In the midst of a highly disappointing 3-10 season, the Washington Redskins have decided to shut down quarterback Robert Griffin III the rest of the way as a precautionary measure, handing the reins to fellow second-year pro Kirk Cousins. Is this the right call by the organization?
This decision makes no sense whatsoeverAbsolutely not! If Robert Griffin III is relatively healthy, he should play. RGIII is this franchise's quarterback of the future. Though he hasn't been the same QB that he was last season, Griffin needs as many reps as he can get, regardless of this season being a heap of hot garbage. Don't coaches always drop the cliché on players that "adversity reveals character"? And being benched for his health? What? Where was this concern for his health early in the season? Elimination from the playoff picture and don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out job security seems to have generated a serious moment of clarity.
OK, so Griffin is struggling and getting pummeled. Same with Matt Ryan. Ryan Tannehill, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and a host of other quarterbacks are taking weekly muggings, too. Injuries can happen at any time. The health excuse goes against the grain of football, coaching, playing and modern medicine -- after all, Griffin is medically cleared to play. How about this: Doesn't Griffin look healthier now than he did the first time he took the field this season (when he hadn't taken the pounding)? What happens if Kirk Cousins gets hurt? What's the excuse then? Was that in the best interests of Cousins and the organization?
Before today, I don't know if I'd ever heard of any coach talking about the importance of a franchise player's offseason participation with three games remaining. Shanahan, a coach that I have a lot of respect for, won't be coaching RGIII unless something miraculous happens -- like Griffin getting traded to wherever Shanahan is coaching next season.
Mike Shanahan's explanation holds waterListening to Mike Shanahan explain his position in Wednesday's news conference, you can see where it makes sense. RGIII has taken too many hits this year.
Last Sunday's outing -- a blowout loss to the Chiefs -- was the poorest I've seen from Griffin. (Strangely, this came right after his best game of the year in a loss to the Giants.) Against K.C., Griffin did not throw to some open receivers, ran too soon on some pass plays and was more inaccurate than usual. It is clear he does not push off his back foot to throw and has developed a bad habit of "skipping" into his throws.
This will give the Redskins a chance to showcase Kirk Cousins. This past offseason, with a weak QB draft class, I think they might have been able to get a first-round pick for him. They certainly would have gotten at least a second-round pick. This year, the QB class is stronger, so the market might not be as strong for a trade.
One thing I will be interested in is to see if the Redskins will now abandon the option as a main part of their running game. Will they go back to the zone-running scheme, bootleg game and play-action passing attack? I think they will be more productive with that offense than with what they have been running.
Been calling for the Redskins to make this move for weeksI thought this was the right move when I suggested it last month, and I still feel that way. I don't think it would be fair to the Redskins' players and coaches -- not to mention the ticket-buying fans -- to continue running with someone who is obviously still trying to work through injuries and operating with a pronounced lack of speed and quickness. You have to give credit to Robert Griffin III for coming back, but he probably hit the field too soon this season, and it seems to have really hurt him. Of course, in this way, he was likely no different from any other injured player in history; they'll never admit they're hurt, even when they actually are.
Playing Kirk Cousins will help the Redskins going forward, as they'll get another chance to see if he's got what it takes to succeed. Washington, which could use additional draft picks, would also benefit if Cousins were able to increase his trade value.
Finally, I think playing Cousins -- whom the Redskins know is 100 percent healthy -- will give this team a shot in the arm, as some of the players might have been discouraged after watching the recent subpar play of RGIII.
Depends on what you believe is really happeningIf you could remove everything that is suspected about the reasons behind deactivating Griffin, then it might be the right decision and it should have been made last week, when the Redskins were playing in awful weather conditions and RGIII's play was terrible. If we truly think the idea is to protect his health, then that makes sense, although protecting somebody for the offseason program is certainly a new one.
Griffin has not been right this season, and his development has stalled largely as a result. This is an opportunity for the Redskins to either showcase Kirk Cousins for future trade possibilities or to determine if they want to keep him as a backup.
But if you believe that Griffin's benching is merely a part of a game of chicken between Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and Mike Shanahan, then clearly the dysfunction of the organization is being put in front of what is best for the team and the franchise quarterback.
I understand the rationale but disagree with this solutionThere is a case to be made for sitting RGIII for the rest of the season: The Redskins aren't going to the playoffs, and he's still not 100 percent healthy. Shutting him down eliminates the risk of injury and guarantees his full participation in the upcoming offseason program.
While that is a decent case, I still disagree with the decision. Inside the locker room, this will be viewed as a benching, and Griffin will lose a lot of credibility with his teammates.
Benching should've come at the beginning of the season, not the endDeactivate Robert Griffin III now? Mike Shanahan is going "full Costanza." Making RGIII the third-string quarterback is akin to driving around the parking lot with the championship trophy dragging behind the car. The only thing missing from that news conference was Shanahan holding up a sign that said "Fire me."
The time to bench RGIII was in September. He should've been told in January not to rush back. Griffin never played in the preseason and should not have started the regular season on the field. He wasn't healthy. Kirk Cousins was the right way to go at the outset of the season, and that was a first guess.
RGIII can learn a whole lot more on the field than off itI don't think it's the right decision because I don't buy the reasons behind the benching. Forget Robert Griffin III's future health; he wouldn't be sitting if he were playing well. He's not seeing the field and has been inaccurate too often.
If Griffin is the team's franchise quarterback, and everyone insists that he is, he's best served by learning on the field. Experience is a better teacher than watching from the sideline. Mike Shanahan should spend the next three weeks working on Griffin's development inside the pocket rather than giving up on him for the season while trying to raise Kirk Cousins' trade value.
Redskins continue to mismanage QB situation to an astounding degreeIf RGIII is healthy -- and he's been healthy enough to play so far -- why sit him and consequently add more controversy to the offseason? There's going to be enough in flux anyway, so why add to it?
Washington has mismanaged this QB situation going all the way back to the playoff game against Seattle last season, when the team kept a clearly hurt Griffin in the game only to see him get hurt even worse as a result. Mike Shanahan has never been a good match for any of his young quarterbacks throughout his coaching career: Brian Griese, Jay Cutler -- the list goes on and on. They've never developed correctly and have chafed under his leadership.
All Washington has done is cast doubt on Griffin as the franchise QB. That's fine behind closed doors, because that's where you take care of that business. But now it's out there for everyone to opine on, thus adding to the mess.
This makes perfect sense on a lot of (dubious) levelsBenching RGIII is the right call, especially if Mike Shanahan really wants to make sure he's not in D.C. next year. I mean, it's more dignified than circling the parking lot with a Super Bowl trophy tied to his bumper while screaming "Joe Gibbs wasn't that great!" through a megaphone.
It's also a smart football move. The Redskins don't have a first-round pick because of the trade for RGIII, so the only way to get more picks is to showcase Kirk Cousins and trade him to a QB-needy team. The Redskins' main problem is a lack of talent, due to this big trade and the salary-cap limitations placed on the team.
And who knows, maybe Shanahan and Cousins can reunite in Houston next year.