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Chain Reactions: Skins Waste No Time With RGIII; Can Clutch Caps Do It Again?

This week's Chain Reactions hits on the 'Skins proclaiming RGIII the starter and the two big keys of the Caps Cup run. And yes, we do have a quick thought on those new uniforms, too.

May 6, 2012; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws the ball as Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan watches during rookie minicamp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
May 6, 2012; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws the ball as Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan watches during rookie minicamp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

I feel obligated to react to the Redskins' new throwback uniforms. Not because I care at all, but because in looking at my Twitter and Facebook time lines, I see that many of you do.

I have always been more interested in who wears the uniforms than in what they look like. That being said, these throwbacks are fine ... I guess. At least they are actually burgundy and gold. However, I think the helmet is kind of boring. The best feature, though, is the fact that a guy named Robert Griffin III will be wearing one of them when the season starts.

Speaking of which, this week's "Chain Reactions" focuses on Mike Shanahan wasting no time with RGIII and the keys to the Caps' Cup run thus far.


It is not shocking that the Redskins intend to have Robert Griffin III ready to start in Week 1, considering all that they gave up to pick him at No. 2 overall in this year's draft. However, I was shocked Mike Shanahan felt the need to make him No. 1 after just three days of practice at rookie minicamp.

Is this the same coach that wants competition at all positions? The same coach that gives the media next to nothing each week? So why pull the trigger on the announcement this soon?

There are plenty of theories and many come from the overall lack of trust that still exists when it comes to all things Redskins. The first theory falls under the category of conspiracy. Name RGIII starter now and watch the jerseys go flying off the shelves and ticket office phones ring off the hook.

This is a pretty weak theory considering RGIII mania was already off and running, with or without the Shanny proclamation. I was at FedEx Field the day RGIII addressed over 20,000 fans who just wanted a glimpse of the franchise QB. So, firing up the fan base is not a issue. They are beyond fired up.

Next theory: it was done to quash the "controversy" started by the selection of Kirk Cousins in the 4th round. Really? Is it even a "controversy?" Maybe only in Washington, where we get excited about backup quarterbacks, which probably has more to do with all the mediocre starters we have seen over the years. I like Cousins at Michigan State, but in terms of skill set, RGIII is well ahead of him. Plus, there is the investment issue. No "controversy," move along, please.

The final theory is a boring one, yet probably closest to the truth. The off-season is about getting RGIII ready to be the franchise guy, and by making the announcement now you are letting the entire roster know that this is "our guy" and you need to support him. It gives him instant cred with the other players, and they do not have to worry about being asked which quarterback is doing what in camp. RGIII is the guy, which is the way it should be given both the price they paid and his talent.

Certainly Mike and Kyle Shanahan, have fumbled in quarterback selection thus far, between the Donovan McNabb debacle, Rex Grossman, and John Beck. However, any good coach or leader learns from their mistakes, right? Why can't anyone believe that could be going on here with the Redskins? Oh wait, I just answered my own question.

From Chokers to Clutch?

It is probably a good thing we have a two-day break before the big finish to the Capitals/Rangers series, which will wrap up Saturday night with Game 7 at MSG. Or I should say it will start Saturday. If we have learned anything from this series, it's to expect things to be close and score first. The team to score first is 6-0 in the series.

The series, like the one before, has had fans that Rock the Red on the edge of their seats throughout and area cardiologists and bartenders working overtime. The Caps, though, have always found a way to fight back in these playoffs. They seem to be relishing the underdog role, knocking off the Stanley Cup champion Bruins in seven and now having an opportunity to do the same against the top-seeded Rangers.

A Game 7 win Saturday night or, hell, even Sunday morning if needed, would be the biggest win in pro sports in these parts since the Caps made that improbable Cup run in 1998. I can't measure Caps fans' confidence based on sports talk callers or my friends. However, some of the most paranoid Caps fans seem to suddenly believe this group has something special in the works.

The two biggest story lines in my book has beeen the emergence of 22-year old netminder Braden Holtby and Head Coach Dale Hunter. After Tomas Vokun and then Michael Neuvirth went down with injuries, Hunter had no other options. Yet Holtby has looked like a playoff veteran. The young netminder has an amazing ability to let things go and focus on the here and now. He is now 9-0 after losses this season.

Things did not start off so smoothly here in D.C. for Hunter as the team was slow to buy into his defense-first style. Trusted veterans like Mike Knuble and Jeff Halpern found themselves in the doghouse for long stretches this season (They both have come out of it nicely in the postseason, especially Knuble). Hunter also treated his goalies like Steve Spurrier treated quarterbacks, never settling on just one for too long.

Yet something has clicked. And yes, Holtby has made him look good, as has the defense in front of the young netminder, which is all because of Hunter's system. So the Coach should get a fair share of the credit. His demeanor also fits this group well as Brooks Laich points out.

"I can’t [say] enough. He’s been great," Laich continued. "It’s almost like having another veteran in the locker room, is what it feels like. You can draw on his experience [and] he’s willing to open up and share it. He’s been through these battles."

Hunter the player was a rough and tough player who didn't back down to anything or anyone. As I have stated in this space before, he was D.C.'s version of Bill Laimbeer, one of those players opposing fans loved to hate. Yet you loved him because you knew what he meant to the team. He had everyone's back on the ice as a player and he's doing the same thing from behind the bench now.

If the Capitals can finish off the Rangers, Hunter's D.C. hockey legend will only grow, as will the need to make sure he sticks around beyond this run.