- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Former Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan addressed multiple topics during an appearance on ESPN 980 on Wednesday afternoon, with the discussion centered primarily around quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Shanahan, speaking to Kevin Sheehan and The Times’ Thom Loverro on the team-owned radio station, addressed in detail the injury Griffin sustained in the playoff game against Seattle Seahawks in 2013 — one that may have altered Griffin’s career.

“When Robert runs that one quarterback keep inside the 5-yard line, I could see on replay that it looked like he hurt his knee,” Shanahan said on air. “So, I go over there, I said, ‘Hey, did you hurt your knee? And he said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Well, it sure looked like it.’ He said, ‘No. I’m perfectly fine.’ And he said, ‘It’s my brace again.’ I said, ‘Well, if it’s your brace, it’s your brace.’ I said, ‘Man, it sure looked like you, you know, came down, fell down on it very awkwardly.’ He said, ‘No,’ he said, ‘I’m fine.’

“You take the rest of the second quarter or the rest of the first half, and I don’t feel very good about Robert, so, I go in there at halftime, I talk to the doctors, I says, ‘Hey, I’ve been doing this a while, and my gut is something’s wrong with Robert. That’s my gut. And, Dr. Andrews says, ‘Mike, there’s no difference with him right now than at the start of the game. His knee is as good as — is now as it was then. And, I asked Robert, ‘Do you feel that way?’ I said, ‘You don’t look that way.’ He said, ‘No, I guarantee you it’s fine.’”

Based on those responses, Shanahan said he felt Griffin earned the right to continue in the game.

“Both the doctor and Robert say he was perfectly fine,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan also said, prior to being assured Griffin was fine, that he had decided to start Kirk Cousins in the second half of the game.

At the start of the second half, Shanahan said he wanted to stay away from read-option running plays for Griffin because of injury fear. Then, the Redskins started slow on offense. Shanahan said he spoke to Griffin about using the read-option and that Griffin told him that he was fine. They called read-option, Griffin ran for nine yards, then limped to the sideline.

“I said, ‘Are you hurting that bad?’” Shanahan said he asked Griffin. “‘No, I’m not hurting that bad.’ I said. ‘It looks like you have one leg left.’ He said, ‘Coach, just watch me the rest of the game, I’ll show you my leg is fine. I guarantee you.’”

Shanahan said he again asked the doctor about Griffin’s health, and was again assured there were no problems. Shanahan was widely criticized after the game for playing Griffin.

There was also a past report that Shanahan considered quitting before the Seattle playoff game, which Shanahan called, “totally ridiculous.”

In a meeting two days after the Super Bowl, Shanahan said Griffin came to him with a set of plays he did not want to run anymore.

“I really don’t blame that on Robert,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said he wanted Griffin to get better at throwing the ball away, sliding and doing the things that he “thought gave him the best chance to be successful.”

The argument Shanahan said he made to Griffin for keeping the running plays was that their threat actually protected him as a quarterback. Shanahan said Griffin told him which plays were “unacceptable,” and that term reminded him of Snyder’s persistent usage of the word.

“The bottom line was he wanted to throw more, run less.” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said he then went to Snyder.

“I said for a quarterback to come to me, a veteran coach, and share these things, No. 1, he can’t be the sharpest guy to do something like that,” Shanahan said. “Or, he’s got to feel very good about the owner backing him up. And, since you have been telling me since day one he’s a drop-back quarterback and he should do more drop-back, and you guys have spent the last couple months together, or at least the last month, that this is an extension of you.

“He said it wasn’t. I just told him that the only chance this kid, Robert, has to get to the level we need him to get to is for him to at least trust us; we’re going to run the offense that gives him the best chance to be successful. If not, it’s going to be impossible. He’s not ready for it.”

Shanahan, 62, said he thought Griffin not running that type of offense before was the biggest issue, and that it would take time — four or five years — for him to develop into a drop-back passer.

He later said that Griffin works hard on the physical side of the sport, but that he needs to be in the film room “every day” in order to become a high-end, drop-back quarterback in the league. He later added that Griffin has tremendous talent, which was proven by his rookie year.

“Basically, Robert, at this time — and I don’t blame this just on himself, I think he was getting a lot of feedback from a lot of people — that he was determined, ‘You know what? I’m kind of done with this offense. I might go with a couple different plays to appease people, but I’m going to show everybody I’m a drop-back quarterback and this is the direction I’m going in,’” Shanahan said. “That’s what he really believes. So, I knew my time was short-lived, with that type of mindset. Dan felt very strongly about that drop-back game as well.”

Shanahan went on to say that Andrews told him he did not want Griffin playing in games the following preseason. He also indicated that being great on the field wasn’t just going to happen for Griffin, and that he needed to work at it during camp and preseason.

“The great ones, they all spend that time,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan took responsibility for playing Griffin in the 2014 opener, noting that he was impressed enough with Griffin’s workouts at the end of preseason that he thought he was ready to play against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Other topics Shanahan addressed were the trade for quarterback Donovan McNabb in 2010, which he said was driven heavily by Snyder, as well as the belief that Kirk Cousins will be a “damn good” quarterback in the NFL at some point. And, ultimately, Shanahan said he would like to coach again.

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