Not even a week after insisting there would be no reason to sit quarterback Robert Griffin III with the Washington Redskins out of contention for the playoffs, coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that he will evaluate the situation and determine before Wednesday whether it would be in Griffin’s best interests to play in the Redskins’ final three games.
The Redskins removed Griffin from Sunday’s eventual 45-10 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs following the third quarter and inserted his backup, Kirk Cousins. Shanahan declined to say after the game whether he would stick with Griffin as the starter, and Griffin’s status remained in limbo a day later.
“When you get a franchise quarterback, you’ve got to make sure, relative to the offseason, that he’s healthy and he goes through the full offseason program,” Shanahan said. “That’s why I didn’t say he was the starter. That’s just something in the back of my mind that I’m thinking about right now, and I’ll let you know in the next couple days what, exactly, I think.”
Shanahan later said that if he did not allow Griffin to play in the next game, on the road against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, he would not permit him to play in the games against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 22 or the New York Giants on Dec. 29, either.
It seems as though that will be the case. Griffin’s sophomore season has been a far cry from his first, when he set multiple team, rookie and league records en route to being named Offensive Rookie of the Year by The Associated Press. He missed all of the offseason and preseason as he recovered from surgery to repair two ligaments in his right knee, and his quickness and, later, his accuracy haven’t measured up to the standards he set in 2012.
Shanahan said he has talked about the decision with team owner Dan Snyder, but as of Monday afternoon, he hadn’t run through the options with either Griffin or Cousins.
Griffin, who has completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,203 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season, said after Sunday’s loss that he thought starting against the Falcons is “not an issue.” Cousins, meanwhile, said he would prepare as though if it were an option, though he did not plan to dwell on it.
Shanahan emphasized that Griffin is completely healthy, and that the move to sit him out for the final three games would be merely precautionary. He was most perturbed by the number of times Griffin has been hit this season; Griffin has been sacked 38 times, including five times by the Chiefs, who had sacked an opposing quarterback only twice in the previous six games.
“Do you take the risk of having a guy possibly miss the offseason — your franchise quarterback — or do you play him, and all of a sudden, in the second game or in the first game, you lose him for the offseason?” Shanahan said. “Those are the risks. Those are the types of things you talk about, and that’s why I was hesitant [Sunday when asked] if Robert was going to start. Those are the types of things that I think through.”
Cousins made the sixth appearance of his career on Sunday, though it was the first time he entered a game with Griffin fully healthy. He completed seven of 16 passes for 59 yards in the fourth quarter.
Asked last week about whether he expected to play with the Redskins out of playoff contention, Cousins said he would like to, but he realized the decision wasn’t up to him.
“Obviously, it’s a much bigger deal for him to get reps than for me, given that he’s the starting quarterback,” Cousins said then. “It sounds nice to say that, but I think you’ve got to understand what that means for Robert. I’ll roll with whatever they decide, but you’ve got to see it from both angles.”