Now that the dust has settled on the NFL Draft and the Skins got their man, let’s look at what RG3 will need to be successful in his Washington debut, and what has me concerned.
First, I like the pick because of the upside potential but am still a little queasy at the price. Time will tell if three first rounders was worth it but at least the fans, players, coaches, and draft evaluators are all in on the selection. The Skins quarterback play last season was pathetic and a serious upgrade was required. I’d estimate the sheer talent of RG3 would have been worth two more wins on top of last year’s pathetic 5-11 record. Rex Grossman is a serviceable back-up at best and it’s clear after his four game stint as a starter, John Beck should not be playing NFL football.
Mike Shanahan’s record with quarterbacks, as of late, has not been good. The trade for Donovan McNabb was ill advised and subsequent handling of the veteran was shoddy and a distraction. Mike and Kyle (O-coordinator) Shanahan’s propensity to squeeze quarterbacks into a system, rather than build a system around a quarterback, is the main concern. I watched McNabb operate for years in Philadelphia and when Andy Reid converted him to a pocket passer, he lost his effectiveness. It take courage at the NFL level to play to your guy’s strengths rather than avoiding injuries. I love what Carolina is doing with Cam Newton in this regard. RG3 is a mobile quarterback and Kyle Shanahan had great success in Houston with Matt Schaub who is a pocket passer, and seems wedded to a system ill-suited for RG3. Here’s hoping the Shanahans can adjust their thinking. Also the shortsightedness of even giving Beck a chance was a negative ding because this guy was not even close to NFL caliber and Shanahan should have seen that. Why did he sit on the bench for five years in Miami? Anyone with enough talent to play the position would have gotten a chance and Shanahan has been around the game long enough not to get fooled by that.
I’m encouraged by Shanahan’s general handling of the mess he inherited over the last two years. To his credit, he dumped McNabb when it was clear he wouldn’t work out, dumped Clinton Portis who was clearly over the hill, actually got a draft pick from New England for Albert Haynesworth, and upgraded a very porous defensive line. I’ll be watching camp and preseason very closely to see if they are building around RG3’s talents or trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.