That dream turned into a nightmare when Griffin tore his ACL in the playoffs, and the team still hasn't woken up.
The worst part is, Griffin's knee is the least of their problems at this point.
The Washington front office has devolved into a circus that even the New York Jets would shake their heads at. The head coach appears hell-bent on getting himself fired, and odds are that by season's end Mike Shanahan will get his wish.
This is going to be an absolutely critical offseason for the Redskins, as not only are they in danger of squandering every last drop of positive momentum they established in 2012...
They're also in danger of torpedoing the career of their star quarterback.
The latest chapter in the soap opera that is the Washington Redskins occurred earlier this week. After benching Griffin late in the team's 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Shanahan indicated he was considering shutting Griffin down for the season.
For his own good, of course:
Mike Shanahan refuses to name Robert Griffin III his starter, citing injury concerns: http://t.co/HMAIwcOMuR— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 10, 2013
There's no denying that Griffin's numbers are way down relative to his rookie season. Blame the fact that Griffin had no offseason to speak of as he worked his knee back into shape. Blame the "sophomore" slump that strikes many second-year players. Blame the Church of Scientology if it floats your boat.
The kicker is, Griffin's subpar performance in 2013 has nothing to do with the reason why Shanahan is considering sitting Griffin down according to Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network:
Shanahan on possibly shelving RG3: "If he did get injured, I’d be very disappointed if he wasn’t there in the offseason.” …This is deep.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 9, 2013
To review: Mike Shanahan wants to bench his starting quarterback because he might get hurt, in the hopes that Griffin will be available for an offseason that's all but certainly going to kick off with Shanahan being fired.
In fact, more than one pundit (like, say, 90 percent of them) believe the point of this whole exercise by Shanahan was to get fired:
TK thinks Mike Shanahan "wants to get fired," and Dan Snyder should tell him: "I'm gonna punish you. I'm gonna MAKE you coach this team."— PTI (@PTI) December 9, 2013
The belief is that Shanahan intended to use Griffin to force team owner Daniel Snyder's hand. It's no secret that Snyder has a man-crush on his young signal-caller.
That relationship so irked Shanahan that Dan Graziano of ESPN recently reported Shanahan was ready to walk away from the team after the 2012 season:
Disillusioned with the way Snyder was running the organization, Shanahan cleaned out his office in advance of last January's wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks and expected to leave the team whenever the season ended, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The source said Shanahan had grown tired of the way Snyder empowered Griffin and openly esteemed him above all other players. Shanahan didn't blame Griffin but did blame Snyder for creating an atmosphere that Shanahan did not believe was conducive to winning. Shanahan privately told people close to him that he felt Snyder's behavior with regard to Griffin was a "complete farce."
Shanahan denied that report, but there's no denying that Shanahan is done in DC after this season.
That brings us to the second issue. Snyder will be searching for a new head coach this offseason, and his record at hiring those kind of sucks.
OK, it really sucks.
|Coach||Years with Team||Record|
Overall Record: 86-119
Since buying the Redskins, Snyder has been all about "big splash" head coaches. That has resulted in the hiring of several retreads (Shanahan, Gibbs, Schottenheimer) and a college coach who bombed spectacularly in the NFL (Spurrier).
The only reason Jim Zorn was hired was that no big names would bite.
Sure enough, it appears Snyder is looking to make headlines again. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Redskins plan to pursue Baylor's Art Briles if/when Shanahan is shown the door.
If there's a real chance at salvaging this mess, it likely lies with Briles. The 58-year-old has enjoyed great success at Baylor in recent years, and he's already shown the ability to put Griffin in a position where the young passer can succeed.
Of course, Briles also has no NFL experience (or experience at any level coaching outside Texas), and according to John McClain of The Houston Chronicle Briles has zero interest in leaving Waco:
I know Art Briles pretty well. He ain't leaving. Never was. Never will.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) December 9, 2013
If Snyder can't get Briles, the smart play would be to look to an up-and-coming assistant like Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
However, the words "smart play" and "Dan Snyder" don't commingle much, and regardless of who the Redskins hire, Griffin will be spending the spring and summer getting to know a new coach and learning a new offense.
That brings us to Griffin, who isn't completely blameless in this drama.
Let's be honest. RG3 just hasn't played well in 2013. His accuracy and decision-making have both regressed significantly from last year. The knee injury plays a part, sure, but it can't be blamed for all of Griffin's struggles.
|Comp. Pct.||P Yds.||TD||INT||Rating||R Yds.||TD||FL|
As the losses have piled up, Griffin has pressed more. As Griffin presses more, mistakes are made and the losses continue piling up. It's a vicious cycle, and if last week's loss to Kansas City was any indication, it's gotten into Griffin's head.
That's why it's critical for Griffin to play out the string. Barring an injury (and benching a healthy player because one might happen is just silly), things aren't going to get any worse than they already are.
Should Robert Griffin play the last three games of the 2013 season?
However, if Griffin and the Redskins can string together a decent game or two, it at least gives them something to point to, a building block of sorts heading into 2014.
Otherwise, it's going to be an offseason of segments on Around the Horn and First Take with titles like "What's wrong with RG3?" and "Did the Rams win the Robert Griffin Trade?"
That's the really scary part. We're nearing a point where that second question is becoming a valid one, especially with the Rams set to get a top-five pick from Washington next year.
John Keim of ESPN reports that Snyder has stated he will not intervene if Shanahan decides to sit Griffin. That's hilariously ironic, given that meddling with the Redskins is certainly something Snyder hasn't had a problem with in the past.
For once he needs to, for the sake of the franchise.
Make it clear to Shanahan that so long as Griffin's healthy he's the starter. If Shanahan doesn't like it, fire him. Snyder's going to anyway, and it's not like overruling Shanahan is somehow going to damage Snyder's reputation with prospective coaches.
You can't sink a boat that's already sitting at the bottom of the ocean.
Thinks aren't all doom and gloom in DC. The Redskins have several young and talented players on offense. The salary cap penalties that have crippled the team in free agency the past two years will be gone in 2014. That should help accelerate fixing their broken defense.
However, just two years into his NFL career, Griffin and the Redskins are at a crossroads.
Get Griffin some positive momentum to close out the year and find the right coach, and a year from now this could all be ancient history.
Let Griffin close his sophomore season as a pawn in a hissyfit between Snyder and Shanahan, and then follow that up by hiring a coach off the scrap heap, and three years from now we may well be reminiscing about RG3's rookie year while wondering how it all went so terribly wrong.
How confident are you, given the present state of the team, that Washington will make the right choice?