Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III took the National Football League by storm during his rookie season a year ago, leading his team to the playoffs before suffering a devastating knee injury. His comeback thus far has been Adrian Peterson like it is quickness, and it now appears that he will be able to be under center when this team opens the 2013 season.
However, RG III has been limited in training camp and the preseason, and like any athlete would be on the field as much as possible if the decision were up to him. This desire to take the field has led to a friction between Robert Griffin III and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, such a conflict could fester and become detrimental to the team if left untreated.
On Monday afternoon, the young passer was asked about how he felt about his coaches have handled his recovery so far during a press conference. RG III did not think his comments through, and instead chose to voice his displeasure at not seeing the playing time he felt he should be receiving.
“I don’t like it. I don’t understand all of it,” Griffin said of the coaching staff’s cautious approach to his return from a major knee injury. “But (Shanahan) gave me his word. … When you give your word to somebody that’s all they have so I’m just banking that they will stay true to their word and I’m staying true to mine. I’m doing everything they ask me to do without any gripes.”
After hearing throughout Monday that he was bordering on a schism with his comments, RG III perhaps realized that he should keep his mouth shut and listen to Coach Shanahan in the future. He attempted to back away from his comments when he spoke on Tuesday.
“Just want everybody to know if there’s any questions about if there’s a rift between me and Coach, or if there’s a conflict, there is no conflict. Coaches coach. I’m the player. Coach has a plan, and I’m abiding by that plan. I’m doing everything the coaches are asking me to do. I trust those guys. They want me to have a long career. And that’s what part of this plan is about,” Griffin said. “Yesterday I voiced my opinion about it because I was asked about it, and that’s been twisted and turned and tried to put against his team, and that’s not what we want.”
For his part, Shanahan also attempted to do his part in difusing any potential controversy between himself and RG III. He told the media that “Robert is an energetic guy who wants to play. He shared with you how bad he wants to play,” Shanahan said. “I do talk to Robert. I talk to him about different ways that I think that you can lead or different ways to handle different situations. I will throughout the year, but it doesn’t change a person’s personality.
“Me and John Elway used to have knock-down, drag-out fights all the time. And that’s part of being a competitor, and that’s another reason you have great relationships with your quarterbacks.”
Sure, Griffin like all of us is entitled to his opinion, however he would be better served to keep it away from the media. Rather than convincing his coaching staff to put him on the field like he had desired, he is still carrying out the same return schedule he had been on previously. All that has changed as a result of his comments is the exposure of an apparently unfaithful relationship between RG III and Shanahan. The quarterback doesn’t trust his coach, and that will hurt the team if allowed to continue.
Perhaps the young Robert Griffin III feels the need to speak out because he is uncomfortable that someone else is leading his team. This was displayed in the playoffs, when he wanted to claim the glory of leading the Redskins to victory over the Seahawks himself. Shanahan then was fearful that should he bench Griffin, the then-rookie would have complained to the media and stirred up controversy. As a result, he left RG III in too long before finally putting in Kirk Cousins, and as a result the gruesome injury occurred, and the Redskins were sent packing.
Now Griffin has had to sit idly by and watch Cousins lead all of the Redskins throughout the off-season in his place. Griffin was not on the field for the team’s first preseason game last weekend. It might have been a fear that Cousins would emerge as a viable weapon, leaving RG III expendable until his knee was truly 100 percent.
Shanahan says he has experience dealing with this type of situation from his days with Elway, however if RG III continues to speak out against the way the Redskins coaching staff is handling the injury situation he will have a major problem on his hands. With three weeks of preseason remaining, this story is certainly going to take several more turns before we reach the glorious opening week of the NFL season.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express