Mike Shanahan appears to have added fuel to the fire that is the endless controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins, refusing to name quarterback Robert Griffin III the starter for Week 15's matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported Griffin would have to convince Shanahan to let him start in Week 15:
Thinking inside Redskins building today is that Shanahan is going w Cousins unless RG3 is able to convince him otherwise— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) December 11, 2013
Just asked another source if he's hearing Cousins "Looks that way but won't be sure he settles on it til practice. Mike can always change"— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) December 11, 2013
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman provides a statement from an AFC coach discussing Shanahan:
AFC coach: "Mike Shanahan may never get another head coaching job again. He's acting like a petulant child."— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) December 11, 2013
NFL Network reporter Jeff Darlington was first to provide Shanahan citing Griffin's health as the primary reason behind his decision:
Shanahan says he won’t name RG3 starter for the week yet because Redskins giving up too many sacks: “I want to make sure he’s healthy."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 9, 2013
The Kansas City Chiefs sacked Griffin five times in Washington's Week 14 blowout loss.
Shanahan said Griffin will likely sit the remainder of the season if he's benched for Week 15, via The Washington Times' Zac Boyer:
Shanahan said if he sits Griffin on Sunday, he will sit the rest of the season.— Zac Boyer (@ZacBoyer) December 9, 2013
Washington Post reporters Mark Maske and Mike Jones add that Shanahan said he has spoken with team owner Dan Snyder about the decision but has yet to sit down with Griffin:
Shanahan said he spoke to Snyder about the Griffin decision.— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) December 9, 2013
Shanahan said he hasn't yet talked to Griffin about possibility of benching him.— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) December 9, 2013
As for Snyder's thought process on the decision, Mark Maske of The Washington Post is reporting that the owner won't try and influence the decision:
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder will not intervene into the team’s quarterback situation this week as Coach Mike Shanahan contemplates sitting down starter Robert Griffin III for the remainder of the season in favor of backup Kirk Cousins, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday.
“He won’t step in and interfere with that,” the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. “He’s not going to step into a personnel decision that way.”
Finally, CSNWashington.com's Tarik El-Bashir reports that, in addition to protecting his banged-up star, Shanahan said his motivation is to do what's best for the team:
Shanahan said the RG3 decision will done "in best interest of the organization." Has talked to Snyder about it. #RedskinsTalk— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) December 9, 2013
Although Shanahan's reasoning seems both logical and commendable, many will criticize the veteran head coach and attempt to uncover hidden motives given all that has transpired between him, his quarterback and Redskins ownership over the past few weeks.
Prior to Week 14's embarrassing home loss to the Chiefs, ESPN.com's Dan Graziano reported that sources close to the situation in Washington claim Shanahan was frustrated with Snyder and how he had empowered Griffin last season.
Shanahan fully expected to part ways with the franchise at season's end, according to Graziano, with his sources saying Shanahan had even cleaned out his office prior to the Redskins' NFC Wild Card Round loss in January.
On top of that, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported this weekend that the Redskins are expected to pursue Griffin's old college coach, Baylor's Art Briles, should they part ways with Shanahan at season's end.
Given what we know from these reports, Shanahan's refusal to name a starter for Week 15 is sure to generate even more controversy.
That said, there's certainly no denying that Griffin, who underwent major knee surgery this past offseason, has taken his fair share of hits in 2013. The Redskins have allowed 39 sacks in 13 games this season, which is tied for the eighth-most in the NFL, after Griffin took just 30 sacks in 15 games as a rookie in 2012.
Washington has lost five straight games heading into Week 15's showdown in Atlanta, and at 3-10 overall, the Redskins have been eliminated from playoff contention.