A day after the Seattle Seahawks came from behind to defeat the Washington Redskins 24-14 in the NFC Wild Card round, the lasting image, at least in my mind, is the frightening sight of Robert Griffin III [Left] going down in the fourth quarter after twisting his already-injured knee going after a botched snap.
It sealed the fate of the Washington Redskins' season and put a shadow over the team's future.
Did RGIII truly give the Redskins the best chance to win the ball game yesterday? It became clear by late in the third quarter that backup QB and fellow rookie Kirk Cousins probably would have given Washington a better chance to put together a scoring drive, which could have been all the Redskins needed to pull away with a victory. Cousins should have entered the game at some point in the third quarter at the latest. By that point, it was clear that Cousins was the better option than the damaged RGIII.
I understand keeping RGIII in the game after he aggravated the knee right before throwing that second TD score in the first quarter; if you are Washington Head Coach Mike Shanahan [Right], you have to at least see if RGIII could still run the offense and make something happen, at least with his arm if not with his legs.
But Shanahan rolled the dice by leaving a clearly-injured RGIII on the field as long as he did and now he has some questions to answer to. He is the one who ultimately made the decision to keep RGIII in the game.
As time wore on, it became painfully clear that he was not comfortable back under center. He was fragile. Hurting. Limping. And, quite frankly, watching RGIII out there made me feel uncomfortable (I'm sure Redskins fans share the sentiment).
If RGIII was 100% yesterday, the Redskins would have defeated the Seahawks yesterday. And they probably could have done it quite handily considering the way they opened up the game. Who knows how far the team could have gone in the playoffs with a healthy RGIII (I thought the Super Bowl was clearly a possibility this year).
Being the competitor RGIII is, it's understandable why he wanted to stay in the game and lead his team in hope of bringing a victory to a franchise desperately thirsting for playoff success. I don't blame him for wanting to stay in the game. If he pulled himself out of the game, chances are the same critics who are ripping him for staying in would have called him a coward for bowing out (a.l.a. Jay Cutler).
But Shanahan should have known better. They should said enough is enough and taken him out of the game. Both for the good of RGIII and the team. RGIII is paid to play and Shanahan is paid to make the decisions. The buck stops with the latter.
Shanahan said after the game: "[RGIII] said, 'Hey, trust me. I want to be in there, and I deserve to be in there.' I couldn't disagree with him."
Wrong, Coach. You could have disagreed with him. You should have disagreed with him. It's your job to do so. No matter how unpopular it is, no matter how upset your QB might be afterwards, your job is to protect the franchise QB from further harm if you can help it (in this case, he could have) and give your team the best chance to win, both now and in the future. He failed in both regards on Sunday night.
RGIII is the Washington Redskins. He is the future of this franchise. With him healthy, this team will be going to Super Bowls. But if this injury requires extensive surgery, it puts a dark cloud over this franchise moving forward.
Now we wait to see how bad the damage is.