Sunday, December 17, 2017
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

Bucsí Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David out for Mondayís game vs. Falcons

TAMPA ó As if containing All-Pro Julio Jones and the Falcons offense isnít challenging enough, the Bucs will try to do so Monday night without perhaps their top defensive players, tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.On Saturday, Bucs coa...
Updated: 10 hours ago
McCoy, David, Hargreaves all out Monday against Falcons

McCoy, David, Hargreaves all out Monday against Falcons

As if containing Julio Jones and the Falcons offense weren't challenging enough, the Bucs will try to so Monday night without perhaps their top two defensive players in DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David.Bucs coach Dirk Koetter on Saturday ruled bo...
Published: 12/16/17
Bucsí Ward glad to be back, eager for rematch with brother Terron

Bucsí Ward glad to be back, eager for rematch with brother Terron

Bucs safety T.J. Ward will make a healthy return Monday after missing two games with a concussion, and it's also a chance to face his brother Terron, a running back with the Falcons."Our whole family's going to be there, rooting us on," T.J. said aft...
Published: 12/16/17
Jones: Tony Dungy didnít leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

Jones: Tony Dungy didnít leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

It is and always will be the greatest debate in Tampa Bay sports history.Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy?You donít even need to say anything more than that. Bucs fans already know what youíre talking about.Gruden or Dungy?Who was most responsible for the on...
Published: 12/16/17
Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? Why the debate rages on

TAMPA — Bucs coach Jon Gruden did not win the Super Bowl with Tony Dungy’s team. Don’t believe me? Ask Dungy. "It wasn’t. They did a great job. They took it and tweaked it," Dungy said. "The same way I got a great (Colts) tea...
Published: 12/16/17
Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Staff writers pick sides (kind of) in the Dungy-Gruden debate

Even with ó perhaps especially with óJon Gruden set to be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor Monday night, Tampa Bayís Great Sports Debate hasnít abated. Who deserves more credit for the biggest moment in Tampa Bay sports history ó the Bucsí Super ...
Published: 12/16/17
Nobody has Jameis Winstonís back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody has Jameis Winstonís back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody is a bigger supporter of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston than head coach Dirk Koetter.That was the passionate message that offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken unloaded at his news conference Friday, saying that reports that Winst...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
Bucs journal: Adarius Glantonís experience could come in handy for ailing LB corps

Bucs journal: Adarius Glantonís experience could come in handy for ailing LB corps

TAMPA ó The Bucsí linebacker depth was tested during the first five weeks of the season, when Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander missed a combined six games with injuries.And now, as David is again sidelined by a hamstring injury, the experience gained...
Published: 12/15/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Letís revisit Monday night games in Bucsí past

Cannon Fodder podcast: Letís revisit Monday night games in Bucsí past

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman has injury updates on Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and a nostalgic trip through the Bucsí history on Monday night, including the current three-game win streak and yes, that infamous 2003 Colts game where the Bucs were u...
Published: 12/15/17
Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

TAMPA ó The worst week of Dirk Koetterís life rolls on.Itís Gruden Week, just like Shark Week, only with smaller teeth and a bigger playbook. Itís the big build-up to Grudenís induction into the Buc Ring of Honor this Monday night, with the accompany...
Published: 12/15/17