I’m going to keep this in list form, so I don’t go overboard and get as ranty as I’d like to get.
1.) Mike Shanahan is not considering benching Robert Griffin III because of health reasons. That should be as transparent as Casper the Friendly Ghost. Mike played Robert Griffin III on a partially torn LCL and ran read-option multiple times with him while he was hurt. If ever there was a time for Mike to not bench RGIII for health reasons, it’s not now. I could see the logic behind it if I thought there was any level on sincerity, but there’s not. Mike’s not concerned with Robert’s health. He’s just toying with fans who have spent a season convinced RGIII is playing poorly because he’s not healthy (as opposed to him playing poorly because he missed an offseason and seemingly every mechanical and technique issue he’s had is cropping up all at once with the world focused squarely on him). If there was a time to sit RGIII for health reasons, it should’ve been versus Kansas City in the snow, not in perfect conditions in the Georgia Dome. It’s all lies.
2.) No, Mike Shanahan floated the possibility of benching the franchise’s star quarterback as a power play. He wants Dan Snyder to fire him, and he wants to take the $7 million he’s owed next season with him. What Mike’s done is yet another brilliant move. By threatening to bench Robert Griffin III, he has Dan Snyder in between a rock and a hard place.
3.) If Dan Snyder fires Mike Shanahan now, he’ll be feeding into the perception that RGIII ran to him and told him he was upset over getting sat down. With the national media circling like sharks over another “Dan Snyder’s trying to be best friends with the team” story, he can’t afford for new head coaching candidates to think he’s more chummy with the quarterback than he actually is. Especially with Dan Graziano planting seeds in his ESPN article, about how Snyder didn’t talk to Cousins after he won in Cleveland in 2012. Snyder has to appear to be patient, even if it’s starting to run thin.
4.) Of course, Mike Shanahan has also indicated that if he decided to bench RGIII, it’d be for the remainder of the season. That would mean Kirk Cousins would be playing against 3 of the league’s worst defenses over the last three weeks, versus the Falcons, versus the Cowboys, and versus the Giants. Shanny then sets up two scenarios.
- a.) Kirk plays okay to pretty well, leading to an unnecessary quarterback controversy. Essentially he is setting a death trap for the new head coach with media that want to know about “open competition”, and opening up people to level new criticisms at Robert’s ability to be a pocket passer. It really is no shock Kirk is ahead of Robert from that standpoint given the offense he played in at Michigan State versus the one Robert played in at Baylor, but the criticism leveled at RG3 would be harsh and potentially damaging.
- b.) Kirk plays like crap (or like he has been playing), tanking the quarterback’s trade value. I don’t think Kirk’s value was ever that high to begin with, but some QB desperate team could’ve been willing to pay handsomely for a ready made product. It’s a long shot, but it still out there.
In essence, he’s daring Dan Snyder to either fire and him and endure the now inevitable shit storm that will ensue, or he’ll douse the team in gasoline, light a match and drop it on them, like the crazy lady in Waiting to Exhale.
5.) I know it’s frustrating for Redskins fans to still have Mike here and they’d rather the storm be over, but one has to put themselves in Dan Snyder’s shoes. He knows Mike’s trying to get fired. He knows if he fires Mike, he’ll have to pay him $7 million dollars next year to do nothing. If Mike was interested in leaving on good terms, he’d settle with Dan, take half that, and then leave without trashing the team. But Mike is trying to shift blame here. Dan can not 1.) appear to be hasty in his decision making, and 2.) set a precedent for the next head coach, or for any head coach, that they can come here, hit a rough patch, and then strong arm their way out of a contract.
Dan has to be measured. He can’t afford not to be; his franchise depends on it.
6.) If Mike didn’t thrown anyone under the bus before Monday’s press conference, he did during. He trashed the offensive line, suggesting he was benching RGIII because they couldn’t protect him. (Never mind the fact that he personally built the line, won’t bench anybody, and refuses to put the three offensive linemen he drafted on the field.) He blamed kicker Kai Forbath and punter Sav Rocca for the special teams returns (as though the kicking game hasn’t been an issue all year, as though players haven’t gotten in physical altercations with special teams coordinator Keith Burns in practice, and as though the writing hasn’t been on the wall for the 40-year-old Rocca since he tore his meniscus). And he slammed Niles Paul.
Love Niles or hate him, the guy goes out and puts 100% effort. He practices hard. He’s endured switching positions. He’s the only guy besides Reed Doughty who seems to give a damn on special teams. He’s the prototypical “Shanahan guy”, and yet Mike creamed him yesterday. If Mike hadn’t lost the locker room before that, he certainly has now, roasting a player who’s only crime was calling out his own teammates for not wanting to play under a horrendous coach Mike hired.
7.) And so the beat guys on. Mike Shanahan wants to play chess with Robert Griffin III, dangling Dan’s investment — the one that Mike traded three first rounders for — right in front of his face. It is sad that, in his quest to avoid accountability, Mike Shanahan has made the calculated decision of potentially derailing the career of a 23-year-old kid. It’s an act of cowardice and one more reason that Shanahan is not worthy of any of the respect that he feels he should be given.