2013 NFL Grades, Week 12: Someone save RG3 from himself

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

There's going to be lots of talk about benching Robert Griffin III. That's preposterous. If anyone says it, give it the same credence you gave it back in September: none.

Kirk Cousins is a nice guy and a hard worker but he's not the quarterback that RG3 is. Having said that, someone needs to save Griffin from himself. The big story out of Monday night's game was Griffin being repeatedly hammered.

When literally getting kicked in the crotch is one of the least painful and dangerous things that happened to Griffin, there should be major concern about how long he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Griffin is an elite talent. He possesses the arm talent and athleticism to become a great quarterback. But he looks like 2007-level Michael Vick right now. He consistently extended plays for the sole purpose -- basically -- of getting drilled by a 49ers defender.

Less than 10 percent of his passes this season have come with the Redskins leading, so it's not all Griffin's fault. And I don't think the Redskins should bench him. I do think they're not helping Griffin much right now because he's taking too many shots too soon coming off an ACL injury. The season is lost at 3-8 and it's at least worth considering whether or not it's smart to leave Griffin under center up until the point he suffers another major injury.

A few other things that caught my eye from Monday night:

1) This was the first time in RG3's college and pro career that his team didn't manage to score a touchdown. That's 67 games in total, with 41 coming at Baylor and another 26 with the Redskins.

2) Oh hey -- the Redskins actually lost this game. The 49ers were the winners and enough won't be made of that because they dominated. Getting Colin Kaepernick -- who threw three touchdowns -- off the schneid was huge for San Francisco. Whatever quarterback struggled in this game was going to have a long Thanksgiving week dealing with the media. That's all on RG3, as Kap put up some big stats en route to the victory. He looked sharp winging the ball down the field and averaged 9.8 yards per attempt. He didn't make any mistakes and ran the ball alright when he had to.

3) Jim Harbaugh said after the game that he expects Michael Crabtree to play next week. No telling how he bounces back from an Achilles injury -- which notoriously sap explosiveness -- but Crab would be a massive addition to the 49ers' vertical game if he's remotely healthy.

4) Aldon Smith picked up his first sack since Sept. 22. He's gradually been worked more and more into the 49ers defensive gameplan and could help this defense round into one of the league's best once again down the stretch.

5) The second half wasn't kind to the Redskins offensively. They had six drives and they were not ... good:

The longest drive was 9 yards. Nine yards!

6) Trent Williams didn't do Griffin any favors on Monday night, consistently allowing pressure into the Redskins backfield. Williams has the upside to be a legit blindside protector, but if he's playing as poorly as he was on Monday night, Griffin doesn't stand a chance in the pocket.

7) Josh Wilson had a rough night. The 49ers straight-up picked on him from the outset, targeting him when he was lined up against Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin early on. The result was easy yardage for the 49ers and an early deficit for the Redskins. At one point David Amerson was on the field instead.

8) Can you imagine a scenario where Mike Shanahan sticks around in Washington? He certainly has the cache but this is a brutal collapse for a Redskins team that won the division last year. The defense is non-existent and the roster is pretty bare (partially as a result of the RG3 trade). There's a clear rift with the quarterback and his team just got embarrassed on Monday night at home.

Things don't look good for Shanny in DC right now.

