WASHINGTON — The further that Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III get from returning to the NFL, the more that they dish on the incredible rollercoaster ride that they had with the Washington Redskins.
In the most recent edition of Griffin vs. Shanahan, the former coach took a deeper dive into why communication broke down even after an NFC East Championship and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year season.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was really disappointed in myself,” Shanahan told the panel on FOX Sports’ Undisputed. “I knew where Robert [Griffin III] was going. I knew where his dad was going. I knew where Dan Snyder was going. It was up to my to convince this guy that, ‘hey, if you don’t run, your drop-back game is not there now, but you can get there. I blame myself for not getting to the kid.”
While it sounds like Shanahan is falling on his sword with that statement, what he’s really doing is doubling down on previous statements that Griffin III, Griffin II and Dan Snyder tried to pull an end-around to the plan.
“In his mind, he really believed he was Aaron Rodgers,” Shanahan said of RG3. “I said, ‘Y’know what? You’re not Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Rodgers is not you, or Peyton Manning. But in time, you can learn the drop-back game and you will get better. But you’ve got to do some of the things that you did your rookie year, just to keep the defenses off of you.”
In 2012, Shanahan, Griffin III and the Redskins ran a play action and read-option offense out of the pistol formation, a hybrid between playing under center and in the shotgun. The formation and the play-call revolutionized the game for one season, but the success preceded its flawless execution.
Griffin III took too many hits in 2012, including the infamous hit from Ravens defender Haloti Ngata that whipped his knee around. One month later, playing on the choppy surface at FedExField, Griffin III tore his ACL and MCL, setting this clash in motion.
“With that play action game, Robert had all the time in the world to throw,” Shanahan continued. “He had time and he was getting better. We went from 31st tied for fifth in the last seven games on third down [conversions].”
What Shanahan reiterated next is one of the primary points of contention with how the coaching staff and and the Griffins remember the disastrous 2013 seasons. At some point before the season, Griffin III met with the coaching staff to discuss playcall and strategy for the upcoming season. This is Shanahan’s version of the events, which has been corroborated by other coaches in the room.
“The next year, because he did have the injury, he felt like, ‘hey, I can’t run anymore,'” Shanahan recalled. “And I said, ‘John Elway lost his ACL his senior year in college after his third or fourth game. He had been playing for a brace on his leg for 16 games. He had never missed a game. You can come back from that knee, but what you have to do it get better in the drop-back game, doing some of the things that we’ve been doing. With that,’ I said, ‘you’ve got a chance.’
“‘If not, you’ll be out of the game in four or five years.'”
The 2017 season, in which Griffin III is unemployed, is four years after that conversation.
Griffin III recently called into the Gran and Danny Show on 106.7 The Fan and staunchly denies that that conversation ever happened.
“Me, Mike [Shanahan], Kyle [Shanhan] and Matt [LaFleur], we had a meeting. I’ve never really addressed this because while I was still in D.C., it wasn’t time to do that, and while I was in Cleveland, it wasn’t time to do that. So we had a meeting, just like every coaching staff and quarterback has a meeting at the end of the year to assess and see what you want to do moving forward.
“Not once in that meeting did I say that I didn’t want to run the zone read. Not once in that meeting did I ever say that I want to be a pure drop-back passer, and let’s only do those things. I don’t know who your sources are, but I’d love to know because I’ve talked to Matt LaFleur, Kyle Shanahan, Mike Shanahan and all those guys in recent years and my understanding is that everyone was on the same page there.”
Shanahan says that Griffin insisted on not running. Griffin says he never insisted that. Someone is lying and what has become increasingly clear is that the two sides will likely never be on the same page, if they ever were in the first place.