This week the 49ers play Washington, and it appears that competition has already started. Recently, Jay Gruden had some surprising comments about Robert Griffin III. I link here to Peter King's take on the whole deal; he provides a succinct summary of the events, Gruden's extant remarks, and a helpful commentary on the whole topic. It's a good article.
Essentially, it appears as if Gruden is upset with RG3's (lack of) footwork and the fact that RG3 called out other teammates for not producing. While I think it's pretty obvious that RG3 should work on a lot of little things that help and QB play the position well and he probably shouldn't be calling out his teammates, it seems really foolish for a head coach to welcome the sort of firestorm that always accompanies comments like these. This is like an upset person purposely watching Requiem for a Dream in order to feel better. You must have known this was going to be a bad idea going in.
This is the sort of thing, too, that can linger with a team and pollute a season. We've all seen it before with other teams, and now that I've seen how the media can latch onto #coachcontroversies without citing sources, I'm utterly convinced that they will be able to drag Washington to the ground with this snafu. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot going on in Washington that is dragging that team to the ground already. But, as a head coach, you really shouldn't be fanning the flames.
Colin Kaepernick was recently asked about Gruden's comments in his recent presser. He gave his typical answer, which is to say, he basically ignored the question and responded with an answer so brief it made Hemingway's bones green with envy. And he was right to do so. Besides the fact that the media generally asks Kaepernick pretty stupid questions, this question in particular was egregious. Why ever would it be in Kaepernick's or the team's best interest for him to weigh in on this topic? There's no real reason. Kaepernick should just care about winning - and that's basically all he said. Good for him.
And this leads me to highlight what is one of my favorite parts of Jim Harbugh's coaching style. He will just lie straight to the media in order to pump up a player. The textbook example is, of course, Alex Smith. But, Harbaugh is not afraid of doing this with anybody. I don't doubt that there are some people in the locker room who feel that Harbaugh is too intense in some regards. And, I'm sure these people are uncomfortable by his demeanor and his coaching. But, there are surely people who feel that Harbaugh's support in the media is helpful. It provides a way for players to receive validation for their play, and when players feel validated they might be more receptive to coaching in practice. Gruden has not given RG3 that opportunity; or, at least, he hasn't this week.