Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan
has benched Robert Griffin III, according to widespread reports.
Back-up Kirk Cousins will start Sunday in Atlanta.
It’s a confusing move for a number of reasons: If RGIII has been hurt all year, why was he out there in the first place? If you’re afraid of him getting hurt in the final three games, why was he out there last week in a snow storm against one of the best defenses in the NFL?
With Shanahan and owner Dan Snyder in the midst of a reported “stare down” with RGIII in the middle, there’s also a possibility that this move had nothing at all to do with football.
But regardless of the reasons, this was the worst possible time for Shanahan to bench RGIII.
Just check out Washington’s schedule in the next three weeks. They play some of the worst defenses in the league. If you wanted RGIII to build some confidence heading into 2014, you’d want him playing against these teams (stats via Football Outsiders):
- at Atlanta (ranked 30th in overall defence, 31st in pass defence)
- Dallas (ranked 31st in overall defence, 28th in pass defence)
- at New York Giants (ranked 9th in overall defence, 13th in pass defence)
Any average NFL quarterback is going to put up big numbers against those three teams (or at least the first two).
Benching RGIII now denies him a golden opportunity to end a disappointing year on an upward trajectory.
It also creates a potential QB controversy.
In limited action, Kirk Cousins has proven to be a decent NFL quarterback. In all likelihood, he’s going to perform well against Atlanta and Dallas.
An optimist would say that’s a good thing. A bunch of NFL teams around the league need quarterbacks. Washington doesn’t have a 2014 first-round pick. If Washington could trade Cousins after a strong finish to 2013, they might be able to get some real value.
A pessimist, though, would say that Washington is setting itself up for a distracting quarterback controversy in 2014. They’re needlessly piling pressure on a young QB who needs time to grow.
By benching RGIII now, the Redskins are eliminating any chance that he turns around his season while also creating a potential firestorm that will last much longer than these last three weeks.
It’s not a smart move.
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