SBM Sports: Of Course Mike Shanahan Decided to Play Robert Griffin III!

mike shanahan robert griffin

The Robert Griffin III Experience ended last Sunday in the NFC Wild Card round against the Seattle Seahawks. By the end of the game, the Twitterverse had moved beyond analyzing the play on the field. Instead, Mike Shanahan, the Redskins Head Coach, and his decision to play Griffin despite the lingering effects of his gruesome knee sprain was called into question.

To be fair, Griffin did not look like himself for much of the evening. He wore a bulky knee brace and limped badly all over the field (especially visible on a scramble in the second half), which affected his mobility, mechanics, and diminished his trademark accuracy.

None of this mattered at first. The Redskins controlled the game on their first two possessions and took a 14-0 lead. Griffin certainly wasn’t himself, but he looked like he would will his team to victory.

robert-griffin-iii-knee-injury-1Everything changed on a non-contact injury in the Red Zone. Griffin scrambled right and hit the ground as he threw across his body. The camera panned to catch the incomplete pass, then quickly back to Griffin who was slow to get back to his feet. I expected to see a cheap late hit on the quarterback on the replay. Instead, a clumsy-looking Griffin took a misstep and crumpled to the ground on his own.

Uh oh.

This is when the Twitter analysts became vocal. Why was Griffin in the game? Doesn’t Shanahan see his star struggling? Was he lying when he said Griffin was originally cleared to play? The Redskins struggled to do anything on offense (zero points the rest of the game, hardly threatening Seattle) and Griffin eventually had to leave the game after another awkward non-contact injury. These questions (and critics) only grew louder.

I call BS.

Where was the hate in the regular season?

None of these critics said anything when Griffin – clearly not 100% healthy – led the Redskins to the playoffs in Weeks 16 and 17. In his first game back from injury, a win against the Eagles, Griffin ran for only four yards. Four! He answered questions after that game about how the injury (and that same knee brace) restricted his motion, forcing him to adjust. While Griffin looked better in Week 17, the Redskins relied on fellow rookie Alfred Morris (and his three touchdowns) and Tony Romo’s love affair with turnovers (three interceptions) to clinch their spot in the playoffs.

Griffin was a hero after these games – not a hobbled player who should have been benched. You can’t have it both ways. A player is either healthy enough to play or he isn’t. Two weeks of games tell us that Griffin was healthy enough and should have been out there leading his team in the playoffs.

Lots of stars play hurt. We love that stuff.

Once Griffin led the Redskins to the playoffs, you’d have to be crazy to think he wouldn’t be out there trying to win the most important game of his young career. Doing so with an injury doesn’t change things.

Apparently the difference between courage and stubbornness comes down to which side comes out ahead. Shanahan will go down as a villain, karolyi_strugGriffin a martyr. If the Redskins had won, each would be praised for their resolve amidst adversity. The outcome should not dictate how we feel about the decision.

Many sports fans remember Kirk Gibson, Willis Reed, Kerri Strug, and Ronnie Lott more for overcoming a specific injury than the success they enjoyed throughout the rest of their careers. How many games has Kobe Bryant played with an injury that would have kept a regular person out of their desk job for weeks? Each of these athletes was courageous before fighting through injury. That’s part of what made them great. Ignoring this and criticizing them for playing is shortsighted.

Ultimately, the Redskins lost and will watch the rest of the playoffs with us from the couch.  I hate to see this avalanche of second-guessing because it’s a symptom of hypocritical and lazy analysis. This is the narrative Disney movies have relied on for years. We love our battle-weary sports heroes giving everything for the good of the team. Sometimes they lose.

That doesn’t mean they deserve our criticism.

How did you feel watching the game, SBM Sports Fans? Should Griffin have been playing? Would you have pulled him from the game at some point? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Larry

    I couldn't agree more with this whole post! These are basically my sentiments exactly.

    "How many games has Kobe Bryant played with an injury that would have kept a regular person out of their desk job for weeks?"

    I'm convinced, Joe…you're an undercover Laker fan, man…come out the closet already, it's cool. We're crappy this year so far so it won't be like you're hopping on the bandwagon, lol.

