ASHBURN, Va. (CBSDC) — If he had it to do over again, Mike Shanahan would have pulled Robert Griffin III at halftime of the Washington Redskins wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks last January.
Perhaps if he had he gone with his gut and benched him then, Griffin would be still be the starting quarterback today.
Instead, Kirk Cousins will be under center for Washington’s final three games of a disappointing season.
During a sometimes contentious press conference on Wednesday, Shanahan said he believed his decision to continue to play a hobbled Griffin in the second half cost the Redskins a postseason victory.
Entering the third quarter Washington held a narrow 14-13 advantage over the visiting Seahawks. By the time Griffin crumbled to the turf with just over six minutes remaining in the game, they trailed 21-14 and Seattle had the ball at Washington’s 5-yard line.
Eleven months later the gravity of the moment still weighs on the Redskins coach and is factoring prominently in his decision to presently shut down the franchise quarterback.
“I could have kicked myself in the rear end,” Shanahan confessed Wednesday. “My gut was, even though the doctor said he was fine Robert said it was fine, I knew in my gut… I watched him.”
He recalled a conversation he had with Griffin at some point after the injury.
“‘I’ve had people just like you fool me at halftime. I got the experience to watch in the second quarter that you weren’t playing normal. I don’t blame it on you at all, I blame it on me,'” he told Griffin.
Shanahan added: “Even the doctors, they can take a look at a knee and see if it’s alright. It might have been alright from a structure standpoint… I should have went with my gut, but I thought he had earned the right to play because he convinced me he was okay.”
Shanahan, in an admitted rare moment of honesty, continued to reflect on the immediate ramifications of decision.
“I think in the long term, because we’re talking about honesty right here, it cost us the game because the guy that goes in can (only) play at a certain level,” he said. “So, not only did it hurt Robert, but it hurt us from winning the game. As a coach you have to look at all those scenarios. And that’s why you have to make some tough decisions.”
And so this season a tough decision was made much to the chagrin of Griffin whose expressions of desire to play were all for not.