Posted December 09, 2013

Mike Shanahan refuses to name Robert Griffin III his starter, citing injury concerns

NFC East, Washington Redskins
Mike Shanahan's 2013 season is getting stranger and stranger.

Mike Shanahan’s 2013 season is getting stranger and stranger. (Evan Vucci/AP)

It’s been a very interesting 24 hours for Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. On Sunday morning, an article written by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com intimated that Shanahan was ready to leave his position after the 2012 season because he was tired of the interference of owner Daniel Snyder, particularly as it related to quarterback Robert Griffin III. According to Graziano’s article, Shanahan relented on that decision after Griffin suffered a serious knee injury in the Redskins’ wild-card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks because he did not want to appear to leave the team in the lurch.

Safe to say that the coach may regret that decision. The Redskins are 3-10, they suffered a humiliating 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday that featured the lowest attendance in FedEx Field history and the worst special teams performances in recent memory, and Shanahan may not last the season, per several reports. Mark Maske of the Washington Post wrote on Monday that Snyder may be looking to fire Shanahan for cause, which would save the team from paying him the remainder of his contract. Shanahan’s contract pays him $7 million per year through the 2014 season.

Then, there was the relative uproar (at this point, all uproars concerning the Redskins must be considered relative) when Shanahan refused to commit to Griffin as the starter for Washington’s Sunday game against the Atlanta Falcons. Griffin was sacked five times by Kansas City’s defense, and Shanahan pulled him for Kirk Cousins in the fourth quarter of the blowout.

During an eventful Monday press conference, Shanahan explained why he pulled his quarterback, and why he left things undecided after the game.

“The reason why I kind of left it up in the air about that after the game is that anytime you have 24 sacks in the last five games … the reason I was hesitant is that I’m always going to look at … you’ve got your franchise quarterback,  and you want to make sure going into the offseason that he goes through a full offseason program,” he said. “And that’s why I didn’t say he [Griffin] was the starter. That’s just something in the back of my mind right now, and I’ll let you know in the next couple of days.”

Shanahan has said before that after losing the 2013 offseason to his recovery from knee surgery, it was important for Griffin to get snaps late into the lost season for his development. Now, it might be that the risk-reward ratio has turned the other way. Griffin has been pressured on 202 of his 531 snaps this season, and Washington’s offensive line has allowed 14 of those pressures. That second figure is actually pretty solid — only 13 lines have allowed fewer total pressures, per Pro Football Focus’ metrics.

When asked to further explain why he would shut Griffin down for any amount of time without an actual injury to consider, Shanahan continued to preach safety first. He also mentioned that he had not spoken to Griffin about the decision, which should go over well.

“Well, just what I said — we had 24 sacks in the last five games, and you go against a team that had two sacks in the last five games [Kansas City], I’m talking about his health. I want to make sure that he’s healthy. I think that’s the most important thing going into the offseason; that he has his first full season being healthy. If he did play, and something did happen to him, I think it would set our franchise back. That’s not to say I’m not going that way, that’s why I answered it the way I did.”

Shanahan said that he would make a decision about Griffin on Wednesday.

During the press conference, Shanahan deflected repeated questions about his relationship with Snyder and his future with the team. When one reporter hypothesized that by refusing to answer, he was just prolonging the questions, Shanahan responded that if he did answer, the questions would be asked anyway. He did not deny the reports of friction; he merely refused to answer questions on the subject.

“There’s always a lot of noise when you’re 3-10,” he said. “I understand that, and every organization has it. There’s going to be a lot more noise over the next few weeks.”

When it comes to the Redskins, that’s the one thing upon which everyone can agree.

36 comments
PatrickBatemanVP
PatrickBatemanVP

Remember when people said they would rather have Griffin over Luck?

Median2
Median2

RGIII is just a poor man's Michael Vick, same qb same run first mentality. Will people finally realize that you can't have a qb who is uncomfortable in the pocket? The only run first qb that has success is Cam Newton and that is only because he is a physical freak of nature.

HawkAttack
HawkAttack

Oh NOW, Shanahan is worried about Griffin's health? Fire this guy.

programmer693
programmer693

more like "Mike S. refuses to name owners best friend starting QB because he wants Napolean to be pissed off and fire him so he can collect $7m and get a better job."

amorosotom
amorosotom

How does that make Cousins feel? He's shark bait. The line is so bad that they don't want to expose RG3 to danger but the hell with Cousins.

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

Good move. He should not have played this year anymore than he should have in last years playoffs

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

It will be racist if they bench him.  Isn't that excuse they use now for failure? 

DugoutBoyz
DugoutBoyz

The soap opera continues...while all the time, it's RGIII that is the problem.  Snyder wants RGIII playing and both of the Shanahans want to sit him down.


HE CANNOT GET RID OF THE BALL IN LESS THAN 3 SECONDS.  He refuses to take coach's suggestions...thinking, "I was the Rookie of the Year being me....I am NOT going to try to be something else:


If Kirk Cousins plays the final 3 weeks and the Skins go 3-0, then the Shanahans will be vindicated.


