This was my biggest fear for Griffin when the season began: that Shanahan knew it was going to take time to develop a traditional pocket quarterback because of the spread-option scheme Griffin played at Baylor. Yet because Shanahan also knew he needed to put some wins in Washington on his resume before the locals grew restless and angry, Griffin’s legs were too tantalizing to pass up as a bona fide weapon.
Walking that tight rope — balancing between making sure Griffin morphs more into a passer than a runner while simultaneously giving his team and his boss the victories he needs to finish out his contract, and perhaps beyond — is Shanahan’s most difficult job.
And it’s doubly tough when Griffin is so hell-bent on proving his toughness to the rest of a kill-the-quarterback NFL.
“We talked about this from Day 1,” Shanahan said afterward. “Each game is going to be a learning experience; from Cincinnati to Tampa. We talked about protecting yourself; we talked about handing the ball off [on] option plays. Every game he goes in, he’s going to learn and that’s why it will take you two or three years to really feel comfortable . . . in the NFL, to slow the game down a little bit. And Robert is going to keep on learning.”
In no way did a play-call or too much of a run-Robert attack lead to Griffin’s concussion. If anything, he probably should have tried to eschew all contact as he got closer to that sideline, before Sean Weatherspoon put that lick on him; he had all of one carry in the game before that play, which was a bootleg option around the right side.
But the hit more than clarified the danger any time Griffin takes off galloping. He’s got to play and be healthy for this grand rebuild plan to work — or else.
He goes down and not just a starting quarterback’s health is at stake; the franchise’s hope of a winning season and the playoffs hangs in the balance. Jobs are at stake. An entire revenue stream that even a marketing guru like Daniel Snyder could not have envisioned is in instant jeopardy.
“Is RGIII okay?”
For most importantly his sake, and also Washington’s, let’s hope so.
For previous columns by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.