You probably remember the huge debate last training camp about Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III potentially practicing and if he should start the first few games as he recovered from the ACL tear he suffered in the 2012 playoffs.
Well, Reds general manager Bruce Allen revisited the subject Monday and said what the team asked of Griffin wasn't fair.
“What you saw last year was almost a little disrespectful to the game of football,” Allen told ESPN 950, via the Washington Post. “It's impossible to ask a player to perform well during the regular season if you haven't practiced. Last year at this time, he's still rehabbing his knee, he's not allowed to practice, he's not allowed to work in team drills at all because he's still rehabilitating himself. We put him, really, on the spot by trying to do that. And this year he's had a full offseason, his knee is 100 percent -- knock on wood -- and he's had all of that, and that's how you get ready to play a football season. Maybe in basketball you can go out and just play in games, but in football, when you're trying to synchronize 11 players on every play, you need to practice.”
Allen didn't mention former coach Mike Shanahan by name, but surely, Shanahan bares some of the blame for that. Allen does, as well. But here's the difference. Allen still has a job. Shanahan does not.
As a reminder, here's what Allen said in mid-August 2013 regarding Griffin: "He is ahead of schedule, he gets his work in. We've had no setbacks so far. The goal is for him to play in Week 1. I don't know if that will happen."
Part of the problem was increased expectations. After Vikings running back Adrian Peterson emerged ahead of schedule from his ACL tear in Week 17 of 2011 and then lit up the league in 2012, the expectations for Griffin were raised. Particularly when Shanahan in May 2013 said things like, "He'll set a record for coming back because that's how hard he works.
Shanahan also declared, "He will not come back until he's 100 percent.”
Well, that wasn't exactly right. It was clear that, for much of the season, Griffin was playing at less than 100 percent, and perhaps Shanahan's poor management of Griffin (especially in the 2012 playoffs) and then benching him near the end of last season was a big reason Shanahan ultimately was fired.
Allen on Monday also was asked if the team should have waited four or five games before inserting Griffin onto the field last year.
"Well, it's part of his development," Allen said. "It was only his second year in the league and he got to see some new defenses, and he saw some things he shouldn't do and saw some things he should do. So, the experience probably will help him for the long run, but to hope that we were going to have much more success than we did, is really, as I say, to the game -- the beauty of the game, the integrity of the game, you need to practice in order to play well. And you need to practice well in order to play well."
If that's the case, 2014 should be a much better season for Griffin.