Robert Griffin III: Star QB Must Not Risk Further Injury to Play in Week 15

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 09:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins scrambles with the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the second half during a game at FedExField on December 9, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins may not need Robert Griffin III to beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, but they will need him if they wish to catch the New York Giants for the lead in the NFC East.

Knowing that, RGIII cannot risk further injury by playing in Week 15. If he's completely, 100-percent healthy, then great. But if he's not, his only place on Sunday should be next to quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur.

According to The Washington Post reporter Mark Maske, Mike Shanahan is leaving the door open for Sunday, but Griffin's status is still uncertain:

Shanahan said at his news conference Monday that the possibility of Griffin playing against the Browns “definitely” had not been ruled out.

Shanahan said Monday he didn’t know whether Griffin would be able to practice Wednesday or play Sunday. He said Griffin’s knee would be evaluated on a daily basis all week.

Shanahan said the Redskins’ would do what is in Griffin’s best interests. Taking such an approach, Shanahan said, generally is in the team’s best interests as well.

Washington, at 7-6, are well within striking distance of the Giants. When you consider that the Giants must travel to Atlanta and Baltimore for their next two games, you see how realistic an NFC East championship really is. 

The Redskins play Philadelphia and Dallas in their final two games of the season, both of which are winnable games, but will also be tougher than Cleveland in Week 15. Even though the Browns look hot coming into it, two of their three straight wins have come against Kansas City and Oakland.

Leaving a potentially huge game up to anyone but RGIII is a scary thought, but it makes sense in this situation. If Kirk Cousins hadn't performed well in Griffin's stead last week to come back and beat the Ravens, maybe I would look at this situation differently.

Cousins only threw two passes, but he completed both of them in the game's most crucial moments. He doesn't bring RG3's athleticism to the offense, but he has an excellent head on his shoulders. It's not like he will be asked to play in a long-term situation.

This is exactly why the Redskins made the mind-boggling decision of drafting two quarterbacks back in April. Griffin's ability to run is a great thing to have at your disposal, but it also creates more chances for injury. Having a quality backup option is necessary, and Cousins has done his job so far.

If this game was against a tougher opponent, I'd say play RGIII barring a major injury, but the Eagles and the Cowboys will both present a much-larger challenge in the final two weeks of the season. 

Griffin must be ready to go for those games. It's time for Washington to trust Cousins, unless RGIII is undoubtedly healthy once Sunday arrives.