banner
Adam Gold

Griffin's benching just the beginning

Posted December 11, 2013

Now what?

Redskins' head coach Mike Shanahan pulled the trigger on a quarterback switch for the remainder of the season on Wednesday, opting to start Kirk Cousins over the struggling Robert Griffin III. On the surface, the move is very justifiable. Griffin has struggled to get the Redskins into the end zone in a 3-10 season that saw the team effectively eliminated from the playoffs prior to Thanksgiving. To be honest, it was a year in which Griffin never really had a chance. The 2nd pick in the draft and reigning NFL rookie of the year, missed an entire off season of football activities due to the gruesome knee injury that ended his season in the first round of the playoffs last January.

However, this is not just an "on the surface" decision. This will send shock waves throughout the locker room, the city and all through the team's power structure, most notably the owner, the RG3 pom-pom-waving Daniel Snyder. Today, Mr. Snyder is staying out of the discussion. Tomorrow, or the next day, or the weeks to come is an entirely different matter.

Griffin IS the Washington Redskins at this time. He is the face of the franchise, the darling, charismatic, bright, young dynamic quarterback who led the team to a playoff berth -- wait, not just a playoff berth, the NFC East title -- thanks to a 7-game winning streak to close out his rookie year. It was the first playoff appearance in six years and the first division crown in eight for a franchise that had grown accustomed to winning Super Bowls in the 80s and 90s. So, the decision to sit Griffin down -- in fact, the second year trigger-man from Baylor will be inactive for Sunday's game in Atlanta -- is not your run of the mill benching.

This is a statement.

At least until the time when Snyder removes his name from the head coach's office door and they paint over his name on his designated parking spot, Shanahan is taking back the team from the clutches of his superstar (in name only) quarterback. Make no mistake about this, the owner is going to make a head coaching change when the season comes to a merciful close, if not sooner. And, it seems undeniable that Shanahan is essentially trying to force Snyder to do it today. This just can't be about the health of Griffin, who played exactly zero football from the time his knee bent in a very unnatural way against the Seahawks in January until the time he took the field on the first Monday night of the season against the Eagles in September.

If this was about the health of Griffin, the strong-willed, in-control-of-his-team head coach would have held him out of the line up for a few weeks until he really became acclimated to the speed and danger of the game. Changing the way Griffin played, limiting his exposure to violent contact was never going to work because that was never the reason why Griffin was injured in the first place.

Griffin plays the game with little to no regard for his own safety. Imagine your 5-year old son in one of those inflatable playgrounds. The act of running as fast as he can and flinging himself through the air into other inflatable obstacles and barriers is a blast. Of course, in that case it's completely safe, apart from the other children with the same thoughts in mind. But, Griffin isn't playing in those surroundings. He's throwing his body around against bigger, stronger, grown men with nasty intentions and no "change of offensive philosophy" is going to protect him from him.

By all accounts, Griffin today is as healthy as he has been all season long. So why the sudden concern for his well-being? True he's been sacked 25 times over the last five games, but he finished all but the last one, the brutal five-touchdown shellacking by the Chiefs. He's also not the first QB to be sacked an average of five times per game and live to tell the stories. No, this can't be about preserving his health for the off season.

This was about control.

This was about Shanahan proving that he was still in charge and trying to get Griffin's ego in check -- at least to where it's on a par with the super-sized self-image of the head coach. What happens next will be a study in the human condition.

How will the team react? Will there be a division within the walls of the locker room? We already know that criticism of Griffin has emerged from even the offensive meeting room. Wide receivers Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon have each had critical remarks for Griffin, his play or both.

More importantly, how will Griffin react? It's not a stretch to say that he's been a bit selfish throughout this process. Let's be real for just a second, he had NO BUSINESS at all starting the opening week of the season. He had his entire right knee rebuilt in January, didn't even start practicing with the full team until midway through training camp and never took a pre-season snap against live competition. So why in the name of Billy Kilmer was he on the field for the opener.

Kirk Cousins proved last year to be more than competent when it came to being a starting quarterback. Let him start, and work Griffin into the offense gradually. It's a complete fantasy to think that there was ANY quarterback controversy in Washington. Shanahan controls that dynamic while he's the head coach and all he had to do was declare Griffin 'the guy', and whenever he was ready to start he would be in there from the first snap. But, for some reason, possibly due to marketing campaigns with any one of Griffin's many business relationships, Griffin was ALWAYS going to be there against the Eagles on September 9.

Of course, no one was surprised when he looked like a guy who hadn't played a single game in nine months. He was dreadful. He played as though he was afraid of being injured again. The next week it was a little better, but no significantly so. The truth of the matter is that professional sports is a 12-month a year endeavor. There is no off-season, just a break from the games. Griffin was forced to take nine months off from his craft and it destroyed his ability. He should have been smart enough to understand that, or mentally strong enough to know that Cousins was better for the team at the time.

Or maybe Shanahan should have recognized that himself. Frankly, it wouldn't be the first time that the head coach appeared unwilling, or unable to remove his franchise quarterback from harms way. We all remember the playoffs a year ago, right?

There's also a practical reason for letting Cousins play out the season. It's quite possible that Cousins will play well enough so Washington could dangle him in the off season trade market and possibly recoup a few of the draft picks they dealt away to get Griffin two years ago. That would be a smart football decision, and it would have the added benefit of soothing the ego of the embattled franchise quarterback.

