Shanahan opts to rest Griffin for rest of season
The Washington Redskins, languishing in last place in the NFL's weak NFC East division, will not play quarterback Robert Griffin III for the remainder of the season.
Embattled Redskins coach Mike Shanahan confirmed the move on Wednesday, two days after saying he wanted to be sure the team's star goes into the off-season healthy.
Griffin, in his second year in the NFL, made a quick recovery from major knee surgery performed last January, but has struggled for much of the 2013 season.
Kirk Cousins will start for the rest of the season with veteran Rex Grossman as backup.
USA Today speculated that with the move Shanahan, who has one year remaining on his five-year, $35 million contract, could provoke team owner Daniel Snyder into sacking him, although Shanahan said Snyder had signed off on the move.
Shanahan also said that the move to bench Griffin was in the player's best interest.
"At the end of the day we felt the best thing to do for Robert was to not play him, so he can go into an offseason healthy," Shanahan said. "Any time you miss time in the offseason, it sets you back. A quarterback needs an offseason program, it's important to him."
A disappointed-sounding Griffin said the decision was out of his hands.
"Coach decided to shut me down for the rest of the season," he said. "I expressed my desire to play, but he explained his reasoning and I have to do whatever I can to help Kirk and the team.
"(Shanahan) just wanted to make sure I got to the offseason free of injury so I could have a really good offseason."
Griffin was the NFL's top offensive rookie last year when the Redskins won their final seven games to win the NFC East crown.
He damaged a ligament in his right knee in Washington's first-round playoff loss to Seattle and needed surgery.
He returned in time for the start of the 2013 campaign and has completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 3,230 yards with 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season. But the rushing numbers for the quarterback known for his explosive running ability have plummeted to just 489 compared to 815 in 2012.
Shanahan said he just wanted to be sure there was no chance the young star would face the same tough road in 2014 that he travelled this year.
"At the end of the day, if you miss the whole offseason again, the chances of coming back again would be very, very tough and I didn't want to put him in that situation again," Shanahan said. "I don't think it's worth the risk for this organization."
Cousins made one start last season in place of an injured Griffin and this year has appeared in two games. He said he didn't expect to challenge Griffin for the starting job next season.
"I believe this is Robert's team," Cousins said. "He is the franchise quarterback."