There is no confusion over Robert Griffin III’s knee — and there never was. The Washington Redskins drafted a healthy, thrilling young player and by the time they got done using him up this season he lurched around like a pirate with a peg leg. Let’s be clear: Griffin is not suffering from an old injury, or from just one injury, either. Anyone with eyes saw the kid hurt his knee three times in the past month, twice in the same playoff game, until a strained ligament turned into a torn one. Every decision maker in the organization, from the rock-headed coach to the renowned surgeon in the silly team pompom cap, is responsible for that.
Yeah, we get the cute distinction between “injured” and “hurt” that Coach Mike Shanahan keeps trying to make, and we understand the play-with-pain culture of the NFL. But here is the real distinction: Griffin started an NFC playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks already hurt and wound up so badly injured that he requires surgery on his torn lateral collateral ligament, and his future is compromised. The supposed confusion over how much Shanahan and orthopedic surgeon James Andrews consulted on the sideline, and over the extent of damage to Griffin’s knee, is nothing more than rope-a-dope and rationalizing, feeble attempts to excuse the indefensible.
The Washington Post’s Mike Jones breaks down the Redskins’ loss against the Seattle Seahawks and Robert Griffin III’s injured knee. And find out what the team needs to do in the offseason to stay competitive next year.
Griffin should never have been back on the field after halftime against the Seahawks last Sunday, and if the people in the organization weren’t so starved for success, they would have made a better decision about that.
There is nothing subtle about the situation. Ample evidence shows Griffin shouldn’t have been out there, more than enough to override the pleas of an impassioned rookie who wanted to play. Griffin’s right knee has already been reconstructed once, in 2009 when he was at Baylor University. The Redskins spent three first-round draft picks to get Griffin in uniform, and he is the most expensive and valuable player they have had in 25 years. Do you think for a moment they didn’t study MRI exams of that knee as if it were Sanskrit before giving up those draft choices for him? You think they don’t know what his knee should look like?
Four weeks ago, when Griffin hurt his LCL against the Baltimore Ravens, the Redskins were overjoyed to announce that an MRI showed no structural damage at that time. He had just a “strained” ligament. There was no trouble reading that picture — it was totally clear to them.
You didn’t need a grainy medical film to know that Griffin came back too soon from the LCL strain when he completed just 9 of 18 passes for 100 yards and no touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys in the final game of the regular season. A deadly accurate 70 percent passer became a so-so 50 percent passer.
What a strain means is that the ligament is dangerously stretched, if not already partially torn. There was only one real question for Shanahan and Andrews from that point on: whether Griffin could continue to play without injuring himself further. The whole point of putting him in a cumbersome leg brace was to prevent an injury from turning into something worse.