The Washington Redskins announced the release of Quarterback Robert Griffin III. He was informed of his release two days before his $16.15 million 2016 salary would have taken effect. The former No. 2 overall NFL draft pick did not play a single down in 2015. What the hell happened? You have to start from the beginning.
The Life and Times of Robert Griffin III
September, 26 2009, Robert Griffin III tore the ACL in his right knee in a 68-13 win over Northwestern State his sophomore year. He continued to play despite the injury, completing 11 of his 14 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns, but doctors later discovered the tear as he was forced to sit out the rest of the season.
December 10, 2011, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III wins the Heisman Trophy, receiving 405 first-place votes and 1,687 total points to hold off Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Where are they now? Richardson hopefully has new life in Baltimore after being out of the league, and Luck looked broken and lost last year. Now Griffin is out of the league.
March 10, 2012, the St. Louis Rams and Redskins announce a blockbuster trade, sending the No. 2 overall draft pick to Washington. In exchange, St. Louis received the No. 6 and No. 39 picks in 2012 and first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
The Rams were able to turn Robert Griffin III into Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins, Isaiah Pead, Rokevious Watkins, Alec Ogletree, Stedman Bailey, Zac Stacy and Greg Robinson. Robert Griffin III made 35 starts for the Redskins. Those 8 players made 158 for the Rams.
April 26, 2012, the Redskins draft Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall selection. “We want to develop him to be the face of the organization,” then-coach Mike Shanahan says. Exactly 100 picks later, Washington drafts Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins.
September 9, 2012, he completes 73.1 percent of his passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns and runs nine times for 42 yards in a season-opening, 40-32 victory at New Orleans. He records a 139.9 passer rating, and his celebration after throwing what ends up being an 88-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Pierre Garçon — sitting on the turf, his arms and index fingers extended skyward — becomes an Internet fad known as “Griffining.”
October 7, 2012, Griffin left the Redskins matchup against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter after suffering a mild concussion on his way out of bounds. He was 10-of-15 for 91 yards in the Redskins’ 24-17 loss before the injury.
Kirk Cousins entered the game against the Falcons after Griffin’s injury in the third quarter. He went 5-of-9 with one touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
October 14, 2012, the signature play of Griffin’s career unfolds in the fourth quarter of a game against Minnesota when the quarterback, on a designed run, takes off down the left sideline and runs 76 yards for a touchdown. “Still on his feet, RGIII is going to out-race everybody!” Fox commentator Dick Stockton yells.
December 9, 2012, he injured his right knee in a Week 14 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Griffin missed the following game but returned to the field in Week 16 to finish out the season. Cousins entered the game in the fourth quarter and helped rally the Redskins to a 31-24 victory after throwing a touchdown and completing both of his passes late in the game. Cousins completed 70 percent of his passes in a matchup against the Browns, throwing two touchdowns and one interception in the 38-21 win December 16, 2012.
January 6, 2013, after leading the Redskins to their first playoff appearance in five seasons, Griffin tore both his LCL and ACL 24-14 wild-card loss against the Seattle Seahawks. Cousins entered the game in the final minutes but was unable to rally the Redskins going 3-of-10 for 31 yards.
January 9, 2013, Dr. James Andrews operates on Griffin’s right knee, repairing the LCL and reconstructing the ACL. He is expected to miss six to nine months.
February 2, 2013, Robert Griffin III wins the Offensive Rookie of the Year award from The Associated Press after a season in which he set multiple team and league records. He finished the year having completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions while running for 815 yards and seven touchdowns.
February 19, 2013, Adidas, with whom Griffin has an endorsement contract, begins a marketing campaign around the quarterback, extending its “All In…” tagline with “…For Week 1.” After a furor erupts over the apparel company’s apparent disregard for Griffin’s long-term health, Griffin posts on Twitter, “Although my goal is to start Week 1, that doesn’t mean I will compromise my career to do so.”
April 15, 2013, the Redskins begin their offseason workout program, with on-field practices set to begin a month later. Griffin sits out the entire period, rehabilitating by himself on a side field with other injured players.
