Mike Shanahan On RG3 Injury And Dr. Andrews

Washington Redskins executive vice president/head coach Mike Shanahan spoke with the media about Robert Griffin III’s injury, the communication issues with Dr. Andrews and the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Opening statement:
“I told the players after the game that not too many football teams can be 3-6 and have the type of character to play how they did in the last half of the season. It’s really a compliment to the guys in that locker room, really a compliment to the fans out there to support us the way they did – really got our team energized throughout the second half of the season. It was a fun run. I’m very disappointed today. You always want to play your best football during the playoffs. We probably had our best first quarter. After that first quarter, we just didn’t seem to get things done. It was very tough, but I’m excited about this football team – the direction we’re headed. We’re not very happy. There’s only one team that’s happy at the end of the year, and unfortunately, we’re going home a little bit earlier than expected.”

On if he thought about taking quarterback Robert Griffin III out of the game before his fourth-quarter injury:
“Robert will have the MRI. We always check that out to see how serious it is… I did and I talked to Robert and he said to me, ‘Coach, there’s a difference between being injured and being hurt.’ He said, ‘I can guarantee I’m hurt right now but give me a chance to win this football game because I guarantee I’m not injured.’ That was enough for me. I thought he did enough this year to have that opportunity to stay in the football game. It’s always a tough decision when to pull a guy and when not to. I talked to him at halftime and had to feel good about him to go back in. I told him we’re going to run the football and he’s going to have to prove to me and like I said before, he said, ‘Trust me. I want to be in there and I deserve to be in there,’ and I couldn’t disagree with him.”

On if he reevaluated the decision to keep Griffin III in the game after the nine-yard run to the sidelines:
“I asked him about it at that time. He said, ‘Coach, I could’ve run faster.’ He said, ‘Nobody was there. I got nine-and-a-half, 10 yards. That’s not too bad. I promise if I have to do it again, I could go faster.’ He gave me the right answer.”

On how difficult it is to trust a player when he says he can play injured and if he ever feels like he has to take the decision out of that player’s hands:

“Yeah, I think you do, and it’s a very tough decision. You have to go with your gut. You have to go with your gut and I did. I’m not saying my gut is always right, but I’ve been there before. In different situations, I get to know Robert better as time goes on and I’ll know how stubborn he is – probably more so as time goes on. He’s a competitor and I’ll probably second guess myself when you take a look at different… In the second half, should you have done it earlier? I think you always do that, especially after you don’t win.”

On if he could see that Griffin III wasn’t playing like himself:
“Yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly right. I think everybody could see after our first quarter that he wasn’t exactly the same, but I have a lot of players that aren’t exactly the same. There’s not many quarterbacks that are exactly the same this time of year. I still thought he could go in there and make the plays that he was capable of making. Against an excellent defense, you don’t always have to run the football, but you have to be able to sit back there and throw it and he was able to do that – just wasn’t able to scramble like he normally does.”

On if struggling to plant his foot caused some of Griffin III’s incompletions:
“No, I didn’t think he had any problems planting in the pocket. I’ll tell you more tomorrow.”

On if he considered having the medical staff evaluate Griffin III:
“Yeah, we wouldn’t play him unless the medical staff said he was fine to play – check with the doctors and ask them their opinion if we would be hampering his LCL if we did play him, or was he in good enough shape to go into the game and play at the level that we need for him to win.”

On if Dr. James Andrews was one of the doctors that evaluated Griffin III:
“Yeah, we had a couple. [Christopher] Annunziata and Dr. Andrews – both of them.”

On if Dr. Andrews cleared Griffin III to play:

On his reaction to Dr. Andrews’s comments that he was nervous for Griffin III to continue playing:
“I think doctors always worry any time somebody has an injury – rightfully so. They clear a player if they think he is able to play and we obviously take their recommendation very seriously. We would not play Robert if we thought there was a risk of him further injuring that LCL.”

On if it’s the code of the league for starting quarterbacks to try and play through any injury:
“I think so. It should be. That’s the type of player that you want and we understand that there’s a fine line between, as I mentioned before, being injured and hurt. A lot of guys are hurting this time of the year. They get hurt in games. You want your guy to be a leader. That’s something I have to assess as time goes on with Robert. You don’t always know the first year. You get a chance to know a guy – whether he’s a tough guy. He played against a pretty good defense today. We started out doing all the right things and just didn’t finish up the way we started.”

