The last time we saw Robert Griffin III , he was accepting the Offensive Rookie of the Year award at the NFL Honors show in New Orleans the night before the Super Bowl. At the time, he was four weeks removed from the ACL injury that ended the Redskins' season, but he made his way to the podium limp-free.
It was a good sign for an organization that had invested a lot to land its franchise quarterback. But the NFL season is long, and coach Mike Shanahan won't rush Griffin back into the lineup. In fact, "the mind-set going in" is to prepare as if RG3 won't be ready to start in Week 1, and the coach made it clear that Griffin "will not come back until he's 100 percent."
In the meantime, Washington's other second-year quarterback, Kirk Cousins, will get the first-team work in the coming weeks and months.
"You're hoping he's ready, but you can't plan for him to be ready," Shanahan told NFL Network at the annual owners meeting Tuesday. "Kirk Cousins will work at the quarterback position. He'll have all the reps in the offseason. Robert will have a lot of reps, but it'll be mental [reps]. It'll be in the film room, watching people on the practice field, doing his rehab. But you can get a lot done mentally as well."
Shanahan came under heavy criticism following Griffin's injury in the playoff loss to the Seahawks. The then-rookie tweaked his knee early in the game but Shanahan stuck with him because, as he said at the time, that's how Griffin explained it to him.
"I talked to Robert and Robert said to me, 'Coach, there's a difference being injured and being hurt. I guarantee I'm hurting right now; gimme a chance to win this football game because I guarantee I'm not injured,'" Shanahan told reporters at the time. "So that was enough for me."
RG3's knee apparently wasn't privy to that conversation because it gave out two quarters later.
But the silver lining -- other than the obvious: a completely healthy Griffin -- was originally considered a case of "The 'Skins being the 'Skins" when the team used a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft on Cousins. Here's what we wrote in the days following the decision:
Here's the thing: the Redskins signed Rex Grossman to a one-year deal to be RG3'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 Mike 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.)
Wow, we couldn't have been more wrong.
Intentional or otherwise, nabbing Cousins was a brilliant decision. Not only did he keep the Redskins competitive during RG3's absences, he also provides Washington something it hasn't had in a long, long time: hope. If Griffin isn't ready by Week 1, the season isn't automatically doomed.
Put another way: this ain't the Rex 'n Becks show anymore.