First, it was the Stephen Strasburg shutdown. Then the government shutdown. Now comes the biggest shutdown to ever hit Washington.
The RG3 Shutdown.
In the wake of the Redskins’ 5th straight loss and another rough day at the office for embattled quarterback Robert Griffin III, equally embattled coach Mike Shanahan openly mulled over whether it was worth it to play RG3 for these last three meaningless regular season games. Wednesday, we got our answer.
It’ll be Kirk Cousins leading the ‘Skins offense from here on out, with Rex Grossman backing him up. That means Griffin will be inactive on Sundays, effectively going from RG3 to RG3rd String.
Of course, if you let Shanahan tell it, he’s not benching him — more like preserving him. Befitting a politician in the Nation’s Capital, Shanny hit all the talking points. He cited the constant hits Griffin has taken in recent weeks (presumably both on and off the field), the need for RG3 to be 100 percent healthy going into off-season workouts, and the risk/reward of playing him down the stretch of a lost season.
All of that is true. I’m just not buying Shanahan’s sudden change of heart.
I still remember last season’s magic carpet ride. The ‘Skins won their last seven games to win their first division title in 13 years. During that streak, Griffin suffered a knee injury against the Ravens but, three weeks later, the ‘Skins still capped the year off with a primetime embarrassment of their most hated rival to clinch the NFC East — even though the Offensive Rookie of the Year was essentially playing on one leg.
That bum knee gave out the following week against the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round, letting the air out of a Burgundy and Gold balloon that was seemingly on the rise.
Now, if Shanahan were so gung-ho about Griffin’s health and wellness and his full participation in off-season workouts, Kirk Cousins would have started the final three games of last season — perhaps eliminating the need for him to do so this season.
Furthermore, Shanahan’s timing is more than curious. This team has been out of playoff contention for two weeks now. If Griffin’s health were a primary concern, this decision would have been made after the loss to the Giants, thus avoiding the high risk of injury associated with last week’s game — in the snow, against an elite Kansas City defense, and on that FedEx Field turf where he hurt his knee not once, but twice. It certainly wouldn’t be this week, when RG3 could play in a dome against a porous Atlanta defense.
So when Shanahan stepped to the podium for a passionate, 28-minute press conference to announce his intentions and the reasoning behind them, it was disingenuous (at best). Everyone who’s followed this sinking ship of a franchise knows Shanahan is likely on the way out. And with each passing week, it’s as if he’s trying to agitate owner Dan Snyder into such a decision so he can get the remaining $7 million on his contract and start over.
A great way to force Snyder’s hand? Bench his buddy RG3.
So all that Academy Award-worthy performance proved is that Shanahan is in full blown self-preservation mode. He’s posturing and making one last-ditch effort to salvage whatever’s left of his reputation so he can engineer a soft landing in Houston or somewhere else he deems the grass to be greener.
Even Hall-of-Fame coach John Madden agrees.
“I mean, you know it’s baloney,” Madden said on his Sirius XM radio show. “I like Mike Shanahan, and I’m not talking behind his back, but when you say something like that, you know that’s not right – you’re not going to sacrifice regular season games. There’s only 16 of them a year. You’re not going to sacrifice regular season games for an off-season program.”
Madden didn’t take it far enough. To be quite frank, I don’t buy what Shanahan is selling because he’s a liar. Which he brazenly admitted Wednesday.
“What I’m trying to do is be as honest as I can, and I don’t normally do that.”
Another thing he didn’t normally do here is win. Which is why he’ll be elsewhere a month from now.
To his credit, Shanahan did a fine job in the draft and did well in adding free agents like Pierre Garcon and Barry Cofield. But his sins in 2013 are many, and his tenure in Washington is rightfully coming to a close.
Let’s just hope his final act in D.C. isn’t also ushering the end of RG3’s stay here.