There are plenty of Monday morning quarterbacks emerging after the Washington Redskins' 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Hindsight is 20/20, but how do you think Mike Shanahan handled the Robert Griffin III injury? Should the coach have opted for Kirk Cousins earlier?
Tough call should have been made soonerIt's always easy to second-guess this type of decision after seeing the end result. Though Robert Griffin III produced two early scoring drives, it was plainly obvious that he was far from healthy. He struggled to transfer his weight on throws and looked hobbled on his few runs.
After the offense went through a long dry spell and RG3 became increasingly limited, pulling the face of the franchise would've been the right move.
Nobody deserves blame -- this is the nature of the gameI don't think Mike Shanahan did anything wrong. If you've ever been involved in any sport, you know a coach has to trust what a player is telling him regarding an injury. You don't need to be an NFL player to understand that. Where the coach has to play judge and jury is in deciding if that player is hurting the team. Shanahan saw Robert Griffin III win games with the injury, even while he was limping and less than 100 percent. Shanahan probably thought he was going to get the same result ... until RG3's knee gave out as he tried to field that bad snap.
There have been hundreds of players this season who've played at less than full strength and managed. Nobody is at fault. This is football.
All's fair in the NFL playoffsWhen you see the gruesome replays of Robert Griffin III's injury, yes, it's easy to say he should have been benched. But I don't see how you pull a potential MVP candidate out of a playoff game for a rookie who didn't get first-team reps all week.
True, Kirk Cousins looked good against the Cleveland Browns in Week 15. But that was against the Browns in Week 15; that wasn't against the eventual Super Bowl champions in the first round of the playoffs.
Mike Shanahan had to stick with RG3. If the Redskins had won the game, they would have had a really good chance against the Atlanta Falcons the following week -- meaning they would have had a shot at playing in the NFC Championship Game. Any team with a chance to win has to go for it. I don't blame Shanahan for that.
No easy answers to a tricky questionThis is an excellent question, one that is very hard to answer after just watching the game on TV.
Was Robert Griffin III putting his career in jeopardy by continuing to play? If the answer was "yes," he should have been removed from the game, which was a call the doctors needed to make. If the answer was "no," I probably would have stayed with RG3.
What you can't judge from TV is whether RG3's inaccurate passes downfield were attributable to his knee or his normal, general downfield inaccuracy. Another question to ask: How many of those passes should have been caught by his receivers?
Ultimately, if the doctors said he could go and I thought his passes were normal, I would have left him in. It was a playoff game. RG3 is the Redskins' Pro Bowl quarterback. Would you pull Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers if a doctor told you that you didn't have to? Probably not.
This was the first time that RG3 and the team went through something like that. Next time, they might make a different decision.
No doubt that playing RG3 was the right moveMike Shanahan handled Robert Griffin III like a coach who wanted to win. Many pundits have been making judgments with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and they don't know what they're talking about.
Were these same people complaining about RG3 when the Redskins had a 14-0 lead? Kirk Cousins is a fine young quarterback, but does he really give the Redskins a better chance than a limping RG3? No.
If the Redskins' defense had capitalized more on Seattle's mistakes -- if they hadn't let Marshawn Lynch scoop up that ball; if they had tackled Zach Miller on third-and-14 -- they might have won.
Say Shanahan had benched RG3, Cousins had gone out there and lost, and RG3 later told the press he was fine. What would everyone say then?
The bottom line is, when your franchise quarterback says he can play, you play him -- period.
Shanahan made the correct decision -- assuming Shanahan made itThere's no debating that Robert Griffin III's ability to be Robert Griffin III -- which wasn't 100 percent before the game -- diminished with almost every offensive possession and/or trip to the mysterious red shed on Sunday. However, the notion that backup quarterback Kirk Cousins belonged in the game at any point prior to the moment Griffin collapsed at his own 10-yard line in the fourth quarter is pure revisionism.
The one issue I have with Shanahan is this: He shouldn't cite Griffin's desire to play as the chief factor in his decision to leave him in. It shouldn't be up to the player. The doctors are there for a reason, and it's not to model the team's fashionably striped beanie hat.
Shanahan could be fired for risking RG3's healthIt's not even debatable: Robert Griffin III shouldn't have been playing. (In case you think I'm just "MMQBing it," check out what I tweeted during the game Sunday.) I don't know if Mike Shanahan will still be Robert Griffin III's head coach the next time RG3 suits up.
Think about how the next few months are going to play out. The Redskins' local baseball counterparts, the Washington Nationals, sat star player Stephen Strasburg -- for the playoffs, no less! -- as a precautionary measure. The sports talk radio/blogosphere has a ready-made topic that will stretch for months. Months. Every new piece of news, opinion and statement will fire up this topic again. This story will keep the passions of fans flowing indefinitely. And the Redskins organization will look horrible as a result.
What's already built in is the angle with Dr. James Andrews, how he said he didn't clear Griffin to re-enter the Week 14 game in which he was first injured -- directly contradicting what Shanahan has said about that situation. And that's the worst part of it: Whether or not the Redskins took a cavalier attitude toward Griffin's injury, it looks like they did. That's all that matters.
We're living in an era in which player safety is of the utmost importance. How will Washington look after allowing a franchise player to play when he obviously needed to be taken care of better?
The NFL Players Association could get involved; players on other teams will weigh in; retired players will have their say. The Redskins will be poster boys for the negative side of last offseason's biggest lightning-rod topic: How to keep the players from leaving the game in a deteriorating physical condition.
Someone's going to have to take the fall. I won't be surprised if it's Shanahan, because he's already been painted as the guy who allowed all this to happen.