Last week, Robert Griffin III threw an incompletion late in the third quarter. This week, Mike Shanahan has decided to rest Griffin for the remainder of the season, sacrificing three games of NFL experience for a developing quarterback to ensure his health for the offseason.
There is no winning in this situation for the Redskins.
First off, there's the nonsense of ensuring Griffin is healthy for the offseason. All indications point to Shanahan not coaching for Washington next season, so what would the coach be building to the future for?
To further question this point, Shanahan is trading valuable game experience for practice and preseason experience. And this would be the perfect time to try new wrinkles of a passing offense with Griffin.
Kyle Shanahan doesn't seem to agree with his father in benching Griffin, saying that the QB needs the reps, according to this tweet from Jeff Darlington of NFL.com:
Kyle Shanahan on decision to shelve RG3: "I made it clear I was disappointed. It'd be good for Robert to get the reps. That’s my opinion."— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 12, 2013
Those reps would come against the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Those teams represent the No. 20, 32 and 15 passing defenses in terms of yards per game and the defenses ranked No. 26, 26 and 31 in sacks, respectively.
What more could you ask for if you wanted to end the season on a high note?
Instead, Kirk Cousins gets the start and the practice reps for the next three weeks.
Griffin is the unquestionable starter, according to a tweet from JP Finlay of CSN Washington:
"It's ridiculous to look at this as a quarterback competition" Kyle Shanahan on RG3 vs Cousins #RedskinsTalk— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayCSN) December 12, 2013
But just putting him in this position has to be a negative for the second-year player, who has Heisman and NFL Rookie of the Year awards. It's tough to see how Griffin can turn the next three weeks into a positive for his development.
And the Redskins don't stand to gain much from benching Griffin. It certainly isn't a move for draft position, as the Redskins don't even have a first-round pick. Why not?
They traded it to the St. Louis Rams to move up in the 2012 draft and select Griffin.
As CSN Washington points out, the best scenario is for Cousins to increase his trade value:
The ceiling on his trade value can't be much more than a second-round pick. And that's if he plays well. Keep in mind that Alex Smith fetched a second-round pick and a conditional pick this offseason. And when the Falcons dealt Matt Schaub to the Texans, they swapped first-round picks and received two second-round picks.
And Cousins might be worth that regardless of playing these last three games. Is that increase really worth the turmoil?
The last facet is the integrity of the game. NFL Hall of Famer John Madden gave his view on the integrity bit to John Breech of CBSSports.com:
We have an integrity piece here too. You can say well they're 3-10, they're out of it, so now they can do these things. No you can't. This is still regular-season football...You still owe it to the people that are playing, that are still in the playoff picture. And when you can affect that and you don't affect it with an all-out performance, then I think that affects the integrity of the game...If you're in the regular season, there's only one way to play, and that's to play your best people to win the game, every regular season game.
No matter how it's sliced, it's tough to see how sitting Griffin can pay off. Sure, he'll be healthy in the offseason. He'll get a training camp and four preseason games, but he probably won't play the equivalent of three full games.
The Redskins are sacrificing three full games of regular-season experience for this.
Three full games against poor pass defenses would be perfect to try new passing strategies, different schemes and different wrinkles and to develop a few positives for the offseason.
Instead, Washington has opted for a media circus, defeated locker room, lack of integrity and a coach, owner and QB controversy that make it near impossible to see Shanahan returning for Griffin's healthy offseason.
And what coach would want to step into this?
That seems like a lot of headache to possibly get a second-round pick out of Cousins.