Late in the first half of a tough evening against Chip Kelly and his Eagles, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was caught by a microphone at FedEx Field.
“Are you serious?” the electric quarterback said from his backside after being dumped by Philadelphia’s Mychal Kendricks during a 33-27 loss to the Eagles.
Griffin couldn’t believe what he was seeing. After a spectacular season that earned him Rookie of the Year honors but ended with a torn right knee, what unfolded in the first half of his return to the field was an unmitigated disaster — personally and for his team. In fact, they couldn’t have drawn it up any worse.
Griffin struggled early. He struggled often. He missed throws, misplaced a pitch that cost them a safety, made poor decisions and looked to have more rust than the Tin Man. And there was no oil can on the sideline. It was in the locker room, and it was unavailable until halftime.
The Redskins went into the locker room trailing 26-7. It should have been 33-0 if not for a questionable call that resulted in a 75-yard fumble recovery for Washington’s DeAngelo Hall.
The Redskins were forced to pay on Monday night for a decision they made in the spring and summer. Keeping Griffin out of the entire preseason backfired against the Eagles. There’s no way around it. It cost them any chance at a win.
“I think he’s rusty just a little bit,” said Eagles cornerback Cary Williams, who played against RG3 last year while he was with the Ravens.
It didn’t matter. Bringing in Griffin cold was a move the Redskins had to make. The health of the franchise is more important than the opener in a 16-game season.
“The one thing I look at is that I’m hoping he’s going to be with us for a while,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “Our priority was getting him ready for the season, and not putting him in there too quick. We would be quite disappointed if he got hurt the second week of our camp, and then we’d be talking about, ‘why did you practice Robert when he might not have been ready to play’”
Shanahan is right. It’s important to look at the big picture here and forget the 5-of-11 passing for 53 yards and an interception in the first half. That’s short-sighted. The big picture is that Griffin lasts another 15 games and beyond.
The second-year quarterback progressively improved as the game wore on. He threw a pair of touchdown passes in the second half and seemed to gain more trust in his reconstructed knee; 23 of Griffin’s 25 rushing yards came in the second half.
There’s little doubt he’ll be better in the coming weeks than he was in the first half. That will undoubtedly lead to better efforts.
RG3 still wasn’t about to use the lack of preseason snaps to explain his disastrous first half. That would be pointing the blame at someone else. It was Shanahan and the Redskins’ idea to put him on ice until the regular season.
“I think [not playing in the preseason], that’s an excuse,” Griffin said. “I was comfortable out there. I felt good. I was able to escape the pocket and move around. And that’s why I told everybody I felt good anyways. So we just didn’t play well as a team. Any of us. And we know that there’s no finger-pointing going on in that locker room. We know we have to get better and it comes with a short week going against Green Bay. But we’ll figure it out.”
There is time. Fifteen more games to be exact. Smartly the Redskins had that in mind all along, even if it meant sacrificing this Eagles game.