The Washington Redskins joined Robert Griffin III in being all in for Week 1, unflinchingly reinserting their prized second-year quarterback into their opening-night lineup after he missed offseason activities, the most intense portions of training camp and the preseason following knee surgery in January.
The early results have been disappointing. Griffin has struggled to recapture last season’s magic and the Redskins are off to an 0-3 start. The wisdom of the team’s decision to play Griffin in the early stages of the season continues to be debated outside Redskins Park. But those inside the team’s headquarters say they don’t second-guess the move. They believe Griffin is improving on a weekly basis on his way back to being his usually reliable self.
“He’ll be fine,” Redskins fullback Darrel Young said Wednesday as the team began preparations in earnest for this weekend’s game at Oakland. “Robert Griffin is playing great. He’ll be himself. Whatever people are saying about him is ridiculous. He’ll be fine. He’ll be ready to play this Sunday. . . . He’s looked better every week since he’s been out there.”
Outside the organization, opinions are mixed. Through three games, Griffin has thrown four interceptions and has a passer rating of 84.1; he has averaged 20.7 rushing yards per game. When he was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year last season, Griffin threw five interceptions all season, had a passer rating of 102.4 and averaged 54.3 rushing yards per game.
Former NFL quarterback Trent Green said he has concerns because Griffin’s knee surgery was on his right leg, the leg on which Griffin must plant when he throws.
“Most of the quarterbacks I can remember having such an extensive knee surgery, it was on their other leg,” Green said. “The one quarterback that comes to mind for me having a surgery like that on the plant leg is Daunte Culpepper. He never looked the same. So when you’re trying to come back as quickly as this, that’s why I have concerns. When I heard he was trying to come back for the opening game, that’s what I thought about.”
Green noted that Griffin threw a superb long pass this past Sunday to wide receiver Aldrick Robinson on the play on which Robinson’s would-be touchdown catch was nullified by an instant-replay review as the Redskins lost to the Detroit Lions. Green said he also has complete trust in orthopedist James Andrews, who performed four surgeries on him and also did Griffin’s surgery in January. Even so, Green said it’s valid to question whether the Redskins should be playing backup Kirk Cousins early in the season while Griffin finishes mending.
“All of those people were confident in Robert coming back,” said Green, formerly a Redskins starter. “Now that we’re a month into the season, three weeks into the season, would it be better to pull back? Those are the decisions the coaching staff and medical staff have to make. Would it be better to take some time, let Robert get better, let Kirk play and let things settle down? It’s not a [starting] quarterback issue. Robert is the quarterback. [But] I think it’s the biggest decision the coaching staff has to make.”