In an unfortunate development on Wednesday, the Washington Redskins announced that rookie quarterback sensation Robert Griffin III would be sidelined due to surgery on his LCL and ACL. After a superb debut season, Griffin's knee finally gave out in a playoff loss to Seattle when he dove after a bad snap and twisted his leg awkwardly.
Dr. James Andrews, who completed RGIII's surgery successfuly, estimated that the 22-year old quarterback could be ready in time for the regular season opener in 2013. Whether or not Griffin is ready to play should be immaterial in the eyes of Washington's front office; at issue is the fact that the freakishly athletic signal-caller has a serious injury history and his long-term viability is in question.
The Redskins didn't make the playoffs on RGIII's ability alone. There were contributions from all over the place, be it Alfred Morris and his record-breaking campaign on the ground, or Kai Forbath and his 17-17 start to his career on field goals. Backup quarterback and fellow rookie Kirk Cousins was mostly stellar when he was called upon to start in RGIII's stead, and came up with some of the biggest plays of the year in some of the most important moments. Washington showed that it had a decent team around RGIII and played well as an overall unit when the stakes were against them.
By that token, Redskins fans shouldn't be worried about the playoffs next year. If RGIII were to be sidelined, the Redskins would still have enough talent to make it interesting down the stretch. Cousins is a very viable option under center and anything is possible when Morris is running for 120 yards per game. It's much like the Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan first retured - the Bulls still had enough talent to go 55-27 and make a playoff run.
This is why the Redskins must take it slow with RGIII. They won't crash and burn without him under center. It's inarguable that he had a huge impact on their playoff run this year, but short-term success isn't worth the price that could be paid if he is felled by that knee again. If RGIII can't play much next season and the Redskins do indeed fail to play well, fans of the burgundy and gold will be thankful knowing that they traded one bad season for the prospect of several great ones.
The Redskins can make the playoffs without RGIII, but they can dream on when it comes to winning a Super Bowl. That 55-27 Bulls team was superb in the regular season, but fell in seven games to the Knicks because Michael Jordan couldn't make a difference. If the Redskins make the playoffs without RGIII, they'll have a very difficult time winning the biggest game of all. This is another reason why the star quarterback must take it slow. He is more important to this team than any other player, and is inarguably the player that could decide whether or not Washington wins a Super Bowl within the next few years or not.
The other issue at hand is RGIII's style of play. There is no question that he is an exciting and athletic player, but it has been the cause of his downfall more than anything. If he can't learn to use his mobility as a weapon in the pocket as opposed to a weapon in the open field, he'll be doomed to have a career as a player who couldn't stay on the field.
What it comes down to is this: the most important service a player can provide his team is availabilty. If RGIII can't stay on the field, he is failing to complete that requirement. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but RGIII will have to try his best in order to keep his career viable. The future of the Washington Redskins depends on it.