After his team’s victory over Robert Griffin III and the Redskins on Monday night, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks said that in his opinion, Washington’s quarterback isn’t yet fully healthy, and that he shouldn’t be playing.
Griffin himself declined to respond to Brooks’ comments when given the opportunity on Wednesday. But the following day, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said health isn’t an issue with his quarterback. Shanahan said the struggles that have manifested themselves are more-so growing pains more than anything.
“Robert is definitely healthy. Not from my opinion of studying X-rays, but from guys who know more than just football – doctors. They say he’s healthy and he looks healthy to me,” Kyle Shanahan said. “I think it’s just natural. Anybody playing with a knee brace and coming off their first year on the ACL, he might not be quite as explosive, or quite as fast – just like anybody who’s torn their ACL. But in terms of health, when the doctors say somebody’s healthy, I definitely feel like he’s healthy.”
Early in the year, Griffin clearly wasn’t yet 100 percent. He lacked explosiveness when trying to take off running. He also appeared to favor his surgically repaired knee and didn’t consistently plant on that back leg and drive the ball downfield.
Since the bye week, Griffin has looked more explosive. He appeared to be improving as a passer, but then encountered struggles in each of the last two weeks. Shanahan said that Griffin, however, is still working his way back into form – more of a mental standpoint than physical – and that his transition from college to the NFL remains on going.
“It’s just a feel – when to stay a passer , when to stay a runner, guys who have an option to make plays with their legs, they get caught in between a lot,” Shanahan explained. “Yeah, there’s a time and pace for it. Sometimes the defense gives it to you, and sometimes they don’t. And when they don’t, you’ve just got to get more comfortable as a passer, stay looking downfield and get rid of the ball.”
The coordinator believes that even if the quarterback isn’t quite as lightning fast this season, Griffin still poses a legitimate threat to defenses because of his legs, and that he will continue to improve in the drop-back passing game.
“We’re talking a 4.31 to maybe a 4.35. I don’t think Robert’s all of a sudden turned into a guy that can’t run,” Shanahan said. “Robert can still make some plays and can still do both. He just has to pick his times he can do it, and sometimes he doesn’t have an option. Sometimes, the pocket breaks down, sometimes somebody doesn’t get open. And, it’s nice to have a quarterback where the play is not over when that happens. That happens a lot in games and a quarterback has to throw it away or take a sack. And with Robert, weather he’s as explosive or not, he still has an option to do something else with the ball.”
New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck, who will face Griffin on Sunday, agrees with Shanahan. During an interview with New York reporters about the Redskins quarterback this week, Tuck was asked if Griffin looked like he was 100 percent healthy. Tuck said that Griffin is healthy enough.
“I’m not putting this on him, but a 65-percent RGIII is still very tough to defense and you have to account for him,” Tuck said, according to the New York Post. “Teams have got more shots on him this year, maybe that’s why his numbers are down. I see him turn an edge plenty of times. So he’s still very dangerous.”
Safety Antrel Rolle agreed.
“Absolutely he’s dangerous,” Rolle said. “You still can line him up against 85 percent of the guys on the field and I’m sure he’ll outrun them. When you’re coming off a knee injury, there’s a lot of things that go into that both mentally and physically. As far as some of his movement, is it the same as it was the year before? No, it’s not. But it’s close.”
Rolle added, “You just see more teams trying to attack him now and it’s throwing him off rhythm a little bit. But as far as RGIII as a player, we all know what he’s capable of and what he’s shown that he can do in this league. He’s still, in my eyes, a phenomenal player.”