The only thing worse than not having a capable quarterback in the NFL is not knowing if you have a capable quarterback, then realizing that you may have sacrificed your team’s future in pursuit of the aforementioned indeterminately capable quarterback. In other words, wow, things are really messy in Washington, and the rise/fall/weird-in-between-phase career arc of Robert Griffin III is a fascinating one.


As is often the case with the Redskins, it is hard to separate organizational dysfunction from poor talent, coaching, and preparation. This is compounded by the tendency of the owner, players, and coaches to flap their mouths to the media in confounding ways, often revealing way too much about the team and reinforcing the notion that things will never be normal in that locker room.


While RGIII, like any quarterback, should be prepared to assume full accountability for his team’s dreadful on-field results, we have rarely heard a head coach chastise his star player so openly and so thoroughly as Jay Gruden has done over the last few days. Last week’s loss to the Buccaneers sure felt like rock-bottom for RGIII, and now we are trying to figure out if he’s capable of getting back up and, more importantly, if the Redskins want him to get back up.


Three years into his career, we have no definitive answer about RGIII’s potential, his leadership ability, or his commitment to being great. And, quite frankly, that’s unacceptable for someone who entered the NFL with such charisma and adulation. We were supposed to fall in love with RGIII for his intangibles, to unconditionally respect him for his unlikely ascension from underdog to Heisman trophy winner. It seemed unfathomable to root for anyone else. Suddenly, all of the equity seems squandered, and it is quite natural for fans to feel utter frustration with what he has become and what he represents.


Quarterbacks don’t have to be great to help their teams succeed. Just look at the Cardinals and Eagles, both of whom are relying on back-up signal callers as they prepare for playoff runs. They do, however, need to be problem-solvers who are capable of commanding a situation and making dissension disappear. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask for RGIII, but as his coach says, “the clock is ticking.”


Time for us to tick off five other items we’ll be watching closely in week 12.


Detroit is lovely this time of year: The Bills and Jets get an impromptu visit to Detroit this week, for a surprise neutral-site contest on Monday night. That’s what happens when snowfall reaches Yao Ming levels in a matter of hours. We’re glad that everyone came to their senses and moved this game out of Buffalo. Let’s hope everyone in Western New York is recovering from the historic whitewash. By the way, Buffalo is already 1-0 at Ford Field this year. Just sayin’.


Detroit, Part Deux: We can’t get enough of Detroit! The division-leading Lions face their toughest test of the year with a visit to Foxboro. The Patriots have not taken kindly to division leaders in 2014. Denver, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis: we’re talking to you. Let’s see if the vaunted Lions defense can hold them under 40 points. Is it fair to call this the highest profile (non-playoff) game of Matthew Stafford’s career?


Last Gasp for the Champs?: Let’s turn those snowflakes into rain pellets so that we can enter a Seattle state of mind. Ahh, that feels nice…and kinda damp. You may not realize this, but if the Seahawks lose to the Cardinals this weekend, they are essentially out of playoff contention. Seems strange, but this team has yet to fire on all cylinders since Week One. At least we’ll still have plenty of Richard Sherman commercials during playoff time.


Last Gasp for the Nearly-Champs?: The Broncos will make the playoffs, but last week they flashed an anemic side that we hadn’t seen since the Super Bowl. We’re far from panic time, but Denver is hosting a feisty Miami team on Sunday. Peyton Manning is in need of a statement game.


Taking the “0” out of Oakland: This a rare retroactive storyline, but the Raiders have earned it. Oakland earned its first win of the season on Thursday, and even in victory, provided us with so many that’s-so-Raiders moments. How can you not love these guys? Congrats to Derek Carr, who by the way, said he celebrated by eating at Carl’s, Jr. Similarly, Mark Sanchez celebrated his first win (and his birthday) with a cheesesteak. Can we make a new rule that states that from now on quarterbacks must celebrate first wins at dining establishments that actually have fancy things like waiters, cloth napkins, real chairs and, utensils? Also, I believe the Raiders defense is still celebrating their sack of Alex Smith with 30 seconds left in the game. 1-15 is so much better than 0-16.


Are you watching the rise and fall of RGIII? What do you think of Gruden’s response? Is it too little too late for the Redskins this season? Talk to me here, or find me on Twitter @endbadly