Should RG3 have been Benched in Redskins’ Loss to Seattle?

During the Washington Redskins’ first playoff game of the season, they lost to the Seattle Seahawks by a score of 24-14. And it was ugly. RG3, who was the best hope Washington had to further themselves in the postseason, got injured twice — both injuries to his right knee, an area that he’s already been benched for this season. The first time he injured the knee was in the first half, and he went back out to play. Now, those who love controversy, are saying that he should never have gone back in.

It’s an easy argument, to say that Griffin should have been benched and Cousins should stepped in much sooner than he did. Even when you consider that Cousins had missed practice that week due to illness, and the fact that the Seahawks’ defense has been one of the toughest to beat this year. After all, this is Griffin’s health we’re talking about and possibly, his career that he has only just begun. So yes, perhaps he should have been sat after he first injured his knee in the first half.

But, the other side of the story always must be considered. First, there was a conversation that took place on the sidelines once Griffin was hurt the first time. Coach Mike Shanahan asked him if he was good to play, and Griffin answered, “I’m hurt, not injured.” Really, what player isn’t at least somewhat hurt after just coming off the field? And while this is the hottest line being tossed around in the debate of whether Griffin should have been benched, the actual conversation was likely much longer than that. These talks are very typical between the coach and the player, as the decision is largely theirs to make.

So maybe Shanahan really doesn’t trust Griffin at his word. And maybe he knew he was putting the kid’s career in jeopardy when he sent him back out there. But that’s not likely the case. After all, Griffin didn’t really seem all that hurt on the field. There was some maneuvering, and sometimes yes, he limped. Again, these are things that nearly every football player does while they’re playing football. Especially when it’s a playoff game. And even if Griffin was showing signs of weakness, he also showed signs of strength, tossing a touchdown after he went back out.

The culture of football is typically cutthroat, as we’ve seen with teams just this past year. But would a coach really knowingly risk his own player’s health? In the first game of the playoffs, and with many good years still left in him? Would the player knowingly severely injure himself, in the hopes that he can at least make a couple good plays in the meantime? None of it is likely. What’s more probable is that both Shanahan and Griffin took a risk, as players and coaches do every day in the NFL. Unfortunately this time, it didn’t work out for either of them.

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