The Redskins nightmare scenario played out Sunday at FedEx Field.
Their 24-17 loss to the Falcons dropped their record to 2-3. But that might turn out to be a mere footnote to Week 5 if the injury to quarterback Robert Griffin III proves to be serious.
Griffin, the face of the franchise and arguably the most exciting player in the NFL, left the game with about six minutes remaining in the third quarter after taking a vicious blow to the helmet.
Several minutes later, the team announced that Griffin was shaken up and questionable to return.
Griffin did not take another snap after the play, recorded officially as a sack for two yards; an update on his status was not immediately available after the game. Griffin was 11 of 17 for 95 yards passing when he was replaced by fellow rookie Kirk Cousins.
Griffin was injured as he attempted to extend a play deep in Redskins territory. As he raced toward the right sideline, Griffin appeared to attempt to slide as two Falcons defenders closed in.
But as he went down, Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon delivered a punishing hit to Griffins helmet with his shoulder, snapping the quarterbacks head back. Griffins helmet also appeared to ricochet off of defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux as the three collided.
Griffin was slow to get to his feet and appeared wobbly as he made his way to the sideline. After being examined in room behind the Redskins sideline, Griffin was escorted to the Redskins locker room by a team doctor.
Stay with Comcast SportsNet and CSN.Washington.com for the latest on Griffin's status.
Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 23, 37 days before the NFL franchise tag deadline.
—NFL free agency starts 45
—NFL Draft 94
—First Sunday of 2017 season 230
Staying in house
—There are reasons to dislike the hire of Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator but the notion that he got the job because he is buddies with Jay Gruden really doesn’t hold water. They had no connection prior to last year and with them working on opposite sides of the ball they didn’t work side by side. I’ve heard the two have a friendly relationship but it’s not like he’s out of the Tampa Bay Yacht Club or anything.
—I know that everyone is obsessed with yardage rankings, which is a pretty weak indicator of the quality of a defense. Since you want to know, in Manusky’s nine seasons as a defensive coordinator his defenses have finished ranked 18th in yards allowed on average. In reality, Football Outsiders’ DVOA is a more accurate measure of the effectiveness of a defense since it takes the strength of the opponents into account. There isn’t much difference there, Manusky’s average DVOA ranking was about 17. In other words, he’s run middle of the pack defenses. Sure, you'd like them to do better but having a defense that's around average would represent an improvement over most of the last seven seasons.
—How has his talent been? Three different players have been first-team All-Pro selections. LB Patrick Willis made it three times, S Eric Weddle and DE Robert Mathias once each. Players under him made the Pro Bowl 13 times with Willis (3), Mathis (2), and DE Justin Smith (2) making it more than once. His defenses had three Pro Bowlers on one occasion when LB D’Qwell Jackson, CB Vonta Davia, and S Mike Adams all made it. That year the Colts defense was ranked 11th in yards and 13th in DVOA.
—It remains to be seen how much the Redskins will change schematically. Manusky has run both 4-3 fronts and 3-4’s so the Redskins could make a switch. Even if they go with a 3-4 base the unit is likely to be more aggressive than it was under Joe Barry. Some fans seem to be worried that promoting an assistant coach means that thinks will be done the same. Let me ask you this: If your boss was fired for not getting the job done and you were promoted into his position, would you do things the same way he did? I didn’t think so.
—There will be continuity on the offensive side of the ball as Matt Cavanaugh is going to get moved into the offensive coordinator job. It’s Gruden’s offense anyway so there would not have been much change even if they had brought someone in from the outside. It seems likely that Gruden will call the plays, although we won’t know for sure for a while. The only immediate question on that side of the ball is if Wes Phillips will stay on as the tight ends coach or if he will follow Sean McVay to Los Angeles. That should be resolved over the next several days.
Tandler on Twitter
This was in response to a tweet saying that Kyle Shanahan is likely to get roster and personnel control when he becomes the head coac of the 49ers.
In case you missed it
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Of course, Kirk Cousins is disappointed the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs, but among the various things he’s done in the offseason, one of them is a little curious.
Sunday, Cousins wasn’t just watching the Falcons dominate the Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship Game. He sent out a picture on Instagram from the stands of the Georgia Dome.
“Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!” Cousins wrote.
But — especially with rumors that Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be offered the head coaching position with the 49ers — is there more to this post than the Redskins’ quarterback simply watching the game?
Shanahan was the Redskins’ offensive coordinator from 2010-2013 and was reportedly “integral” in the team selecting Cousins in the 2012 NFL Draft.
So if Shanahan makes the move out to San Francisco and if the Redskins don’t put a franchise tag on Cousins, could the pair be reunited?
It’s possible, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, who said, “don’t be surprised if the 49ers make a run at Kirk Cousins if the Redskins do not make him their exclusive franchise player.”
There’s a lot of if’s involved for that to happen, but it’s possible. It’s also possible Cousins was just enjoying the NFC Championship Game and decided to Instagram about it.
MORE REDSKINS: Why Matt Cavanaugh makes sense for Washington