With a bad knee injury, poor personal play and having a dismal 3 and 10 record, it’s been a tough season for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. And just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Heisman Trophy winner, head coach Mike Shanahan just benched him for the remainder of the season and will play back-up QB Kirk Cousins instead.
Benching a franchise quarterback to avoid further injury usually wouldn’t be all that strange, but since there’s been rumors of a power struggle between coach Shanahan and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, some believe Shanahan is benching Griffin to assert his power within the organization and to let Snyder know who’s really calling the shots on the field.
Both sports experts and fans alike have accused Snyder of giving Griffin too much say on whether he plays or not, since the two have an incredibly close relationship. But according to Shanahan the only reason he benched Griffin is because he wants him healthy during the off-season, unlike last year.
The controversy started to brew on Dec.11, when a usually reserved Shanahan spoke passionately about why he benched Griffin, and based on the over-explanation he gave, along with the rumors that have been circulating, many are accusing the coach of not being 100% honest. But Shanahan firmly states the only reason Griffin has been placed on third string–behind Cousins and second reserve quarterback Rex Grossman–has everything to do with keeping him healthy and nothing else.
“I’m sure everybody knows by now that coach decided to shut me down for the rest of the season,” explained Griffin in the press conference. “I expressed my desire to play [but] at the end of the day, coach’s decision is what we go with. That’s the way it’s always been. It’s my job to help Kirk win.”
In recent months Griffin has been taking a beating in the press for seeming to shrug off responsibility for the team’s bad record and his poor personal performance, but he seemed to be sincere during the latest press conference when he spoke about supporting Cousins, which many believe is a good change.
Some might say what Griffin is going through is part of the usual growing process that many quarterbacks face, similar to what Carolina Panther’s Cam Newton experienced. Newton also had a tough second year but is now performing pretty well, but for Griffin, his growing process will include completing passes in the pocket instead of relying solely on his running speed. Plus, he’ll have to get better at taking all of the responsibility for a loss and giving the credit to his teammates when the Redskins win, which is really the right thing to do as a quarterback.
But will the battle between Shanahan and Snyder be resolved before next season, or will Shanahan be let go so the team can start fresh? Some believe that Shanahan is benching Griffin in defiance and really wants to get himself fired, but time will tell. It’ll sure be an interesting off-season next year, that’s one thing for sure.