    • Joe Sargent

      Sorry for the late response. YOU’RE A FOOL! Lol. I respect the hell outta Kobe…and my team sucks. I can see how that would look like fandom.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan.

    I wanted to see him pull it out like The Amazing Spiderman at the end. Like you said its the narrative we love, Jordan flu game, Schillings bloody sock. I think it's silly to talk about whether he was cleared because he played 2 full games, also its the damn playoffs, this isnt the eagles who had nothing to gain, the skins were 3 games away from the superbowl, you never know how long until get that shot again (hi Raiders)

  • Bree

    I didn't watch the game, but I work with lots of Skins fans, (go figure). lol
    They were all upset that Shanahan played RGIII hurt. They felt he should have played RGIII less
    and played Cousins instead, who they feel was good enough to win the game against the Seahawks
    without RGIII. idk.

  • http://twitter.com/inomallday Shamira

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8820196/bill-… <–sums up my feelings.

    I really dont think its as hypocritical as youre framing it to be. Of course RG3 was gonna want to start the game. Nobody's disputing that they shouldnt have had him try to start (at least nobody sensible is). But the crucial difference is, after he took that hit in the 1st quarter (or was it the 2nd?) – he was not the same anymore. Weeks 16 and 17 he had limited running ability but a high completion rating. In this case, he wasnt completing his passes anymore after the early hit.

    We respect those epic "illness games" because they pulled out great performances despite the injuries. At a certain point, it was evident that it wasnt going to be a similar situation, and Shanahan kept him in there saying "RG3 said he could do it" as if thats a real medical opinion.

    AND he has a more than competent backup waiting in the wings. Cousins got drafted in the third round, in the three games he's played, I believe he's had a touchdown pass in each. We even had a fake QB1 dispute! Why'd Shanahan get him if he didn't believe he could come through in the clutch?

    All I'm saying is, they put his long-term career at risk for the misguided sake of trying to win the game, even though it could be argued that at a certain point, Cousins was the better option. RG3's will to be in the game isn't the discussion here. No QB save for Jay Cutler would willingly say "take me out, I can't do it." To me the win/loss wasnt a factor here. (Especially since I'm a Giants fan – what desire do I have to see the redskins prosper? Lol)

    He's seriously lucky that the early indications are that its just a tear. *shrugs*

    • Larry

      "Weeks 16 and 17 he had limited running ability but a high completion rating."

      *Looks at week 17, 9-18 100 yard performance against Cowboys* 50% is high in this NFL? When did the Tebow metric apply to all QBs outside of him?? lmaoooo. Not that it matters, but he had a higher rating, completion percentage and number of completions and touchdown passes against the Seahawks then the Cowboys in week 17. BUT….to be fair Alfred Morris was the main one doing the damage there and they had a lead late so RGIII wasn't asked to do much. Obviously a different story when the game is tighter or you're losing in the 4th.

      • Bree

        I like RGIII and hope his career doesn't end too soon while he's so young.
        Right now I'm excited about the Ravens, especially since Ray Lewis is about to retire.
        The Ravens are a pretty good team.

    • Joe Sargent

      To me, starting him and keeping him in the game were very easy decisions for Shanahan (hence the article/title).

      Starting him, duh, you covered that. As far as keeping him in, after that 14-0 start, I knew RG3 would be in until he physically couldn't go anymore. Shanahan's decision went from 'who gives me the best chance to win?' to 'we're only a play away from Griffin bounces back' IMO.

      It's impossible not to play the result, since we now know he hurt himself. I'm just saying you don't know if you have an 'epic' illness game, or what happened Sunday until it's too late. Which is why I knew Shanahan would ride Griffin until the bitter end.

    • Bree

      A lotta Skins fans share your exact sentiments Shamira.

  • Joe Sargent

    bouncing back*

  • sgts

    Ok, hear ya Joe, but have to add how many of those stars who played hurt ended their careers. RG3 will sit out the rest of the playoffs and probably a season or two more. One thing for sure he will not be the same, coach s should have taken him out.