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Benching Griffin is not the answer

Sep 16, 2013, 9:35 AM EST

RG3-Matthews

The Washington Redskins might have a better chance of beating the Detroit Lions on Sunday with Kirk Cousins at quarterback instead of Robert Griffin III.

But benching Griffin right now would be a huge mistake.

Yes, I saw Griffin struggle to make plays yesterday against the Packers and last Monday against the Eagles, at least while the game was still competitive. At times he has little time to throw because he has pass rush pressure in his face and he seems either incapable of scrambling and either buying more time to pass or taking off and running or very reluctant to do so. And when he does have some time to pass his throws frequently missed the mark.

Is it rust, the lingering effects of not playing in the preseason and very limited 11 on 11 team action in training camp? Is the knee not has healthy as we are led to believe? Are the Redskins trying to convert Griffin into a pocket passer without the benefit of that practice?

The explanation I’ve heard that makes the most sense came from CBS analyst Steve Tasker. He was on The Junkies on 106.7 The Fan last week (I can’t locate the podcast on their site, otherwise I would link to it and quote Tasker directly). The former Bills special teams ace said that he suffered multiple knee injuries during his 14-year NFL career. When he came back, he said the knee was healthy and pain free but it was just different. Tasker said that it took some time for him to adjust to playing on what was essentially a “new” knee. The confidence that it would respond to what he needed it to do took some time and some adjustment.

When a special teams player is feeling his way around a knee that may not feel quite right even though it’s medically sound it doesn’t have ripple effects on every snap and the situation doesn’t make all of the highlights and get put under the microscope on every one of the myriad of NFL shows that heavily populate your cable TV guide. When the quarterback has those issues and that quarterback is Griffin it’s national news.

That Griffin’s struggles are being magnified by the fact that he’s a high-profile player in the highest profile sports league on the planet is not the only issue. The Redskins’ defense is playing poorly. They are having problems covering and tackling. The team is falling behind, elements like play action passing that made the offense hum aren’t effective so the offense can’t sustain drives. That puts the defense back on the field quickly and things start to snowball.

But whether the defense is working or not, Griffin and the offense need to do what the need to do to keep the team competitive throughout the game. And that’s not happening.

If it happens or if it doesn’t, Griffin needs to be the one doing it or not doing it. Cousins might provide a short-term lift but if this team is going to get to a Super Bowl this year or in the future it’s going to be Griffin doing the heavy lifting. A game or two on the bench for Griffin means that it’s a game or two longer until he’s right. And that puts the Redskins a game or two further away from their goals.

Benching Griffin might be a short-term fix. For years the Redskins organization lived for instant gratification. We have seen the results of thinking about the coming year, the coming game over thinking about setting things up to be successful for a long time.

That’s why the Vikings did last year with Adrian Peterson. It’s easy to look back at his near-record season last year following an ACL injury and think that he came out of the box blazing in 2012. But he did not. In his first six games he went over 100 yards once. In Week 2 he picked up a very pedestrian 60 yards on 16 carries. The next game he rushed for 86 yards but it took him 25 carries to get there (3.4 yards per carry).

The Vikings did not bench Peterson in favor of Toby Gerhart. They know he is the franchise and they kept him in and kept on giving him the ball. Their patience was rewarded when Peterson ran for over 100 yards in nine of the last 10 games, going over 150 yards in six of them.

It remains to be seen if Griffin will explode later in the season but we’ll never find out if the team gets into playing the QB shuffle.

  1. boxer2931boxer2931 - Sep 16, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    I remember not long ago the world was telling us all that RG3 was soooo much better than Andrew Luck and its not even a close comparison for rookie of the year and blah blah blah….and I said, RG3 is nothing more than a shooting star….a passing fancy if you will……no durability…….not in the NFL baby..I will take Luck all day. He is physical, tough, smart, can play in the pocket or out, doesn’t have to run a read option or spread attack to be successful, and lastly, doesn’t get hurt everytime he is touched……….now all of a sudden Americas darling is in jeopardy of losing his job to Kirk Cousins…..wait……wasn’t RG3 the greatest thing since sliced bread? uh….no……….was and always will be #18,…………..and Luck will get in that elite status one day as well…but RG who? please……..good luck with that knee and the rest of the body, now that youre playing against MEN.

    • clp5150 - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      You sure know your stuff. As you mentioned…you said it at some point last year. I bet in a few minutes someone will call you about an analyst job. Who is your team again?

    • cherubrum77 - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      If little lucky boy would have been hit the way RGIII had been against the ravens I am sure he would have been hurt as well. We as fans never know how a QBS career will pan out and you getting on here and basically projecting a bad career on a nfl qb is plain stupid. Do you have a magic ball that tells you luck will never get hurt or RGIII will never be a good QB? If so let me use it to win the lotto! Because it doesn’t matter if you’re a runner or a pocket passer all it takes is one hit and bam it’s over. Because they all play against men!!!!!

    • southernbballai - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      i love your comment but i see a few mistakes, first off who is #18? luck wears #12 i dont know if you are confusing him with peyton….and your last line about good luck with the knee and all…now that you are playing agains MEN. who was he playing against last season? im sure people can agree that luck is a great talent and the two will be compared the rest of their playing days but they are two totally different QBs and both are great. the fact of the matter is that Griff is coming off a huge injury and its going to take him time to get back to where he was. but baring another injury he WILL get back. that knee will get stronger and his confidence will return and hopefully with a little added maturity and experiece he will be ever better than before. maybe you should quit hating on a young superstar and go try to find a #18 Luck jersey, Good Luck!

