Any good chef will tell you that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, but the broken eggs missed the skillet entirely on Sunday evening, and they are now covering the face of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan.
Simply put, Robert Griffin III should not have been starting the Wildcard Round matchup against the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Moments after Griffin was able to lead the Redskins to two highly-improbable first quarter touchdown drives while limping noticeably, it was clear he was not in shape to last a full 60 minutes. At the following commercial break, Shanahan was gifted with a brief period of time in which he could have preserved the health of the franchise while replacing him with an able-bodied individual far more capable of finishing out the deal on this particular evening.
Instead, Shanahan opted to stay with Griffin until the clock read triple zeroes or an injury knocked the rookie quarterback out of the game, and the latter happened in the fourth quarter, essentially suffocating the chances of a Washington team that had a stranglehold on the Seahawks a mere 10 minutes into the ballgame.
It was crystal clear throughout the first half that Griffin was operating on a very abnormal right knee that slowed his foot speed to a pace Tom Brady could best while eliminating his ability to plant his stationary foot on throws. His ability to somehow lead the Redskins on two scoring drives – both of which were capped off by touchdown passes – is an incredible testament to his physical endurance and competitive nature, two elements that ended up working against him thanks to Shanahan’s 1950s approach.
Griffin’s right knee problems obviously worsened during the halftime break on a cold evening along the eastern seaboard, and he was essentially useless in the second half. Inexplicably, a quarterback sweep to the left was called early in the fourth quarter, and although the play was blocked excellently and he had a lot of space, Griffin was only able to heavily limp forward for an eight yard gain before surrendering himself out of bounds while appearing much like someone shot in the knee instinctively seeking the nearest shelter.
In a sense, it was a criminal act for a head coach to leave a quarterback who would never take himself out of a ballgame in such an important one when he was so severely affected by an injury. This is not the protocol for a successful career or a successful franchise.
The bottom line here is that Shanahan was willing to ignore the damage that Griffin’s knee was sure to take in the name of a victory. If Griffin was rendered unable to play next week in Atlanta, the endeavor would have essentially been pointless, so the approach is questionable at best. Given the fact that the Skins lost the game and Shanahan’s personal decisions led to Griffin shredding his knee more severely, the entire affair borders on a fire-able offense. Furthermore, a side-scandal involving Shanhan’s glaring inconsistencies with the accounts of the team doctor in regards to Griffin being cleared to return to the game after an injury in early December could easily turn into a much bigger mess in D.C.