April 6, 2020

OPINION: The Washington Redskins should let Robert Griffin III play

Let me preface this by saying that I would never propose that anyone play injured. If Robert Griffin III is truly unable to play physically, he obviously should be shelved and allowed more time to heal. But if team doctors clear him and deem that physically he’s capable of playing in an NFL football game and everything that entails, the Washington Redskins absolutely should start Griffin against Dallas Monday night.

The reasons why many believe the third-year quarterback, once touted as the savior of this long downtrodden franchise, shouldn’t play Monday night are many. But each is more farfetched than the last, the hysterical ramblings of a fanbase too traumatized to think clearly. A fanbase so accustomed to heartbreak and disappointment when it comes to their favorite football franchise, that Murphy’s Law might as well be Newton’s Law. Absolute. Certain.

Ultimately it’s out of fear that fans suggest he shouldn’t play. Fear of another injury. Fear of more losing. Fear of starting over. And fear has a way of making people irrational. The three most common and erroneous of the objections to RG3 playing are as follows:

Griffin Hurt

Robert Griffin III being carted off the field after injuring his ankle in Week 2.

IRRATIONAL FALLACY #1: “He’s been out six weeks now! That’s a long time for a quarterback to be sitting. Surely he shouldn’t start Monday night, he’d be so rusty!”

News flash: Griffin will be rusty regardless of whether he comes back this week, or next week, or after the bye, or next season for that matter. And guess what? Rust builds over time. So while, yes, the quarterback would almost certainly be rusty if he played this week, and while, yes, it probably wouldn’t be pretty, more time sidelined is only going to make matters worse.

While he would indeed get more practice reps than he did in the immediate weeks after his injury while rehabbing, it would pale in comparison to actually playing in a game. Game reps and experience are the only way to shake off the rust. He can’t do that wearing street clothes on the sideline.

IRRATIONAL FALLACY #2: “The last thing we need to do is rush RG3 back again. Didn’t we learn our lesson last year? We can get it right this time.”

There are a lot of things wrong with this one. The primary and perhaps most obvious of which is this is an entirely different injury situation. Torn ligaments in a knee is a much more severe and long-term injury than an ankle dislocation, especially an ankle dislocation that ruptured no ligaments and broke no bones. Take a deep breath, this isn’t 2013 all over again.

(As an aside really quickly before my next point, just how valid is the notion that Griffin was rushed back last year? The most common suggestion I’ve heard is that the team should’ve waited until after the Week 5 bye last year to start him. Did I miss something? Did RG3 look discernibly better after the bye? The stats would indicate Griffin’s performance actually went down after the bye. Which goes against the notion that as time passed, his knee got stronger which made him perform better, and so the team should’ve held him out longer. Here’s the stats:

Griffin Pre-2013 Week 5 Bye Week: 106-for-170 (62.4 completion %), 1.5 TDs/game, 300.5 passing yards/game, 1.0 interceptions/game, 18.0 rushing yards/game

Griffin Post-2013 Week 5 Bye Week: 168-for-286 (58.7 completion %), 1.1 TDs/game, 222.3 passing yards/game, 0.89 interceptions/game, 46.3 rushing yards/game

So while yes, his rushing increased, his overall production decreased. And I don’t want to hear that the stats are inflated pre-bye because the team was playing from behind a lot. They lost seven of the nine games Griffin played in post-bye. They played from behind a lot then too. But anyway, back to the issue at hand…)

The ‘2013 all over again’ narrative is largely based on the premise that Griffin playing Monday night would be ‘rushing him back’. The implication being that six weeks just isn’t enough time to recover from an injury of this magnitude.

When in actuality, who actually knows how much time is sufficient for recovery? 99.9% of the people speculating as to the appropriate length of recovery are not doctors and literally would have absolutely no clue how long this injury should take to heal if not for the media. The media’s best guess is largely based on a range given by doctors who have had patients with similar injuries, but nonetheless have not seen Griffin personally and are not privy to his medical records.

My point is: every case is different, especially when the case is a world-class athlete who has a history of atypically fast recoveries from injuries. For all we know, Griffin could have felt physically normal weeks ago.

IRRATIONAL FALLACY #3: “Griffin is still developing as a ‘pocket passer’. He was struggling before the injury, it’ll probably be worse now after all the missed time. Why should they start him when he may not even give the Redskins the best chance to win right now?”

First off, Griffin’s development as a pocket passer can only come by playing in games. How else could he be expected to progress? In theory, he’ll get better and more comfortable in Jay Gruden’s system with more playing time. Less playing time will only further push back his development.

As for the notion that perhaps Colt McCoy gives the team the better chance of winning because he’s more comfortable in Gruden’s offense, wasn’t Kirk Cousins supposed to be the same way? And even if McCoy is more comfortable and can run the offense more efficiently, there’s no denying that Griffin has far superior ability. The Redskins need to see what they have in the quarterback they traded three first round picks for and drafted 2nd overall in 2012. They know what they have in McCoy. They also know the playoffs are all but out of reach this season so prioritizing wins just seems all the more silly.

A DOSE OF REALITY: The bottom line is that it’s clear now that only one of the quarterbacks on Washington’s roster has a chance at being a ‘franchise quarterback’, the ‘long-term answer’. Why not give him as many weeks to prove it as possible?

About Joe Miller

Joe Miller is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. Joe is a southern Maryland native and an alumnus of the University of Maryland with a degree in communication. He’s been a passionate follower of D.C. sports, especially the Redskins, his entire life. Joe works for the Bowie Baysox and contributes content for Son of Washington. You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeCoolMiller.

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