Sep 15, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) and head coach Mike Shanahan walk on the sidelines during the game against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Running Out Of Options In Washington?


Despite the fact that only two games have been played, there clearly has been a mistake in the nation’s capital. While a majority of people believe that Mike Shanahan made the mistake of putting Robert Griffin III ahead of Kirk Cousins on the depth chart, that wasn’t the biggest error made. The real problem was created in April of 2012, after the Washington Redskins traded three first round draft picks in order to draft the ‘Heisman Trophy’ winning quarterback, Robert Griffin III, they decided to explicitly draft Michigan State quarterback in the fourth round.

So why is it that a franchise that had given up three first round picks to draft a quarterback, draft another one just three rounds later? Sure, you could make the argument that they drafted him to add depth or develop him so they could trigger a trade with another team. The only problem that transpired is that a quarterback controversy has sparked within the Redskins organization.

But how can there possibly be a controversy? Robert Griffin had a tremendous rookie season in which he led the Redskins to their first division title since the 99’ season. Not only did he help lead his team to the playoffs, but he also won the NFL Rookie of the Year award, while throwing for 20 touchdowns and just 5 interception, ranking him 5th in total QBR.

It all started on December 9th, when the Redskins took on the Baltimore Ravens in an afternoon game in which RGIII took an immense hit from 340-pound Haloti Ngata. The hit resulted in a severe hyperextension in Robert’s knee. A few weeks later, in a home playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, Griffin re-aggravated his knee injury after he was chased out of bounds.

Instead of playing it safe and taking Robert out of the game, Coach Shanahan made the right call – go for the win. Even though he was clearly injured, Shanahan gave Robert the opportunity to elevate his game to the next level and lead his team to yet another victory in a crucial game.

Robert and the Redskins were bumped in the first round as they were unable to overcome Seattle; but that seemed to be the least of their problems. Shortly after the loss, Robert underwent his second major knee surgery to repair torn ligaments in both his ACL and LCL. Despite the severity of his injury, Robert made it clear that he would return to the team for the opening game of the following season.

Fast forward to the start of training camp. It was clear that Robert wanted to get back out there and be the starting quarterback for this team. But despite being cleared to resume normal football activities, Coach Shanahan had listed fourth round pick Kirk Cousins as his starting quarterback, ruling Griffin out for the preseason.

Before I continue on, let’s be clear on something. Kirk Cousins was coach Shanahan’s pick. Yes, it has the potential to be a great choice for future plans. But calling Cousins one of the “steals” of the draft put additional pressure on Robert. The type of un-needed pressure that can and has severely affected the relationship between coach and player.

But it seemed as if all was well in Washington headed into their week one opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Robert Griffin was starting, the fans were excited for yet another successful season and it looked like everything was going to be okay with Mike and Robert.

Unfortunately for the Redskins, they realized quickly that things were far from okay. Not only did the Redskins defense embarrass themselves on the Monday Night Football opener, but Robert looked quite rusty. Even though the rust was evident, Robert shrugged it off and gave credit to the Eagles and their defense.

Questions quickly arose about the quarterback situation in Washington. One of the biggest topics was the mental health of Robert. Sure, he was physically cleared to play. But, like most analyst and experts say, his mental health is just as important. It’s never easy to immediately go back to something that did severe damage to your health and although football is second nature to Robert, he clearly has had his doubts.

A week two blowout loss to the Green Bay Packers didn’t exactly help the situation that has been going on in Washington. With the Redskins sitting at 0-2, the media has easily been able to bash Shanahan for his decision in starting Robert Griffin. A big problem has been Robert’s inability to run the ball in the option formation this season. Actually, he has yet to run the ball in the option this season. Recently, Robert said “hopefully I’ll get the opportunity [to run the option] in this game”. Lately he has been using the excuse that they have not been running the option due to the fact that they have been behind early on. But you could easily argue the fact that they have been behind due to the fact that they have not ran the option as much. Robert has had the opportunity to revolutionize the game of football with his unique style of play, but for some odd reason he isn’t doing that.

According to ESPN Columnist Skip Bayless, a team insider for the Redskins told him that Robert believes he must be a pocket passer to be truly accepted as a quarterback and that Robert thinks he can be more like Peyton Manning. Well, Robert, how about you be the first ROBERT GRIFFIN. Instead of wanting to be like current NFL players, make future players want to emulate YOU. Transcend the game like we all know you can.

So what has this gotten us? Well, the call for Shanahan’s “guy”, Kirk Cousins. There seems to be a problem though, how can you tell your star quarterback that he is going to get benched after only two games? You can’t. That’s why it is imperative for Robert to come out with a chip on his shoulder and play his style of football.

Later today, Robert has the opportunity to salvage what seems to be a season of true disappointment. If they Redskins fail to exit today’s game against the Detroit Lions victorious, their season is virtually over. An 0-3 start means that you not only have to overcome being three games below .500, but you also have to hope other top teams fall at some point throughout the season. In the NFC, you have to think that either Seattle or San Francisco will end up taking one of the two wild card spots. That leaves one spot open for either the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saint and Atlanta Falcons. And who’s to say that another team won’t make a surprise run. The NFC is STACKED.

In order for Washington to make the playoffs, they will most likely have to win their division. The only problem is, it’s going to be very hard to come back in the NFC East with the defense that Washington have. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Redskins D has allowed a remarkable 1,023 yards of offense. That is certainly not a winning formula.

What exactly is the winning formula for this team? Well, for starters, Robert Griffin has to extinguish the mindset of being like Peyton Manning. If he continues that trend, the Redskins are going to be dramatically affected. If the Redskins do go out and blow today’s game against the Lions, imagine what will happen. If you think you’ve heard enough about Kirk Cousins, then you probably won’t want to listen to any sports show or read any of these articles. In fact, it would probably be best if you just stayed away from football for a week, or until the Redskins win a game.

It’s time for Robert and Mike to put their differences aside. If they were able to win together last year, they should be able to this year. The season is still salvageable. It is just time for these two to put their ego aside (especially RGIII) and just go out there and do what both of these men do almost better than anyone; WIN FOOTBALL GAMES!

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Tags: Mike Shanahan Robert Griffin Washington Redskins

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