I have heard it all now; the poor field conditions hurt the player. NO! Yes, Fed-Ex Field was in the worst condition for a playoff game, or any game for that matter. It took me back to a NFL game held in Carolina Panther Stadium several years ago. On Sunday, players were running, cutting and tripping over chunks of dried sod that were flying in the air like Doritos chips at a pre-game party. Even at the beginning of the game the field was so bad the Redskins’ logo was unreadable. However, the field was not responsible. The teaching and coaching aspect of the game, to drive and push players through their comfort zone, to be the best they can be on every play, extended a helping hand to RG3 needing surgery.
Coaches tend to trust players and listen to them when they are trying to perform at a high level within a critical playoff game, and trust their opinion on their injury, because the thinking is the players know their bodies best. But a coach has to also look at the body language. It tells you a lot more than what you’re hearing from your athlete. I’m not talking about that slow get up after a long run like they don’t have another ounce of energy to get off the ground let alone the field, and on the very next play burst for a 40 yard run after breaking several arm tackles at the line of scrimmage like Jim Brown, OJ Simpson and Earl Campbell were famous for. This is much different.
I’m talking about RG3 in the first quarter, after rolling right he did a jump pass and fell to the ground without any contact from a Seahawk defender and limped back to the huddle like a 80 year old man with an extreme arthritic knee, in major need of a knee replacement. To pull him off the field is not a major decision; it should have been the only decision. The Redskins went up 14-0 and were in total command, and there 28th ranked defense (5th rush/30th pass) was playing pretty good at that point.
This is where Coach Shanahan’s decision making got cloudy. You have a rookie back-up in Kirk Cousins that proved he could perform at a high level with production when called upon during the season. Get your franchise player off the field, allow Cousins to manage the game and throw when you need to not when you want to and feed outstanding rookie running back Alfred Morris (1,600 yards & 13 TD’s) the ball until his tongue is hanging out.
Forget that RG3 helped get you to that point by winning the division while playing with the same injury the previous weekend against the Cowboys. It’s all about what is happening now, and what will or will not happen in the future. I love the gridiron guts to perform hurt and still be productive. That grit and determination is needed to be a NFL player because of the demand on your body from play to play. Toughness to play through the pain threshold is needed to exceed and ascend in a full contact sport.
Coach Shanahan made a critical mistake and one that may give his tenure as Redskins’ head coach a black eye. He should have protected the player from the player; of course he wants to play. But, when a player can no longer protect himself pull him out of the game. And on top of that, the coaches continued to call read option plays and rolled him out of the pocket. The telling sign was the lack of passing production. He could not push off and transfer his weight to the post leg. Balls were sailing because of his release point to sling the rock with all upper body delivery. Enough is enough and that was embarrassing for all to watch in person or on TV.
The man was a shell of himself. The Seattle Seahawks, who have a very nasty disposition and play with a feisty attitude, normally would have lowered the boom on him each and every play. They gave RG3 the respect of a veteran player and knew he was only 70 percent and they pulled back.
While he was helped off the field all eleven players of the Seattle defense stood there and clapped. After the game Griffin said all the right things, protected his coach and the organization and stood tall with his chin high like the leader he is, while Coach Shananan was under fire with a barrage of questions coming faster than a tommy gun.
The bottom line is you must protect your franchise player that you traded not one, but two first round draft picks away to secure. Several sources have told me Daniel Snyder is extremely upset at this situation. Will he fire Coach Shanahan? Probably not, but I guarantee you there were some choice words and a verbal tongue lashing that didn’t end with a hand shake.
Robert Griffin III underwent total reconstructive surgery of his right knee early Wednesday to repair torn ACL and LCL ligaments. The operation was performed by Dr. Andrews. It will be a long road back from that type of surgery and for RG3 to be ready for the season opener in 2013 is a long shot. Will he ever be the same dynamic player? That is yet to be seen, the real question is why he was put in that situation.