Just what does throwing for 3,200 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions, rushing for over 800 yards with seven touchdowns and winning the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year award get Robert Griffin III this offseason?
Controversy, headlines and debate.
That's because of the way his season ended and what's been the topic of discussion at every press conference or interview from Griffin, or Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, since the season ended.
By now we all know what happened, but Mike Freeman of CBS Sports put it nicely back in January.
Due to one of the worst coaching decisions in recent NFL postseason history, Shanahan—in a horribly stupid, terribly dumb piece of coaching malpractice—left a helpless Griffin in the game. He didn't stand a chance.
Obviously this is just one side of the argument, because there's responsibility on the part of Griffin for staying out on the field as well. But coaches coach, players play and things happen. Rather than jump back into an exhaustively long-drawn-out discussion again, let's talk about Griffin's upcoming preparation and season.
A couple of months ago, Griffin's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, had this to say about Griffin's recovery after surgery, as reported by USA Today.
"He wants his recovery to be fairly private, but I can tell you he's way ahead of schedule. His recovery has been unbelievable so far."
"RGIII is one those superhumans. First patient I ever had like that was Bo Jackson. And recently I, of course, had Adrian Peterson, who is also superhuman. They have an unbelievable ability to recover, whereas a normal human being may not be able to recover."
Griffin is reportedly going to 'without a doubt' be ready when the Washington Redskins start training camp on July 25th.
That leads us to the next discussion. How much playing time should Griffin get during preseason games?
If he's fully healthy and able to participate in training camp without any setbacks, there's no reason Griffin should be held out of any preseason games any more than any other starting quarterback. NFL starters aren't playing a ton in preseason games anyway, but Griffin needs reps with the first-team offense at game speed.
We're talking about a second-year player, and while he's coming off a major injury, he needs to trust that knee in game situations, and that only comes from being out on the field.
In baseball, you've got minor league teams that allow injured players to get playing time when they're rehabbing an injury. That's not an option in football. Practice can only give you so much, and you can't say the defensive players for the Redskins wouldn't be taking it easy on Griffin during practice.
Overcoming knee injuries is as much about the mental aspect of trusting that knee as it is the physical strength and support in the knee itself. The best way to fully trust that knee and what you're capable of in game situations is to put your body in that position in game situations. Take a few hits, and hop right back up (and listen to the exhales of thousands of Redskins fans).
Should Robert Griffin III get similar playing time in the preseason as other NFL starting quarterbacks?
Obviously, playing time during the preseason would expose Griffin to a possible injury. But not playing Griffin much could mean a rusty start to the season for the Redskins if he's not up to the same speed as his teammates. With the 16-game schedule and the Redskins hoping for another playoff appearance, they can't afford to drop games early in the season at the expense of not exposing Griffin during the preseason.
This whole debate will carry on through the preseason and even into the start of the season. However the Redskins decide to proceed with Griffin and the preseason playing-time situation, if it leads to a healthy Griffin and wins for the Redskins, it was the right decision; if it doesn't, it was the wrong decision. That's regardless of how you feel right now about what's right or wrong.
And that will fall right on Shanahan as well, whether it's fair or not.