Steelers' playoff hopes are fading, but it wouldn't be surprising if they went out fighting.

Quote of the week

"We knew nobody gave us a chance, and nobody should have given us a chance either if you were outside of our locker room. But we came in with a lot of confidence. We said let's go play our best game and get another one and stay alive. Let's stay alive and see what happens."

Chargers QB Philip Rivers on his team's upset of the Broncos on Thursday night

Quick reads

• So it just took a snowstorm for Eagles QB Nick Foles to finally throw an interception? What a journey for Foles, who has gone from the backup to the cover boy of Sports Illustrated.

• Does anyone want to take the NFC North? The Packers have won just once since Halloween and are still in the thick of it because the Lions haven't been able to pull away, losing three of their past five. With QB Jay Cutler back, the Bears just might steal it.

• The Chargers' 27-20 road win over the Broncos on Thursday night was the biggest upset of the season. It also shook up the AFC playoff picture, hurting Denver's shot at the top seed. If San Diego wins out, it could join the postseason party, too.

Times wires contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at Follow him at @TBTimes_JSmith.

NFL notes: Another Washington shutdown with RG3 12/14/13 [Last modified: Saturday, December 14, 2013 7:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Cubs, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Cubs

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    Chris Archer's night ended with his 11th loss, but he and the Rays should feel good about his six solid innings. After the forearm tightness scare in Chicago, he had two rough outings (15 hits, 11 runs, seven innings), so Tuesday was a reassuring rebound.

  4. At 6-8, Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov comes with, and needs, a high ceiling

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — When Hall of Famer Phil Esposito first saw Lightning prospect Oleg Sosunov, he joked that the 6-foot-8 defenseman could reach the Amalie Arena ceiling.

    Lightning 6-foot-8 defenseman Oleg Sosunov competes in the preseason opener. Phil Esposito jokes that Sosunov can reach the ceiling at Amalie Arena.
  5. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494