It has been a rough 12 months for Robert Griffin III. He tore his ACL nearly a year ago, the Washington Redskins sunk to 3-13, he was benched late in the season and the entire year was embroiled in controversy. From thanking fans for unsolicited wedding gifts to not taking enough blame for poor performances on the field, there wasn't much that Griffin wasn't criticized for.
It seemed like every week there was a new accusation against Griffin. He took too many sacks, he didn't get along with coaches or teammates, even that he asked coaches not to show his bad plays in the film room. Griffin and then-head-coach Mike Shanahan debunked the last claim, leading Griffin to say people were "trying to character assassinate me and it's unfortunate."
The Redskins are at home watching the playoffs and Shanahan was fired, but that hasn't stopped the flow of criticism against Griffin. Now he's being accused of hindering Washington's ability to find a new coach. Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post called Griffin a "boy emperor who believes he can dictate everything from the play-calling to what's served at training table." Apparently, Griffin doesn't like eggs.
That is just one of the claims against Griffin. Here are a few more mentioned in Jenkins' column:
- Griffin bragged to teammates that he could "procure favors from the owner and influence the franchise's direction."
- Griffin alienated his receivers and offensive linemen. Jenkins contends that signs of bad blood were obvious in the fact no teammates would help Griffin up after he was sacked.
- There is a perception that Griffin can trump coaching decisions, including play-calling and personnel choices.
- Griffin hasn't learned to read coverage or how to attack it, but "appears to view himself as a finished dropback passer who simply wasn't given adequate help from fired coach Mike Shanahan."
- Griffin had the power to discard sections of the playbook he didn't like.
- The Redskins are "clearly" concerned about Griffin appearing too involved in the search for a new head coach.
Whether those claims are true remains to be seen. Jenkins cited "insiders" on the claim about Griffin's influence with owner Dan Snyder. The thing is, these sort-of criticisms tend to come out when teams are losing. Philip Rivers was heavily criticized last season when the San Diego Chargers slumped and Norv Turner was fired. Now, with San Diego back in the playoffs, Rivers is praised for leading the way.
The same could easily be true for Griffin next season. If he rebounds with a new coaching staff and the Redskins start winning, no one will analyze whether teammates rush to his aide to pick him off the turf after a sack. As for his influence, it isn't rare for a quarterback to have some say. Miami reportedly fired Mike Sherman in part because quarterback Ryan Tannehill and others had "lost confidence" in the offensive coordinator. Detroit's Matthew Stafford said he was "sure" he'd have some involvement in the process of hiring a new coach. Neither player was called a "divisive influence" like Griffin.
When Griffin led the Redskins to the playoffs as a rookie, he was a franchise quarterback and a player whose teammates rallied around him. Now, after a poor season, he's a bad teammate who can't read coverages and apparently doesn't like eggs.
Some coach will accept the position if the Redskins offer. Regardless of what you may think about Griffin, Snyder or the Redskins, the position is still one of 32 head coaching jobs in the NFL. Someone will take the job and then we'll find out about Griffin. If the same issues arise, maybe the reports are true. More likely than not, he'll be the hero if the team wins and the goat if it loses ... just like every other NFL quarterback.