Shanahan responds to Madden's criticism

ASHBURN, Va. -- John Madden called it a baloney move, that it hurts the integrity of the game and that it looks like the Washington Redskins have quit. All because Mike Shanahan benched Robert Griffin III for the final three games in favor of Kirk Cousins.

The Hall of Fame coach had plenty to say on Sirius XM NFL radio earlier this week. I’ll repeat what he said in a minute, but Shanahan responded to the comments Thursday.

“First of all, I respect the heck out of John. I’ve known John for a long time and he does an unbelievable job,” Shanahan said. “But unless you’re really in the situation – you’re in our situation – it’s really hard to jump into somebody’s shoes. And everybody has opinions on everything, especially when you get paid to give your opinions. But when you’re here and you’re the coach, you’re going to do the best thing that you believe – with all the facts involved – that is the best thing for the organization. And sometimes you don’t know all the things that we’re evaluating.”

OK, my two cents first: I don’t know that it impacts the integrity of the game like Madden says, mainly because it’s not as if the Redskins’ offense was functioning at a high level in recent weeks. That’s not to blame it all on Griffin, but he has been the quarterback during this period and he has not played well. The offense has not scored more than 17 points in their past four games. Yes, there are many reasons why. Does that mean Kirk Cousins is the answer? Maybe not. But I’d buy the integrity part more if the Redskins had been scoring a lot of points and looking sharp offensively (of course, if that were the case then I doubt we’d be having this discussion anyway).

To me the integrity part comes in any ulterior motives for this decision. If you’re doing it for any reason other than you say – and we’ve all heard the speculation and I don't think many buy the health reason as a sole motivator because of it – then that’s where you look at the integrity.

Anyway, here’s Madden:

  • "I do know this: when the going goes tough, you don't quit. And you don't fold up. And you don't go in the other direction. I think you stay with what you believe you stay with who you are, you stay with what you are.”

  • "We have an integrity piece here, too. You can say, 'Well they're 3-10, they're out of it, so now they can do these things.' No you can’t. This is still regular-season football. Draft order, that's one small thing, but you still owe it to the people that are playing, that are still in the playoff picture. And when you can affect that and you don't affect it with an all-out performance, then I think that affects the integrity of the game.”

  • "I mean, you know it's baloney. I like Mike Shanahan, and I'm not talking behind his back, but when you say something like that, you know that's not right –you’re not going to sacrifice regular-season games. There's only 16 of them a year. You're not going to sacrifice regular-season games for an offseason program."