Redskins' Shanahan, RG3 Must Make Better Decisions If They Want Super Bowl

Greg StarddardContributor IIIFebruary 2, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 03:  Quarterback  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins throws the ball in the first quarter while taking on the New York Giants at FedExField on December 3, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

No other professional sports injury has faced a more heated and glaring spotlight than that of RG3's controversial knee trashing in the NFL playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Coach Mike Shanahan has been excoriated from coast to coast. Dr, James Andrews, for the first time, has been questioned over the care of an athlete. And Robert Griffin III has been second guessed about what he told the coach about whether he was healthy enough to play.

No one comes out of this thing unscathed. Battles scars, both physical and professionally, will remain with all three men for many years to come. This was no normal injury. Nor was it a normal situation. But the decision-making regarding this young man and his future have certainly raised a lot of eyebrows and brought into question the motives of all involved.

It was clear from jump street that Griffin should not have been playing. The guy should have been on the sideline with a clipboard or a cup of Gatorade. Anyone who saw Griffin's leg flapping around in the air after getting crushed by the Baltimore Raven Haloti Ngata December 9th, was well aware damage had been done.

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but Griffin's initial knee injury that day looked pretty bad to me. Fortunately for him, it turned out only to be a knee sprain. Most medical experts will tell you it takes anywhere from a week to four weeks for an injury of that nature to recover. With world class athletes like RG3, recovery time may be shorter because of their outstanding physical fitness. But a knee injury is a knee injury regardless of who you are, especially if you're a running quarterback like Griffin.

Griffin has said all the right things, He absolved his coach of any responsibility and said he told the coach he was fine, But what do you expect a rookie selected as a team captain to say? Heck, he would've played with the leg in a cast if he got the okay.


RG3 has now suffered injuries on the same knee and has undergone two surgeries on the same knee. How much can one knee take? He has all the talent in the world, but at some point Griffin has to smarter about his body and career. Professional football doesn't last forever and it's shortened when you start having multiple operations on the same body part.

We all love the fact that Griffin is a warrior. Back in the day, and I mean back in the day, New York Knicks Hall of Famer Willis Reed suffered a serious leg injury and hobbled back into the game. It was impressive and the video is played several times a year on a network cable sports show somewhere. But this isn't the 1970's and RG3 has to be more calculated and aware of medical advances. Take advantage of today's new technology in sports medicine and allow yourself to heal properly.

Griffin should've been saved from himself. Going back into a game with a serious knee injury is just plain wrong. Someone should have said it's time to sit him down for a game or two. The word should've come from the sideline or the owner's suite. But the word should've come down.

RG3 must learn how to play the position in the big leagues. San Francisco's Collin Kapernick has learned. Seattle's Russell Wilson has too. They all run out of bounds or hook slide to avoid getting hammered by a defensive player. The result: both finished the season healthy.

I'm not sure why Griffin wants to absorb a hit from a defensive player intent on taking his head off. Is it machismo? Is he being stubborn? Is it ego? I'm not sure, but it has been costly for him and the Redskins. The kid's in great shape with a rock hard body, but he's not big enough to take those kinds of hits.

If Griffin wants to play in the NFL for a long time, he'll have to learn how to scramble out of bounds. He can't challenge defensive players flying up from the secondary or 300 pound lineman smacking him around like a rag doll. It's so puzzling why he kept trying to go head to head with violent defenders. He paid the price for it.


Quite frankly, Shanahan comes off as a little desperate playing a running quarterback with one leg. It was uncomfortable sitting at home watching Griffin hobble into the end zone or towards the sideline. He was a sitting duck  and the opposing defenses knew it. Heck, if I was on the other team I would've targeted Griffin every single play. Get him out of the game and you have a great chance at winning. The Seattle Seahawks did just that and advanced.

Why Shanahan didn't sit the kid down for a game or two when he initially injured the knee is a mystery to me and perhaps others. An injured running quarterback is a liability. Everyone knows it's just a matter of time before he suffers a more serious injury. It's common sense, right?

Die hard Redskins fans argue they couldn't afford to bench RG3 and allow his knee to heal. Many say they would not have made the playoffs with Griffin on the bench. Others didn't have confidence in back-up Kurt Cousins. If the Skins didn't have confidence in Cousins replacing Griffin for a few games, why was he on the roster? Your back-up quarterback is supposed to have the skills to come off the bench and give your team a chance to win the game.

Shanahan made the call to keep two rookie quarterbacks on the active 53 man roster. That was his strategy. It was a crazy, but hey, he's the coach. However, relying on a rookie quarterback to back up another rookie quarterback is a move most NFL coaches would not have made. It's risky at best. Some would call this something else, but I won't get into that because this is a family website.

It felt like Shanahan was so afraid of not making the playoffs that he would've played Griffin in a wheelchair if the quarterback wanted to take the field. For the life of me I don't see the logic in allowing him to stay in the game.


Shanahan needs to recognize that RG3 is the franchise. He must understand Griffin is the future of the Washington Redskins. Griffin gives the Skins the best chance of getting another ring since Doug Williams and Mark Rypen. Without Griffin, the Skins sink back to the bottom of the division. RG3 also represents job security for Shanahan.

I worry about RG3. I'm concerned about his recovery. Can he come back as the RG3 we all know and love? I don't know. People point to Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson and his remarkable one year recovery from a torn ACL. Can Griffin make a similar comeback? Maybe. Maybe not. All of us have different bodies and we all respond to surgery differently.

We can't judge RG3's recovery on AP's comeback. We all know AP is a physical beast. He's strong, cut and muscular. He may have been an exception. Most athletes don't come back from an ACL injury in one year. Look at Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose. We're approaching the NBA All-Star break and still no Derrick Rose.

The ACL is a tough injury. Medical advancements have made it easier for athletes to regain mobility, but again it's a case by case basis. Each individual is different and each recovery time is different. It's hard to put a timetable on such injuries and that's where we are with Griffin.

Noted athletic physician Dr. James Andrews believes RG3 will be just fine. Andrews carries a lot of credibility and everything he says must be respected because of his background. He's performed miracles on a star ballers from every sport. No one is better at his profession, but the fact of the matter is we have to wait and see with RG3.

There appeared to be a, ahem, lack of communication between Andrews and Shanahan when Griffin was injured. Some reports had Griffin re-entering the game after his knee injury without the blessing of Andrews. Andrews quickly dismissed those reports and said he and Shanahan were on the same page. I certainly hope so.

From where I sit, I'm surprised Andrews didn't suggest benching RG3 after the knee injury. That would've allowed the knee to heal and rest. But medically it appears the experts thought he was okay to hobble up and down the field against the Dallas Cowboys and Seahawks at the end of the regular season.

I would hope Owner Dan Snyder, Shanahan, Andrews, and RG3 have a serious heart to heart before next season begins. Someone has to protect the franchise player. Someone has to make better decisions regarding his health and his scrambling when he leaves the pocket.

Washington D.C. wants to return to the championship days of Joe Gibbs and the Hogs. The region wants another Vince Lombardi trophy at Redskins Park. Fans want another parade with confetti raining down on the district. But if the team doesn't act more responsibly with the face of the franchise, those dreams will remain just that: dreams.