Unfortunately, this isn’t going to happen.
However, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan should call a press conference. Actually, he should have called one a few months ago, but today will work just fine. In said press conference, Shanahan should announce that quarterback Robert Griffin III will start the Week 6 game against the Dallas Cowboys, immediately following the Week 5 bye.
Now, such an announcement wouldn’t make Griffin happy. It would cause outrage amongst segments of the fan base, who would accuse Shanahan of throwing the season away before it started. It would be unconventional, and counter-intuitive to the gladiator mentality that pervades professional football. It would make for a much less interesting preseason, as the endless speculation over Griffin’s return would cease. It may even cost the Redskins a game early in the season.
That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be smart.
Griffin, of course, tore two knee ligaments in last season’s NFC Wild Card Playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The quarterback had injured his knee previously late last season in an overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens, before tearing the two ligaments against Seattle. Controversially, Griffin remained in the game despite the injury, which clearly affected his play. He has declared that he will be ready to start the season opener Sept. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
And speculation over Griffin’s return has dominated headlines this offseason.
But say Griffin’s rehabilitation goes swimmingly, which if you are to believe him and the team’s PR machine, it already is. Say he is cleared by doctors, and able to participate in practice when camp opens July 25. Say, he is even able to play in the preseason, and display some effectiveness. Such a scenario may mean he will start the season opener, but it still fails to answer the bigger question.
See, lost in all the speculation surrounding Griffin’s return is addressing why in fact his injury occurred. And as things stand now, the Redskins are approaching Griffin’s return with the same bull-headedness that contributed to the injury.
Remember, when the ligament tears occurred during the Seattle game, Griffin was already playing hobbled. In other words, a large part of the reason Griffin suffered a serious knee injury was because he was playing with a lesser one, thus exposed to more significant injury.
Now, this was obvious to anyone watching the Seattle game. That is, of course, everyone except Griffin and Shanahan.
No, the quarterback and stubborn coach are going to insist on rushing back ahead of the prescribed recovery time table. They’re going to talk about toughness, being in the lineup for the team and getting on the field at all costs. Yes, the same exact justifications they gave in the Seattle game are the same exact justifications that will be used in bringing Griffin back ahead of the prescribed recovery timetable.
While these traits are admirable from a certain perspective, the larger goal here should be Griffin being behind center for the next 15 years. And when you think in such big picture terms, four games in September is really not all that much to miss.
Of course, the typical counter points will be offered. Some will say this ruins the team’s playoff chances — I’d argue it helps as it provides a better chance Griffin will be healthy late in the season. Others will say that Griffin is the starting quarterback and should play if able — remember how well such thinking worked in the Seattle game.
In short, I want the dynamic Griffin leading the Burgundy and Gold for the next 15 years. Giving Griffin an extra six weeks of recovery now would mean minimizing his exposure to injury and increase the chances he is healthy during the stretch drive in December and January.
But it appears everything is going to be done to get Griffin back and thrust into action with a potentially wobbly knee, again.
Sorry, but I have no desire to see that movie another time.