This time, there will be no miraculous late-season comeback, no seven-game winning streak to capture the division and earn a playoff berth. Nope, the 3-9 Redskins are as dead as a doornail and all that remains is to scrutinize second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III while wondering if coach Mike Shanahan will survive to coach one more season.
Part of that scrutiny involves whether RG3 is healthy enough to even be on the field. Several opponents have said in recent days that the quarterback, who suffered a serious knee injury last January, still doesn't appear to be 100 percent, and that would go a long way in explaining his struggles this season. There have even been suggestions that Griffin should shut it down now, with a month left in the season, and give way to backup Kirk Cousins.
Yeah, that ain't happening.
“I don't take any offense to that," RG3 said, via the Washington Post. "That's just outsiders looking in that don't understand the game of football. When it comes to a time like this, it's easy for guys to check out. I think it would be real cowardly of me to check out and say, ‘Hey, I don't want to play these next four games.' It's not who I am. It's not who any competitive football player is. You want to play, so we're going to finish out the year and you take what's happened this year, being 3-9, and you face it. ...
“I think you always have something to play for,” he continued. “No matter what, when you step on the field, our record doesn't matter. Every time we step on the field, we have a job to take care of, and we get to play a game that's a lot of fun. Losing's not fun, and everyone knows that. But at the end of the day, you have to show up and make a conscious effort to get better. Whatever it is, when you look at yourself on tape, you say, ‘I need to get better at this.' Make a conscious effort to get better over these next four games.”
One of the lingering issues is whether Griffin can "get better" with Shanahan's son, Kyle, serving as the offensive coordinator. On Thursday, the Post's Jason Reid wrote that there is "friction between the team's top assistant on offense and its most important player."
Reid continued: "Since late last season, it has been known within the organization that Griffin isn't happy working with Kyle. Their differences over play-calling resulted in Griffin losing trust in him, Redskins people with knowledge of the situation say, and that can't help but affect the quarterback's relationship with the guy who runs the football operation."
Apparently, RG3 isn't the first quarterback to butt heads with the head coach's son. According to Reid, Donovan McNabb "clashed with Kyle about everything from play-calling to the tone he used when criticizing the six-time Pro Bowler's performance in front of the team." And "McNabb never believed he had the support of the head coach in his disputes with the offensive coordinator."
And if Griffin feels similarly, it's reasonable to think that Mike Shanahan could be forced to choose between his quarterback and his son. If it's the former, that'll make for awkward family get-togethers going forward. If it's the latter, both Shanahan's could be out of work by the New Year.