Almost from the moment the pick was announced, Shanahan’s decision came under question on television and sports-talk radio. Because the NFL eclipses all in sports media — seriously, the war on terrorism isn’t analyzed as thoroughly as ESPN examines sixth-round picks — there was national debate about whether Shanahan wasted a pick in doubling down on the game’s most important position.
Griffin possesses the type of you-better-not-leave-your-seat-while-he’s-on-the-field talent the Redskins haven’t had at quarterback since Jurgensen wowed fans long ago during his Hall of Fame career. Griffin has a light-up-the-room personality and smile that has already drawn many Redskins fans (heck, most of them?) to him. Clearly, the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor is the new face of the franchise.
It wasn’t crazy, though, for Shanahan to also bring in Cousins, the winningest quarterback in Michigan State history.
This doesn’t have the feel of another Rex-Beck debacle. For anyone who has worried, “Uh, oh, Shanahan is making another team-crippling mistake at quarterback,” get that out of your head. This was forward-thinking: In addition to getting a superstar prospect, the Redskins definitely could use a young backup considered to have better-than-average skills.
Actually, Shanahan explained his thinking rather well during the draft, telling reporters at Redskins Park, “We have to have depth to win.” Succinct and correct.
In the NFL, players’ bodies essentially absorb the effects of a car crash on every play. Injuries are as much a part of the fabric of the game as emotional on-field celebrations and passionate crowds. The first goal of every defense is to neutralize quarterbacks (or in the case of the New Orleans Saints, to collect bonus pay for sending them to the hospital).
Surely, the Shanahans, Mike and Kyle, Washington’s offensive coordinator, will do everything in their power to assemble a top-notch offensive line for Griffin. They’ve added playmakers at other skill positions to help smooth his transition to the NFL.
Regardless of their plans, however, it would be foolish for the Shanahans to possibly leave the team shorthanded at quarterback (again) if Griffin can’t do it at times for any reason (Mike Shanahan reportedly had Cousins as the third-best quarterback in the draft behind Griffin and top overall pick Andrew Luck). Call it RGIII insurance.
“Hopefully, [an injury to Griffin] doesn’t happen,” Shanahan told reporters. “But you want to be prepared.