....fingers croseed


This is McNabb all over again....dummass would not run the 2 minute drill according to Kyle Shanahan's plan...so they sat his butt.


Iif Shanahan has a weakness, it's his personality in dealing with these young egos.

fmfrijoles
fmfrijoles

You gotta love all the wild stories the media fluff is creating to generate web hits.


Seriously........some of these stories are absolutely ridiculous. 


If there is one thing we have learned.....mention the word REDSKINS = web hits.

tracejuno
tracejuno

Has Shanahan ever been seen smiling?

NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

Benching Griffin, who at this point is a mediocre NFL QB, is a good idea but the real problem was making him the starter game 1 when he had no preseason. 

DonTheGreen
DonTheGreen

I'd say there are clashes and personnel issues, but Shanahan is a great coach - just the wrong team and organization.  He pulled out a division win last year when they were written off.  RG III will be a great quarterback (if he survives).  The guy is an awesome athlete.  As a Cowboys fan, I love to hate the 'Skins.  But when they suck, it ruins the rivalry.  No better division that NFC East for rivalries.  Even when they are all bad teams, it's great to see divisional games.

joe6647
joe6647

RGIII has looked below average to average at best without his mobility. He really doesnt have much pocket awareness and he holds on to the ball too long.  Its like he thinks he has 10 seconds in the pocket on every throw. He has also been inaccurate on his throws this year.


If this is how he looks as a stand still pocket passer, his life as a QB in the NFL will be short lived

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

I know that there have been more dysfunctional teams in the NFL than Washington. But none of them come to mind right now.

Shanahan is a disgrace. He has quit on the team. I never thought it possible that a situation would develop where Dan Snyder was the sympathetic party, but Shanahan has caused it. Snyder should fire him with cause.

RobertJacke
RobertJacke

For the Redskins owner this is a toy for him, he doesnt know anything a football team, same with Jerry Jones, its a tax right off

sunalsorises
sunalsorises

Cousins is the better QB and he won't get you fired.

EribShermuck
EribShermuck

@amorosotom Would you rather have Wrecks Grossman out there? Well, I guess it doesn't really matter at this point....

Michael50
Michael50

@amorosotom Apparently you did not read the article, the offense line is not to blame for the majority of those pressures, it is RG3's playing style. Either he was indecisive, or he left the pocket and got sacked. As the article said, only 13 teams had lines with better numbers.


Therefore, perhaps Cousins will fair better as a pocket passer.

Michael50
Michael50

@WHO*IS*ESPN Funny, I did not see a mention of racism until YOU brought it up. Coincidence?

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

Stop spamming here for your third-rate blog.


If you want hits, advertise -- and PAY for it!

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@richard.lustberg you really went out on a limb there by saying Shannahan is the odd man out.  LOL... were we supposed to think RGIII or Snyder would be the odd man out?  HAHAHAHAHAHA

mgranadosv
mgranadosv

Shanahan has been a lousy coach for 6+ years. The game went by him and his son is in even worse shape because he's young and can't seem to understand how to operate an offense. First he put RGIII on a leash, obliterating the pistol option that made him a threat. When he was getting pounded into pulp, they open up the pistol option with all the wrong personnel, so it's obvious that RGIII is going to take off, so he gets beaten to a pulp.

The Shanahans should be let out of the facilities after the season is done and not given another job opportunity for a while.

Of course, Elway won Shanny 2 rings, so some mediocre team with glaring holes is going to hire the couple of guys who are awful at repairing a sinking ship.

fmfrijoles
fmfrijoles

Well....given he had no offseason, and no preseason games......did you really expect him to perform like he did his rookie year??


I bet that with a complete offseason and pre-season and OTAs....he will be back to form next year. It also doesn't hurt that the REDSKINS will probably have the most cap room of any NFL team for Free Agency and will most likely trade Cousins (which is the real reason RG3 may be benched.....to try and increase Cousins trade value).

crashtx1
crashtx1

@joe6647 Another "he's going to reinvent the position" guy. I feel sorry for all of them.

amorosotom
amorosotom

@RobertJacke Jerry Jones knows his football. He's a good owner who has unfortunately picked a couple of lousy coaches. Jimmy Johnson, come back. We need you. 

amorosotom
amorosotom

@fmfrijoles That no pre-season defense won't wash. He's getting worse as he gets more experience. Maybe for the first 3 games we can use that excuse. But jeez, the season is almost over and he's not cutting it. 

Michael50
Michael50

@amorosotom @fmfrijoles "That no pre-season defense won't wash."


That might be the most ignorant thing I've heard in awhile. How on Earth does a second year quarterback missing his entire offseason work not matter? This is not even taking into account that he was expected to completely shift away from the pistol offense which was his bread and butter. 


Yes, missing the preseason mattered. Yes, starting too soon after injury and not being 100% mattered. Yes, most quarterbacks go through some form of a sophomore slump, which may be part of the issue. All of this matters, and people are insane to think RG3 would make the Redskins contenders in the midst of losing 3 1st round picks and a 2 year $18 million dollar salary cap penalty. Give him time, he may not be the answer, but it is far too early to tell.