Robert Griffin III is not only getting benched for Sunday's game in Atlanta, he announced Wednesday that he's been shut down "for the rest of the season." Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that he wants to protect the quarterback from getting hurt, but it's hard to imagine Kirk Cousins would be starting if Griffin were playing well.
Asked about Shanahan's health-related reason for sitting Griffin, one Redskins player told NFL Media's Jeff Darlington, "I believe that's the best way to sell it."
Another player said: "Don't overthink it at all. The guy got benched."
Griffin will be inactive on Sunday, while Rex Grossman backs up Cousins. It's a stunning story on many levels. Griffin is the type of franchise quarterback that traditionally doesn't get benched. He has struggled this season, but he's hardly the only struggling aspect of the team. Shanahan can't bench the entire embarrassing Redskins defense or the historically bad special teams. So Shanahan is sitting down his quarterback for safety reasons, even though Griffin just completed 13 straight games.
Look past all the coaching drama, and we see a young quarterback that lost his way on the field.
Griffin has been sacked at least four times in five straight games. Casserly noted that those sacks are on Griffin as much as the offensive line.
"Half of those sacks were his fault. Not seeing receivers, seeing the rush," Casserly said. "He was inaccurate during the game. Many times I thought he abandoned his reads. Didn't throw to people that were open. ... It was almost as if Washington (thought), 'You know what? The guy needs a break. There's something wrong with this thing.'"
"He's throwing behind guys, he's missing guys, his accuracy is as low as I've seen from a guy who should be a very good quarterback. He is never taking a regular drop from under center," Cooley said, via The Washington Post.
Washington's offensive scheme is no longer confusing opponents. Griffin has looked like a second-year quarterback that desperately missed an offseason of development in the pocket. He's able to run at times, but his ACL injury has hurt his trademark accuracy.
This benching is without true precedent in recent football history. Drew Breeswas benched for Doug Flutie during Brees' third season, but it's not like Brees was the Offensive Rookie of the Year. And he wasn't the No. 2 overall draft pick. Vince Young was benched in his third season by the Tennessee Titans after a fantastic rookie season, but Young's performance and maturity were far different than Griffin's.
Shanahan indicated that, if Griffin was benched, it would be for the rest of the season. Griffin probably won't play again this season, but this story has a long way to go before it dies down.