Who Deserves More Blame for Mishandling of Injury: RG3 or Mike Shanahan?

John RozumCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2013

No human leg is supposed to bend that way.
No human leg is supposed to bend that way.Al Bello/Getty Images

More blame or less blame for Robert Griffin III or Mike Shanahan?

That depends, because any competitor will want to be on the field for their team, and the coach has to put together the best unit of players. So to a certain extent, both are certainly at fault for the Washington Redskins.

Plus, in an article by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com:

"I don't feel like me being out there hurt the team in any way," Griffin said after the game.

"I'm the quarterback of this team," Griffin said. "My job is to be out there if I can play. ...I'm the best option for this team. That's why I'm the starter."

And RG3 is correct, because facing a stellar defense such as the Seattle Seahawks requires any offense to be at full strength. Griffin was simply following protocol as a player to contribute for his team and give them the best possible chance at victory.

Also Peter King of Sports Illustrated writes:

I do not—do not—blame Shanahan entirely here. Even if there's a frosty relationship between noted team orthopedist James Andrews and Shanahan, Andrews is on the staff, at least in part, because he's the foremost expert on knees in the country. He should have the power to speak up when he sees something obviously wrong with the franchise quarterback. And Griffin is not blameless here either. He's an adult. If he swears over and over he's fine, the coach has to listen to that and take that into account. "I wasn't lying,'' said Griffin. "I was able to go out and play, period."

King is also correct, because this entire debacle is too massive to fall on a single pair of shoulders.

The Redskins gave up a boatload of draft picks to the St. Louis Rams in trading up for RG3, and it certainly was the right move. At the same token, that kind of trade is also extremely risky since the immediate future is completely invested into a rookie signal-caller.

As the 2012 season progressed, though, Griffin kept producing and electrifying pro football fans from all over. But was Shanahan overusing his abilities?

No, because a dual-threat starter possessing RG3's athleticism has to be the focal point of an offense. And he only carried the ball 120 times, which pales in comparison to the physical punishment running backs take on an annual basis.

Griffin was also sacked just 30 times during the regular season. Washington presents one of pro football's best and most consistent offensive lines, so utilizing Griffin often as possible is why the Redskins hosted Seattle in the first place.

We also have to keep in mind that RG3 was certainly healthier earlier in the year. Since taking a big hit in the Week 14 game against the Baltimore Ravens, the No. 2 overall pick had not—by comparison—appeared to look like his former self.

Unsurprisingly, Shanahan and the Redskins counted on rookie running back Alfred Morris in Weeks 16 and 17. There, Morris was fed the rock 55 times and gained 291 rushing yards in that span.

As for RG3, he was limited to a mere eight carries and 42 pass attempts through the final two regular season games. Shanahan used RG3 properly in a restricted role and the first quarter of Sunday's Wild Card matchup had the feeling of a route.

And then it was all downhill thereafter. In an article by ESPN.com's Dan Graziano:

"Very tough decision, and you've got to go with your gut," Shanahan said. "I'm not saying my gut is always right. I'll probably second-guess myself."

I give Shanahan credit for admitting that he may have made the wrong decision; I just believe it's clear that he did. In hindsight, for sure, and from the consequence-free comfort of the press box while it was ongoing. But the fact that it was hard for Shanahan to see the right decision does not excuse him from failing to make it. He gets paid $7 million a year to make the biggest decisions for the Redskins, and he whiffed on this one. 

In addition to the officials, a coach must also be wary of his players and go with the best judgment. Factor in the NFL emphasizing player safety and was RG3 put at risk when heading back out on the field?

Most definitely.

Everyone watching this game could easily see that he wasn't 100 percent. At the very least, Shanahan should have put Kirk Cousins under center to start the second half. Let RG3 move around some on the sidelines and go from there.

We've all seen the dependability Cousins brings to Washington, plus the Redskins still led 14-13 at the break and entering the final quarter. Include Morris on the ground and possessing the lead, the situation could not have been better to switch gears to Cousins.

Nevertheless, the game played out and Washington gave up 24 unanswered points and didn't reach the end zone after the first 15 minutes. From an all-encompassed perspective, the player and coach must be held accountable for equal responsibility.


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