USA TODAY Sports
Rest is what you get after you secure a playoff spot. With the postseason hanging in the balance, Robert Griffin can't afford to rest. Unless his injury prevents him from suiting up, Griffin must play.
1. It's only Wednesday and I think just about every person in a 1,000-mile radius has provided his or her opinion on whether or not they think Robert Griffin III can or will play. Those same people have also not been shy about providing their opinion on whether or not he should play. This conversation will continue to rage here and elsewhere all the way up until game time on Sunday, with valid points made by every single side of this debate. There is, however, one wrong point--in my humble opinion.
2. Just when you have mostly recovered from the Strasburg Shutdown debate...
3. On Monday, I advocated for not even considering the prospect of "resting" Griffin against the Browns because it smacks of the kind of hubris that teams are more likely to employ when they play the Redskins as opposed to the other way around. There are plenty of valid reasons that would cause Griffin to sit on Sunday that don't begin and end with: "We should be able to win this game with Kirk Cousins, so let's rest RG3." I still believe that resting Griffin should not be the main factor in this decision. If he can play on Sunday, he probably needs to play on Sunday.
4. Gregg Popovich is not making this decision.
5. I am extremely concerned about the career longevity of Griffin--especially given the brand of offense he plays. Risk of further injury is absolutely a factor in this decision. In fact, if the coaches and medical staff believe that by playing, Griffin stands a better than 50% chance of worsening things, that could be the whole decision. Yet, I have continued to hear, "We can beat the Browns without RG3." That is a great thing to have faith in, but isn't it slightly foolish to put a playoff spot on the line...on the road...against a deceptively solid defense...with a rookie quarterback that has never started a game before? This is me saying this, too--President of the Kirk Cousins Was a Smart Draft Pick Fan Club. You never choose to play your backup quarterback with the season on the line if you have a starter that is capable of playing.
6. You know what? If Shanahan wants to rest Griffin and roll with Captain Kirk against the Browns, more power to him. But they better take any aspect of the decision out of Griffin's hands. If you send him out on Sunday morning to test the leg, he is likely to tell the coaches anything he can to convince them to let him play. If they ask him how he feels, he is going to tell them he feels great. And if they ignore those answers and sit Griffin in favor of Cousins because that is what they wanted to do all along, and--God forbid--they lose, then they risk outsmarting themselves right out of the playoffs. It either comes down to how Griffin feels on Sunday or it doesn't. Don't make it a show.
7. If the end result of all of this is that Kirk Cousins is starting on Sunday, I will be beside myself with enthusiasm. We opened two presents on draft day that I was very happy about: Griffin and Cousins. The chance to see what we have in Cousins is mouth-watering, but test-driving the #12 car is not a good enough reason to give Griffin the week off. The crazy thing about all of this is that I honestly believe that Cousins can succeed in this offense and lead us to victory on Sunday, but broadcasting this kind of message is what gets opposing teams fired up. I am sure we are going to get Cleveland's best shot no matter what, but there is no sense making them feel like we don't respect them.
8. This leads me to another idea I have heard floated on sports radio and from a talking head or two: start Cousins and if things go bad early, get Griffin in there. I am of the belief that if Griffin does not start this game, he should be left inactive. If we start Kirk Cousins and then rely on Griffin to "save us" if and when things go bad, we are only tipping off the world that we disrespected the Browns by not playing our best players.
9. If the decision to start Cousins is made, you have to protect Griffin by deactivating him. Since the best and only reason to leave Griffin on the sidelines is because he is not ready to play, letting him put pads on is a gateway to bad decisions. I think RG3 is capable of Lando Calrissian'ing his way onto that field. Smooth, charming, in charge...damn--that is still one of my favorite characters of all time. Whenever I tried to channel my inner Lando with the ladies, I only succeeded in getting talked into deals that got progressively worse. (And yes...I prayed that the deals weren't altered any further.)
10. Time to lay cards on the table--I don't believe in resting Griffin for the good of his career. If he is capable of playing this weekend without a significantly higher than normal risk of further injury, he simply has to play. It's the playoffs for the Redskins right now. A win in Cleveland has a very good probability of landing the Redskins inside of the playoff picture by the end of Week 15. It is good to have faith in Kirk Cousins and it would be great to see what he is made of, but not just for the sake of seeing what he is made of. Now is not the time to get cute. Now is the time to finish what we started when we were 3-6. If Griffin can go, he must play.