Steve Weatherford punted six times in the Giants’ 24-13 win over Washington this past Sunday, and when he wasn’t doing that, he was watching Robert Griffin III.
The much-maligned quarterback finished 18-of-27 for 236 yards and a touchdown against the Giants and also rushed five times for 46 yards. While Griffin didn’t throw an interception, he did fumble three times, losing one.
Believe it or not, this was arguably Griffin’s best game of the season.
Yes, between injuries and the occasional benching, Griffin has had a rough go of it in the NFL – which is surprising given how good he looked as a rookie. Weatherford, in fact, remembers his first game against Griffin, which the Giants won on a last-second touchdown.
“After we beat them, RG3 stood in the tunnel and high-fived every single guy on our team,” Weatherford said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “And he wasn’t doing it to be nasty. He was saying, ‘Hey, great job, I’ll see you guys soon,’ and he was really classy about it.”
And wouldn’t you know it? A few weeks later, Griffin led the Redskins to a 17-16 win over the Giants in Washington.
“He played great his rookie year,” Weatherford said. “I said, ‘This guy is going to be very, very special.’ And he hasn’t progressed as a quarterback. Who am I to say? I’m a punter. But if you just look at the numbers, he hasn’t done as well as what he was expected to do.”
It appears his coach, Jay Gruden, has noticed. Gruden indirectly called Griffin out following the loss to the Giants this past weekend, implying that Griffin needs to do a better job going through progressions and making reads.
“I don’t think they’ve ever clicked,” Weatherford said. “I don’t think that’s the quarterback that he wanted. I think he felt that way whenever Jay Gruden took over. That was his opinion of RG3. Obviously he hasn’t played to his potential – (and) I’m not a quarterback coach – but I think he’s got what it takes. I mean, he’s having a rough go, but his rookie year, he was slinging the ball.”
To be fair, quarterbacks go through ups and downs. Heck, Eli Manning has gone through plenty.
Then again, Manning is also a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
Although it’s been a tough year for the Giants (5-9), Weatherford expects Manning – and Tom Coughlin – to be back and ready to roll next season. Manning returning is not surprising, but the 68-year-old Coughlin? Yeah, that’s maybe a little surprising.
“To be honest with you, we really haven’t talked about it at all,” Weatherford said of Coughlin’s return. “I’ve been in the NFL long enough to know it’s what have you done for me lately?”
Coughlin has won two Super Bowls, but he’s also missed the playoffs four straight years. Weatherford, however, said it’s better to be all-or-nothing than to always be in the mix but come up short.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I would much rather sit at home in January knowing I’m not going to win the Super Bowl than know that my destiny is predetermined I am not going to win the Super Bowl. Do I love football? Absolutely. Do I love playing for Coach Tom Coughlin? Without a doubt. I’ve played for four franchises, and he’s 100 percent the best man that I’ve ever played for. His ability to motivate (and) inspire (is unbelievable).
“We almost made the playoffs last year (after) starting 0-6,” Weatherford continued. “You have to have a head coach – and you have to have a team believe in your head coach – to do something like that. Should we have lost our first six games? Absolutely not. But you play with the cards you’re dealt.”
The Giants have had another injury-plagued season, losing Victor Cruz, Prince Amukamara and Walter Thurmond, among others.
“It’s been frustrating. It’s been a challenging season,” Weatherford said. “But you haven’t seen any fall-off from the intensity or passion that the players play with on Sunday.”
Indeed, Weatherford has no problem personally vouching for Coughlin.
“He’s treated me like gold from the day I’ve (gotten here),” Weatherford said. “He likes guys who show up early, stay late – hard-working, blue-collar guys. That’s the only reason I ever made it in the National Football League. I love the guy.”