Robert Griffin III: How The Redskins Must Handle The RGIII Situation
Originally posted to isportstimes.com on September 3, 2013
The NFL is a quarterback league. If a team has a good one, it automatically thrusts them into the group of relevant teams that earn airtime during NFL Live segments, while teams without a good quarterback end up in games called by Chris Myers. It’s the ultimate have versus have-not dichotomy in all of sports, and right now the Washington Redskins fall precariously on the have side. After years of going through the likes of Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell at quarterback, the Redskins finally landed their franchise savior in Robert Griffin III. That is, they finally landed their franchise savior provided he can stay healthy.
Aside from concussions, no other type of injury gets as much press time as the serious knee injury, and right now, all non-Manziel attention in the sports world seems to be placed on RGIII’s recovering right knee. Fortunately, he seems likely to be ready for the start of the season, but there is trepidation all around the league that RGIII will be able to avoid the type of major injuries he’s suffered both in college and in his lone pro season.
The current concerns can all be traced back to how Griffin is utilized in the Redskins’ offense. The thing that made the Redskins’ offense so dangerous last season was their entrance into the School of the Read-Option. However, unlike bigger quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton, RGIII simply does not have the requisite size to take the constant punishment dealt to read-option quarterbacks.
This creates quite a conundrum for the Redskins. Head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen must toe the thin line between doing everything they can to win football games and keeping their star quarterback healthy. Ultimately, the Redskins will have to adjust what they do offensively. They must adjust their offense not out of some quixotic desire to keep one of their players healthy. No, they must adjust what they do on offense to keep their quarterback upright because that is what’s in the best interest of the franchise.
NFL players are going to get injured. It’s unavoidable. The players know this, the fans know this, and most importantly, the people running NFL franchises know this. When it comes to RGIII’s health, we may think that the Redskins’ brass owes it to him personally to change their game plan to keep Griffin out of harm’s way. But that just is not true. If this were a wide receiver or defensive lineman coming off a major knee injury, there would be no talk of “protecting him” or “adjusting the game plan” to keep him upright.
While we’re certainly seeing some level of accountability from NFL teams in the concussion lawsuit settlement, for the most part, NFL teams are not held accountable for a player getting injured. How could they be? This is football after all, the most violent sport in the country. This is a sport where players constantly hide concussion symptoms and other injuries, lest they miss game action or, dare I say, get cut. The NFL will use you up and spit you out and, when it’s done with you, there is always someone ready to take your place.
Which brings us back to Robert Griffin III. Fortunately for him, he plays quarterback, the one position where, if your good enough, it elevates you above the typical NFL injury fray. There are scores of lineman and running backs ready to step in for an injured teammate, but there are only so many quarterbacks to go around, and when a team finds one, they must do whatever they can to hold onto him for as long as possible.
It’s this reason alone why the Redskins must change how they use RGIII. Even without the read-option, RGIII can still do very special things with the football. The Redskins must consider not just the next play or the next game, but they must consider future seasons as well. RGIII can be an elite quarterback for the next decade, and it would be foolish of the Redskins to continually ask him to take big hits if he doesn’t have to.
It’s a similar situation to that of the San Francisco Giants and Buster Posey. Following a gruesome collision at home plate that cost Posey most of his 2011 season, the Giants realized the importance of having their MVP candidate in the lineup every day trumped the need to have him try and save a run here and there by blocking the plate. Sure, that strategy may have cost them a couple runs during the season, but I’m sure Giants fans didn’t mind Posey not blocking the plate when he won the 2012 NL MVP and the Giants won their second World Series title in three years.
For the Redskins, the same ideology behind the Posey edict must be applied for RGIII. If it costs them a few yards or first downs along the way, so be it. Nobody will care about a few lost yards in 2013 if RGIII is still commanding a Redskins’ huddle in 2023. The Redskins have the most prized asset in all of sports: a star quarterback. Now the responsibility falls on them to try and keep it that way.