We were again reminded of Griffin’s importance after the Redskins were unable to overcome a series of wrong turns on offense and defense after their rookie leader suffered a concussion late in a Week 5 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Griffin was cleared for non-contact drills in practice Wednesday, and unless he suffers a setback during ongoing testing for the remainder of the week, count on him playing Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
But whenever Griffin gets back in the game, he’ll have to start making better decisions to keep himself in it. Judging by his first comments since being injured, Griffin is beginning to understand change is in order.
Griffin acknowledged he shouldn’t have taken on Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon on a play that knocked him out of the game in the third quarter and left Redskins management shaken, too.
“It’s a learning lesson,” Griffin said. “I can’t do that to my team, to the fans or my family.”
Indicating he’s learning from a painful lesson, Griffin, with the defense converging on him during practice, threw away the ball on one play and imitated sliding on another (defensive players cannot hit quarterbacks when they slide feet first). The moves drew applause and cheers from Griffin’s teammates, who have encouraged him to think of his safety first.
“You don’t want to discourage Robert from being aggressive and doing the things that have made him a great player,” inside linebacker London Fletcher said. “You want him to use all his skills to help us. That’s why he’s here.
“He’s very smart for a young player; you don’t see him making the same mistakes over and over, and he’ll learn from this. But it’s also hard to change your nature. Robert is a play-maker. It comes down to walking that fine line.”
Beginning in the offseason, Griffin quickly earned his teammates’ respect by showing a willingness to sacrifice his body to win, “but you’ve got to pick and choose,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “He knows that wasn’t the right time to do that. . . . But knowing when you’re back out there [in a game], trying to get that first down, that’s the test.”
Fortunately for Griffin, he’ll be able to work through the process without having to worry about proving himself. He’s the real deal. There’s no question about that.
“It’s not about being soft,” Griffin said. “Everybody knows I’m a tough guy.”
Trying to be too tough got him into this situation. Each time Griffin stretches for a few extra yards or takes on a defensive player when he could have stepped out of bounds, he risks suffering an injury that could further set back the struggling Redskins. Washington (2-3) is winless in its past eight home games. Coach Mike Shanahan is 4-14 at FedEx Field.
On defense, the secondary has performed even more poorly than we feared it would. The front seven hasn’t generated much of a pass rush.