LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 07: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins rushes before taking hard hit against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter at FedExField on October 7, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. Robert Griffin III left the game after the hit. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Robert Griffin III has to change the way he plays.
For reference, take a look at the conversation Eagles coach Andy Reid has been having with his shifty, small-in-stature-by-NFL-standards, strong-armed quarterback, Michael Vick. The problem: Vick stubbornly remains the QB he's always been -- a dynamic playmaker who takes way too many hits. The result: A bushel of turnovers, a ton of injuries, a lot of missed games.
And now, after Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon absolutely destroyed a sliding RGIII after a third-quarter scramble, it's not only a concern for the Redskins, it's their reality.
Griffin left the game after not knowing the score or the quarter, and coach Mike Shanahan told reporters that his rookie quarterback suffered a "mild concussion." As a result, RGIII will be subjected to a battery of tests in the coming days to determine if he's healthy enough to play in Sunday's game at FedEx Field against the NFC North-leading Vikings.
If Griffin can't go, the other rookie drafted in April, Kirk Cousins, would get his first NFL start. For what it's worth, Griffin apparently felt much better after the game and tweeted his intentions to be on the field next week:
Thank you for all the prayers & supportI'm ok and I think after all the testing I will play next week.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) October 7, 2012
If doctors give RGIII the green light, great. But if the quarterback is forced watch from the sidelines, Shanahan's decision to use a fourth-round pick on Cousins suddenly looks prescient. At the time, fans and media were critical of the move mostly because Washington was coming off a five-win season and had myriad needs up and down the roster.
We were one of those critics. Here's something we wrote about in May, days after the draft:
The Redskins signed Rex Grossman to a one-year deal to be RGIII's backup. Washington won five games last year. Presumably, they have bigger needs than using a fourth-round pick on a guy who may never, ever see the field. And if Shanahan's master plan includes grooming a backup and duping another team into giving up a second-rounder for him, well, we got some news for you: That's Andy Reid's shtick and he's got it down cold. (A fact made all the more embarrassing by Reid dumping Donovan McNabb on Shanahan for -- you guessed it -- a second-round pick.)
Turns out we were wrong, at least in terms of Cousins never seeing the field. He was 5-for-9 for 111 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs in just over a quarter of work, and while it wasn't a flawless performance it didn't remind anyone of Grossman or John Beck, either (this is a good thing).
Whatever fate awaits the Redskins this week, the bottom line is this: Griffin has to make better decisions because this is about more than winning or losing, it's about his NFL longevity.
“We’d like to have him throw the football away when he’s outside of the pocket,” linebacker London Fletcher said Sunday after the Falcons game, “and not take the hit like that.”
If RGIII wants to glimpse what his future could become, just look at Vick. There are worse fates, for sure, but most reasonable people can agree that Vick isn't the player he could be, and it has almost everything to do with his style of play.