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Chain Reactions: Will RGIII's Knee Derail Skins Playoff Push?

RGIII's knee got plenty of attention this week, as has the 'Skins backup plan. Plus, the Wizards deal that did not happen.


There has been a week long RG-knee watch in the DMV, but there was other big news this week, too. The Wizards got a win! There was also a report they passed on a deal for James Harden due to money. I spoke with a NBA source that denies there was such a deal, just conversations with lots of teams about lots of scenarios. I do think it is interesting that the Thunder would have reportedly taken Chris Singleton, who struggles to score, and a 19-year old Bradley Beal in exchange for scoring machine Harden. In the end the Thunder ended up with Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, TWO first-round picks and a second-round pick.

Let me say this: if the Wizards balking over bucks really pushed the Thunder to a deal with Houston, then the Thunder owe Ted Leonsis big time. In the end, the Thunder got a much better deal from the Rockets. It was the kind of deal we would expect from Sam Presti. Whether an offer was truly made or whether tires were just being kicked, the perception of the Wizards organization league wide and locally is not good. The bad decisions in the draft date back to the Bullets days, and the successes have been short-lived. There have been more lottery appearances than playoff wins. Fans are frustrated and want some results. Instead, they are dealing with more setbacks with the franchise player John Wall, who is set to see another specialist instead of playing time. So once again, Wizards fans are left to think about deals or picks that were not made because it keeps them from thinking about the current sad state of affairs.

In this week’s "Chain Reactions" we hit on angles of RGIII’s knee and how it may impact the current playoff push.

How’s RG’s Knee?

RGIII’s knee has the most talked-about injury in town since his RGIII’s concussion back in October. The leg is not supposed to whip around that way Griffin’s did last Sunday and players certainly are not supposed to walk off the field and return after those collisions take place. Yet RGIII did both Sunday in the Redskins' OT win over the Ravens.

The reports have been encouraging with a dash of caution all week long. We have our usual set of town criers saying "please don’t put RGIII on the field until he is 100% healthy, the future is too bright." We have the barbarians who say "throw some dirt on it, we got a division to win." We also have the armchair GMs who want Kirk Cousins to play even if RGIII is ready so the Skins can showcase him for an off-season trade.

Ultimately, the Redskins will only put RGIII on the field if he gets cleared and he’s able to protect himself, which is the right call. Washington's easiest path to the postseason is to win out and that still does not guarantee anything. They need to keep the pedal to the metal and No. 10 gives them the best chance at winning. The idea that the Redskins can treat the Cleveland Browns like a preseason opponent is ridiculous. Cleveland has suddenly won 3 straight and are actually fighting for the postseason themselves, believe it or not, at 5-8. The coaching staff is also fighting for their jobs beyond this season thanks to an ownership change.

So, if RGIII gets the green light from the doctors, he will play. We can all hope RGIII will lead the Redskins to many playoff and Super Bowl appearances, but truly, no one has a clue or a guarantee that will happen. Keep in mind, RGIII is not your everyday person, or pro athlete, for that matter. Remember the hand-wringing over him playing after a concussion? That worked out really well. His knees are very important for a guy that moves like him. I have read and even talked to an orthopedist who gave me the ‘3-4 weeks for an LCL sprain Grade 1 timetable.’ The same doctor pointed out it is impossible to say for sure without examining RGIII’s MRI. Dr. James Andrews has seen the MRI, and he just happens to be the best of the best in sports.

This is not something the Redskins are taking lightly. The last thing anyone wants to see is him play and get hurt again. This is probably the toughest call the Shanahans will make this season. However, if he is cleared, you can bet he will be playing Sunday no matter how nervous it may make the rest of Redskins Nation.

Plan B with Cousins

The million dollar question surrounding the Redskins this week is how different the offense will be if RGIII is sidelined Sunday? Do Mike and Kyle Shanahan have a completely different offense they will unveil for Kirk Cousins? Will they be able to run the pistol still? Will the Browns stack the box and take Alfred Morris away? All legitimate questions and concerns. The Redskins have run very well out of the pistol formation thanks to RGIII’s ability to take it the distance. There will be no such threat with Cousins, who is more of a traditional drop back passer, but who can also move some, as proven on the game-tying two-point play last Sunday. It would certainly be an easier transition if, say, Russell Wilson was the Redskins backup quarterback. However, it is Kirk Cousins that the Redskins will turn to if RGIII cannot play and Mike Shanahan has plenty of faith in him.

"We felt like we got a diamond in the rough in being able to get Kirk in the fourth round. We had him ranked a lot higher so that’s the reason why we took him."

There is no question the Redskins will be different if Cousins is under center and not RGIII.They will probably look like they did last year when Rex Grossman was under center, just hopefully without all the turnovers.What Cousins will need is for the 'Skins offense line to protect better than they have all season. He will also need a heavy dose of Alfred Morris. Everyone on the offense will have to raise their game and that means the wide receivers who have played much better lately will need to catch every opportunity. Big games will be needed on defense too as they try to make it a long day for Brandon Weeden and special teams will need to be ready for the game breaking abilities of Josh Cribbs. This is not Mission Impossible for the Redskins Sunday if Cousins starts, just another spot where the team and staff need raise their game, as they have for the past 4 weeks.