Indianapolis will be the center of the NFL Universe once again this week, and no, it has nothing to do with Peyton Manning's neck and Jim Irsay's twitter account. The best of the best NFL draft prospects will converge on Indiana's capital for the Combine. It is an important event for all NFL franchises, but you could argue that heading into year three of the Mike Shanahan era, it is more important for the Redskins than most.
The Redskins must get a quarterback, as has been well-documented throughout the season. They cannot afford to pass on a passer as they did last season. I have heard all the theories about going with a stop gap and selling out next year for Matt Barkley. Please. There is way too much left to chance by waiting another year. And let's be honest, even the most die-hard Redskins fans do not want to watch another double-digit loss season.
So like a lot of Skins fans I am looking forward to several days of watching the combine and dreaming about all the potential scenarios. Sure, it is silly when you consider the prospects will not even be in pads. It is also kind of creepy to hear some of the commentary. I sometimes feel like Chris Hansen should be hosting the show.
That being said, why don't you have a seat there and get comfortable as we bring you this week's edition of "Chain Reactions" that hits on the Quarterback that may be the apple of the Redskins' eye, Maryland's new scheduling method, and Bryce Harper talking the talk.
RGIII Big on Confidence
The Skins are out of luck on Andrew Luck, who the Colts will likely take with the first overall pick. That leaves Heisman winner Robert Griffin III as the second most coveted Quarterback in the draft. His numbers and athletic ability spoke for themselves at Baylor. He hopes to run a 4.4 in front of the scouts this week. He also hopes to show that he didn't play in a "simple" College offense.
"I'm excited to wow them in the interviews with the type of offense that we run, just so they can understand it's not as simple as some people make our spread out to be. It's a different kind of spread,'' Griffin said. "Although I don't agree with it, but people say I just burst on the scene this year, so no one knows much about me, whether NFL GMs or analysts, so I get a chance to put my best foot forward.''
Griffin has plenty of charisma and leadership intangibles, which are crucial for quarterbacks. The question is this: if he is the Redskins' target, can they get up to the second spot (currently held by the St. Louis Rams) without mortgaging too much of the future to take him? I hope they pull the trigger and get Griffin, who hopefully will solidify the position for at least a decade.
It has been well documented in this space and others about the importance of the quarterback position in an NFL that is set up for their success. The Giants gave up plenty to get Eli Manning and it has worked out just fine for them. Here's hoping the Skins don't get caught up with the other Manning sibling and give up the big picture approach they finally fully adopted last year.
Play Us or Else
You have to give it to Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson; there is never a dull moment at College Park on his watch. The latest soap opera is the Athletic Director's new approach to scheduling, or at least scheduling with Georgetown: play us in men's basketball or you don't get to play us in any other sports. I understand his frustration; this series should have been played forever on a regular basis. The problem is the method and, more importantly, the motivation.
Maryland's Athletic Department financial issues have been well documented. They need money and they need it fast. Speaking of which, I wonder if the University has thought about reading the book "Free Money 'They' Don't Want You to Know About." I watched the infomercial the other day and apparently you just need to punch in your name and they will find millions of dollars of yours.
OK, where was I? Oh yeah, Anderson is coming off as being petty and desperate here. There needs to be more diplomacy in this matter if it is going to happen. Nobody wants to play with the kid who cries and takes his ball and goes home when they do not get their way. Longtime DMV residents understand Anderson's pain, but we have followed it a lot longer than him. It is silly that the two biggest schools in the area will not play each other. I don't care whose dad or which coach did what first, but these things need to be worked out by coaches, not by threats.
Maryland first year coach Mark Turgeon is hopeful the game will happen in the future, but knows threats will not make it happen.
"I hope there are games between us in the future when we get a little bit better," Turgeon said Monday. "I think it would be great for everybody. But John Thompson and I have to be on the same page for that to happen, and that's really what's most important."
Don't fret if these scheduling matters cannot get settled in the near future. We probably will get a Terps/Hoyas matchup on a regular basis by 2020, when they'll be in the new East Coast Super Conference, which will consist of all Division 1-A schools in the Eastern Time Zone.
Harper Talking the Talk
The odds still seem against Bryce Harper making the Nationals on Opening Day. That does not mean the 19-year old phenom is not swinging for fences.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can, keep my mouth shut and play," Harper said. "I'm going to make their decision hard as much as I can. I want to be up here. I want to play, and I want to play in D.C."
Harper appears to be physically ready. However, that's not the area of concern for the Nationals or for anyone that has been around Harper. It is all about a teenager being mature enough to handle the successes and failures that go along with being a professional athlete. Harper has been caught in the web of social media, bickering with fans about his taste in pro sports teams. Harper is an unapologetic Yankees and Cowboys fan.
"I want everyone to know the real me," Harper said. " . . . I'm going to get blown up either way, whether I say something right or say something wrong. That's just how it's going to be. There's nothing I can really do about that. Maybe there's sometimes I should keep my mouth shut. I need to grow up in that aspect, I guess. But I feel good about what I say, and I'm not going to back down from anything."
Harper is not the first nor will he be the last athlete to play in this town that likes the Yankees or Cowboys or gets in twitter spats with fans. He may be the most-hyped athlete this city has ever seen. He also happens to still be a kid that is still growing up under a very large microscope. So even if he can hit everything to every field this Spring Training, I would not blame the Nationals if they still sent him down to start the season to work on his maturation process away from the big league spotlight.