When you're 3-11, people talk. Media, fans, even disgruntled employees, many of whom prefer to do so anonymously. For the Redskins, that means having to deal with speculation, rumors and reports about owner Dan Snyder, coach Mike Shanahan, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and benched franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Those people also deny that Griffin's father has tried to offer input into who the next Redskins coach should be.
The Post's Mike Jones writes "People familiar with the situation believe that those leaking the reports remain intent on lowering the public perception of the second-year quarterback, who struggled this season -- a year after winning rookie of the year honors, and less than a full year after having reconstructive surgery on his right knee."
The BleacherReport.com story: After throwing an errant pass in a recent game, Griffin made his way to the sidelines where QB coach Matt LaFleur explained that the quarterback's footwork was the culprit for the misfire. Griffin, growing impatient, finally said "I just have to make that throw," two sources told B/R.
Putting aside for the moment that his seems like an innocuous sideline exchange between a player and his coach (Jones points out that LaFleur spends games in the coaches booth, which would make it tough for he and RG3 to have a sideline conversation), Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg brings up a far more important point: "Right now, the anonymous leaks coming out of Ashburn -- or wherever they're coming from -- are absurd to the point of cowardice."
Steinberg points to this quote from the B/R story: “If your footwork isn't right, you're going to miss. The ball is going to sail or you're going to throw it in the ground or whatever.”
Why would anyone say this anonymously? We've heard countless people -- coaches, players, TV talking heads -- offer the same advice countless times a week, every week.
"I will say that on the record," Steinberg writes. "Chris Cooley will and has said that on the record. Four thousand NFL analysts will say that on the record. Footwork affects quarterback accuracy. Anonymous person saying that: get a bit of a backbone, and say that on the record."
Regarding Robert Griffin II, whom Bleacher Report's anonymous sources referred to as "something of a stage dad at Baylor," several Baylor players recently -- and publicly -- came to his defense (again, via Sports Bog).
Former BU OL John Jones, "@RGIII's family is high class, nothing but supportive towards everyone involved including players and parents."— David Smoak (@DavidSmoak) December 17, 2013
Former Baylor OL Jake Jackson, "@RGIII's father was never a problem, he was a staunch supporter of our team even when Robert was hurt."— David Smoak (@DavidSmoak) December 17, 2013
Former Baylor OL Jake Jackson, "@RGIII's father even invited my parents to Heisman Gala when he found out they were in town on business."— David Smoak (@DavidSmoak) December 17, 2013
Jake Jackson, "Mr & Mrs Griffin attended my sisters graduation in Houston, they've always treated @RGIII's me and teammates like family."— David Smoak (@DavidSmoak) December 17, 2013
The takeaway? Anonymous sources are important; they provide behind-the-scenes insights that wouldn't otherwise come to light. But they're also not the end-all, be-all. In Washington, where leaks are a daily occurrence, the truth is scarce and obfuscation seems to be the goal. And, really, that benefits no one.