To be fair to NBC, the post-Thanksgiving Day cupboard was pretty bare. Thursday’s schedule features three games that should at least be watchable — the new benchmark in D.C. — and ESPN gets lucky Monday night with Seattle vs. New Orleans. That should take the taste of the surrender to San Francisco out of our national maw. The best game on Sunday is the Broncos-Chiefs matchup, but that is not eligible for the flex, because its enrollment time had expired. No, wait, that’s my insurance coverage. In any case, the Broncos have used up their flexes. When New York-Washington is your best option, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Because the local team, in a word, stinks. Just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. Was that quitting we saw Monday night? A little more than a year ago, Mike Shanahan famously announced that it was time to play everyone and make some evaluations. That seemed to be a signal that the season was over, although Shanahan later denied that’s what he meant. (Whether this football team can actually play football is questionable, but as a group they can deny like nobody’s business.)
At 3-8, is it time for Shanahan to “not” quit on the season again? Last year, it somehow propelled the team into the playoffs.
That won’t happen this year. But perhaps it will make his players take an interest. In, you know, professional football.
That may be the worst game Trent Williams has played since his rookie season. Perhaps he was sleepy and wanted to go to bed — I can relate — but unlike the rest of America, he had to stick around for four quarters. The 49ers’ defense is no joke, but that’s the job.
Hopefully, Williams’s play Monday was an aberration. He never struck me as a quitter and a lot of his teammates are still giving it their all. Their all just isn’t enough. And say what you will about Robert Griffin III — a lot of people have a lot to say, and little of it is good — he takes a licking and keeps on ticking. (Nobody delivered that line like John Cameron Swayze). Griffin, for all his flaws, is no quitter. But quitting has never been his problem. Not executing the offense is. The same glitches in his game we saw in Week 1 are still there, including the propensity to either try an ill-advised pass at the last moment, off his back foot, when wiser quarterbacks would be aiming for the sideline, or worse, not letting go of the ball at all. This makes me scream at the television, and in 20 years of watching this team play I don’t think I have ever screamed at a Washington quarterback, not the least because I’m a Chiefs fan. (I did scream when the team drafted Patrick Ramsey, but that wasn’t Ramsey’s fault.)
If anyone had a reason to take it easy at this point, it would be Griffin. I don’t think many of us expected him to remain healthy for 16 games; I certainly didn’t. So is it time to sit him down, for the good of his health, especially if Kirk Cousins was somehow able to elevate this season from awful to mediocre?
That’s asking a lot of Cousins, but let’s do the math. Shanahan has a year left on his contract. Even though that year is not looking like a sure thing at this point, Shanahan — like everyone else in the business — wants an extension. But he put all his eggs in the Griffin basket, so if he benches him now, he is saying that his judgment was wrong, that he gave up three high draft picks for a pig in a poke, and that he and his son were unable to “coach him up.” And if that is true, well, goodbye extension.
Throw in the “salary cap hits” excuse and last season’s 10-6 joyride and there are the arguments for making him earn the extension by giving him the final year to clean up the — I can’t think of a polite word — that he created. The counterpoint: What he’s done thus far hasn’t worked. He is 24-35. Throw out the baby, the bath water, the bathtub, and the rubber ducky and let’s start over. Again.
Watching all of this play out will keep this town talking through the holidays and beyond. There certainly won’t be a lot of football to distract us. Poor Washington. America has to sit through just one more performance of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, and then it can move on. Lucky America.
For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.