Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan may have committed a personnel blunder so egregious, so unmistakably unforgivable that he’s entered the upper echelon of NFL coaches who have absolutely no control of the sidelines.
I’ve never been on the Mike Shanahan bandwagon, but even I didn’t think he had something like this in him. Something so… Shurmur.
Okay, I know it’s probably sour grapes of me to bring up ex-Browns coach Pat Shurmur after he’s been canned, but he’s honestly one of the worst personnel coaches I’ve ever watched on a consistent basis. If you’re not a local Cleveland fan reading this, we once saw our
fearless senseless coach hand the ball off to a backup tight end on a crucial fourth down play. If that isn’t a bellwether moment for terrible personnel decisions, I don’t know what is.
Sunday, I found a new moment.
Robert Griffin III started Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks with a sprained LCL in his right knee. A sprain isn’t enough to keep your star out of a playoff game. I got that. But then when Griffin injures the same knee during the game, Shanahan has to make the right decision. When the Washington Post reported that “Griffin has suffered partial tears of his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, according to several people with knowledge of the test results,” it was pretty clear that Shanahan, by allowing Griffin to stay in the game, dropped the ball.
The big question is whether Griffin’s knee injury got worse while Shanny was watching the team’s future run around on a bum knee or not. The answer is; it doesn’t matter if the knee got worse. What matters is that Mike Shanahan let his player make the kind of personnel decision that players should never be allowed to make; whether to play hurt.
And this isn’t just any player. I’m not trying to devalue a hardworking special teams guy, or backup linebacker who keeps trying to play to impress the coaches, but Robert Griffin III is an upper echelon guy whose health is directly tied to the team’s future. And by future, I mean the Redskins traded three years worth of first round draft picks and a second rounder from last year’s draft. That’s more than just the future of on player or one position, that eats up the flexibility of the entire roster for the foreseeable future.
If Griffin has the torn ACL that the Washington Post report seems to suggest, a surgery would sideline him for 8-10 months. The 2013 season kicks off in 8 months. A late surgery, a slow recovery or any weird setback could cost the Redskins the 2013 playoffs after the injury arguably cost them the 2012 playoffs.
I don’t think that Shanahan is going to get fired, but I definitely have less respect for his coaching ability and control of the sidelines. Shanahan started coaching in Oakland, and was terrible there. No judgement should ever be made from being terrible in Oakland under the late Al Davis’ ownership. But then Shanahan spent 14 years in Denver with rosters stacked higher than a cheap diner’s pancake breakfast. All those great rosters, and four years of Hall of Famer John Elway, netted Shanahan two Super Bowl Championships. That’s great. But considering all of the firepower on those Denver teams, I’m pretty critical of Shanahan since he only netted one more playoff victory in his entire time in Denver.
Back to the present day, after a 5-11 and 6-10 season, Shanahan was given a Golden Goose to start the 2012 campaign. It seemed like Mike Shanahan was going to handle his good fortune well. And he did handle it well. For 16 and a half games.
Unfortunately, sometimes it only takes a moment can turn the future of an organization.