The rest of what occurred during their separate press conferences on Wednesday proved both men are not on the same page, and their discord is obvious.
Shanahan confirmed to the press that he was benching Griffin this Sunday to play backup Kirk Cousins instead. The coach also added Griffin would not be active over the three final games and Rex Grossman would back up Cousins, ending any speculation about Griffin's immediate future.
Shanahan said Griffin is being benched to preserve his long-term health, but that is not a move the quarterback agreed with when they met.
“I expressed my desire to play,” Griffin said. “Of course, I want to be out there and finish the season with my guys and see it through. He explained to me his reasoning. At the end of the day, coach’s decision is what we will go with, and that’s what it’s always been. I have to do that. I have to do whatever I can to help Kirk. Do whatever I can to help this team win.”
Griffin was asked if he believed the benching was made to protect him for next season, and the quarterback avoided answering that question.
“At this point, I just have to leave it up to coach, like it always is,” Griffin said. “At times like these you got to lean on what you’ve been taught in life, and my parents, being military parents, have taught me to respect authority, and I have to respect what coach says. I can’t do anything about it. All I can do is try to help this team win games, and that’s what I’m going to do. Anything aside for that, I can’t bother myself thinking about those things.”
Griffin was given another opportunity to support his coach when asked if he believed Shanahan was not playing the best player – him – to give his team a chance to win.
“Like I said guys, I can’t bother myself with thinking about those kinds of things because it’s not productive for our team," he said. "I’m just going to continue focusing on getting better, focus on helping out defense get prepared for Atlanta, the games we have left, and that’s all I can do.”
One reporter asked Griffin if thought Shanahan was using him in a “power play," and instead of denying he thought it was a possibility, the quarterback talked about how he was handling this adversity.
“Because you can’t just think about it that way,” Griffin said. “At the end of the day, we got three games left and my teammates don’t’ need me to think about it that way. They don’t need me to bring that kind of environment into the locker room, so I’m not going to. I’m going to take what coach has decided and roll with it and just try find ways to help this team win during this process.”
Shanahan’s answers made it clear that the two men have much different ideas on the issue.
He was asked how benching Griffin would affect the quarterback’s psyche in the future and did not seem concerned.
“Let me ask you this. His psyche,” Shanahan said. “If he goes down next game on the fourth play, and all of a sudden we’re talking about that, what’s going to be his psyche missing a third season in a row” We got three games left, okay. We’re going to play those games hard. Do I take a risk of putting him in there to get some more experience? He just had 13 games ... I didn’t think it was worth the risk. I didn’t think it was.”
Shanahan also denied he was trying benching Griffin in an attempt to get fired.
“Somebody said the reason you’re going with Kirk is because you’re trying to get fired and get a year left on your contract,” Shanahan said. “If I’m trying to get fired, I’m not going to call up Dan Snyder (owner) and ask for his opinion on a player I don’t have to. And if he says no, I’m not going to go (in) that direction.”
Washington is definitely headed in the wrong direction. However, this circus should mercifully be over after the next three games.
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- Mike Shanahan
- Robert Griffin III