Mike Shanahan Monday Presser: May bench RG3 for safety

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Updated: December 9, 2013
Shanny presser up close

Mike Shanahan stepped behind the lectern at Redskins Park at around 3 PM today and immediately refused to comment on the media reports swirling around him, QB Robert Griffin III and team owner Dan Snyder. When asked if he wanted to come back to the Redskins he refused to comment. Later, however, when the same question was asked, Shanahan said of his players: “We’ve got some great character… I would like nothing more than to be with them.”

When asked if he’s spoken to Dan Snyder, Shanahan responded “I’ve talked to Dan” and “obviously our conversation will stay between us.” Later he added “I’ve got a good relationship with Dan” Snyder. When asked if the situation in Washington was beyond repair, Shanahan replied: “I don’t believe so.” Later he added: “I get along with Dan quite well. He’s been a very supportive owner.”

However, when asked repeatedly about the media reports that he was ready to quit last season and is dismayed by the relationship between RG3 and Snyder, Shanahan continued to refuse to deny the reports. In other words, he will not deny he was ready to quit last season and he will not deny he’s disgusted by the relationship between RG3 and the team owner.

When asked why he benched RG3 Shanahan responded that he’s concerned about the physical beating Griffin is taking because of the opposing pass rush. Shanahan repeatedly referred “24 sacks in the last five games” and to the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs had two sacks in five weeks before yesterday, but racked up six sacks — five on RG3 — on Sunday alone. He also mentioned that two of the final three games are on artificial turf, a surface the coach believes will not be kind to Griffin if he takes more hits.

Shanahan said he would make a decision on whether Griffin will start week 14 against Atlanta “in the next 48 hours” — meaning by Wednesday. Shanahan also said that if Griffin is benched for the Atlanta game he would remain benched for the rest of the season.

However, Shanahan reiterated that if Griffin is sat down it will be because of concerns about his health, not because of poor performance. However, Shanahan acknowledged that health concerns do not stem from injuries or concerns voiced by Griffin himself or doctors. In other words, sitting Griffin down for the final three games, if it happens, would be strictly a safety measure. “I think he’s 100 percent,” the coach said of Griffin.

How all this jibes with Shanahan’s previous assertions that Griffin, as a young and inexperienced quarterback, needs all the game repetitions he can get, is anyone’s guess. Nevertheless, Shanahan insisted  “I want to make sure he’s healthy… going into the offseason” and that if RG3 is hurt in the final three weeks “it would set our franchise back.”

Later, Shanahan referred to Griffin as “our franchise quarterback” but said RG3 has “never had an offseason” because of the serious knee injury he suffered in last January’s playoff loss to Seattle. “If he did get injured I’d be very disappointed if he was not there. It’s important for him to be there.”

When the topic turned to other players, Shanahan said punter Sav Rocca is “struggling” and “I was hoping to be better on special teams.” When asked about TE Niles Paul’s criticism of the effort given by other special teams players, Shanahan said he’s “surprised Niles Paul” would criticize the effort of other special teams players, adding Paul should play a perfect game himself if he wants to knock the effort of his teammates.

For his part, Shanahan said he believes the players have not quit and are still working hard to win games.

Against Kansas City, Shanahan said the game plan was to punt the ball out of bounds or punt high enough that the coverage could handle Chiefs PR Dexter McCluster, but obviously that did not happen. McCluster had 177 punt return yards on seven returns, including one for a touchdown. The team also gave up a kick return for a touchdown, the first time the Redskins have ever yielded both in one half of a football game.

Shanahan said he would consider making personnel moves along the offensive line, but did not detail any. He also announced that third-year RB Evan Royster will miss the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain suffered in Sunday’s loss because the injury will sideline him more than three weeks. Royster would go on the injured reserve, Shanahan added.

Shanahan dismissed talk about job security and his relationship with Griffin and Snyder, saying “there’s always a lot of noise when you’re 3-10.” And “there’s going to be a lot more noise in the weeks ahead.”

However, Shanahan promised his players would “get my best shot over the next three games and I’m hoping to get their best shot.” When asked how he would handle the controversy, Shanahan merely said “My job is to get this football team ready to play Atlanta” and “I believe our football team will be focused on football.”

When asked about the report that he cleaned out his office last year, in preparation for leaving the team, Shanahan appeared irritated, saying “It would take me two minutes to clean out my office. I’ve got two notebooks and an iPad.”

However, Shanahan maintained that all hope is not lost and cited the Chiefs, who are now 10-3, but were 2-14 last season, as an example of how quickly a football team can reverse its fortunes. “Every team has that ability.” What Shanahan didn’t mention is that change happened after a change at head coach, with Andy Reid replacing Romeo Crennel.

“You always want to come back,” said Shanahan. “I love these guys.”

But, he allowed that team owner Dan Snyder “will make a final decision on what’s best for the Washington Redskins.”