A second ugly loss on Sunday may bring some changes to the Washington Redskins, but the starting quarterback will not be one of them.
One day after NBC football analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison questioned Griffin’s effectiveness early this season and advocated Washington turning to second-string quarterback Kirk Cousins if the team loses another game, Shanahan backed his starter.
“No, we’ve got a lot of confidence in Robert,” Shanahan said. “As I mentioned, any time you start out a little bit slow and you’re down as many points as we’ve been down, we get to a two-minute attack a little bit earlier than we’d like to, you probably put people in the toughest situation you can.”
Griffin’s numbers are respectable with 56-of-89 completions for 649 yards and five touchdowns, but in both games the Redskins have fallen behind by huge margins in losses to Green Bay and Philadelphia. He has appeared tentative at times and has not yet been a threat running the ball.
“They have actually changed the offense, not doing what they did last year,” Dungy said during a segment on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. “If I were Mike Shanahan sitting there at 0-2, I would go into (owner) Daniel Snyder right now and say, ‘Our quarterback is not healthy. In the long run, we may be better off going with (backup QB) Kirk Cousins.’”
But at his Monday afternoon press conference, Shanahan again disputed the idea that Griffin isn’t 100 percent and said he wouldn’t play the quarterback at all if he thought that was the case.
“I had [a knee] injury similar to that, and it takes two years,” Harrison said. “Everyone is looking at (Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson) and the success he had coming back from that ACL (injury), but RG3 is a different player right now. He’s not playing with that same confidence, and it seems like being a pocket passer’s not working. They need that read-option.”
Other analysts have taken a more nuanced approach. Former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski sees a player working his way back from injury amidst enormous expectations. Griffin hasn’t played well through the first two weeks, but Jaworski doesn’t think those struggles will last. The question is where will the Redskins be when he finally rounds into form?
“You’re not going to bench RG3. Let me make that crystal clear,” Jaworski said on the network on Monday morning. “He’s not sharp right now. And I’ve suffered through two lower leg injuries and I understand personally how hard it is to come back from those injuries. It takes time. It takes a lot of work. And it takes live game conditions before you get comfortable. Now, hey, I’m nitpicking on [Griffin’s] mechanics right now. But he’s got to stay on the field. He will stay on the field. He will work his way through this and we will see the RG3 that we saw a year ago. He is the guy.”