TeamGradeAnalysis
49ers 27, Redskins 6
B+Pretty easy victory for San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick lit up the Redskins secondary and Justin Smith/Aldon Smith made life miserable for Trent Williams and RG3. The 49ers wrested back the second NFC Wild Card and are a team on the upswing again.
FHorrible performance on both sides of the ball for Washington. Robert Griffin III was ineffective, while the running game and Alfred Morris couldn't get going. The defense got shredded from the get go. Ugly loss at home in primetime to fall to 3-8.
TeamGradeAnalysis
Patriots 34, Broncos 31
B-The Broncos took major advantage of a mistake-ridden first half from the Patriots to surge out to a monster lead. But that second half was brutal. Peyton Manning made some big throws but struggled some in the weather. Knowshon Moreno was an absolute beast. The Broncos didn't have enough.
BNew England couldn't stop the Broncos running game but Tom Brady took care of business when he needed to. Aqib Talib shut down Demaryius Thomas in a big way but it was ultimately Brady that flipped this game on its head.
Titans 23, Raiders 19
B-The Titans are somehow the No. 6 seed in the AFC after their win in Oakland. Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright are turning into a nice little duo in Tennessee and Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting them the rock. Chris Johnson remains hit or miss.
C+The Raiders were very nearly in the playoffs and remain (sort of) in the hunt. It's a weird thing. Matt McGloin did well once again, Rashad Jennings keeps running well and the defense keeps overachieving.
Cardinals 40, Colts 11
FThe absence of Reggie Wayne is a big problem for this team. Andrew Luck once again struggled, the running game is non-existent and the defense couldn't slow down Arizona at all. A blowout from the start.
AArizona keeps answering the bell and staying in the NFC Wild Card hunt. Carson Palmer's playing really well the last few weeks and Michael Floyd's developing into an impressive second weapon. Big win for Bruce Arians against his old team.
Cowboys 24, Giants 21
BTony Romo led another clutch drive to shrug off the #Narrative. The Cowboys defense, despite being banged up, limited the Giants to just six points in the first half. They let New York mount a comeback eventually but the offense was able to seal the deal.
CAndre Brown ran the ball really well and Eli Manning didn't cough the ball up, but it was surprising that the Giants didn't feed Brown the rock more. The defense couldn't limit Tony Romo enough in the earlygoing or down the stretch and get the ball back.
Buccaneers 24. Lions 21
B+Three wins in a row for Greg Schiano's team as they overcome a miserable start to the season. Pretty impressive turnaround for the Bucs considering where they were a few weeks ago. Mike Glennon is playing his way into the Offensive Rookie of the Year discussion.
D-Brutal loss for the Lions -- they would've been leading the NFC North by a full game if they don't botch this home game. Matthew Stafford didn't cause all the interceptions but he made some pretty mind-bogglingly bad throws.
Vikings 26, Packers 26
C-Adrian Peterson was excellent per usual and Christian Ponder was surprisingly efficient. The defense can't do what it did down the stretch though -- it's never a good look to give up 19 second-half points when you're sitting on a lead.
C-Matt Flynn gave the Packers a little spark and they put together a nice comeback to get to overtime. This tie could end up helping them but they could've been more aggressive in the extra period knowing Chicago and Detroit lost. Eddie Lacy is a full-grown man.
Jaguars 13, Texans 6
B+Are the Jaguars trying to play themselves out of the No. 1 seed? That's two wins now, and they just hopped the Texans in the AFC South. Credit to Gus Bradley for continuing to get effort from his squad despite its struggles early in the season.
F-Texans have now lost at home to the Raiders and Jaguars in consecutive weeks. That's the NFL equivalent of rock bottom. Six points. Ugh.
Chargers 41, Chiefs 38
B+Despite not playing any defense, the Bolts still stormed back to take the victory away from the Chiefs. Give credit to Philip Rivers, who's now crossed over 390 passing yards four times on the season. Danny Woodhead continues to be an impressive offseason pickup.
C+The Chiefs lost Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, so there's some built-in excuse for not playing good defense. But they've been exposed by two high-caliber quarterbacks in the last two weeks. It's not going to get any easier for them.
Panthers 20, Dolphins 16
C+Stunning comeback effort, although this was the worst win of the Panthers' seven-game winning streak. Cam Newton got knocked around early and the defense wasn't as good without Charles Johnson.
B-Mike Wallace has to catch that pass at the end of the game, even though he had probably his best game of the season Sunday. The Dolphins running attack is a complete mess. It's kind of amazing that Ryan Tannehill's still alive.
Steelers 27, Browns 11
B+This team is right back in the playoff hunt. Ben Roethlisberger's been inspired by trade rumors and is taking it out on opponents. Antonio Brown is having a really, really good season.
D+Tough day when Josh Gordon sets a franchise record for receiving yards ... in a loss. His 237 yards netted the Browns their only touchdown. There are just too many issues with the quarterback position and it looks like Brandon Weeden's under center for the forseeable future.
Rams 42, Bears 21
DThis defense fell off a freaking cliff. Chicago can't stop anyone -- first Zac Stacy and then Benny Cunningham lit up the defense on the ground. Josh McCown's doing some good things on offense, at least. Tough loss given how bad the NFC North was Sunday.
B+Rams are a major pest for playoff teams right now. They're not in the postseason hunt but they're doing damage and flashed some upside Sunday. Tavon Austin keeps coming on strong, the running game is improved and Kellen Clemens has a couple wins under his belt.
Ravens 19, Jets 3
FMiserable effort for Rex Ryan's squad. Geno Smith continues to look terrible and hasn't played well in his last few games. The defense limited the Ravens enough but it was largely irrelevant.
B+Must-win game for the Ravens and they took care of business. Man this offense is really not that good: the running game just has nothing going on at all. The defense is going to have to carry the Ravens and hope Joe Flacco can get hot. Sound familiar?
TeamGradeAnalysis
Saints 17, Falcons 13
BDare I say a gritty win for the Saints on the road against a divisional opponent? (I dare, I dare.) They had to have it and they figured out how to make the victory happen even if it wasn't pretty and didn't involve a lot of points. Doing that without Jahri Evans and Darren Sproles is impressive. This has no bearing on their long-term prospects.
B-Good job, good effort for the Falcons. At 2-8 they were going to be hard-pressed to pick up a win even at home. They did their best to stick with the Saints. The reality is they were overmatched before the game even kicked off.
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