While the Redskins continue their course of easing him back into football activities following knee surgery just seven months ago, Robert Griffin III remains motivated and determined to start Week 1.
Perhaps a little too determined.
Through the first ten days of camp, Griffin has wowed many by way of his throwing, his rollouts, his movement and his ability to endure consecutive days of practice. But being limited to 7-on-7’s and individual drills appears to be irritating Griffin.
For now, the Redskins plan on keeping Griffin’s participation level right where it is — at around 17 throws per day. When the team returns from its first preseason game in Tennessee this Thursday, plans could change.
“Hopefully it involves some team reps,” Griffin said, according to ESPN’s John Keim. “I know what the plan is but it’s also up to be changed based on how I feel after this week.”
“I’m ready to move on,” Griffin added. “There’s only so much you can do in 7-on-7.”
While that may be true, fans should be hopeful that head coach Mike Shanahan and his staff stick to their guns and remain cautious as it pertains to Griffin’s return. Although the 23-year-old Griffin is admired for his toughness, approach and dedication, we’re still waiting to see if he’s zealous to a fault.
“You can say what you want about what he’s doing and I can feel any kind of way about it,” Griffin said, “but we have to be on the same page and that’s what I’m trying to do. Do everything the coaches ask me to do and show them my rhythm and timing is there and show them I can play. At the end of the day they have to play me Week 1 if I do everything they ask me to do. That’s not because I’m stubborn, it’s because my body’s felt good. The leg isn’t an issue.”
Sometimes I’m guilty of being a little too critical when it comes to quotes — reading too much into them and running away with words. I may call them gut feelings. You may call them ridiculous. But I can barely help myself when it comes to Griffin’s latest reference to his recovery and training camp participation.
If Shanahan and Griffin have sat down together and hammered out a timeline, both agreeing that a full participation in all required practices — and assuming no swelling and/or further injury — guarantees Griffin’s name atop the depth chart come Week 1, then we can stop now and call me an idiot for making something out of nothing.
“Robert,” Shanahan says in this mock mutual agreement I’m completely making up. “If you do this, this and this during training camp, I’ll start you on Monday night against the Eagles. That’s my word. But you have to complete every physical test, you have to look like you did last season and the knee obviously has to remain in good working shape.”
“Okay,” Griffin replies, as part of this fake meeting. “You have yourself a deal.”
The two then exchange a handshake, maybe a bro-tastic hug, and Griffin exits Shanahan’s office.
If that’s the case — and again I would admit making a mountain out of a mole hill — then so be it. While I still wouldn’t encourage Griffin’s exact words, tone or mentioning of it to the media at all, it really wouldn’t matter one way or another if the two had a collective partnership in the whole thing.
My curiosity ( and growing concern ), however, stems from Griffin’s words of, “…they have to play me Week 1 if I do everything they ask me to do.”
Um, no they don’t.
Although it’s common knowledge that Griffin is the best quarterback on the Redskins roster, this sort of call from Shanahan, coaches, ownership, etc. goes way beyond talent or ability at this point. It’s not about Griffin’s 76-yard running score, his 88-yard touchdown toss or his astounding 65.6-percent completion percentage from a year ago.
Griffin’s ultimate return to the field depends on his health, his mental well-being and the longevity of a franchise’s highly-valued asset. If you’re the Redskins and you go back on your word because your very talented, very charismatic, very passionate team-leading quarterback is demanding that you do so, more questions need to be asked regarding leadership and upper-level management.
Nothing about nothing? Could be. But on the surface it sounds like an ultimatum. Like Griffin is sending out some warning shots by way of an innocent media presser, letting the team know that he better play after he finishes what’s sure to be a spotless training camp.
And herein lies my only concern about Griffin and his NFL future. Does he have any gear besides all-in?
Sure, he’s acknowledged the importance of a long career and the significance of staying healthy, but can he practice what he preaches?
There’s no such thing as 110 percent, so if Griffin is cleared and regarded as 100 percent healthy, then by all means start the cat against Philly. But until he’s there, Shanahan and the Redskins must stand firm and stay the course.
It’s not about having a healthy Griffin for September 9, 2013. It’s about having a healthy Griffin come September 9, 2023 and for all those gamedays in between.