Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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 [email protected] Follow him at @TBTimes_JSmith.

   
Comments
Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Lakewood grad Bernard Reedy, who handled the Bucs' kickoff and punt returns for much of last season, is back with Tampa Bay again.Reedy, 26, was signed on Wednesday, one day after the Bucs began OTA workouts. Thomas Sperbeck, the former Boise State r...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
NFL owners approve team-by-team anthem policy, will allow players to remain in locker room

NFL owners approve team-by-team anthem policy, will allow players to remain in locker room

ATLANTA — NFL owners approved a new national anthem policy Wednesday that gives individual teams the authority to set their own anthem-related rules and permits players to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem, the Washington Pos...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL owners passed a new policy Wednesday with the hopes of moving on from boycotts and political turmoil related to some players protesting by not standing during the national anthem before games.Under the new policy, NFL players are not required to ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

And you thought our headline would be "Mariota hosts NFL draft before Winston."The NFL owners are meeting in Atlanta this week, and that means a new batch of future Super Bowls getting announced for their homes.A year ago, Tampa got the huge news, an...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Published: 05/22/18
HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

Former Gators and Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley, also once a popular sports radio host in Tampa, is battling Alzheimer's Disease and has been rejected from the NFL's concussion settlement, according to tonight's episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bry...
Published: 05/22/18
Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Mike Evans is one of just three receivers in NFL history to open his career with four straight 1,000-yard seasons, but he understands one area where he can make a big improvement in 2018: yards after the catch."I think last year was my worst year in ...
Published: 05/22/18
Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

If you've been dipping your toes in the "Gosh, Vita Vea looks a lot like the guy from Disney's Moana" pool, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has jumped in all the way.The Bucs' 347-pound rookie is massive, has a family history on the Pacific island...
Published: 05/22/18
Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

The Bucs started another chapter of their offseason Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) practice at One Buc Place, with veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Brent Grimes as the only healthy players absent from what is officially a voluntar...
Published: 05/22/18