Coach Mike Shanahan said Wednesday he discussed the benching of quarterback Robert Griffin III with Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and General Manager Bruce Allen before putting the plan into effect this week.
Shanahan said the discussions began last week and he would not have opted to sit down Griffin for the remainder of the season if Snyder or Allen had objected.
“Well, just put it this way: I said if either one wasn’t 100 percent behind my reasoning that I’m giving you, I said we won’t go there,” Shanahan said at Redskins Park. “Nothing needs to be said. We’ll just keep it status quo.”
Shanahan said there was consideration given to sitting down Griffin beginning with last Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Yeah, there was talk” of that, Shanahan said. “I brought it up. … It was in the back of my mind, really, any time you’re out of the playoffs. I look at all the different positions. But the one thing I thought was most important to this organization — and that’s one of the reasons why I talked about it with Dan, because I thought it was very important to include him — that, ‘Hey, this is your guy of the future. What do you want to do? What’s important for us making the right decision?’
“And it’s easy to say after somebody gets hurt, ‘We should have took him out.’ And I didn’t want to put our organization in that type of situation.”
Snyder was attending an NFL owners’ meeting in Dallas and was not available to comment. He declined to comment to reporters there, according to the NFL Network.
Shanahan, in a nearly half-hour news conference, denied that he is attempting to provoke Snyder to fire him so he can leave the organization immediately and collect the money due to him for the remainder of his contract. He said he would like to remain with the team next season but acknowledged it’s possible that won’t happen once he and Snyder sit down after the season to discuss the situation.
Shanahan also said his gut instinct was to remove Griffin at halftime of last season’s playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks and he wishes he had trusted that instinct. Griffin remained in that game and re-injured his right knee, necessitating surgery days later.
Update, 5:05 p.m.:
Griffin will be de-activated in the final three games of the season, Shanahan confirmed, while Kirk Cousins becomes the starter and Rex Grossman serves as the backup quarterback. Shanahan reiterated that he was making the move to try to protect Griffin from continuing to absorb the number of hits he’s been taking lately. Griffin was sacked 24 times in the past five games and Shanahan said the hits were “piling up” for the second-year quarterback.
“At the end of the day we felt that the best thing to do for Robert was to not play him, give Kirk an opportunity to play, so [Griffin] could go into an offseason healthy,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan said he weighed the risks of Griffin being hurt and the experience he would gain by playing the final three games.
“We have to do … what is in the best interests of Robert,” Shanahan said. “What is the best thing going forward for him — to have those next three games, the experience of going through those reps, or having him healthy in the offseason? … I said, ‘Hey, Dan, we’re not gonna go this direction unless you fully support it.’ Same thing with Bruce: ‘You’ve got to tell me that you’re behind this and you’re in favor of it. But I don’t want anybody coming back in a game or two and saying hey, you know, we should have talked about this.’ ”
Shanahan said it would be “devastating to him” if Griffin missed a second straight offseason program, and added: “We made a decision that I think is the best for Robert.”
Under the terms of Shanahan’s contract, he was not obligated to discuss the move with Snyder, he said.
“In theory, I don’t,” Shanahan said. “But would you ever make a decision like that with your future quarterback that you gave up two number one [draft choices] and a number two without having the courtesy to talk to the owner and say, ‘Hey, would you make this move? If not, this is your football team. I’m a head football coach. I would not make it unless I got your blessing’ because I don’t want to do that to him if he feels it’s not the right thing to do.”
Shanahan also said: “That’s what you do about a quarterback. He’s your franchise. That’s why you ask those questions. You don’t do it about the other positions. Dan could care less about the other positions: ‘Hey, that’s why you coach. That’s why I own.’ I understand that. That’s not a problem. But I do ask it about a quarterback because we’re gonna have a circus atmosphere any time you make a decision like that.”
Shanahan later clarified that remark in a conference call with Atlanta reporters, saying any owner would be concerned about a decision regarding the quarterback and Snyder leaves all football-related decisions solely to him about players at other positions.
He dismissed the notion that he benched Griffin in an attempt to provoke Snyder to fire him, which would enable him to leave the organization immediately and collect the money owed for him for the remainder of his contract.
“Somebody said, ‘Hey, the reason why you’re going with Kirk is you’re trying to get fired and get a year left on your contract,’ ” Shanahan said. “If I were trying to get fired, I’m not gonna call up Dan Snyder and ask his opinion on a player I don’t have to. And if he says no, I’m not gonna go that direction.”
Shanahan acknowledged the possibility that he and the Redskins will part ways soon.
“I don’t know until I sit down with Dan,” he said. “Dan will find out what I think. I’ll give him my opinions and he’ll give me his opinions. Maybe we just hit it off and everything goes — I get that 12-, 15-year contract. Maybe three years. But anyway, whatever it is. But that’s where grown men talk at the end of the year and you find out ‘hey, what’s the best way to go?’ We may have big differences and we say, ‘Hey, I believe in this. You believe in that.’ And you go. Or, ‘We’re on the same page and let’s go forward.’ I can’t tell you that until I talk with him.”
Shanahan said he wants to return.
“You always want to finish something you started, always want to,” he said. “Dan and I will sit down at the end of the season and I will give him the things that I believe it takes to get to the next level. And I’m sure he’ll give me his viewpoint. So at the end of the year, we’ll get a chance to sit down, chat with one another, feel like if we’re on the same page, all the things that coaches do going into the last year of their contract.”
He said he should have removed Griffin at halftime of the Seattle playoff game, as he’d been inclined to do.
“Just like the Seattle game at halftime,” Shanahan said. “I could have kicked myself in the rear end because my gut was, even though the doctor said, ‘Hey, he was fine. You know what? It was all stable. Hey, you don’t have to worry’ [and] Robert said it was fine, I knew, my gut, I watched him. I said, ‘Hey, that’s what I should have done’ because I did see it. You have to go with your gut sometimes in saying, ‘Hey, this is what you do for a living. You’ve been around it. You’ve got to make sure you take care of your best players in a situation like this.’ ”
He knows that Griffin wants to play, he said, but added he hopes that Griffin understands this move at some point in the future.
Shanahan continued to refuse to directly address last Sunday’s report by ESPN that he contemplated resigning after last season but said he’s not in the habit of planting stories with reporters with conversations not attributed to him by name. He said he was being, in his estimation, unusually candid Wednesday.
“What I’m trying to do is be as honest as I can,” Shanahan said. “And I don’t normally do that because I don’t really think it’s anybody’s business except the guys in our locker room. And I don’t get into a lot of detail. But here I think it’s a must for people to understand what I’m thinking relative to Robert, what I’m thinking relative to Kirk, this organization and what direction we’re trying to [go] moving forward.”
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