July 25, 2013, Griffin takes part in individual drills as training camp opens in Richmond. He gradually progresses to 7-on-7 and then 11-on-11, but is held out of playing in any of the Redskins’ four preseason games by Shanahan.
August 29, 2013, even though he said Andrews had cleared Griffin to play following an examination prior to the final preseason game at Tampa Bay, Shanahan said “there’s a couple concerns” and that a decision on Griffin’s availability for the season opener would be made the following Monday. Shanahan then relents, naming him the starter for the game against Philadelphia.
September 9, 2013, eight months after undergoing surgery on his right knee, Robert Griffin III starts a nationally televised “Monday Night Football” game against Philadelphia. He does not appear to be the same player before the injury and is visibly lacking speed and confidence in his first live action since the playoff game against Seattle.
December 11, 2013, former Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan made the announcement that Cousins would start the final three games of the 2013 season in order to prevent any injuries to Griffin with Washington already eliminated from the playoffs. In Cousins first three consecutive starts in the NFL, he amassed 746 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions, completing just over 50 percent of his passes. All three games resulted in a loss.
December 30, 2013, Shanahan, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur and several other assistant coaches are fired, one day after the Redskins conclude the season with their eighth consecutive loss, a 20-6 road defeat at the hands of the New York Giants. Chris Chase summarizes the bitter end:
Shanahan seemed to resent the fact that he was playing a QB he didn’t want and it was destroying his third stint in the NFL, thus threatening to radically alter Shanahan’s legacy. There was no adult in the front office to ease the friction and end the discord. By the end of a terrible season in which Griffin got hurt again, Shanahan was leaking stories to the media about falling on his sword to stay with the team (he could have been gone in two mintues!), nonsense that was merely getting out in front of his inevitable firing. Nothing was Mike Shanahan’s fault, said Mike Shanahan.
January 9, 2014, a year to the day after Griffin’s surgery, Jay Gruden is hired as the team’s next coach. A former quarterback, Gruden fawns over Griffin’s potential. “I’m excited to coach him, and hopefully, he’s excited to play here,” Gruden says during his introductory press conference.
July 24, 2014, the Redskins open training camp in Richmond. Griffin, as opposed to the previous year, is fully healthy.
September 14, 2014, in the Redskins 2014 season opener against the Jaguars, Griffin dislocated his left ankle on his way out of bounds during the second drive of the game. He was sidelined for six weeks. Cousins entered the matchup after Griffin’s injury and went 22-of-33 for 250 yards and two touchdowns in securing a 41-10 victory.
November 2, 2014, amidst a report that he has “alienated” himself in the locker room, Griffin returns to the field against the Minnesota Vikings. He threw a fourth-quarter interception in a 29-26 loss.
November 17, 2014, asked about Griffin’s performance in a 27-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gruden offers a sharp public criticism of both his quarterback’s postgame comments and in-game mechanics. “It was not even close to being good enough to what we expect from that quarterback position,” Gruden says.
November 26, 2014, two days after watching Griffin throw for only 106 yards against the San Francisco 49ers, Gruden announces the quarterback will be benched Sunday, leaving Colt McCoy to start against the Indianapolis Colts. That was it come 2015. Chris Chase sums the whole thing up:
Jay Gruden was hired to replace Shanahan and entered with the same issue: He made his way in the NFL turning Andy Dalton into a viable quarterback, playing out of a pocket passing system. Now, he was hired to fit a square peg into a round hole and everyone acted as if this wasn’t going to a problem even though it was clearly headed toward disaster. But that’s why a guy like Gruden gets hired — when you’re not in demand, you don’t get a vote (at least not in year one). Gruden wanted Kirk Cousins all along, started Griffin out of obligation and then got his wish to play Cousins after yet another RG3 injury/benching.
It seems like Robert Griffin III was loved by fans and within the community in Washington DC. In spite of issues of race, scheme, chemistry and sabotage; ultimately, he just got beat out by Kirk Cousins.