At 3-8 and virtually out of the playoff hunt, the Washington NFL team is playing for next season. The defense has been horrid and the offense has been all but invisible the last few weeks. But despite poor special teams play, bad play calling and a laughable pass defense, the quarterback play of Robert Griffin III is always the first and last thing to blame if you’re critiquing the Washington team.
Whatever RGIII does, it’s at the forefront of Washington’s issues. After a Monday night disaster against the San Francisco 49ers, a few opposing players said they believe Griffin should be benched until he fully heals from an ACL tear he suffered late last season. Benching Griffin could solve a few things for the quarterback personally but it could also open a Pandora’s box that no one associated with the team is willing to risk. Is it worth it at this point to bench RGIII? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: 11 games into the season, benching RGIII at this point does service to basically nobody. Without a true offseason, Griffin has been horribly bad at times this season. His throws have been off the mark and his decision-making has been questionable. But nevertheless, Griffin still gives Washington it’s best chance of winning. Winning may not mean much now, with the postseason out of reach, but some extra work wouldn’t hurt the sophomore signal caller. Washington took a risk when they started RGIII on opening day. To bench him now, 12 weeks later, makes no sense.
Green: It makes sense if you don’t want Griffin to improve and you’re trying to see what you have in Kirk Cousins. Griffin has looked lost out there at times this season, and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s play calling hasn’t helped him. The style of offense Shanahan really wants to run may be more suited for Cousins than RGIII. Instead, Shanahan has to run these college plays to try to take advantage of Griffin’s mobility. The college-style option runs and quick screens worked so well for RGIII last season before the injury. But NFL defenders have caught on to the trend this season and have shut Griffin down. Plus, he isn’t running as often because he isn’t as elusive as he was pre-injury. I don’t want to say he’s still hurt because I don’t believe that. I just think he’s not as confident, and you can’t be a starting quarterback in the NFL without confidence.
Riley: Washington just won the NFC East last season; it’s not like they’re devoid of talent. The pieces are there for the Washington, but the team needs to identify two to four other players along the offensive line, front seven and secondary that can come in and play up to NFL standards. It’s hard to fault Griffin for his performance considering he didn’t have an offseason or training camp to get in sync. Washington has thrust him out there despite his ACL so they must stick with him. Personally, I feel as though Griffin should have sat out this season altogether; he only tore his ACL in January. The fact that he rehabbed the injury and made it back to start the season is a miracle in its own right. But since the team decided to let him play, they need to stick with him. Like Cousins, Griffin is only a second-year quarterback. They both need the extra playing time to improve their game. If Griffin is going to be the quarterback of this team then he needs to be the quarterback who’s receiving the playing time.
Green: Injury aside, RGIII has been flat-out horrible at times. You say he needs to get the work but any quarterback playing this bad might need to get that extra work at practice. On game day, a coach has to put his team in the best position to win and right now Griffin is not the best option. The reason why he’s struggled so much this year is because he’s been forced to be a pocket passer. The NFL wasn’t made for mobile quarterbacks to run around all day and toss the ball at the very last second before taking a crushing blow. We’ve been forced to watch Griffin morph his game into precision passer and the experiment has been a disaster. It’s passing quarterbacks, not running ones, who win in the NFL. We already know what Griffin is and we know what Cousins brings. Washington needs to take a hard look at it’s quarterback situation because one style is going to last a lot longer than the other. The fact that the mobile Griffin pretty much got his knee blown out in his first year tells me everything I need to know about which player has a better chance of longevity. Cousins could be the best fit for this franchise going forward and he needs a chance to take over the reins from RGIII.