RG3’s season done, but Redskins drama isn’t

Quarterback Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins throws a pass in the first half during an...

Quarterback Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins throws a pass in the first half during an NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at FedExField on December 8, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images/AFP)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:44 PM ET

Who cared least about Robert Griffin III’s health and safety during that infamous playoff game last January?

Mike Shanahan, his Washington Redskins head coach.

That’s who decided to keep playing the rookie quarterback against Seattle, even as his right-knee ligaments gradually, graphically, epically ripped to shreds — as North America watched in horror — until his upper leg faced east, and his lower leg faced north.

Who cares most about RG3’s health and safety now?

Same guy. Shanahan.

That’s a harsh but fair takeaway from the embattled coach’s epic 28-minute news conference Wednesday afternoon, at which he confirmed what he’d been hinting since Sunday, and which had leaked out hours earlier.

That is, he’s shutting down Griffin, his star second-year quarterback, for Washington’s final three games of the season. To protect him from injury, not so he can make it through these meaningless final games but, vitally, so he won’t again miss Washington’s entire off-season programme.

“When you take a look at a quarterback who is your franchise quarterback, he’s your future,” Shanahan said. “If you miss two off-seasons in a row, the hardest thing to do is recover from that.

“I take a look at the next three games, I’d like him to have that experience, but at the risk of setting him back where he doesn’t go into the offseason (healthy), I think that would be devastating to him.”

Griffin missed all of the Skins’ spring practice sessions this past off-season, and was limited through much of training camp.

Shanahan fully owned up to his infamous mistake last January, and attributed it in part to his pro-active decision Wednesday.

Shanahan said he has told Griffin about the Seattle game, “‘Hey, I’ve had people just like you fool me at halftime … You weren’t playing normal. I don’t blame it on you at all. I blame it on me.’

“Because even the doctors, they can take a look at a knee and see if it’s all right — it might have been all right from a structural standpoint — but I can see and I can go with my gut, and I should have (gone) with my gut … Not only did it hurt Robert, but it hurt us from winning the game.”

True enough.

So now Shanahan goes from disabler to protector.

In the past five games, Griffin has been sacked 24 times and walloped a good many more times than that.

“I thought that his hits were piling up on him,” Shanahan said.

He wouldn’t say it, or address it directly, but Griffin’s performance this season has regressed from his rookie-of-the-year levels. Especially lately.

Part of the reason is he appears to not have fully recovered from that devastating knee injury, no matter how many times Griffin or the Redskins have claimed he’s back to 100%.

That might also be contributing to his recent chronic indecision on where to throw. And indecision is a pass rusher’s best friend.

Second-year backup Kirk Cousins will start this week for the 3-10 Redskins, with journeyman Rex Grossman dressing as the new No. 2.

While RG3 won’t suit up on game days, he will continue to practise.

Griffin didn’t attempt to hide his disappointment at his own session with reporters.

“I expressed my desire to play,” Griffin said of his meeting with Shanahan. “Of course I want to be out there and finish the season with my guys, and see it through. (I’ll) do whatever I can to help this team win.”

It’s hard not to be as confused as Griffin probably is. The overriding suspicion is we aren’t hearing the whole story.

Is all this merely gamesmanship on Shanahan’s part, to enrage owner Dan Snyder to compel Snyder to fire him — as has been widely speculated?

It’s hard to envision Shanahan keeping his job into the new year, even though he has one more year left on a five-year, $35-million contract.

Right off the top of his Wednesday presser, Shanahan made sure everyone knew that he didn’t make his decision on RG3 in a silo. Shanahan said he began consulting Snyder and GM Bruce Allen last week.

“I said if either one wasn’t 100% behind my reasoning that I’m giving you, I said we won’t go there.”

Well, they went there.

ESPN reported last Sunday that Shanahan was on the verge of quitting at the end of last season, so disturbed was he by Snyder’s purported too-tight relationship with his franchise player, Griffin, and the resultant damage it was doing in the locker room.

Shanahan confirmed that “bits and pieces” of that report are true, but he wouldn’t say which.

He also denied he doesn’t want to return for his fifth year.

“If I’m trying to get fired, I’m not going to call up Dan Snyder and ask his opinion on a player. I don’t have to.”

That failed to unfurrow many an eyebrow.

Griffin’s season may be done, but the drama surrounding him, his coach and his owner surely isn’t.

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

@JohnKryk

blogs.canoe.ca/krykslants/


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