Chain Reactions: Nats down to last loss; time for RGIII to find sidelines

Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Nationals are in a do-or-die situation and RGIII needs to find the sideline this weekend.

What would a Redskins season be without a kicking issue? Well, there's no issue with Billy Cundiff anymore. He was cut loose Tuesday, and Kai Forbath is now in charge of saving the 'Skins kicking woes.

Forbath, who had the greatest Wikipedia page ever when the 'Skins picked him up, has very little NFL experience but has a big time leg. The Redskins need this to work. As the fans know all too well, they have gone through a million kickers since Chip Lohmiller (actually 19).

If talking a good game was all it took to be a good kicker, Cundiff would be a Hall of Famer. The guy was overly confident despite his poor results.

The new guy talks a good game too. Let's hope he backs it up unlike Cundiff. The Redskins need to stop this ridiculous cycle of musical kickers. If this does not work, maybe they should consider playing the red zone like it's four-down territory. It works for all my buddies who play Madden.

In this week's "Chain Reactions," we hit on the Nats' do-or-die situation and RGIII's protection issues.

Nats Down to Last Loss

The Nationals are one loss away from being yet another team to earn home field advantage and not win the World Series. The Nationals will certainly hear from all the first- and second-guessers on the Strasburg Shutdown if their season ends prematurely.

ESPN First Take hosts Skip A. Smith and Stephen Bayless must be sleepless thinking about the endless hours of screaming they could do at Mike Rizzo if the Cardinals finish the job Thursday or Friday.

Blaming the Strasburg decision is too easy, considering that there are plenty others in uniform and on the field that are being shut down by St. Louis pitching (outside of Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman to some degree). The Nationals offense has been nonexistent in the first three games, going a pathetic 3 for 24 with runners in scoring position in the series.

The other arms have been bad too. Gio Gonzalez had major control issues in Game 1, Jordan Zimmermann was a disaster in Game 2, and Edwin Jackson settled down to go 5 innings Wednesday but was hardly the stopper Washington needed in Game 3.

As I warned in this space last week, playoff baseball is truly a new season.

The Nationals have overcome plenty of adversity to win the NL East and they certainly are capable of winning two straight at home to advance. Heck, they have not lost two straight at home since July 31st and August 1st.

"This isn't the situation we wanted to be in," shortstop Ian Desmond said following an 8-0 drubbing at the hands of the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLDS. "But we're here and we're going to deal with it, just like we've been dealing with wins and losses all year long."

The problem with the playoffs is that the opponent has done all the same special stuff to get to this point. In the Cardinals' case, they have a lineup that can and has mashed. They also have a roster full of playoff experience and certainly plenty of confidence that they can do it on the road.

The Nationals can still win this series, but they will need Ross Detwiler to come out strong in Game 4, and one of the big bats that is slumping needs to come up with a big hit. The Nats need to get the momentum back that they briefly had after winning Game 1 in St. Louis.

Otherwise the October Natitude will be over before it ever got any real momentum and the offseason of second guessing the Strasburg decision will be underway.

Lesson Learned for RGIII

RGIII appears to be ready to go this weekend, although there are some tests still to pass. Even if he passes those tests, I think he needs to find the sidelines this Sunday.

Not as in standing on the sidelines with a clipboard. No, if he is cleared by independent doctors, let him play. I am not one of these fans that wants him in bubble wrap or for him to become a quarterback that never strays from the pocket. He plays football for a living and he will get hit again.

But RGIII needs to find the sidelines when scrambling. Clearly, he is not very good at the old hook slide. Maybe Joe Theisman could help him out.

There were several ironies about RGIII getting knocked out of the 'Skins' 24-17 loss to the Falcons. First, there were no designed running plays in the game, unlike in games past and secondly, he was hurt on a passing play.

We have seen the Redskins rookie take many shots in this young season because of the play calls and his fearless play. However, Sunday's stung because it seemed that there was an effort to play more conventional with him, and it was such an unnecessary hit.

Griffin had the sideline or he could have thrown it away. He certainly did not need to hold the football as long as he did, and given what he said Wednesday, it sounds like he will try to be more careful in the future.

"It doesn’t make you less aggressive, but it is a learning lesson. The one thing I learned was I can’t do that to my team, to the fans or to my family because life is more important than the game of football. These things that happen to us, getting hurt, getting hit in the head, that affects us down the road and I have to make sure I limit that. At some point, all players and our fans stop becoming players and fans. We start becoming people, and people care. I have to make sure I keep myself safe while still being the same player that I am. Keep myself safe so that my family and the fans and my teammates aren’t let down."

It is good to know RGIII, despite the "mild" concussion is thinking clearly days after the play. The Redskins need him on the field and they need him to stay on the field for many years to come.

The Redskins are still in the process of peeling all the layers off the offense playbook. Eventually, RGIII will have to run again and hopefully he will be able to minimize those hits while using his athleticism and the sideline to his advantage.

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