After his teamâ€™s victory over Robert Griffin III and the Redskins on Monday night, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks said that in his opinion, Washingtonâ€™s quarterback isnâ€™t yet fully healthy, and that he shouldnâ€™t be playing.
Griffin himself declined to respond to Brooksâ€™ comments when given the opportunity on Wednesday. But the following day, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said health isnâ€™t an issue with his quarterback. Shanahan said the struggles that have manifested themselves are more-so growing pains more than anything.
â€śRobert is definitely healthy. Not from my opinion of studying X-rays, but from guys who know more than just football â€“ doctors. They say heâ€™s healthy and he looks healthy to me,â€ť Kyle Shanahan said. â€śI think itâ€™s just natural. Anybody playing with a knee brace and coming off their first year on the ACL, he might not be quite as explosive, or quite as fast â€“ just like anybody whoâ€™s torn their ACL. But in terms of health, when the doctors say somebodyâ€™s healthy, I definitely feel like heâ€™s healthy.â€ť
Early in the year, Griffin clearly wasnâ€™t yet 100 percent. He lacked explosiveness when trying to take off running. He also appeared to favor his surgically repaired knee and didnâ€™t consistently plant on that back leg and drive the ball downfield.
Since the bye week, Griffin has looked more explosive. He appeared to be improving as a passer, but then encountered struggles in each of the last two weeks. Shanahan said that Griffin, however, is still working his way back into form â€“ more of a mental standpoint than physical â€“ and that his transition from college to the NFL remains on going.
â€śItâ€™s just a feel â€“ when to stay a passer , when to stay a runner, guys who have an option to make plays with their legs, they get caught in between a lot,â€ť Shanahan explained. â€śYeah, thereâ€™s a time and pace for it. Sometimes the defense gives it to you, and sometimes they donâ€™t. And when they donâ€™t, youâ€™ve just got to get more comfortable as a passer, stay looking downfield and get rid of the ball.â€ť
The coordinator believes that even if the quarterback isnâ€™t quite as lightning fast this season, Griffin still poses a legitimate threat to defenses because of his legs, and that he will continue to improve in the drop-back passing game.
â€śWeâ€™re talking a 4.31 to maybe a 4.35. I donâ€™t think Robertâ€™s all of a sudden turned into a guy that canâ€™t run,â€ť Shanahan said. â€śRobert can still make some plays and can still do both. He just has to pick his times he can do it, and sometimes he doesnâ€™t have an option. Sometimes, the pocket breaks down, sometimes somebody doesnâ€™t get open. And, itâ€™s nice to have a quarterback where the play is not over when that happens. That happens a lot in games and a quarterback has to throw it away or take a sack. And with Robert, weather heâ€™s as explosive or not, he still has an option to do something else with the ball.â€ť
New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who will face Griffin on Sunday, agrees with Shanahan. During an interview with New York reporters about the Redskins quarterback this week, Tuck was asked if Griffin looked like he was 100 percent healthy. Tuck said that Griffin is healthy enough.
â€śIâ€™m not putting this on him, but a 65-percent RGIII is still very tough to defense and you have to account for him,â€ť Tuck said, according to the New York Post. â€śTeams have got more shots on him this year, maybe thatâ€™s why his numbers are down. I see him turn an edge plenty of times. So heâ€™s still very dangerous.â€ť
Safety Antrel Rolle agreed.
â€śAbsolutely heâ€™s dangerous,â€ť Rolle said. â€śYou still can line him up against 85 percent of the guys on the field and Iâ€™m sure heâ€™ll outrun them. When youâ€™re coming off a knee injury, thereâ€™s a lot of things that go into that both mentally and physically. As far as some of his movement, is it the same as it was the year before? No, itâ€™s not. But itâ€™s close.â€ť
Rolle added, “You just see more teams trying to attack him now and itâ€™s throwing him off rhythm a little bit. But as far as RGIII as a player, we all know what heâ€™s capable of and what heâ€™s shown that he can do in this league. Heâ€™s still, in my eyes, a phenomenal player.â€ť