The Strasburg and RGIII shutdowns are different, in the sense that one was impromptu and the other was planned; one was healthy and the other was presumably not; one’s team was losing and the other’s was going to the playoffs; one played football and the other baseball; one came amid team disarray and the other came amid stability.
But they were similar in this regard: Every single person in the world had an opinion about them.
Thus, here’s John Madden, talking about the RGIII Shutdown during his weekly spot with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“I mean, you know it’s baloney,” he said, his strongest words on the topic. “I like Mike Shanahan, and I’m not talking behind his back, but when you say something like that, you know that’s not right — you’re not going to sacrifice regular season games. There’s only 16 of them a year. You’re not going to sacrifice regular season games for an offseason program. I know that part of it was he wasn’t healthy last offseason and that really hurt him, so it would be good if he were healthy this offseason. I believe that. There’s some truth to that.
“But his playing is going to to help him,” Madden continued. “He needs experience, he needs snaps, he needs reps, he needs to get his confidence back. And if it’s a problem of taking too many sacks and too many hits then BLOCK BETTER for him. Get some better blockers, get a better scheme, go an extra lineman sometimes, go an extra tight end, chip a good pass rusher, do SOMETHING to help him other than to shut him down. Where did shut him down ever come up in football? I never heard shut him down. I mean, that was a baseball thing — a pitch count, he’s thrown so many, now we’re going to shut him down. I’ve never heard of a football player ever being shut down. Now if he’s hurt, that’s a different story. If he’s hurt and can’t play, then we’re talking about a different ballgame here.”
Madden also talked more generally about the chaos in Ashburn.
“You have so many parts to that, and I think it probably all starts off with the record,” Madden said. “I’ve always said winning’s the great deodorant, and conversely, when you have a bad record, everything stinks, and everything starts to unravel, and everything falls apart. You know, you never hear oh they have a great locker room when they’re 3-10. When they’re 3-10 you have a coach problem, you have an owner problem, you have a quarterback problem, you have a defensive problem, you have all the problems, and that’s what the Redskins are going through right now.
“I think it’s a dysfunctional group,” Madden continued. “I don’t understand what they’re doing. It’s hard to take well we’re watching out for RGIII’s health and his welfare. You know, if you felt [that way] about his health and welfare, you probably would have done something about it a year ago, or maybe even earlier in the season, when he started the regular season without any preseason practice.
“When the going gets tough, I’m not always sure what you do,” Madden said. “I’m not saying that I know how to fix everything when the going gets tough, but I do know this: when the going goes tough you don’t quit. And you don’t fold up. And you don’t go in the other direction. I think you stay with what you believe you stay with who you are, you stay with what you are.
“And we have an integrity piece here, too,” he continued. “You can say well they’re 3-10, they’re out of it, so now they can do these things. No you can’t. This is still regular-season football. Draft order, that’s one small thing, but you still owe it to the people that are playing, that are still in the playoff picture. And when you can affect that and you don’t affect it with an all-out performance, then I think that affects the integrity of the game….If you’re in the regular season, there’s only one way to play, and that’s to play your best people to win the game, every regular season game.”
As for the notion that Kirk Cousins might simply be a better option?
“You know that [Shanahan] didn’t think that he was the best quarterback,” Madden said. “If he did, he would have played him early in the season when he really needed a healthy quarterback. He thought it was RGIII.”