Point-Counterpoint: Should RGIII Start the Season if He Can't Play in the Preseason?

May 22, 2013 in Redskins Personnel

By Staff Writers John Manuel & Steve Shoup:

If you’re tired of hearing about if Robert Griffin III will be ready to start the season, then the wedding gift talk may have been a much needed break for you.  We have decided to take you back into the will he or won't he be ready discussion and ask if RG3 is unable to go in the preseason should he still start the season opener if he is deemed ready?

JOHN:

Mike Shanahan has been clear that Griffin will not see the field this time until he is 100% healthy.  Question is what was he for l

ast season's Philadelphia game on Shanahan's injury percentage scale as a comparison?

Last preseason many questioned the Shanahans for not giving Robert Griffin many snaps in the three preseason games he saw action but once he got to New Orleans he looked like he had taken 5000 NFL snaps.  But what about 0 snaps in the preseason?  Could this be done?  Ladanian Tomlinson used to do it but he didn't have to get timing down with receivers?

STEVE:

I know there will be a lot of pressure to play RGIII if he's at or close to 100% health that first week. Between the fact that it is a division game, at home and on Monday Night Football, the stage is set for him to make the start that week.

If he hasn't played at all in Preseason though I think it would be a mistake to rush him week one. Presumably if he's not playing in preseason then he's not getting anything close to starters work in camp. In this case I think that is a big concern. Like it or not practice is highly important to a player being able to perform in a game. It's the reason why Mike Shanahan has given in the past for benching players like Albert Haynesworth since they couldn't practice during the week. And the importance of practice is only magnified when it comes to quarterbacks. Working on timing with receivers, getting a feel of the defense, seeing how he feels when the defense closes in are all things are going to be key questions to answer.

Some of that can be done in limited practice work, having him say work with receivers and even against coverages (though it's not as intense as a full practice) and other things you won't know about until you get into a game situation (hello preseason) like how he reacts to hits or real pressure (as opposed to being in practice and knowing they can't hit you).

To me if he's not healthy enough to suit up for even part of the week 3 preseason game, then I don't think he should go week one.

JOHN:

I have to agree that it would be crazy for a quarterback to start week one after getting no preseason game work, but I have a feeling this could be different.  I am not saying I agree with playing him without any preseason snaps but I just think that the Redskins whole organization does see Griffin as a superhuman person.  We know the fans do, but they won't be making the call.

Just like in Cleveland last season we have to expect that Griffin will push to play even after what ended up happening it just in his competitive nature.  And with this kinda awkward off season between Griffin and Shanahan, you know that Big Tan Mike won't want to start any potential clash with RG3.

If I had to make a guess based on no inside info, my call is that he gets work in preseason and plays week one.  My certain lock is that we will find out the final answer via Robert Griffin's twitter account from his new iPad that Superskin got him as a wedding gift.

STEVE:

That is a kinda my worry though that Griffin and Shanahan will force the issue by saying that Griffin can practice, but won't play in the preseason. Not only does Griffin not get fully tested in practice, but I feel that could be the "compromise" similar to last year with Cleveland. Though anyone who saw the way Griffin's knee bent in that Ravens game would say that Griffin should be sitting for at least a week (if not the rest of the season), Griffin took the field in practice that week. Though reports were that he was limited the fact that Mike Shanahan allowed him to practice and called him a game time decision, letting him participate in warm-ups is unbelievable. It's no surprise that Griffin's knee wasn't fully healthy the next week in Philly or that it got tweaked again in Seattle (before the major injury).

Instead of forcing Griffin to sit and rest the knee (which is the recommended first step in the treatment), Griffin stayed on it which set him back and risked further injury. Now maybe the same series of events would have occurred even if they shut down Griffin that week, but maybe not.

I'm worried the same thing could happen this preseason. Where they allow Griffin to test his knee at an advanced rate during practice, and thus risking his knee once the season starts. I think the Redskins have to be very cautious here and recognize that Adrian Peterson was the exception not the rule.

JOHN:      cousins

I hate when everyone brings up Adrian Peterson as a comparison.  And also now Derrick Rose, which is even crazier.  The only knee they should compare it to Griffin's other healthy knee.  And they should be as close to the same when he gets out there.

We haven't really discussed Kirk Cousins in this debate, but I feel most are confident he could take the team for a few weeks.  Especially as you have pointed out how the NFL helped the Redskins early in the schedule with winnable games.  It was good that he did see the field for a bit last season also.  Although if would have been brought in earlier in the Seattle game I still don't think the Redskins win, although we will never know that.

It is probably good that Cousins knows now he could be the man week one instead of late in preseason and has to be fast-tracked into the starting role.  Although maybe he is better on short notice like against Baltimore and Cleveland?  Now can we address the potential of Pat White being the starter by week two?  That is a joke.

STEVE:

Yeah the comparisons don't tell us much. Even comparing Griffin to Griffin with his previous ACL injury is faulty because this was a more serious injury and obviously the second such injury. Also it is worth noting that recovery time was longer from that injury and his production early on that season was more limited.

I think Cousins absolutely affords the Redskins ability to take their time with Griffin and ensure he's healthy. The schedule at the start of the season is pretty favorable and the Redskins could easily be 3-1 or better before their week 5 bye week. That gives Griffin an extra month to recover which I think would be the best move for the Redskins.

Also you bring up a great point. Cousins did some really nice things despite being thrown in bad situations (ATL, BAL) or having to split time in preparing for the Browns. Cousins with a year under his belt and all offseason as the primary QB should be even better.