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Robert Griffin III Must Be Benched to Preserve Franchise QB's Health

Nov 25, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) walks off the field after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at FedEx Field. The 49ers won 27-6. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2013

If Robert Griffin III really is the future of the Washington Redskins organization, the franchise must bench the quarterback in order to preserve his health moving forward.

Griffin is coming off a major surgery to reconstruct the ACL and repair the LCL in his right knee, and it is clear that he has not been the same dual-threat quarterback he was in 2012.

PassingAttemptsYardsTouchdownsInterceptionsQBRRating
20123933,20020573.2102.4
20133992,841141140.281.9
RushingAttemptsYardsAverageTouchdownsFirst DownsFumbles
20121208156.87409
2013723675.10176
Source: NFL.com

The team has run far less quarterback draw plays to protect its investment, and the passing attack hasn’t been able to find the openings now that defenses understand Griffin won’t run unless he’s forced out of the pocket.

Questions about whether Washington rushed RGIII back into the lineup or not started in the preseason and have continued throughout the regular season. Griffin’s struggles statistically are bad enough, but his mannerisms in postgame interviews and the poor overall demeanor of the entire team through this tough stretch have not helped the QB’s case to continue starting.

Not only does it look like his own teammates are starting to give up, but even opponents are taking notice that something is wrong with Griffin. After Monday night’s 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco linebacker Ahmad Brooks told JP Finlay of CSN Washington about his thoughts on the Redskins QB’s health:

[Griffin is] obviously a man and he makes his own decisions, but I personally don’t feel he should be playing right now.

I don’t think he should be playing. You can see it. Everybody can see it, everybody can see it.

He’s a man, he has the heart of a warrior and is going to go out there and play regardless of the circumstance. Everybody can see it. Everybody can see it. He shouldn’t be playing.

Whether Washington is willing to admit it or not, the franchise made a big mistake bringing RGIII back for the start of the regular season. He has underperformed and regressed in his second season because of his focus on the injury, and the wear and tear of a full NFL season is taking its toll.

It also doesn’t help that the futile Redskins offensive line has allowed 26 sacks and Griffin has been hit an astounding 65 more times. It must be hard for the face of the franchise to recover from major knee surgery when he is constantly under pressure.

It’s not like the Redskins don’t have a quality backup, either. Kirk Cousins has shined in his chances to play, and he has proven that the team’s investment of a fourth-round pick was a smart decision.

The franchise invested the No. 6 overall pick in 2012, its second-round pick in 2012 and its first-round picks in 2013 and 2014 to acquire the right to take RGIII in the 2012 draft, and it must rest him to ensure that the knee has sufficient time to heal properly.

Just as Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg was on a pitch count to avoid further injury, the Redskins must preserve the health of their long-term investment by protecting him from himself.

The team has continued to fall out of contention in the putrid NFC East (3-8), and the lack of incentive to play hard and the risk of injuries should signal the end of Griffin’s time as the starter this season.

It’s time to look toward 2014.

There is no discounting RGIII’s toughness throughout his recovery, but if Washington doesn’t bench him, the quarterback may do more damage to the already compromised knee.

 

*All stats and information from NFL.com, unless otherwise noted.

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