Sunday was bad enough for Washington Redskins fans after the team lost its first home playoff game in ages to a Seattle team that played inspired football. To make things worse, 'Skins fans saw their young franchise quarterback go down with a knee injury and writhe in agony on a painted dirt field.
The debate has begun regarding the handling of Robert Griffin III and whether or not he should have been back in the game after coming off of the field with a lingering knee injury. After meeting with Dr. James Andrews, RGIII was back on the sideline with helmet in hand, ready to go in and compete for his team. After looking to Dr. Andrews, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan got confirmation that his quarterback was cleared to return to action, and Griffin did so on the next offensive possession.
Many fans, critics and other media members tore into Shanahan in his weekly press conference on Monday, questioning whether the young stud should have been allowed back in the game.
With respect to the injury, it seemed like everyone watching at home had diagnosed RGIII with a torn ACL and expected him to be benched. Nonetheless, Andrews, the nation's premier orthopedic surgeon, decided that Griffin was able to play.
Shanahan followed every proper sideline protocol, and Griffin was examined after tweaking the knee in the first half. Not only did Shanahan make a decision based on a doctor's recommendation (standard league policy), but his sideline doctor is the best doctor in terms of sports injuries.
Dr. Andrews made it clear to Shanahan that RGIII could return, and therefore, Shanahan put him back in. Andrews has a great resume in the professional sports ranks and has a reputation that he desperately does not want to tarnish.
Would the Redskins have won the game if Kirk Cousins had come in with a 14-0 lead?
Does the fact that Griffin did, in fact, further hurt himself mean that either Shanahan or Dr. Andrews was wrong?
Andrews made a judgement call based on years of professional expertise, and Shanahan followed every protocol that was laid out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Andrews would not risk his well-built reputation on a Redskins playoff run, and Shanahan would not jeopardize the next 10 years of his organization with a 14-0 lead in tow.
Whether or not the Redskins would have been better off with rookie Kirk Cousins in the game is another argument altogether, but the opportunity to have RGIII on the field in the playoffs is one that the Redskins needed to take advantage of.
This might not be bad judgement, but just bad luck.