Dec 23, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan along the sidelines during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Redskins defeated the Eagles 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
For as long as Robert Griffin III has been the quarterback, Mike Shanahan has been dogged by the same nagging question: Are he and Griffin on the same page? More specifically, does Shanahan place a higher value on protecting the star of the franchise than winning? This question was pushed to the background during the final two months of the season as the Redskins produced a miraculous winning streak to capture the NFC East and secure a playoff bid. But as RG3 lay crumpled on the FedEx Field mud during the playoff game against Seattle, the question resurfaced louder than ever. Despite the many feel good stories of Griffin’s knee rehab during the off-season, it’s clear that the coach-quarterback relationship has not been fully addressed.
Washington Post columnist (and former Redskins beat writer) Jason Reid discussed this issue on Thursday with Lavar Arrington and Chad Dukes. Based on his inside knowledge of the team, there are problems still to be ironed out:
“The situation has to be straightened out. Let’s put it that way. They don’t have to love each other, but they have to be on the same page. And I don’t think it’s a big stretch by what we’ve seen so far publicly, to say that there are clearly questions as to whether or not they’re on the same page.”
This damning quote is in response to tweets sent by RG3 to ESPN’s Trey Wingo in March. Griffin asserted that, “I know where my responsibility is within the dilemma that led to me having surgery to repair my knee, and all parties involved know their responsibilities as well.” Griffin clearly placed significant blame on Shanahan for the injury. Reid believes this is still a problem for the organization.
There are countless examples of Shanahan taking unnecessary risks with the health of his quarterback. Before the final injury during the playoff game, there were clear signs that Griffin was in debilitating pain. Yet Shanahan did not bench Griffin, and even called a quarterback keeper that saw RG3 hobble to the sideline on one leg. Even before the playoffs there were questions. Why were the Redskins so slow to diagnose a concussion in an October game against the Falcons? Why did Kyle Shanahan call so many veer option plays that left RG3 exposed to NFL defenses? Why did Mike Shanahan wait until the end of the season to suggest that RG3 needs to learn how to slide? These examples provide evidence to the question of whether Shanahan has been too risky with his quarterback. The question that is much more difficult to answer is, In what ways has Shanahan actually protected RG3?
Locker room dynamics are often overblown in the media. However, the relationship between Robert Griffin III and the Shanahans is a critical one for the future of the Redskins. If Griffin is to continue putting his well-being into the hands of his coaches, he needs to trust that they have his best interest at heart. At the moment, that does not appear to be the case.