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Mike Shanahan: Injuries aren't behind RGIII's struggles

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Prior to Robert Griffin III's January 2013 knee injury, he authored one of NFL history's most impressive rookie seasons, ushering in the Washington Redskins' fleeting "era of unbridled optimism."

Since collapsing in a heap at the 5-yard line of FedEx Field 16 games into his career, Griffin has regressed as much as any quarterback we've ever seen, leaving his future in question entering the 2015 season.

To hear former coach Mike Shanahan tell it, injuries can't be blamed for Griffin's struggles.

"I don't think getting hurt has anything to do with it," Shanahan told WJFK-AM in Washington on Friday. "I think what you do is you rehab yourself and you get better. ... You don't have to have great running ability to run the read-option. You have to be able to know when to slide, when to throw the football away, depending on if you're running or passing."

It must be pointed out that Shanahan has a vested interest in driving this particular narrative. From Griffin's early December knee injury versus the Ravens through the torn ACL in the playoffs of the 2013 season, Shanahan was second-guessed for his handling of the situation.

That said, Shanahan is unquestionably correct that Griffin's dramatic tailspin goes far beyond the injuries.

By the middle of last season, Griffin was a dysfunctional quarterback. He had devolved in his footwork, failed to decipher defenses, crumpled in the face of pressure and refused to pull the trigger on throws. His inability or unwillingness to execute a simple baseball slide outside the pocket remains one of the league's most profound head-scratchers.

"Robert has a lot of ability. He's a charismatic guy. He's got mobility. He's got arm strength. He's a very bright guy," Shanahan continued. "But he hasn't done things that the NFL asks you to do, and it does take some growing pains to go through that.

"All quarterbacks do -- you take a look at (John) Elway, you take a look at (Peyton) Manning, Steve Young -- it doesn't happen overnight, and they ran the pro offenses all the way through college. When you haven't run that type of system, it's going to take a little bit longer, and you better really work on it inside and out to get better at it or you'll just be right in the middle of the road."

The middle of the road is exactly where Griffin's career stands entering a make-or-break season in Washington. It's fair to question if that would be the case if not for the shredded knee that robbed RGIII of his dynamic playmaking ability -- as well as his confidence.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses Geno Smith and the Jets' QB position and much, much more with special co-host Colleen Wolfe. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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