January 8, 2013 by shivusharma
On Sunday, I watched the entirety of the Seahawks vs Redskins game. To start off, I was impressed with the courage that Robert Griffin III had, to play with an injured knee. Having had two knee surgeries of my own, I know how difficult the mental and physical aspects of the recovery process can be. It took a lot for RG3 to block out the hesitancy that comes with playing on a bad leg.
The Redskins’ first two drives were immaculate. RG3 was clearly not able to run the ball like he was accustomed to doing, but the threat of him running was still being respected by the Seattle Seahawks’ defense. He was running effectively enough to make the offense work.
After scrambling right to make a cross-body pass, RG3 planted on his injured right knee and seemed to have reinjured it. He limped gingerly back to the huddle and continued to play the rest of the game. For anyone that watched the game though, it was clear that Griffin could not substantiate the ‘threat of running’ that I mentioned before. Apparently Dr. James Andrews, probably the most renowned orthopedic surgeon in the US, cleared him to play after that incident, so Shanahan has a cushy excuse for putting the face of the franchise in jeopardy.
Still, the decision to let RG3 continue to play wasn’t a decision that should have been made based on the star quarterback’s
health. It should have been made based on his ability to execute the offense effectively. Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle designed an entirely new playbook, taking pieces of the Nevada pistol offense, Chip Kelly’s spread-option running attack, and Baylor’s spread passing attack to conform to Robert Griffin III’s strengths. Their offense functions optimally when the defense has to respect the threat of RG3 running the ball. This threat freezes the defense and allows for inside runs from Alfred Morris, as well as the play-action passing game. After RG3 re-injured his knee, he was no longer a threat to run. The Seahawks noticed this, and stacked the box to shutdown Alfred Morris. They baited RG3 to plan on his bad leg and make throws, many of which were wildly inaccurate.
This was the point where Mike Shanahan should have realized that his offense wasn’t going to maintain their slim 14 – 13 lead with a quarterback playing on one leg. Kirk Cousins should have been in that game much earlier. In his first starting appearance, he led the Redskins to a 38 – 21 on the road in Cleveland. Cousins, even in that small sample size, showed he was a competent quarterback who could run the offense effectively, something one-legged RG3 could not do. Even if the Seahawks continued to stack the box to stop the run, at least Cousins had two healthy legs to set his feet and throw from.
Instead of following his head, Mike Shanahan followed his heart and put the Redskins organization and their franchise player in jeopardy. Later in the game, on a botched snap, Robert Griffin III knee gave out as he bent back to pick up the loose ball. I felt shockwaves of pain go through my own reconstructed right knee as I saw Griffin fall to the floor and writhe in pain. After the game, we learned that Griffin suffered a partial tear of the ACL and LCL. Doctor’s won’t know the true extent of the damage until they explore the knee first hand, but there is the possibility that he may need surgery. Remember, this was the same ACL that he tore in college once before.
For Shanahan to manage this situation so recklessly and
without understanding of what RG3 means to the Washington, DC sports community is appalling. From a strategic and effectiveness standpoint, RG3 should not have been put back in that game. From a long-term franchise outlook standpoint, he should not have been put back in that game. What if RG3’s running ability is never the same after he recovers from this injury? His ceiling will be severely lowered. I’m not trying to say that RG3 will be nothing without his running ability, but what made his ceiling so high was his potential to combine the threat of running and passing like no one else has been able to do before.
If I’m Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder, I am sparing no expense when it comes to treatments for RG3’s knee. Every cutting-edge treatment should be explored so long as it helps the face of their franchise return to 100% health. You can’t just assume that he is going to make an Adrian Peterson-like recovery. No two athletes are the same. If I’m Redskins’ coach Mike Shanahan, I am crossing my fingers that RG3 is able to play at full strength next season. I am also thankful that the Washington Redskins fans, who have suffered through so many disappointing seasons, haven’t rioted in front of my house yet.
My best wishes to RG3 in his recovery. I hope he has back at the beginning of next season and playing better than he did this season. I hope he can still be the game-changer at quarterback that we are all waiting for him to be.