Redskins, Rams still basking in glow of megadeal for No. 2 pick
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from the third and final day of the NFL's annual meeting at The Breakers hotel...
• If there really is any chance the Colts pass on Andrew Luck at No. 1 and jump aboard the speeding Robert Griffin III bandwagon -- and call me unconvinced when it comes to the possibility of Indy calling that particular audible -- don't weep for the Redskins at No. 2. Mike Shanahan said they'll be fine either way, with or without Griffin, the player No. 6 Washington ostensibly thought it was getting when it shipped three first-round picks and a second-rounder to St. Louis for the right to move up four slots in the draft.
Sure, the Redskins' crush on the multi-talented Griffin has been showing for a while now, but it's not as if Shanahan will consider himself out of luck if his next starting quarterback is named Luck. Not in the least. In fact, if you look up the phrase "win-win situation'' in the dictionary (or Wikipedia?), there's a picture of Shanahan grinning like a Cheshire cat.
"That's a decision, when you get to the second pick, you've got to feel great about both guys,'' Shanahan said at Wednesday morning's NFC head coaches media breakfast. "There can't be any, 'Oh, I hope I get this guy, I hope I get that guy,' because you don't know what's going to happen. You know what's reported, but you just don't know, especially with this process. But when we did move up to that position, we had to feel great about both of them before we gave up what we gave up.''
At that point I interjected and asked Shanahan if he still felt that way even though Griffin has so many obvious athletic gifts, and is thought to be a better fit in Shanahan's offense, which calls for the quarterback to be mobile and able to make plays outside of the pocket and on the run? After all, Griffin has been known to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or something like that.
"I say both of them [fit], because they're both very athletic,'' Shanahan said. "You take a guy who's 6-4 and 240, and can run a 4.6 40, that guy can move pretty good. And obviously with Robert, who can run 4.4 or under, usually guys that are that fast can't throw. He can do both.''
But as happy as Shanahan is with life right now, the next table I visited after his was the one new Rams head coach Jeff Fisher sat at. And if anything, Fisher is even giddier over the outcome of the NFL's deal of the century, even though he's a notorious low talker and the acoustics of his mustache tend to muffle some of the excitement in his voice.
The Rams and Fisher knew they were sitting on a gold mine with this year's No. 2 pick, of course, but they didn't know it was the mother lode.
"We had some kind of idea,'' Fisher said. "We felt like it was going to be valued, just from a need standpoint. And it was the timing. It was the perfect storm of the need and the player available. It's probably highly unlikely to ever happen again.''
Again, I love the Redskins' deal for the No. 2 pick, because after trying to win with Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck in his first two seasons in Washington, Shanahan needed to get bold and find his quarterback. Going the stop-gap route got him to 11-21 in 2010-11, and another year of that might have resulted in him being asked to turn in his key card and surrender his parking spot at Redskins Park. Washington's blockbuster was just the latest example of how much the NFL has become a quarterback's league. Without one, you have almost no chance.
"The Super Bowls that I've been involved with, with Steve Young, with John Elway, both were franchise quarterbacks,'' Shanahan said. "They can make plays when everything breaks down. And if somebody can do that, then you've got an opportunity, once you get to the playoffs, to do something special. Now, can you still win without one? Sure you can. But you'd better be pretty special.''
Be it Griffin or Luck, the Redskins suddenly love their position at the game's most important position. Maybe no one in the NFL feels better about themselves these days. Other than, you know, the Rams.
• Listening to Fisher, it certainly sounds like the post-Gregg Williams version of the Rams coaching staff is going to be a cumulative effort in regards to the now-vacant defensive coordinator duties. Longtime defensive assistant Dave McGinnis will likely handle the game-day defensive play-calling, but I think Fisher will be very much involved on that side of the ball as well, especially early in the season.
"I called plays as a defensive coordinator for a number of years,'' Fisher said. "I wouldn't have any difficulty [doing it this season], but again, we're going to get this thing resolved. It will be done by committee and that won't be a problem either. Coach McGinnis is not necessarily coaching a position, so he'll have plenty of time to help out.''
• I still find it hard to believe the Rams and Williams had no inkling of what was ahead in terms of the Saints bounty scandal until shortly before the league went public with its investigation on March 2, but Fisher said that's exactly the case.
"We were completely unaware of [the league's investigation until Williams'] presence was requested in New York,'' Fisher said. "When the league requested him to make a visit [to the league office], he was unaware of what it was about.''
Fisher has already said the obvious, that the Rams wouldn't have hired Williams if they knew he was in line for a possible league suspension. And he said his contact with the mastermind of the Saints' bounty program has been minimal since the NFL suspended Williams' indefinitely.
