The Redskins' season ended in controversy, as Mike Shanahan was blasted for not removing his gimpy star quarterback from a playoff game before he shredded his knee. This season picks up where the last left off, only Shanahan finds now himself at the other extreme, with one very vocal critic—Robert Griffin III himself—openly lobbying to dispense with the caution.
Griffin was cleared for full action last month, but has yet to practice with the full offense, and is raring to go. But Shanahan has been adamant that Griffin be eased back gently, and is sticking to the plan that Griffin won't see any actual game action until Week 1. This is what rankles Griffin the most—he'd like to get in for a preseason game or two.
“I can’t B.S. that answer. No, I don’t like it,” Griffin said when asked about his rehabilitation timetable. While Griffin said he understands “some part” of Shanahan’s plan, “I don’t understand all of it.”
Speaking at yesterday's press conference, Griffin gave the best indication yet that he's clashed with Shanahan over his timetable. He said he'd try to persuade his coach to change his mind (Shanahan would later say there was "no possibility" of him budging on the plan), but the most interesting moment was when Griffin seemed to imply that Shanahan is going back on what he originally promised.
“He gave me his word. We talked about it. I know the plan...I can’t lie about that. When you give your word to somebody, that’s all you have, so I’m just banking that they’re gonna stay true to their word and I’m staying true to mine.”
Trouble? RGIII says no.
Shanahan held his own presser later in the day, saying his job is "not to necessarily do what [Griffin] likes but to do what’s the best thing for him and this organization.” An abundance of caution that wasn't necessarily on display against Seattle in January, but better late than never? Most have sided with Shanahan in this philosophical feud—Griffin is too important, the season too long to run even the slightest risk of an injury.
So there's been a mini-blowback against Griffin, something odd to see considering he's the media's and everybody's darling. The Washington Post's Mike Wise says he needs to set aside his hypercompetitiveness to do what's best for the team. Jason Whitlock takes it a step further, chalking up Griffin's anxiety to his insecurity over losing the starting job to Kirk Cousins.
It's all a whole bunch of nothing, as 99 percent of preseason storylines tend to be. Even Shanahan concedes that a player wanting to play is inherently a good thing. Still, Griffin has a reconstructed knee, and a playing style that'll put it under constant stress. This isn't the last we'll hear about differences of opinions between the two, because these days, preserving Griffin's career is Mike Shanahan's career.