Last season the Redskins, lead by rookie of the year Robert Griffin III, finished 10-6 and capped off the season by clinching their first division title since 1999. Almost a year later the Redskins are 3-10 and are sitting at the cellar of the NFC East. With nothing left to play for, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan has announced that he has shut down Robert Griffin III for the remainder of the season. For the remaining three games the Redskins will start backup Kirk Cousins at QB.
Mike Shanahan has stated that the idea behind benching RG3 was to preserve his health and not risk another injury. Though it seems smart to protect the franchise quarterback, it isn’t a reason to bench him. In the NFL a player can get injured at any given moment, it is part of the nature of the game. You can rest a player all you want, but at any moment you put him in, he is in danger of injuring himself. RG3 is healthier then he has been all season. Week 1 of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles, Griffin looked very rusty and nothing close to 100%, but Shanahan stressed no thought about benching him. Now Griffin is much healthier, a lost season shouldn’t be the reason to all of a sudden protect him. Griffin needs to develop as a quarterback, giving him as much game time possible will do so but it won’t help him develop by sitting on the bench. Shanahan is sacrificing game time in order to ensure healthy practices during the offseason. Game time though is the best practice possible for a quarterback. The Atlanta Falcons are also currently 3-10, their franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, has been taking weekly beatings from the opposing defenders. The Falcons though have not thought once about benching Ryan. Why should the Redskins bench Griffin then?
We may not even know the real truth behind the benching of Griffin. Is it really about protecting him for next season? Or is just performance based? It would make sense for this to be behind Shanahan’s logic as the Redskins just took a beating in a 45-10 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It also seems that Shanahan will be packing his bags on the way out of Washington very soon, so why would he care about building the future of this team? Griffin is coming off one of the best rookie seasons ever by a quarterback, he took the league by storm. You cannot bench a quarterback with such massive talent a year after an extraordinary season, just because of second year struggles. We saw Cam Newton struggle at times last season in his second season in the NFL, now he’s leading the Panthers to the NFC playoffs.