In between, 2012's second overall pick has engaged in a not-so-subtle power struggle with head coach Mike Shanahan. He has also produced a series of dismal performances on the field that almost justify Shanahan's recent decision to sit him in favor of Kirk Cousins.
The timeline of Griffin's fall from Offensive Rookie of the Year to benchwarmer began on an early January night.
Griffin has not been the same since his knee gave way against the Seahawks.
It was in the fourth quarter of their NFC Wild Card loss to the Seattle Seahawks that the roots of Griffin and the Redskins' disappointing 2013 season were sown.
When Griffin began clawing at the FedEx Field turf to recover a botched snap, his knee buckled and turned where it shouldn't. That was the end of the game for Griffin and the end of a spectacular season for Washington.
On January 7, just one day after the nightmare against the Seahawks, The Washington Post's Mark Maske and Mike Jones confirmed the worst fears of Redskins fans:
The MRI exam of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III’s right knee shows that Griffin has suffered possible partial tears of his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, according to several people with knowledge of the test results.
It was not immediately clear whether surgery would be required or how long Griffin would be sidelined if the partial ligament tears are determined to be fresh injuries. Griffin suffered a torn ACL in the same knee in 2009 while he was in college at Baylor, and has been playing in recent weeks with a mild sprain of the LCL.
With the face of the franchise laid low by such a serious injury, it didn't take long for recriminations to begin. At first they centered on why Griffin, who had pulled up lame earlier on against Seattle, had been allowed to carry on.
Many felt Griffin should have been withdrawn earlier against the Seahawks.
People wanted answers as soon as Griffin was assisted to the sideline. Why was he still out there when he had entered the game hurt and appeared to suffer an early injury?
You respect authority and I respect Coach Shanahan, Griffin said. But at the same time, you have to step up and be a man sometimes. There was no way I was coming out of that game.
Shanahan said he would “probably second-guess myself” for not removing Griffin sooner. But he also said: I promise you, if we thought it had something to do with Robert’s career and his injury and he shouldn’t be in there, we would have took him out.
According to Shanahan, Griffin told him during the game that he was hurting but not injured and he therefore deserved a chance to keep playing.
That was enough for me. I thought he did enough for us this year to have that opportunity to stay in the football game.
This examination of the blame game stretched further and further as Griffin prepared for major surgery. It soon put decisions made in Week 14 of the 2012 season under the spotlight.
Dr. James Andrews helped draw the battle lines between Griffin and Shanahan.
If there was a point when the battle lines between Griffin and his head coach were firmly drawn it came when Dr. James Andrews first tried to explain his role in managing Griffin's health.
Andrews was already in the spotlight after treating Griffin after the quarterback had sprained his knee against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14.
That was enough to keep Griffin on the shelf in Week 15, but he was soon back for the season's final two games. The fact he hobbled through both weeks only served as another indictment of the decision to let Griffin play against Seattle.
Shanahan said he let Griffin return with the blessing of James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon, who was on the sideline.
Andrews, however, told USA TODAY Sports on Saturday that he never cleared Griffin to go back into the game, because he never even examined him.
(Griffin) didn't even let us look at him. He came off the field, walked through the sidelines, circled back through the players and took off back to the field. It wasn't our opinion.
Those comments made Shanahan culpable for Griffin's injury, an idea the coach quickly refuted:
Yet when asked by news reporters, Shanahan described a conversation with Andrews this way:
He's on the sidelines with Dr. Andrews. He had a chance to look at him and he said he could go back in, Shanahan said Dec. 10. (I said) 'Hey, Dr. Andrews, can Robert go back in?'
Yeah, he can go back in.
Robert, go back in.
That was it.
A seemingly obvious contradiction, right? Wrong. Andrews put the farce surrounding Griffin into overdrive when he backtracked from these comments and suggested he was in lock-step with Shanahan, via The Post's Mike Jones:
Coach Shanahan didn’t lie about it, and I didn’t lie. I didn’t get to examine [Griffin’s knee] because he came out for one play, didn’t let us look at him and on the next play, he ran through all the players and back out onto the field. Coach Shanahan looks at me like, ‘Is he OK?’ and I give him the ‘Hi’ sign as in, ‘He’s running around, so I guess he’s OK.’ But I didn’t get to check him out until after the game. It was just a communication problem. Heat of battle. I didn’t get to tell him I didn’t get to examine the knee. Mike Shanahan would never have put him out there at risk just to win a game.
