Like anyone who watches and consumes far too much football-related content during a time of the year when meaningful football isn’t actually happening, my opinion on Robert Griffin III’s 2013 season has developed into a life form of its own in a way.
It started from its humble beginnings of unabashed pessimism, with the belief that Griffin will at the very least miss time this fall, and possibly even significant time (I believe at one point I had him missing four games). Then as he was repeatedly seen running and cutting on a football field, and generally doing football things, it was impossible for that outlook to remain the same.
This comparison feels as lazy as it is inevitable: there’s an increasing likelihood that we’re about to see something Adrian Peterson-esque from Griffin this season. I don’t mean that from purely a numbers standpoint. Sure, Griffin will produce, and produce very well. But what will be most impressive about Griffin is what awed us last year with Peterson. He’ll be on the field in a game situation, and he’ll look the same.
It’s encouraging, though, that despite all this rosy euphoria, one man’s plan for Griffin hasn’t changed.
That man is Mike Shanahan, the man who matters most. After being widely criticized for pushing Griffin too hard during his rookie season after he initially injured his knee, the Redskins head coach formulated a training camp recovery plan with his training staff. And even though Griffin is progressing exceedingly well and he’s now even getting impatient with the leash Shanahan has fastened around his
neck knee, the ol’ ball coach isn’t deviating from his blueprint.
For that, we tip our hats to you, fine sir.
A week before training camp Griffin was cleared for football activities, but he was still held to participating only in seven-on-seven drills during the team portion of practice. That still hasn’t changed (his reps have increased from seven to 17), even though he’d like to graduate to 11-on-11′s.
Griffin understands he has to stay within the confines of the rehab machinery, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it. Here’s what he said Monday:
“I’m ready to move on. You can only do so much in seven-on-seven. The completion percentage is there. I feel like the rhythm is there with the guys. We’re finding the holes in the defense when we have to, we’re throwing the checkdowns when we have to as well. So, coach will tell you something else, but I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to go to team reps and other things. So, I just have to keep doing what Coach asks me to do.”
Shanahan said there’s a plan and structure in place that will be followed, and he’s cool with being the bad guy.
“We do have a plan for him. He may not always like that plan, but that’s my job, sometimes not to be like. My job is to do the best thing for him. And that’s what I’ll do.”
He also said that slowly, the leash will loosen.
“You always want your guys to be ready to go, and you want them to be a little bit antsy. But your job is to get them ready, I don’t want to put him in too quick for the obvious reasons, but I like what I’ve seen. Like we talked about last week, he’s making a lot of progress and getting a lot of quality work done, and if he continues to do this, he’ll get a little more freedom, a little more reps, and hopefully be ready for the first game.”
Process. That’s what this always comes back to, along with keeping the athlete from being a danger to himself. Some (*points finger at self, again*) will argue that last season Shanahan neglected the latter part of those basic responsibilities, and given the quality backup he has in Kirk Cousins, his aggressiveness in Year 1 of the Robert Griffin III experience was troubling.
So it’s good to see someone is protecting Griffin, because for a time, it looked like Griffin needed protection from the guy tasked with protecting him.