- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 12, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Robert Griffin III finally takes the field for the Washington Redskins following an offseason of drama and questions, and after the opening game loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, one key question remains unanswered — who’s in charge?

It’s a question that won’t be answered until Redskins owner Daniel Snyder signs Mike Shanahan to a contract extension — sending a message to all, particular Team RG3, that the coach isn’t going anywhere, and it is he, not Team RG3, that will call the shots on the football field.

The offense we saw at FedEx Field Monday night looked more like the Dr. James Andrews offense than the one Shanahan ran last year. You can make the case that they shelved the read option, for the most part, to be cautious, since it was Griffin’s first game since his reconstructive knee surgery eight months to the day.

But you can’t form that opinion in a vacuum. You can’t look at what happened Monday night without thinking of the “concerns” that floated around when Andrews did his final exam to clear Griffin to play, and that those concerns were with the way the Redskins planned on using Griffin going forward on the field.

You can’t look at what happened Monday night and not be thinking of what Griffin’s father kept hammering on in the offseason, declaring in GQ that, “You tell a kid that you want him to be there for 14 years, guess what? Historical data will tell you that the more he runs, the more subject he is to career injury. You name one quarterback out there that would rather run the football than throw the football and I’ll show you a loser.”

You can’t look at what happened Monday night — the James Andrews offense — and not be thinking of all the drama that followed Griffin’s knee injury in the Seattle playoff game last January, when by the time he went down he was a one-legged helpless target, and, in an offseason text to his BFF, ESPN’s Trey Wingo, declared, “I know where my responsibility is within the dilemma that led me to having surgery to repair my knee and all parties involved know their responsibility as well.”

You can’t look at what happened Monday night and not think about Griffin’s statements at the opening of training camp, when he declared, “I think we’re on the same page right now. You know we all make mistakes.”

That page came up again before the season began, when reportedly, the “concerns” were discussed in a conference call with Griffin, general manager Bruce Allen and team athletic trainer Larry Hess. Shanahan told reporters the purpose of the call was “making sure we’re all on the same page.”

What page is that — Mike Shanahan’s page or Team RG3’s page?

There is so much smoke surrounding the Shanahan-RG3 relationship that I’m surprised the sprinkler systems don’t go off daily at Redskins Park. And here’s the fire — the reason that Shanahan, in the fourth year of his five-year contract — needs an extension now: the presence of owner Daniel Snyder.

Snyder has finally restored credibility to the franchise and got them on the right path by putting it in the hands of Shanahan, the two-time Super Bowl winning coach, and Allen, who, when he first got to Washington, built a wall between the owner and the players that didn’t exist before when Clinton Portis was best buds with Snyder.

But that wall has come tumbling down with the presence of Griffin, who has been seen and reported out with the owner at various functions throughout the offseason. It may be innocent, a personal relationship that won’t affect football. But, given the track record of this organization, that would be a rose-colored-glasses view of the end game of the relationship between Griffin and the owner.

What could that end game be? Having to make a choice between the coach and the quarterback.

What could that end game be? Putting a call into Waco, Texas, and leaving a message for Art Briles.

Snyder could blow all the smoke away by giving Shanahan a contract extension now to let all parties involved — as Griffin likes to say — who is in charge.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com

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