Things were already this complicated, and Griffin hadn't even undergone surgery yet.
Griffin's surgery was a success, but his problems would continue.
Some good news finally emerged from this sorry saga on January 9, 2013. That's when Andrews announced, via Brian Tinsman of Redskins.com, that Griffin's knee surgery had been a success:
Robert Griffin III had successful knee surgery early this morning. He had a direct repair of his LCL and a re-do of his previous ACL reconstruction. We expect a full recovery and it is everybody's hope and belief that due to Robert's high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season.
The focus now shifted to exactly when Griffin would see the field again. The circus was soon back in full swing.
It didn't take Griffin long to push for a quick return to the field.
After a relatively quiet February, when the Super Bowl thankfully made the NFL world briefly forget about the drama in D.C., things began again in earnest.
On March 12, Griffin made it clear for the first time that he expected to be back in action quickly. He left no doubt that just over two months removed from major surgery, he was "ready to play," according to ESPN.com, citing the Associated Press.
It was at this point that the whispers of a rift forming between Griffin and Shanahan became a full-throated shout.
Mike Shanahan played the spoiler during Griffin's recovery.
While Griffin was optimistic about his recovery and chances of a quick return, Shanahan always seemed to add a note of caution. His comments, via USA Today's Jim Corbett, on March 20 hinted he wasn't going to let Griffin back as soon as the player anticipated:
It's part of the evaluation of people: When people say they're ready to go and maybe they're not, do you keep that in the back of your head? Sure.
I just don't want him to go too quick, Shanahan said.
I'm hoping he'll be ready to go. We'll find out in July. For me to tell you anything at this time is kind of ludicrous.
I'm going to let the doctors tell me when the knee is ready to go. ... Everybody will see when he's ready to go full speed.
Shanahan's subtle plea for prudence was also a way of drawing a clear line between what the player said about his recovery and how the coach would make the final decision.
This line would become pronounced and divide both men as the offseason progressed.
By the end of March, Griffin was explicit that all was not well between him and his coaches.
With the standoff between Shanahan and Griffin over managing the player's recovery now more than simmering, the quarterback brought it to a boil with a single text message.
On March 26, Trey Wingo of ESPN published this text from Griffin, containing a telling phrase or two:
My knee is getting better every day. The doctors say I'm ahead of schedule. My goal is to return healthy in week one but if I'm not ready then i will wait until i am, however long that is. My first NFL season and my injury that ended it showed me a lot about the league, my team and myself. i know where my responsibility is within the dilemma that led to me having surgery to repair my knee and all parties involved know their responsibilities as well.
This was the first time someone within the team had explicitly raised the issue of blame for the way Griffin's initial injuries were handled.
It may not have been a direct hit on Shanahan, but Griffin's message was indeed a shot across the bow. It made it crystal clear that the player was not entirely happy with life in Washington.
By August, Griffin and Shanahan were far from bosom buddies.
To Redskins fans August 2013 became the month of "Operation Patience." That was the infamous moniker given to Shanahan's decision to hold Griffin out of all preseason action.
As CSN Washington's JP Finlay noted, Griffin initially grinned and consented to the plan:
After a dizzying week of chatter surrounding Robert Griffin III's surgically repaired knee, the young quarterback made it clear he plans to remain patient in his rehab. In fact, he showed his emotions on his shirt.
Coming out to pregame warm-ups prior to the Redskins Monday night tilt against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Griffin wore an "Operation Patience" t-shirt. Operation Patience is the term RG3 coined to temper his emotions and expectations as he works his way back from reconstructive knee surgery in January.
But what was more interesting was Finlay's observation about the men surrounding Griffin during the early days of the so-called "operation:"
Griffin's t-shirt was not the only news that emerged from pregame warm-ups.
The man who performed RG3's knee surgery, and made plenty of headlines since, Dr. James Andrews appeared on the field talking with Skins general manager Bruce Allen. Andrews later spoke with RG3 and the two walked off the field towards the locker room together.
The absence of Shanahan's name here was telling. Griffin was being surrounded by decision-makers who were not his head coach, only endorsing the notion of a genuine power struggle between the two.
Griffin was back for Week 1.
