Please accept my apologies for what’s about to follow, Seattle. Your team won this game, and it deserved to win this game, and in the immediate aftermath of the Seahawks’ 24-14 win over Washington — their first playoff road win since 1983 — our focus should be on those fine Seahawks with their youth and swagger. Oh, and douche punk cornerbacks. That too.
Blame Mike Shanahan’s stubbornness, and total disregard for his quarterback’s health. Blame an asinine football culture in which playing on one leg is viewed as honorable. Blame a tough guy, rah rah, mentality. Blame logic, and the lack thereof.
Yeah, I know. When Robert Griffin III aggravated his knee injury in the first quarter today, Shanny asked him if he was OK, and the quarterback then responded in the affirmative. He reassured his coach that he’d be fine.
The question many seem to be missing: why does that matter at all?
As I watch the post-game show on NFL Network, I heard these words come out of Kurt Warner’s mouth regarding RG3′s thinking…
“Maybe he hurt his team being out there, but that’s just what quarterbacks do”
He’s implying, of course, that a noble quarterback plays if it’s possible for him to get back onto the field. That’s a basic football premise: there are nicks and bruises and injuries that result in various shades of black and blue everywhere on the field, on any given week throughout the season. An injury to the quarterback gets the most attention because it’s the most prominent position, but the QB’s ability to play through a difficult injury is no different than, say, the toughness demonstrated by a guard.
Of course he — the quarterback — wants to be heroic. Heros don’t sit on the sidelines. Heroes don’t watch the backup make plays. Such positions aren’t heroic at all; instead, a gimpy sidelined QB is just another name on the injury sheet. He’s ordinary.
So of course after Griffin initially re-aggravated his knee injury around the three-minute mark of the first quarter when he planted and tried to turn and throw quickly to Pierre Garcon, he talked his way back into the game.
“Robert said to me ‘coach, there’s a difference between being injured and being hurt, and I’m not injured’” said Shanahan in his post-game press conference. Fair enough, Robert. But when it became abundantly obvious that RG3 wasn’t RG3 at all, that’s when he was hurting the Redskins’ chances to win, and their ability to compete with a Seahawks’ offense that scored 24 unanswered points.
It wasn’t Griffin’s decision to make. It was Shanahan’s, and he made the wrong one, about a month after he also lied about his quarterback being cleared by Dr. James Andrews to return late in the Week 15 game after he was initially injured.
Yeah, that happened, and Andrews told USA Today that even though Griffin was improving, there was still fear about his condition prior to today’s game:
“I’m the one that shut him down that day, finally,” Andrews said. “I’ve been a nervous wreck letting him come back as quick as he has. He’s doing a lot better this week, but he’s still recovering and I’m holding my breath because of it.”
“He passed all the tests and all the functional things we do, but it’s been a trying moment for me, to be honest with you.”
Griffin couldn’t do what made him successful and a dynamic option throughout the season. He couldn’t run, or get to the edge, which erased a significant dimension of his game, and eliminated the highly effective read-option offense. A week ago we saw Griffin make DeMarcus Ware — one of NFL’s best pass rushers — look like a wobbly Gumby while forcing him to guess on those read-option plays, and then daring the Cowboys defensive end to match his speed to the outside. When he tried to accelerate today there was only wincing and the need to reach the sideline, which was also his lifeline.
If you’re still stuck in an illogical, archaic “PLAY WITH WHAT GOT YOU THERE! HO-RAH!” mindset like, I dunno, every flapping set of former player or coach gums on my TV right now, consider how much Griffin’s teammates knew his presence hurt what they were trying to accomplish offensively.
Paulsen on RG3′s injury: “It kind of took out a lot of the playbook.” #Redskins
— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) January 7, 2013
His feeble leg severely restricted his throwing accuracy and, most importantly, his power to push throws deep downfield. He completed only 52.6 percent of his passes, a rate that dipped below 55 percent only twice all year, and overall finished at a significantly higher 65.6 percent. The spiral began after a strong start with two quick first-quarter touchdown passes, and it ended with only 86 passing yards for Griffin on 4.4 yards per attempt. He averaged 213.3 yards per game throughout the regular season, and 8.1 yards per attempt.
He was nothing, and he was normal, and as his condition worsened in the second half he shouldn’t have been anywhere near the huddle.
Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 132 yards, and Russell Wilson added 67 yards of his own on the ground, including a season high 28-yard run in the third quarter. Also, Wilson has now thrown only two interceptions over his last nine games. With their physical and fast corners — Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman — Seattle will now travel to Atlanta next week to play a Falcons team with two wide receivers who are, well, physical and fast.
Strength against strength, and power against power. Be afraid, dirty birds.