"The league required him to vacate the building,'' Fisher said. "I hope I'd be able to talk to him, because we've talked over the years. But I understand, because when a player is suspended for disciplinary reasons, there is no contact. He doesn't get a chance to look at the game plan or study anything. So there'll be no football-related contact.
"I do hope we can maybe have some input on the restoration process that Gregg's going through, because he is extremely remorseful right now, so he's willing to help however he can. However he can get the message out.''
• We all know the failures of Butch Davis, Bobby Petrino, Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban when they jumped from the college coaching ranks to the NFL. But in Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, the two most recent collegiate winners turned pro coaches, both led their teams to NFC West titles and playoff berths in their first year on the job. It makes me wonder what category new Bucs head coach Greg Schiano will fall into: Early winner in the NFL or a guy who in retrospect will wind up being more comfortable and successful on a college campus?
My hunch is that Schiano will do just fine in the league, even if he doesn't match the first-year production of Harbaugh or Carroll.
"I'm not naive, this is a win-now league. I got that part,'' said Schiano, making his NFL annual meeting debut, of sorts. "But that has trickled down to the colleges, too, where you see head coaches are getting fired after two years. That's unheard of. But when you look at what coaches are getting paid, that's changed a lot, too. So with everything, as the stakes rise, [so do expectations].''
Interestingly, Schiano hired Butch Davis as his special assistant to the head coach, and part of Davis' job is to help the Bucs' new head coach avoid the college-to-pro pitfalls that in part doomed Davis during his almost four-year stint as the Browns head coach (24-35 from 2001 to 2004).
"One of the reasons I asked Butch to come with me is I wanted him to be able to kind of point out, 'Hey, careful, I made that mistake. This worked for us in Cleveland, let's do that.' I think a lot's made of college coaches who haven't done well, but if you look at it, there's a lot of coaches who haven't done well. There's a high turnover rate in the business, and you can throw the college coaches in there as well. But I understand the reasons why people would say it. It is different.''
• After hearing Schiano talk up Trent Richardson and chide LeGarrette Blount for his fumbling issues, I might have to re-think my conclusion that Tampa Bay won't go for the Alabama running back with its No. 5 pick in the first round. Not that coaches always speak the truth at these meetings in regards to their draft intentions, but still.
"I've studied a lot of tape on him, he's a very talented guy,'' said Schiano of Richardson, who he went on to call "a special talent.'' "You can't argue with the production. One of the real barometers is production. Was he able to be consistently productive, and Trent has done it in what's arguably the toughest league in college football.''
On the flip side, Schiano more than once mentioned the topic of Blount's fumbles, characterizing the 2011 Bucs as "one of the sloppiest teams with ball security I've ever seen.'' Blount fumbled five times last season, losing three of those, and all five of his bobbles came in the midst of Tampa Bay's season-ending 10-game losing streak, the slide that prompted the Bucs to fire Raheem Morris and hire Schiano.
"I think LeGarrette has tons of ability,'' Schiano said. "[But] no one who touches the football will get touches if they don't protect the football. That is one of our core covenants -- the ball. It's so important they named the game after it. We make a big deal about it.''
Big enough of a deal to bypass a much-needed talent like LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and select Richardson in the No. 5 slot? Maybe. I get the feeling when it comes to the running game, the all-business Schiano, who once rode Ray Rice to a turnaround season at Rutgers, means what he says.
• Here's one potentially sticky ramification of the NFL going to the same overtime format both in the regular season and the playoffs: TV networks FOX and CBS might attempt to push back the kickoffs of their Sunday late games beyond their current 4:15 p.m. latest start times to account for the possibility of longer overtimes in their 1 p.m. slate of games. That move would have a domino effect, of course, with the late games going later, and potentially upsetting NBC, which would potentially lose some audience for its Sunday night pre-game show. Already that's an issue at times when FOX's postgame show bumps into NBC's pregame time slot.
As they say in the business, stay tuned for developments in this story.
• It's pretty clear Andy Reid is trying to make a point to Michael Vick this offseason about staying healthy and on the field in 2012, twice touching on the topic of Vick's playing style leading to injuries and absences. But really, isn't that the same point people have been making about Vick for about 10 years now? He's only started 16 games once in his career, in 2006, and it's his daring style that provides both the highlights and the problems that come with Vick.
"It's an important question and he realized that,'' Reid said of his starting quarterback. "He realized that the last four teams standing in the playoffs, their quarterbacks started the whole season (Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith and Eli Manning all had 16 starts in the regular season). He knows just from film study that there are times in a game when he can go down and save himself from some hits. Now it's just a matter of doing that. I think this has been a topic his whole career, and it surely has since we had him. He'll hopefully grow wiser with age.''
We'll see. But Vick's playmaking instincts usually take over when he's in the heat of the moment, and those instincts often put him in harm's way. We can talk all we want, but that's still what makes Vick, Vick.