On the game:
“You don’t need a lot of time to get nine first downs in the first half of the game like we did, 14 points, and you have 15 first downs at the end of the game, that’s two first downs a quarter and that’s not very good. We’ve been able to run the football and consistently move the ball, and I thought that was going to happen throughout the game. Any time you aren’t on the field enough offensively, and you give a team that’s very good running the football, like Seattle is, they are going to make some plays and break some tackles. They do a very good job running the football. I thought Wilson did a good job with play action and making some plays on his own, scrambling and throwing outside the pocket, which has been their characteristic for most of the season.”

On if Griffin III’s injury affected the efficiency of the offense:
“We weren’t the same team. There’s no question about it.”

On if the doctors are the ones to make the final call on if a player should continue to play:

“Anytime you don’t make the call is when the doctor says he shouldn’t go. He takes a look at it and he says medically he shouldn’t be in there. Then you have to decide when you do talk to the players; it’s not just the quarterback, it’s any player. It’s Kory Lichtensteiger last week. It’s Trent Williams. When the guy says, ‘I can go,’ you have to make one of those decisions of what is in the best interest of the football team to give yourself a chance to win. That’s part of the evaluation process. Now with a quarterback, especially with a guy like Robert, you look at his situation and say ‘Hey, we can’t run any of that zone read,’ or, ‘Let’s take a look at it, looks a little bit better,’ and then he gets nine or 10 yards, should we do it again, or should we do play action, drop back, or would we be better off to go a different direction with a different quarterback. Those are the things you are analyzing the whole time. I talked to Robert throughout the whole game, trying to get a gut, trying to let him know it was alright if he was injured. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to do what’s best for the football team. He’s very strong, very adamant, which doesn’t mean it’s right not taking him out, it just means his personality has that type of mindset and other times during the season he’s been the same way and we’ve kept him in. I appreciate that toughness.”

On how difficult it is to keep Griffin III’s best interests and the team’s in mind:

“That’s what you have to do. You have to make decisions based on everything. What’s in the best interest of him and what gives you a chance to win and a lot of times when a quarterback is 60 or 70 percent, it’s much easier to go with a back-up quarterback that you think is a spark, especially if you think there is a chance of injury to that quarterback. I promise you, if we thought it had something to do with Robert’s career and his injury and he shouldn’t have been in there, we would have took him out.”

On if he thought it was in the team’s and Griffin III’s best interest to continue to play:
“Well, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have left him in the game.”

On what went through his mind when Griffin was down:
“I need to talk to him and say, ‘How bad is it?’ You do that all the time with everybody, not just quarterbacks. Try to get a feel, guy should be able to stand; guy’s not, guy shouldn’t stay in. That’s a pretty tough decision.”

On his side of the story with Griffin III’s initial injury and if Andrews evaluated him:
“Well, after the game we talked in detail. When he went back into the game at that time, I looked over at Dr. Andrews, he said, ‘Yeah, he’s ok to go back in.’ Of course I’m sitting there trying to evaluate Kirk Cousins’ play, so when someone says he’s OK… Well, what Dr. Andrews is talking about, when I talked to him today, he said, ‘Hey, Robert came around and he started showing us he could run; he was sprinting around and then he just took off, so I just figured he was OK. I didn’t go through a thorough examination of him until after the game.’ I wasn’t really sure in what detail he was talking about at that time. He felt Robert – just looking at him run and then take off – that he was ok to go back in. I looked at him for the next three plays, the first time he had Santana [Moss] shell across, the next time he threw a little out-round, and it looked like his footwork was good. But you could see on that last one, where he hit Pierre Garçon, that when he stepped into the pocket that it wasn’t right. At that time Pierre caught it and he was trying to kill the clock, but we were going to take him out at that time, and that’s when Kirk came in.”

On if he had that conversation with Dr. Andrews:
“Yeah, it’s not much of a conversation. It’s a heated battle when you are working with a two-minute clock. What’s he going back in there for? He’s just running around showing the doctors that he’s OK, and afterwards is when he went through a thorough examination. Then he told me he had an LCL and wasn’t sure the degree. Then we found it was degree one and that it would be between two and four weeks for it to be healed.”

On the impact that Griffin III’s status had on Alfred Morris’ play:

“I think if you look at the first two drives, that was our game plan to do that. Wish we would have kept it up, but we didn’t. Is it us or execution? Is it their defense? At the end of the day, take my hat off to Seattle, they did a good job of finding a way to win. [I’m] disappointed we didn’t play the second, third and fourth quarter like we did the first quarter.”

On the defense’s performance in the second and third quarter:
“Really, it was the first quarter that they played great on both sides. I thought the defense played well throughout the rest of the game, they just got tired against that type of rushing attack and a quarterback scrambling. You’ve got to keep that type of team off the field, and we’ve been doing that pretty consistently throughout the year. For some reason, we just didn’t get it done after the first quarter.”

Source: Washington Redskins Media