Schmitt Ballin': Who is to Blame for Griffin’s Injury?
The Washington Redskins entered wildcard weekend with a less than healthy starting quarterback in Robert Griffin III. Having struggled with injury over the season, Griffin went into to the game against the Seattle Seahawks with a somewhat weak knee. In the opening half of play, Griffin tweaked the hurt knee, and was seen limping around the field, battling the pain and stay in to play. In the fourth quarter, a bad snap caused the knee to bend the wrong way again, and forced him to leave the game with what was later determined to be a torn LCL and ACL. At this point, many are questioning Mike Shanahan’s decision to play the superstar rookie when he was partially injured.
In my mind, Shanahan deserves some of the blame, but not as much as he’s been receiving. Griffin is an extremely competitive player, and would certainly play if given the choice. The part that Shanahan played was that he should have consulted doctors more specifically, as there seemed to be a disconnect between the Redskins and RGIII’s doctors. On top of that, Shanahan should have realized that Griffin was on thin ice as the game progressed, and he should have taken him out long before such a serious injury occurred. With a franchise superstar like Griffin, Shanahan needed to be thinking for the future rather than the present. It would be better to have taken Griffin out early, and save him for future years, instead of win a single game and get injured. In this way, it is the duty of the coach to protect the players, both in the present and in the future. To me, Shanahan wasn’t doing either, putting his player at risk of long term injury.
The other part of the blame goes to Robert himself. As I have said before, Griffin plays way too aggressively for his position, and needs to know his limits. I understand his ultra-competitive nature, but again, risking a career for a single game is just stupid. He should have realized as soon as he started to limp that a half strength RGIII is worse than Kirk Cousins. Cousins has shown before in the season when Griffin went down with a sprained knee, that he can get the job done — and get the job done well.
Of course, there is a serious double standard in a situation like this. By most people (including me), Griffin and Shanahan are both being seen as stupid for their decisions. This is only because the Redskins lost. If they had one, the two would be praised for being tough, making the right decision, and persevering through the challenges they faced.
At the time, Shanahan did what he thought was best for the team and for Robert. Obviously, he made the wrong decision. But its hard to blame this solely on him, I mean, everyone makes mistakes. It just so happens that this mistake came at the worst possible time in the season, and will continue to cause damage in the years to come. With an ACL injury like this, it is very possible that Griffin will miss some, or all, of next season. But at the end of the day, it is what it is, Shanahan and Griffin both have to live with the decision they made, and make the best of it.