    • highflyer23 - Sep 17, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      In regards to comparing the rookie QBs last year: RG3 won the ROY, end of story, anyone who argues against that is a pure hater. Now, in regard to what have you done for me lately, lets compare RG3 and Luck this season. Luck and the Colts are 1-1 (the win coming against the Raiders and the loss against the Dolphins) and the Redskins are 0-2. Can’t take anything away from Luck’s week 1 win against the awful Raiders but look at how Luck played this past weekend against the Dolphins: 321 yds, 58% comp, 1 td, 1 int. You can also look at Russell Wilson’s stats for this season, very average. The point here is that people overreact, the 3 premier rookie QBs from last year are all having a pretty pedestrian start to this season but in the end I’ll take the reigning ROY on my team who is still getting his feet under him and has a very high ceiling. RG3 has looked bad these past 2 weeks but I have noticed some progression, this stats are padded due to garbage time but I have no doubt he will finish strong.

  2. warrenden - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Bench the whole team!

  3. iggyroadkill - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    I did not get to see the game, had to follow on laptop. I live in Jacksonville. lol Did the skins use the read/option at all during the game? Just asking? We have a QB that ran that pretty well. Is it RGIII or the coaching staff that is stopping the read/O? I have set through a lot of seasons watching QBs come and go …..starting with Eddie LaBaron…(he wasn’t too bad)….Kilmer vs. Sonny was a great debate during the George Allen era….. Cousins vs. Griffin….not yet…way too early… Got to fix the defense…they can’t play with the no-huddle offense.

  4. kmac - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Absolutely ridiculous. No, the Skins would not have a better chance with Cousins. How about calling plays and formations that are conducive with what Robert can do now. Where are the boots, waggles, and stretch runs from under center? (The Cousins offense) Coaches adapt their system to what their players can do.

  5. olatungie. nat-jon - Sep 16, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Griffin should have rested from the beginning of the season causin starting the first 3 games to evaluate him or make sure Griffin is ready

  6. RussianBreadMaker - Sep 16, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Sorry, but any fan, commentator, or writer that believes Griffin should be benched is a complete fraud.

    • renhoekk2 - Sep 16, 2013 at 4:08 PM

      No the truth is that if any other player at any other position was under performing as poorly as RGIII has in the first halves of the last two games they would be benched. If Trent Williams was coming off of an injury and getting beat constantly he would be sat down. You know it and so does everyone else. He would not be allowed to stay on the field and drag the entire offense down.

      • RussianBreadMaker - Sep 16, 2013 at 4:15 PM

        Am I wrong when I say that I saw a lot of dropped passes yesterday? Our fan base, or anyone that follows the skins needs to chill out and let things unfold. The NFL is where the best if the best play….any given Sunday right?

  7. laserw - Sep 16, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Keeping the rusty prima donna in the starting lineup is a huge mistake.

    Face it – despite all the spin, the ONLY gift that the prima donna ever had was his legs and the ability to run. Now he has none of that so all of the numerous and GLARING weaknesses in his overall passing game is being exposed.

    The pass rush is happening because the prima donna is a statue in the backfield – he is clueless to pressure – and even when his legs were as good as they were in his pro career – he was easily sacked. He is now just a sitting duck.

    The rusty prima donna cannot lead, cannot run a two minute or hurry up offense -is lethargic – doesn’t seem to care and never changes his persona whether up by 7 or down by 31. He has trouble reading defenses and has a now exposed weakness of being unable to throw accurately beyond 15 yards from the line of scrimmage – a problem he had last year but with his lack of plant foot action, he is useless in the passing game – balls are high and low all of the time.

    Leaving the rusty prima donna in the game assures the team of no chance to win – if you think for a minute he’ll play himself out of this funk, you are basing this on what? He can’t even win with Pierre Garcon in the lineup!

    Allowing Kirk Cousins to play is the only LOGICAL answer – his head is in the game and he commands the team when he’s on the field – he has urgency and can rollout and can avoid pass rushes. He now has just as good a play action as the rusty prima donna who has even lost his other talent of ball fake.

    The danger keeping the rusty prima donna in the games as a starter is that he is now this era’s Patrick Ramsey – he is getting killed consistently by the pass rush and this is the same damn line that provided great blocking when the ball was being fired off quickly – now we are asking them to protect someone as mobile as a 95 year old grandmother and that is simply asking too much.

  8. renhoekk2 - Sep 16, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    The fact is he should not have been playing until the 4th or 5th week of the season. He had exactly three weeks of practice with the starting offense since last season. If there is an adjustment period to the new knee maybe it would have been better to adjust to it during practices instead of games. I’m pretty sure most Skins fans are fans of the Washington Redskins, not just fans of RGIII. I personally don’t care about RGIII’s adjustment phase. If Cousins gives the Skins the best chance to win on any given Sunday then he needs to start. If RGIII really is the long term better player those thing usually have a way of working themselves out. I just want them to win. I don’t care who the QB is.

  9. clp5150 - Sep 17, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    I know we have one of the greatest fan bases and the MOST impatient. It’s interesting that a poll (on CSN I think) showed that out of about 17K votes, it’s split down the middle on people thinking Cousins should start now.

  10. Steve - Sep 18, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    I wish they would have started cousins in both games and worked rg in on some series until he is 100%. That would have given them a chance to win while he works his way back.

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