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Mike Shanahan Says Robert Griffin III, Dan Snyder Changed Redskins Offense

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2016

Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan talks with quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) before the start of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the Washington Redskins Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Associated Press

Robert Griffin III and Washington owner Dan Snyder tried to change the team's offense and eliminate several plays from the playbook in order to mold Griffin into a pocket passer in February 2013, according to a report from Jason Reid of The Undefeated.

In the meeting, Griffin reportedly wrote four things on a blackboard:

  1. Change things.
  2. Change our protections.
  3. Unacceptable.
  4. Bottom Line.

He then reportedly asked to speak uninterrupted and described a series of changes he wanted to see in the offense, including a new protection scheme and the removal of 19 specific plays—namely several quarterback running plays—all in an effort to facilitate his transition to a pocket passer.

Former Washington head coach Mike Shanahan recalled the meeting, per Reid:

When Robert is standing there going through all of that, I know it’s coming from Dan. When Robert talked about ‘unacceptable,’ that was a word Dan used all the time. He was using phrases Dan used all the time. There’s only one way a guy who’s going into his second year would do something like this: If he sat down with the owner and the owner believed that this is the way he should be used.

He had to have the full support of the owner and, in my opinion, the general manager to even have a conversation like that. He just had the best year for a rookie QB in the history of the game. You got selected to the Pro Bowl. We went to the playoffs. We tried to get him to slide. We tried to get him to throw the ball away. If he had told me he was hurt, I would have taken him out of the [playoff] game. To hear him … it was really incredible.

According to Reid's report, the Shanahans (Kyle was offensive coordinator) "had planned to increase the number of dropback plays in the offense as Griffin developed," but they didn't feel as though he could succeed at that point in his career playing the style he was demanding to play.

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Griffin responded to the report later on Wednesday, per Marc Sessler of NFL.com: 

Man, I'm so far, so far removed from Washington now and focused on this opportunity here in Cleveland that I don't even worry about those things anymore. You know, I can only focus on what I can control and that's here in Cleveland, being with the Dawg Pound, being with my teammates every single day. So, I just focus on those things and I didn't even see that story.

It's hardly surprising that Griffin and Snyder would want to make adjustments, of course.

The quarterback suffered knee injuries late in his rookie season and then famously in the playoffs, which was a major concern after he had reconstructive surgery on his knee at Baylor. Mike Shanahan's decision to put Griffin back in the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks despite Griffin being hobbled was widely criticized at the time and opened the door for Griffin to make demands in that fateful meeting.

But Griffin's style of play was also a factor in that regard, as he rarely slid to avoid contact and hesitated to throw the ball away in the face of pressure.

There was likely a middle ground for the two sides, though they never found it. After all, Griffin had just completed a historically excellent rookie season, throwing for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions while rushing 120 times for 815 yards and another seven touchdowns in 15 games. 

But after that meeting, battle lines seemingly were drawn.

“I said to Dan, 'Do you realize what you’re doing to this kid?'" Mike Shanahan told Reid.

Instead of finding that middle ground, Mike was fired in December 2013 and remains out of the NFL, while Griffin struggled over the next two seasons and was ultimately demoted to being Kirk Cousins' backup before signing with the Cleveland Browns this offseason.

Now, Griffin will look to prove he can resuscitate his career and his image in Cleveland while also hoping to show he can become a pocket passer. For Griffin to succeed, he'll need to have a much stronger relationship with head coach Hue Jackson than he ever had with the Shanahans in Washington, D.C.

You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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