When the decision to start quarterback Colt McCoy was coupled with a suggestion that Robert Griffin III remained part of Washington’s long-term plans, plenty scoffed. How, after all, can the team bench Griffin for the second time in less than a year and then embrace him all over again?
Apparently, they can. Quite possibly, they will.
Griffin’s absence from the starting lineup could be as short as one week, and it could last until the start of next season. Either way, the plan is to try to get Griffin back to being the player he was in 2012, when he took the league by storm (and kept defenses off balance) with a perfect mixture of accurate passing and explosive running ability.
The organization understands that Griffin has encountered a significant amount of adversity, most of which was beyond his control. Weeks before he arrived, the NFL robbed the team of $36 million in cap space for treating the uncapped year of 2010 as, you know, uncapped. And the draft picks given up to get Griffin made it harder to put high-level young talent around him.
Throw in the torn ACL, last year’s Shanahan-driven dysfunction, and a dislocated ankle that derailed his ability to learn coach Jay Gruden’s offense, and Griffin’s failure to develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the game becomes far more understandable.
It doesn’t mean Griffin is destined to return to what he was in 2012. But the organization isn’t ready to give up on him.
In that regard, the organization includes coach Jay Gruden. While his words suggest that Gruden is waging a battle to bench Griffin for good, the team believes Gruden wants Griffin to get better — and that Gruden is opting for candor instead of coddling as he tries to coax the most out of Griffin over the long haul.
By the start of the 2015 season, Washington’s roster could look a lot different. Considerable dollars will be spent in free agency. The first-round draft pick won’t belong to the Rams. And some of the players who have kept the team from being successful will be gone.
Despite the current feeding frenzy fueled by common sense and conventional wisdom that Griffin will be among the former members of the team by next season, the plan really is to keep him around. Surprisingly, that doesn’t seem to be a ploy to salvage his trade value.