Was Mike Tomlin to blame when Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham tore his ACL? After all, the field was in poor condition, it was a meaningless preseason game, and the kicker was going after an equally meaningless tackle (the guy was already down).
It seems like a bit of a stretch to blame Tomlin for Suisham's misfortune, but it isn't a stretch to blame Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden for an absolutely ridiculous sequence of events that culminated in a concussion and shoulder stinger for quarterback Robert Griffin III during their preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
First, Washington's offensive line was, well, offensively bad. Missing their best lineman Trent Williams, they were no match for the Detroit Lions defense. The second series of the night ended with a powerful blow to RGIII's chest by Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy. Boom. RGIII fell to the ground.
Let's say for some odd reason that had happened to Ben Roethlisberger. If for some reason the offensive line is ineffective (let's say they have old-timer's night and bring back veterans from the 60's to fill in and Magic Mike Munchak isn't allowed to interact with them), would Tomlin leave Roethlisberger in the game? Of course not. But, herein lies the difference between Tomlin and Gruden. Mike Tomlin likes Ben Roethlisberger. Jay Gruden clearly isn't a fan of RGIII.
What happened after the big sack on Griffin? He stayed in two more possessions. When asked about this decision, Gruden had a nonsensical answer. "We felt confident in our offensive line to get something going there the fourth drive. Unfortunately, it didn't happen," he said. Either he has terrible judgment, doesn't understand what "confident" means, or doesn't care about his quarterback.
During a fumble recovery, RGIII found himself buried in Lions defenders, an incident that resulted in a stinger and a concussion. In total, RGIII was hit six out of eight times he dropped back. Washington Post reporter Jerry Brewer called it "quarterback abuse."
The abuse wasn't only at the hands of the Lions defenders, it was at the hands of his own coach who seemed to have total disregard for his safety, health, and ability to play in the regular season. Perhaps, though, that was part of Gruden's plan. Put the self-proclaimed "best quarterback in the league" in his place.
RGIII wasn't the only person humiliated last night. Redskins fans were reminded again of their team's dysfunction and how far they have fallen since the golden age of Joe Gibbs and Jack Kent Cooke.