Madden, the former Raiders coach and TV commentator who Shanahan has always spoken highly of, did not like the decision to shut down quarterback Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season.
"I mean, you know it's baloney," Madden said on Sirius XM Radio, via ESPN.com. "I like Mike Shanahan, and I'm not talking behind his back, but when you say something like that, you know that's not right –you’re not going to sacrifice regular-season games. There's only 16 of them a year. You're not going to sacrifice regular-season games for an offseason program."
The decision has to do with keeping Griffin healthy and making sure he has a full offseason, Shanahan has said. Griffin's on-field struggles obviously played a part, although Shanahan wasn't going to explicitly say that. Kirk Cousins might give the Redskins a better chance to win over the last three weeks. But Madden thinks it's hurting the integrity of the game.
"We have an integrity piece here, too," Madden said on Sirius XM Radio. "You can say, 'Well they're 3-10, they're out of it, so now they can do these things.' No you can’t. This is still regular-season football. Draft order, that's one small thing, but you still owe it to the people that are playing, that are still in the playoff picture. And when you can affect that and you don't affect it with an all-out performance, then I think that affects the integrity of the game.”
And, there is a good point within Madden's comments. It's not a great precedent. What if the Texans, currently in the lead for the No. 1 pick of the draft and in need of a franchise quarterback, said they wanted to make sure J.J. Watt, Andre Johnson and Duane Brown were healthy for the offseason so they were shutting them down? It's not something the NFL wants to deal with.
But Shanahan told ESPN.com that isn't the case with his Griffin decision, and took exception to Madden's comments.
“First of all, I respect the heck out of John. I’ve known John for a long time and he does an unbelievable job,” Shanahan said. “But unless you’re really in the situation – you’re in our situation – it’s really hard to jump into somebody’s shoes. And everybody has opinions on everything, especially when you get paid to give your opinions. But when you’re here and you’re the coach, you’re going to do the best thing that you believe – with all the facts involved – that is the best thing for the organization. And sometimes you don’t know all the things that we’re evaluating.”
Shanahan was in a tough spot. If he said that Griffin's struggles this season played into the decision, that would lead to a heated quarterback controversy with last year's rookie of the year. If he claimed he was shutting down Griffin to keep him healthy, he invites critics like Madden to poke holes in the reasoning.
Like most everything with the Redskins this year, this was a no-win situation.
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