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The Redskins are back from Minnesota where I thankfully was able to sleep in until 6 AM Sunday before the chaos of a week that I will never forget and hopefully will never experience again went into over drive.
First it was Britt McHenry's report from ESPN that said Robert Griffin III had alienated the locker room and that an incident on Friday in the locker room was directed at Griffin.
As I said several times Sunday on ESPN 980 and our Redskins Radio broadcast, that is not true.
Are there members of the organization that are not in love with Robert? Yes. This has been true in small numbers for a long time. It is NOT a locker room that is anti Robert Griffin III.
In every work environment, you have individuals that are close and those that are not. It doesn't take a lot to drive a spike through the heart.
Again, to be clear, there are members of the organization that are not smitten with Griffin. It is not a wide spread issue, based on everything that I know.
I would say as I have always said, the coaching staff is not sold that Griffin is the absolute best option for the Redskins to win every week. That doesn't mean they don't realize his talent, but talent has to be formed into talent and consistent execution. That's the reason for that.
Any issues that this coaching staff has with him is purely football, and I believe they have every right. That's why they were hired.
While dealing with that, the Redskins early team buses crashed on a Minneapolis highway not far from TCF Bank Stadium.
The details are slightly different depending on who you talk with, but many members of the organization that I talked with personally described a very lucky turn of events that prevented complete disaster.
At this point, it doesn't matter what happened, everyone on the buses ultimately were safe but there are necessary changes and improvements that must be made. The Redskins almost suffered an unspeakable tragedy and you know who I blame this on? The National Football League.
You might be saying to yourself, WHAT?? I say let me explain.
They require police escort motorcades for every leg of the trip and I have been on these buses for more than five years.
I was fortunate to not be on these buses, Sunday morning. Trust me when I tell you, this should happen more often than it does.
This is not a Washington Redskins issue. The NFL requires this and because there is very little margin for error, this was bound to happen.
When the Redskins leave Redskins Park, there are five buses. Bus number five leaves first 15 minutes ahead of bus number four, which usually carries our entire Redskins Radio Network crew.
Another series of buses then leaves 15 minutes after that which carries coaches and players. Because of staggered times of departure, this first part of the journey is not as dangerous, but still has some potential for major issues.
The real problems start when the Redskins arrive at the road city airport and also when leaving the stadium after a game to head back to the airport.
It is at that time that you have FIVE luxury buses trailing each other in extremely close fashion.
It is a frightening experience, especially with a lot of traffic and congestion. Often times, when leavin a stadium after the game, fans are in and around the streets in close proximity of the buses and there is very little margin for error.
I can't tell you how many times we have stopped short and I have thought we were going to crash into another bus. It happens almost every trip. Anybody on these buses would tell you the same thing.
If you want to know the absolute truth, I thought about this exact scenario on Saturday upon arrival in Minnesota. The bus in front of us stopped short and my bus almost plowed into the back of the other bus.
This may seem dramatic, but it is not. The worst part is that you have police officers on motorcycles trying to squeeze by buses at a very high rate of speed with extremely limited room on roads and shoulders of highways after executing their assignments.
As in football, when you play with fire you will get burned. That's exactly what happened on Sunday.
As to why I blame the NFL? In my opinion, there is absolutely no need for this. The buses will get to their location in due time. The Redskins as do every other team fly privately. The team is in NO danger of missing their flight.
When we get to the road city, players are given at least two-and-a-half hours off before evening meetings. Again, there is absolutely no rush.
The buses that crashed on the way to TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday left FOUR hours before kickoff. There is a second set of buses that leaves three hours before the game starts from the hotel. Again, no rush to get anywhere.
After the game, buses pull out approximately one hour after the game. Traffic is usually lessened by that time, but not by much.
Once again, the Redskins as does every team, fly privately and their chartered jet is going NOWHERE until the team is on it.
The only part of the trip that the NFL does not require a police escort is upon arrival Dulles after the flight home. At that point, buses trail each other out and back to Redskins Park.
Honestly, I never worry about this leg of the trip. I do about the others.
In my opinion, and this is only my opinion, based on five plus years of being in these situations, there is absolutely no need for the type of motorcade that is set up at the rates of speed that are common.
If you have one or two police cruisers (in cars) leading the way, that is fine. If buses have to stop at lights, so be it.
I know you don't want to snarl traffic in downtown areas, but there are multiple ways that you can accomplish getting to the hotel or stadium without putting anybody's life on the line.
Trust me, Sunday's incident could have been a lot worse. It could happen on every trip.
There was another report that centered around Robert Griffin III starting, from Adam Schefter of ESPN.
I have been up-front on this issue and wrote about it before the Dallas game, but it certainly held true for Minnesota.
I believe, based on many people that I talked with, that if Jay Gruden was making the call entirely on his own, he would have waited until the Tampa game. This was partially to give
Griffin more time to recover and more importantly practice, but also to make the environment (opponent, location) a little more conducive to success.
However, there are many issues at play here. After writing my initial report, which was based on speculation on my end AND talking to some people, it was made clear to me last Monday morning in Dallas by somebody very close to Dan Snyder that he had NOTHING to do with the decision then and in the short-term future.
This high ranking member of the organization did allow for the scenario that Bruce Allen was heavily involved in the decision. As he should be.
The ONLY issue I have and anybody should have is this: Did Bruce Allen say to Jay Gruden - You have to play Robert Griffin III or else. I would hope not and I don't believe that happened, but I can't rule it out.
Just like I can't rule out this: Even though Dan Snyder is not directly involved in the process, I know three things.
1. Snyder's patience has been running very thin with all the losing, as you can imagine.
2. Snyder loves Robert Griffin III, as he should, and wants to see a return on the very costly investment.
3. Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder are extremely close. It is absolutely logical to think that Allen confides and discusses these very important issues with Snyder and then Snyder's thoughts and wishes influence Allen's input or decision making authority.
In addition, the Redskins need to see Griffin play against tough defenses in hostile environments for as much as they possibly can because they have to make a decision by early May of this off-season on a potential fifth-year option for 2016.
It's not a slam dunk call. Trust me on this.
Griffin played better than I thought he would and appeared to show very little sign of struggles because of his injured ankle, but perhaps was fatigued in the fourth quarter. That's understandable.
Just like it should be understandable that the defense was gassed. Oh wait, that's right! That's an excuse and there are no excuses, from what I have been told.
That fatigue, and some of the indecisiveness that led to five sacks is a major reason why I thought the Redskins would require Griffin to get more practices under his belt after six weeks
of not facing live bullets.
They chose to not that, for whatever reason they have and it almost worked. No matter who made the ultimate choice, and I do believe it was a collaborative decision that was strongly influenced from Bruce Allen and the logical connection to Dan Snyder, the Redskins were able to justify the decision by some of the good that Griffin put forward.
Some of the bad? That justifies some of the criticism and questioning.
Either way, here's the reality. The Redskins are (3-6) but lucky that Sunday was just a loss in Minnesota and not a catastrophic loss and moment in American history.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
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