About two weeks ago, Washington Redskins fans were treated to encouraging news. After running and throwing at Redskins Park, quarterback Robert Griffin III indicated his right knee, injured in last season’s playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks and surgically repaired this offseason, “feels great.” Griffin also told the assembled media that he and head coach Mike Shanahan had “hashed everything out,” about the handling of Griffin’s injury during the Seattle game.
Yes, according to Griffin, everything is copacetic. He and Shanahan are hunky-dory and that “unfortunate situation,” that happened at the end of last year is all in the past.
Maybe. I just have my doubts.
See, Griffin’s injury in the Seattle game was not just an “unfortunate situation.” Rather, it was an entirely avoidable situation, something that seems completely obvious to everyone other than, of course, Griffin and Shanahan.
Now, with regards to Griffin, I sympathize somewhat. Clearly hobbling, playing under duress, Griffin stubbornly lobbied to stay in the game as you would expect a young, competitive world-class athlete would. While I believe the Seattle game should serve as a lesson to Griffin regarding his own limitations, I have greater sympathy for his position.
Shanahan is an entirely different matter.
While the ornery coach often displays the charm of your average doornail, he has in a very short time professionalized the Redskins, and brought a new culture to Ashburn. Still, his handling of the Griffin situation in the Seattle game is concerning.
With the team’s franchise quarterback clearly laboring, unable to even plant for a throw and being just plain ineffective versus Seattle, Shanahan refused to budge. Because Griffin was his guy, and he had earned the right to be in there, he was playing. And Shanahan harbors no second thoughts.
But here’s the thing: Griffin clearly couldn’t play. His injury not only was hurting the team, but exposing the team’s franchise player to greater injury. Shanahan either didn’t realize this, stubbornly refused to acknowledge his failure, or both.
Now, I suppose Shanahan’s inability to manage the situation in the moment can be forgiven somewhat. Yes, coaches make mistakes, and in-game decisions need to be made quickly, often without the benefit of all the information one would like. Further, I write from this spot with the benefit of hindsight Shanahan did not have during the Seattle game.
However, we both equally enjoy the benefit of four and a half months hindsight. Yet, Shanahan has refused to accept culpability, refused to admit that possibly something about his system or his management style could have put his franchise quarterback in danger. If anything, Shanahan has confirmed the notion he would manage future situations similarly.
Now, as stated earlier, I regard Shanahan highly. I believe he has professionalized the Redskins, and in three-plus years entirely changed the team’s previously dysfunctional culture.
Likewise, I’m happy Griffin’s knee is recovering, and admire the passion with which he has embraced his rehabilitation. Further, Griffin’s willingness to assume a leadership role at such a young age has been incredibly refreshing.
And maybe his knee has, in fact, been reconstructed soundly. Maybe Griffin can have an Adrian Peterson-type return this season. After all, as we’ve seen with Peterson and numerous other athletes, knees can be rebuilt. And “Griffin’s” will be rebuilt, which is why the timetable surrounding Griffin’s return is not my greatest concern.
Because, as things stand now, both Shanahan and Griffin continue to stubbornly ignore heeding the lessons of the Seattle game errors and refuse to even consider the fact they may have erred, continue to consider the events of the Seattle game a mere “unfortunate situation.” And their stubborn refusal to budge makes me fear, it won’t be the last one.