Anyone remember that old Alanis Morrisette song…?
Less than three months ago we were talking about a professional sports franchise in the Washington D.C. area taking heat for deciding to sit their most valuable asset for the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The plan was that Stephen Strasburg was going to be shut down after pitching a set amount of innings and would not be available for potential post-season play.
As the Washington Nationals blew a huge lead in the deciding game of their playoff series versus the St. Louis Cardinals, all the second guessers came out of the woodwork. They suggested that Strasburg should have been on the playoff roster and at least available to pitch a couple of innings of middle relief in that fateful Game 5.
Which leads us to the Washington Redskins, Coach Mike Shanahan, Dr. James Andrews, Robert Griffin III, and the entire Washington Redskins organization.
Isn’t it ironic…
Comparing Strasburg and the Nationals to Shanny and the ‘Skins is perhaps an apples to oranges deal.
But perhaps some Nationals long-term logic during the Redskins wild card playoff loss would have been valuable. As it stands now, Redskins Nation now holds its breath on Robert Griffin’s next MRI result.
When RG3 first went to the locker room late in the first quarter with his team up 14-0, that should have been the end of him for the day, and the season – even if it meant someone tying Griffin to the trainers table.
The team is fortunate enough to have a backup QB in Kirk Cousins who actually rallied the ‘Skins the day RG3 was hurt late in the season, then directed Washington to a road victory the following week.
There is also a certain coaching legend in D.C. whose managerial skills wound up being pretty good in a profession called NASCAR who knows what to do if there was something smoking under the hood of the number 10.
Look at the big picture. Take no chances. Pull out the backup car.
Then again Shanahan/RG3 and Joe Gibbs/NASCAR are also apples/oranges.
Washington’s season is over, but the blame game will continue into the off-season. And there are several principals involved.
The head coach maintained during his post-game presser that it is believed Griffin did not sustain any significant new damage by remaining in the game and that he could have even returned after the right knee gave out.
I tend not to believe the coach-speak.
What is known are RG3’s stats after the knee was first aggravated on the second drive: 11 attempts, four completions, 16 yards.
Not to mention the running dimension was obviously gone, and the throwing motion was also compromised. From the second quarter the numbers even fell below the Tim Tebow/Joe Webb level. Griffin was so ineffective that Seahawks fans were said to be hoping RG3 stayed in the game.
Even if Griffin winds up being available in Week 1 of the 2013 season, Shanahan’s decision borders on being a negligent and even terminable offense. Shanahan could have, and should have, brought the hook when the game was still 14-13 at halftime, or even after getting a mulligan (thanks to a Marshawn Lynch fumble) that allowed the ‘Skins to maintain their slim one-point lead going into the fourth.
And then there’s the talk of a possible cover-up/contradiction involving Dr. James Andrews. Contradicting the assertion of Shanahan, the doctor has said that Griffin was not cleared to return to the field the day of his original injury and that he was still was playing in a compromised state. A bulkier knee brace put on before the game also suggests there was more going on.
On social media, some even went back to the case of Shanahan and Terrell Davis during Super Bowl 32, when the Broncos running back briefly left with a migraine headache. Obviously Davis came back that day, wound up with MVP honors, and the Broncos won the game.
In the 15 years since, I never heard Shanahan questioned about risking TD30. Davis never got diagnosed with a concussion, but I found it interesting that some people went back even to that, as I never knew it was ever an issue.
Going back to the present, it was obvious that RG3 was a wounded animal. And when the opposition sees a wounded animal, they go for the kill (see Brett Favre versus the Saints in the NFC Championship). That is another reason why Shanahan had to make the move for Griffin’s long term safety.
Robert Griffin III
There was also plenty of social media feedback pointing the finger at the quarterback himself. Here was one of Griffin’s post-game comments:
‘I’m the best option for this team and why I’m the starter’.
The stat-line after the first quarter obviously said otherwise.
Griffin also added that although he put himself at ‘more risk’, every time he steps on the field he puts himself in peril, and that his teammates needed him. When asked if he felt like he tore his ACL, Griffin answered ‘it’s up in the air…’
That statement doesn’t bode well.
Being courageous is one thing, but when does that line morph into being stubborn and counter-productive, or even being called out as a ‘liar’ by one writer?
Did RG3 have an obligation to tap out at some point? Did RG3 have an obligation to be honest?
Griffin is obviously not alone among quarterbacks not wanting to come out of the game.
Obviously there are many QBs and other players over the years who managed to stay on the field come hell or high water.
Should Griffin be criticized? Maybe – but remember where tapping out in the NFC Championship Game got Jay Cutler’s reputation a couple years ago.
I still say the ultimate call goes with the coaching staff.
Dr. James Andrews
From ACL repairs to Tommy John surgeries in baseball, his name has been tops among high profile athletes for decades now. The Birmingham-based surgeon is on the payrolls of both the University of Alabama and Auburn University, as well as the Redskins, which is why he’s on the field during Redskins games.
His face could be front and center again Monday night should there be a key injury to an Alabama player during the BCS Championship game.
FedEx Field Playing Surface
Currently 18 of the 32 NFL teams play on natural grass, and this time of year some grass surfaces are better than others, but most get around to at least doing a re-sod by playoff time.
It has been argued whether real grass or the newest versions of the synthetic turf are more preferred by the NFL’s rank and file. What is known is that the surface that Sunday’s game was played on was not the greatest. Seattle DE Chris Clemons also suffered a non-contact ACL injury during the game.
The original injury to RG3 a month ago (when the knee got hyperextended 120 degrees around Haloti Ngata) and the injury suffered by Adrian Peterson last December (when he was tackled on the leg) were, for the most part, not blamed on the FedEx Field playing surface.
But considering the Redskins are amongst the NFL’s three most valuable franchises, you can still say Dan Snyder needs to do something about his team’s work environment. When addressed on the playing field, RG3 made the politically correct statement that the surface was part of the team’s ‘home field advantage’.
I don’t see risking the franchise QB on a bad surface as an advantage. Griffin’s injuries this year should not be blamed on it, but it has to be addressed.
The Redskins won seven straight games just to claim the NFC East crown and reach the post-season.
Hopefully years from now we will just be talking about how the team lost a playoff game and not how one of the most promising careers of recent NFL history somehow got ruined.