WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – In the days following Robert Griffin III’s “rusty” first-half performance against the Eagles, from which he nearly led the Redskins back from the dead in the second half – Washington would ultimately lose 33-27 – the race to sum up how his performance fits within offseason headlines is underway.
Nationally, the perspective seems to have fallen one touchdown short of the hero narrative, which Griffin helped craft with his “All In For Week 1” Adidas ad campaign that launched just after he had surgery to repair his torn ACL.
Locally, in an area that’s been saturated with daily RGIII updates for 8 months to the point of madness, the larger picture appears in the forefront of an argument rooted in the awareness of a capable backup in Kirk Cousins, and the team’s decision to bend to Griffin’s incessant pressure to make his valiant return on Monday Night Football.
These two storylines meet in the middle with Les Carpenter, a locally based national columnist for Yahoo! Sports, who cut through the red tape when he called the expectation of Griffin to play in week one “foolish” in his latest column.
[Via Yahoo! Sports]
“There is little doubt he pinned the Redskins and coach Mike Shanahan in a corner with his Adidas commercial not long after his surgery in which he vowed to return for this first game,” Carpenter said. “It set up a foolish expectation that he had to be on the field Monday night or somehow the days and days of intense rehabilitation on the knee was worthless.
“The commercial gave him a goal. It drove him through an offseason program, first at Andrews’ clinic in Florida and then at Redskins training camp, that was more intense than anything almost anyone had seen. For comparison, his workout partner in Florida was San Francisco 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore, who tore up his knee three months before Griffin, required a complete reconstruction just like RG3 and has being held out of games until October, roughly a year after his injury. “
But if the sheer notion that RGIII may have needed more time to recover raises eyebrows as to his long-term health, and that “rust” manifested on the field in the form of a slower than usual mobile quarterback who’s suddenly unsure of himself in the pocket, what prompted Mike Shanahan to put his quarterback on the field, and back in harm’s way, possibly prematurely?
“I didn’t’ necessarily write it with the idea of power struggle, but I think this is sort of the thing that everyone is sort of feeling through with him,” Carpenter told 106.7 The Fan’s Lavar and Dukes on Tuesday. “[Griffin] does these things very publicly, that then kind of get a response, or sort of lock things in.”
“When you do a commercial like that, you are saying ‘come hell or high water, I’m going to be out there on week one,’” he added. “You can’t have that commercial and not show up until October, unless there’s something really significant that happens. If the rehabilitation goes as you planned, you’re going to be out there.”
Griffin made headlines in July when he voiced his frustration with the team’s “plan” for his return, because it may or may not have meshed well with his own plan – the one bankrolled by Adidas (see also … “Adidas” above).
He’s also said since the injury he now realizes how his well-being extends beyond himself; that his teammates have to deal with the repercussions of what he chooses to do with his body on the field.
Still, as the leader of the Redskins, Griffin tends to err on the side of leading by example.
But the thing about making everything public is, there’s no running from the truth when things don’t go according to plan.
So while RGIII has established his brand on the back of his will to overcome the odds, in being ready for week one, remarkably only 8 months removed from that devastating injury, he’s also clearly defined his position in the driver’s seat of his own welfare.
Should that thing of which we do not speak (inside the walls of the metropolitan area) happen again, as a result of him rushing back too soon, Griffin deserves to have the blame fall squarely on his shoulders. Not on Mike Shanahan’s. Not on Dr. Andrews’.
It’s on him. All of it is on him.
But he’ll also reap the bulk of the reward for his courage, should he remain healthy for the duration of the season and the Redskins find a measure of success.
“On a game he probably shouldn’t have played, unable to run free like he did last year, RG3 nonetheless nearly won a game the Redskins should have lost by a lot. And that might be the best piece of his legend yet,” Carpenter concluded.
No pressure, no diamonds.