After months of too many press conferences and enough back and forth to sprain the neck of a tennis umpire, Griffin declared he would start the season opener.
On August 29, Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith reported Griffin had been given the medical clearance. For real this time:
It’s official, straight from the source: Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III has been cleared to play after spending the offseason rehabilitating a surgically repaired knee.
Griffin wrote on Twitter on Thursday night that “Operation Patience,” the name he gave the process of his recovery, is over. Dr. James Andrews, the doctor who performed the surgery on Griffin’s torn ACL, met with Griffin today and gave him the go-ahead to play in the Monday night opener against the Eagles.
But with everything seemingly finally set, there was still time for one last moment of controversy.
Mike Shanahan was again unclear about Griffin.
Just one day after Griffin announced he had been cleared, Shanahan tried to slam the breaks on for the last time. According to The Post's Mike Jones, Shanahan referenced concerns held by Dr. Andrews:
There’s a couple concerns that [Andrews] has. I’ll talk to Robert over the weekend and let you guys know on Monday. Asked what the concerns centered around, Shanahan only repeated that he would talk to Griffin over the weekend, and then would discuss the matter further on Monday.
Not for the first time, Shanahan appeared at odds with the doctor caring for his star player, when Andrews later denied these "concerns:"
But Andrews denied all of those claims, saying via text message Friday afternoon, “None of it is true. No concerns.”
Andrews in late July recommended the Redskins clear Griffin to begin practicing at the start of training camp. But Shanahan elected to wait another four days to make a decision, and then opted to clear the second-year pro after putting him through a workout of his own.
That last quote from Jones is a revealing one. It shows what was the heart of this sorry saga all along: Namely, trust, or the distinct lack of it.
Shanahan didn't completely trust those around him to accurately gauge Griffin's recovery and readiness. Meanwhile, the player seemed only too willing to believe anybody but Shanahan.
Too many hits took their toll on Griffin in Week 8.
Griffin's return from surgery has not gone well. Diminished mobility and a lack of refinement as a pocket passer have left him exposed to numerous hits.
The heavy beating took its toll against the Denver Broncos in Week 8. Griffin was pulled from the game after a hit by behemoth Terrance Knighton left him needing a scan on his left knee.
Griffin was eventually deemed OK but was unnerved by the incident, according to USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones. In truth, the hits Griffin has taken have only been part of the problem.
Suspect throwing mechanics and a struggle to progress through multiple reads have destroyed Griffin's accuracy and efficiency. The nadir came in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Griffin completed under half of his passes and threw a critical late interception.
In the aftermath, he appeared to criticise both the play-calling and his teammates, via The Post's Sally Jenkins. One week later, Griffin turned in a career-worst performance against the San Francisco 49ers.
He threw for only 118 yards at a measly 4.5 yards per completion. Griffin's epic struggles in his second year have led many within the game to question his place on the field.
49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks was clear in his assessment of Griffin this season.
More than one player has questioned why Griffin has been allowed to play this season when he is obviously not at his best physically.
One of those players was 49ers rush linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who sacked Griffin twice in Week 12. He told CSN Washington's JP Finlay that Griffin should be sitting out rather than trying to play at less than 100 percent:
He's obviously a man and he makes his own decisions, but I personally don’t feel he should be playing right now.
I don’t think he should be playing, he said again. You can see it. Everybody can see it, everybody can see it.
He’s a man, he has the heart of a warrior and is going to go out there and play regardless of the circumstance, Brooks said of RG3. Everybody can see it. Everybody can see it. He shouldn’t be playing.
Brooks' comments were followed by similar views expressed by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Chris Canty.
Griffin will sit down while Kirk Cousins starts.
On Wednesday, Shanahan finally pulled the plug on Griffin's horrific second season. He made the decision to sit him down and start Kirk Cousins, according to The Washington Times.
This has only added to the labyrinth of drama and speculation surrounding Washington's NFL franchise. Shanahan maintains he has the backing of owner Dan Snyder, who is reportedly too close to the player for Shanahan's liking.
As for Griffin, he is said to be "very angry" about the decision, according to reports from NFL.com insiders Ian Rapoport and Michael Silver.
He might well feel aggrieved, but sitting down now could be the best thing for a player who has endured a spectacular fall from grace and some much-needed humbling in 2013.