Oh, the story might seem to be over in our nation's capital, but it's really just getting started. As that noted philosopher, Terrell Owens might say, "get your popcorn ready."

32 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Newest First
View all
  • Obamacare for one and all Dec 11, 2013

    I agree with this decision. Griffin has played poorly most of the season and needs to start focusing on how to play the game properly instead of admiring himself in the latest Subway commerical.

    If RG3 keeps it up, he going to turn out just like Michael Vick. A bum.

  • thomasew Dec 11, 2013

    By benching RG3, Shannahan is getting his punch in before the owner of the team punches him out the door, and on his way. He wasn't the best choice when he was brought in anyway, IMO only.

  • Tizu Dec 11, 2013

    Shanahan is asking to be fired...that way he can get the $7M remaining on his contract. If he quits, he won't get that.

  • truewolfpack2 Dec 11, 2013

    Coming from a guy who probably never played a down of football in his life...Get a life dude

  • olivechapel1000 Dec 11, 2013

    Griffin is not that world beater that other q-b seem to be. How would Tony Romo do in washington?

    How RG3 do in Dallas, Buffalo?

    Tampa Bay is doing well.

    John Gruden is the asnwer?
    But what is the question?

  • Hammerhead Dec 11, 2013

    View quoted thread



    Jeff George maybe, not Vick.

  • just a gee Dec 11, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Wow to call them both bums is quite harsh! your money against theirs, who would be the bum then! pups always tryin to down somebody when they arent any better themselves! those bums could buy you many times over Sloth!

  • ? Dec 11, 2013

    It's sad that one of the best rivalries in NFL (cowboys/redskins) has been hijacked by two of the worst owners in the game today (Jones & Snyder).

  • 86Alum v.2 Dec 11, 2013

    View quoted thread



    Amen to that, but alas no way to "fire" both the owners which is well past due........

  • BISHOP5 Dec 11, 2013

    View quoted thread



    +1

More...

 

 

  • ACC: Syracuse at NC State

    Tomorrow at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Big East: Seaton Hall at Georgetown

    Tomorrow at 12:00 pm on FOX50

  • SEC: Florida at Kentucky

    Tomorrow at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Pac 12: Stanford at Arizona

    Tomorrow at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State vs. Syracuse

    Tomorrow at 12:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • ACC Women: Duke vs. Notre Dame

    Tomorrow at 12:00 pm on Buzz Sports Radio

  • HSBB: Class 4A Regional Final: Teams TBD

    Tomorrow at 2:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: Duke at UNC

    Tomorrow at 9:00 pm on Buzz Sports Radio

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 1
MIN 3
Final
CHA 103
TOR 94
Final
STL 5
HOU 2
 
Final
BOS 3
MIA 5
 
Final
TAM 2
MIN 1
 
Final
PHI 1
NYY 4
 
Final
ATL 8
WAS 9
 
Final
TOR 5
BAL 4
 
Final
NYM 5
DET 4
Final
SDP 5
CWS 0
 
Final
CHC 2
CIN 5
 
Final
CLE 9
KAN 11
 
Final
MIL 1
LOS 10
 
Final
TEX 3
SFG 12
 
Final
LOS 7
SEA 4
 
Final
ANA 3
COL 0
 
Final
ARI 2
OAK 7
 
Final
NYY 1
PIT 3
 
Final
IND 98
CHI 84
Final
WAS 99
MIA 97
Final
ORL 119
SAC 114
Final
CHA 103
TOR 94
Final
PHI 83
UTA 89
Final
ATL 106
CLE 97
Final
NOP 98
BOS 104
Final
HOU 103
DET 93
Final
MEM 97
LAL 90
Final
BRK 100
PHO 108
Final
SAN 120
DEN 111
 
2nd
GSW 36
DAL 29
 
Final
MVSU 75
ARKPB 94
 
Final
CSOU 60
LONG 68
 
Final
WICHS 56
SILL 45
Final
RAD 66
WINT 67
 
Final
ILLST 71
EVAN 67
Final
HIGH 71
GWEBB 72
 
Final
UNCG 81
SAMF 76
Final
ELON 74
TOWS 69
Final
KSU 79
AKR 77
 
Final
BUF 77
BGU 75
 
Final
DART 75
BRO 69
 
Final
WMICH 74
CMICH 62
 
Final
PENN 54
CLMB 46
 
Final
PRIN 66
CORN 53
 
Final
OU 69
ILLCH 72
Final
OHIO 95
UMO 65
 
Final
BST 67
NILL 71
 
Final
EMICH 85
TOL 59
 
Final
NIOWA 71
BRAD 46
Final
MURST 80
MORE 77
Final
HARV 52
YALE 62
 
Final
DREX 48
COC 56
Final
CITA 56
FUR 73
 
Final
CCAR 74
UNCA 57
 
Final
USF 62
PAC 58
Final
BAY 77
TTU 74
2nd
INDST 40
LOYC 68
 
2nd
CLST 61
DET 46
 
2nd
EKENT 40
BEL 33
 
11:30pm Tonight
SCU
LMU
Final
NJD 2
CLB 3
Final
CAR 1
MIN 3
Final
OTT 3
BUF 2
Final
DET 2
CAL 5
Final
CHI 2
EDM 1
 
2nd
ANA 0
PIT 2