On Friday, former Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan appeared on FS1’s Undisputed and discussed how Robert Griffin III believed he was an elite pocket passer during their time together with the ‘Skins.
As seen in the following video courtesy of Fox Sports, Shanahan said RG3 wanted to focus on his dropback passing more than utilizing his legs:
“I was really disappointed,” former @Redskins HC Mike Shanahan said of RGIII. “He really believed he was Aaron Rodgers.” https://t.co/dHyTDEHo3n
“I’ll be honest with you, I was really disappointed myself because I knew where Robert was going. I knew where his dad was going. I knew where [Redskins owner] Dan Snyder was going. It was up to me to convince this guy that, ‘Hey, if you don’t run, your dropback game…it’s not there now, but you can get there.’ I blame myself for not getting to the kid. He really believed he was Aaron Rodgers. In his mind, he believed he was Aaron Rodgers. I said, ‘You know what? You’re not Aaron Rodgers, and Aaron Rodgers is not you.'”
Shanahan coached Griffin in 2012 and 2013, and their first season together was a great one: The Redskins went 10-6 en route to the playoffs, and RG3 was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Griffin suffered a knee injury during the Wild Card Game against the Seattle Seahawks, however, and he wasn’t the same player the following season.
In a recent interview with ESPN 980 (via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post), former Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman noted Griffin said in a meeting that he no longer wanted to run the zone-read despite rushing for 815 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie.
Griffin disputed that and said the issues in Washington were because Shanahan didn’t want him as his quarterback, per Steinberg and Scott Allen.
“I was drafted to a team with a coach who didn’t want me, with an organization that wasn’t sold on me,” he said. “And I think when you make that many trades and trade that many picks, you don’t do that for a guy that you’re not sold on.”
Washington fired Shanahan after the 2013 season, but things didn’t get any better for Griffin, as he threw for four touchdowns and six interceptions in nine games in 2014 under new coach Jay Gruden.
On Undisputed, Shanahan described how continuing to run the read-option could have protected Griffin and kept him a productive quarterback:
“To be honest with you, with a guy like Dan, he really believed Robert had all those things, all the tools. … You can see why an owner or dad or mother says, ‘Hey, don’t get my son hit.’ I understand that, but one thing you have to learn if you do run a read-option, the quarterback cannot get hit. He has to slide, give the ball off, pitch it. … If you do run, never take a hit. And that’s what Russell Wilson has done throughout his career. He’s the best at it. Deshaun Watson, he’s doing unbelievable, doing the same thing: sliding, throwing the ball away, being able to throw on the run.”
After spending the 2015 season as a backup in Washington, Griffin was let go, and he went on to sign with the Cleveland Browns.
He went 1-4 as a starter for the Browns in 2016, throwing for 886 yards, two touchdowns and three picks to go along with 190 rushing yards and two scores.