Quarterbacks remain in limbo regarding Sunday’s starter at Atlanta

December 10, 2013

It remains to be seen which quarterback will start for Washington this week.

The Washington Redskins on Wednesday will hit the practice fields in preparation for Sunday’s game in Atlanta, but as of Tuesday evening, neither Robert Griffin III nor Kirk Cousins had received indication as to which would start at quarterback, according to people with ties to the organization.

Shanahan said Monday that he was pondering a change at quarterback to ensure that Griffin, who had been sacked 24 times in the past five games, made it through the season complete healthy and ready for the offseason program.

This marked an abrupt change in philosophy for Shanahan who for the last month had maintained that he wouldn’t bench Griffin for any reason other than injury. The coach had said that it was important for Griffin to continue to play and work his way through growing pains.

But on Monday, despite saying that Griffin was 100 percent healthy, Shanahan said “that’s just something in the back of my mind I’m thinking about right now, and I’ll let you know in the next couple of days exactly what I think.”

Shanahan said if Cousins did take over as starter, it would be for the final three weeks.

The Redskins on Tuesday afternoon released their media schedule for Wednesday’s practice and announced that Shanahan and Griffin would hold post-practice press conferences as they always do.

That doesn’t mean a quarterback change is no longer possible.

But multiple people familiar with the situation said Tuesday evening that Shanahan hadn’t informed the quarterbacks of his plans. Shanahan on Monday said he hadn’t discussed his impending decision with Griffin.

Cousins made an appearance in Sunday’s 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. With Washington down by 35 points early in the fourth quarter, Shanahan went with Cousins to avoid risk of injury to Griffin. Although Griffin was disappointed that he wasn’t permitted to finish the game, he understood Shanahan’s reasoning.

But when asked if he was worried that he wouldn’t star the next game, Griffin said, “No. That’s not an issue.”

Cousins said Sunday he didn’t know what the coming week held for him but that he would approach the Atlanta game as if he was the starter, just as he usually does.

“I just prepare every game like I’m the starter, just so I have to be ready because I don’t want to get called into a game like this game and have not prepared the way I need to,” Cousins said. “So I’ll prepare the same as every week and do whatever I’m coached to do.”

People within the organization believe that Shanahan’s announcement that he was considering benching Griffin was an attempt by Shanahan to further provoke Snyder to firing him.

But Shanahan appears to have survived Tuesday, and now is expected to remain on the job at least another week. And, a person with knowledge of the situation said that Snyder wouldn’t intervene regarding the quarterback situation.

Shanahan said that Griffin isn’t hobbled in any way.

“No, I think he’s 100 percent. I think he’s feeling very good where he’s at right now. That wasn’t really part of the decision.”

Ironically, last Thursday, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan discussed the handling of players and avoiding injury and said sitting a player to avoid injury is never normally a factor. Shanahan made the comments while reflecting on last January’s playoff loss at Seattle, when the Redskins played Griffin despite visible evidence that he wasn’t 100 percent.

“First of all, I’ve never – in the history of me coaching – never heard a player say he’s fine and the doctor say he’s fine and then the coach say he’s not fine unless the coach doesn’t want to play the guy,” Kyle Shanahan said last Thursday. Then the coach might [say], ‘Hey, you know, you’re not that good,’ because he really has another agenda.”

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