How the mystique of RGIII led to the 'Skins exit

1/7/13 in NFL   |   Trokspot   |   65 respect

Jan 6, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) is looked at by team trainers as Redskins tackle Trent Williams (71) watches after being injured  against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter of the NFC Wild Card playoff game at FedEx Field.  The Seahawks won 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsThis NFL season had a lot of great storylines all year.  One of the most exciting - and perhaps most followed - was the success of rookie quarterbacks, particularly Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.  By mid-season Russell Wilson had worked himself into that conversation of successful rookie quarterbacks as well. 

But throughout the season, RGIII seemed to get the lion's share of the media attention as one of the most "electrifying" "dynamic" "sensational" [insert adjective here] rookie players.  He showed that he was more than capable of flinging the ball with a great deal of accuracy and set the record for rushing yards for a rookie quarterback. 

People - coaches, opposing players, and analysts - continually talked about how impressive this guy was.  And he was impressive.  The Redskins went into yesterday's playoff game with a seven game win streak - any hiccup along the way would have ended their playoff chances.  In just his first year, there was already a mystique surrounding this young quarterback.  Flashes of potential greatness that created a constant buzz around him.

But yesterday it was clear that RGIII wasn't right.  Not even a little.  From the very first time Washington had the ball, he looked slow, timid, and generally uncomfortable trying to maneuver around the field in the bulky knee brace that he wore.  A hit late in the first quarter really seemed to hobble him.  But it was RGIII.  If anyone was able to overcome such an obstacle to lead his team to victory, it was him. 

The 'Skins needed him in the game if they wanted any shot to win the game.  Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was their only hope.  Right?  That's what the aura surrounding RGIII and this team might have suggested.

But wait a second...what about that other rookie quarterback that the 'Skins drafted?  A guy named Kirk Cousins.  The guy had a great preseason - surprising some - and had a great game while standing in for the injured RGIII late in the regular season in a must win game.  He also stepped in and led a game winning drive in another game before that.  A viable alternative who had proven himself when given the chance. 

So with about three minutes to go in the first quarter, just a couple of plays before RGIII threw his second touchdown pass, he went down and came up hobbling terribly.  This was when Shanahan - as coach - needed to look through the mystique surrounding RGIII and put Cousins in the game. 

You're up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and your quarterback is hobbled and unable to do much of anything effectively.  Put in the guy who has already shown that he is more than capable of not only managing, but winning big games.  But the mystique of RGIII was just too much for Shanahan to see through.  He stuck with him until it was far too late (late in the fourth quarter in a two score game) and coached his team right out of the playoffs.  All because of the hype surrounding his young quarterback. 
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