Fennelly on Football: Ross to Jets? Vikings, Redskins Make Questionable Moves

John Fennelly , Lead Writer

Good morning. The first Monday in many months we come to you with very little Giants-related news. A little depressing, I know…..

**The Giants announced over the weekend they were no longer going to hold training camp at the University of Albany. Camp will be held at the Timex Performance Center beginning this summer. We like this move. I had said last summer that the Albany trip was becoming inconvenient for everyone: players, coaches, the team and the media. The fans were the only ones who benefited. It no longer made sense from financial and logistics perspectives to uproot the entire infrastructure for 14 practice sessions. 

**Marc Ross, the team’s director of college scouting, will interview for the Jets’ GM vacancy today and for the same position with the Panthers tomorrow. In both cases, Ross would be inheriting the prior regime’s head coach: Rex Ryan with the Jets and Ron Rivera in Carolina. Both owho ners have stated the coaches would be back in 2013.

If Ross is as smart as advertised, he’ll steer clear of the Jets and their quarterback clusterbuck. The Jets are also locked into some horrible contracts and Ross would have to put on a magician’s cap in order to make any kind of dent in free agency.

Ross may end up back with the Giants anyway. Another Giant exec, Dave Gettleman, the team’s senior pro personnel analyst, is also being considered by the Panthers. The Jets are apparently favoring Tom Gamble, the 49ers director of player personnel, who interviewed with them this weekend.

**This week’s NFC WildCard games were contrasts in head-scratching decision-making. The Vikings decided to shelve QB Christian Ponder with a tricep injury in favor of Joe Webb. Tough break. Webb was awful, and the Packers just stacked the box and locked down Adrian Peterson.

Why did the Vikings choose not to at least dress Ponder? Starting Webb against the Packers was like brining a knife to a gunfight. 

From the AP:

He (Ponder) completed nearly 71 percent of his throws in a win at St. Louis on Dec. 16, avoided the big mistakes in a win at Houston the following week and came up with his best game as a pro in the biggest game of the season — 234 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Green Bay that go the Vikings into the playoffs.

NBC and the viewing audience were gypped out of a night of football. If I were a Vikings fan, I’d feel shortchanged.

As it turns out, Ponder probably could not have played. He said after the game, the decision on whether he would play was “close”, but they could have left him active to at least keep the emotional balance in place until the game began. Once he was ruled out before the game, the Packers not only had the physical advantage, but the emotional and psychological edges as well.

I understand the ramifications of dressing a player who has no chance of playing. It takes away a body from another unit. But in this case, not dressing Ponder was almost like forfeiting. Webb had not thrown a pass all season. If Ponder was in uniform, Green Bay would have the possibility of him entering the game in the back of their minds. They would have had to prepare.

In Washington, Robert Griffin III came into the game with a knee issue. Playing in a brace, Griffin was operating at about 50% of capacity. When the Redskins went up, 14-0, in the first quarter and Griffin re-injured the knee, many felt it was perhaps time to switch to backup Kirk Cousins.

Seattle shut the Redskins out the rest of the way for a 24-14 win and brutally battered the visibly hobbled Griffin, who could not avoid the rush nor push off on his right leg to throw the ball with any accuracy. Cousins finally came in late in the game, but the momentum had already swung heavily in Seattle’s favor. Head coach Mike Shanahan left the decision to allow Griffin to continue in Griffin’s hands. Questionable move, but Griffin said after the game there was no way he was coming out and apparently he’s the boss in DC.

From our man Rich Tandler of CSNWashington:

Griffin was determined to stay in the game. Asked after the game how he would have reacted if Shanahan had taken him out of the game, Griffin answered defiantly.

“I probably would have been right back out there on the field,” he said. “You respect authority and I respect coach Shanahan but at the same time you have to step up and be a man sometimes and there was no way I was coming out of that game.”

Shanahan said that he struggled with the decision to keep his Pro Bowl quarterback in throughout the game. “It’s a very tough decision,” he said. You have to go with your gut and I did.”