As the Washington Redskins look to the future after Sunday's crushing loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game, the one thing that will be talked about for a long time is Robert Griffin III's knee and how the coaching staff handled the situation during the game.
Griffin was hobbling all game, though it got worse the longer it went, and it was clear something wasn't right with the rookie quarterback very early in the second half.
With just over six minutes to play, and the Redskins trailing 21-14, Griffin attempted to grab a bad snap, his already-injured knee buckled and he was down for the count.
Should Mike Shanahan Have Pulled RG3 Early In The Game?
Immediately after Griffin was taken out of the game for good, everyone used revisionist history to discuss whether or not Mike Shanahan and the coaching staff made the right call by allowing Griffin to stay in the game when it was clear he wasn't going to be able to perform.
Despite starting the game 6-for-9 with 68 yards and two touchdowns, Griffin finished with just 10 completions and 84 passing yards. He also had 21 rushing yards, 12 coming on those first two drives.
After that first quarter, Griffin was moving around with a noticeable limp that was bigger than what he started the game with. That was like putting blood in the water for a defense as tenacious and physical as Seattle's.
Dan Graziano of ESPN.com wrote after the game that there is no question Griffin should have come out of when it was clear he was not close to being the player he is at full strength.
Deciding to keep Griffin in the game when he was clearly (A) injured and (B) not helping Washington move the ball was the decision that ended this Redskins season and could put part of the next one in jeopardy.
Even looking at this in a vacuum, trying to see what would have been in Washington's best interest just for the rest of these playoffs, it was clear that Kirk Cousins would have been more capable than Griffin.
Griffin's accuracy was gone because he was unable to plant and step into throws the way he usually does. His speed was negated, allowing defenders to neutralize him and throw him to the ground.
Speaking to the media after the game, Shanahan told reporters (via Redskins.com) that he wasn't sure he made the right decision to keep Griffin in, but because Griffin told him he was good to go, everything was okay:
(Griffin said) give me a chance to win this football game because I guarantee you I am not injured. That was enough for me.
Of course Griffin is going to say that. He is an athlete and a competitor. Anyone in his position would say that he wants to be on the field. But at some point you have to protect the player from himself, not to mention put the team in the best position to win.
The Redskins have a capable backup quarterback who had success in very limited action this season. At the very least watching Cousins move around wouldn't be nearly as painful as watching Griffin just walk in and out of the huddle.
Now, Griffin will have to undergo an MRI on his knee to see if there is even more damage in there than he was already dealing with.
We will never know if the Redskins would have beaten the Seahawks with Griffin at 100 percent or even with Cousins at quarterback. But the coaching staff should have known better than to let the franchise player stay in a game when he was barely able to walk.