The Washington Redskins mortgaged the immediate future of their franchise when they traded three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Redskins used the pick to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III, a Heisman Trophy winner out of Baylor.
Washington owner Dan Snyder and then-head coach Mike Shanahan thought they had finally landed their long sought-after franchise quarterback, and as a rookie, RGIII didn’t disappoint. He led the Redskins to an NFC East title but suffered a torn ACL in the team’s wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. From that moment on, RGIII’s time in Washington has been controversial and disappointing.
In January, following the Redskins’ playoff loss, RGIII underwent reconstructive knee surgery, causing him to miss the entire offseason and all of Washington’s Organized Team Activities. Furthermore, Shanahan made the decision to hold his young quarterback out of all four of the Redskins’ preseason games. RGIII defied the odds and started for the Redskins in their 2013 season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. As impressive as his recovery from major knee surgery was, his play in 2013 was equally as disappointing. He went from throwing five interceptions in his entire rookie season to throwing 12 picks in 13 games in 2013.
About halfway through the Redskins’ disastrous 2013 season, RGIII and Shanahan’s relationship took a major turn for the worse. Nobody really knows the complete truth at this point, but from the outside looking in, Shanahan appeared to be the unwelcomed third wheel on a romantic date between RGIII and Snyder. Communication between the head coach and quarterback became nonexistent, and it appeared Shanahan was doing everything in his power to get fired.
By mid-December, Shanahan had benched RGIII, citing the player’s long-term health as the reason, but many believed it had to do with a lack of trust in his second-year quarterback. The move divided the Redskins locker room and coaching staff, and resulted in the Redskins finishing 3-13, good for the second worst record in the NFL. Instead of having the second pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Washington had to send the pick to the Rams as the last part of the blockbuster trade that brought RGIII to Washington.
Shanahan was fired shortly after the 2013 season, and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was hired to replace him. DeSean Jackson signed with Washington in the offseason, and everything seemed to be headed in the right direction for RGIII and the Redskins. That was, until RGIII suffered a dislocated ankle in Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He missed the next six games and since his return has gone 0-2, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings, two teams in the middle of rebuilding their franchises.
Following his team’s Week 11 loss to the Buccaneers, RGIII made comments in a post-game interview that are again stirring up a controversy in the Redskins locker room. Here’s what he had to say: “If you want to look at the good teams in this league and the great quarterbacks, the Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Mannings, those guys don’t play well if their guys don’t play well. I need every guy in that locker room and I know they are looking at me saying the same thing.”
Jackson, the Redskins’ star wide receiver, took to Instagram shortly after learning of RGIII’s comments and simply posted, “You can’t do epic [expletive] with basic people.”
Whether Jackson’s post was a direct response to RGIII’s post-game comments has yet to be confirmed, but given the timing, it would be hard to believe the two incidents are not connected. What RGIII surprisingly fails to realize is that guys like Rodgers or Manning don’t publicly criticize their teammates. His immaturity has already torn apart one team and one coaching staff in 2013, and it looks like he is on course to do the same thing in 2014. Snyder has been desperate for a franchise quarterback for a long time, and as marketable as RGIII may be, it is becoming increasingly clear that he lacks the maturity to effectively lead an NFL franchise.