LANDOVER, Md. -- Consequences arrive on their own schedule, not ours. When Robert Griffin III came back from major knee surgery in eight months and was pronounced "healed" -- fast, mobile and ready to play, though in a knee brace -- Washington thought its beloved team might have dodged the bullet that it shot at itself in January in the playoffs.
Maybe coach Mike Shanahan's lousy decision to keep Griffin in against Seattle until he broke, or Griffin's foolish pride to ask, almost demand, to play, or Dr. James Andrews' role as Doc Irrelevant, would all be forgotten or forgiven because Griffin would return as the same RG3.
What knee injury? Look at Adrian Peterson, who came back as the same menace after surgery. Wasn't that what months of "All in for Week 1" meant?
Now, after losing on its home field to Detroit 27-20 on Sunday, Washington has fallen to 0-3, a record from which few teams recover to reach the playoffs. For the second time, just like the Philadelphia opener, Washington lost at home to a team that was 4-12 last year.
Now it's likely that nobody has escaped anything. The consequences of Jan. 6 are arriving as this new season cracks.
Last year, the Redskins won games by one, two and three points, as well as seven, seven and eight. They needed every bit of Griffin to do it. Now, he's still very good, but his cape is at the dry cleaners. His Superman socks have a few holes. And Washington's margin of error, even against mediocre-to-poor teams at home, has shriveled to nothing. A tough schedule just became ominous.
RG3 is back, or at least RG (0-3) is. He's far faster and more mobile than most quarterbacks. He can and should play. He has no gimp. He's a wonderful future-of-the-franchise quarterback. He's passed for more than 300 yards in three straight defeats, though a lot has come in garbage time.
But Griffin is not quite the same player. Will he be in a week or a month or next season? Nobody knows. Will he adapt, grow and become some slightly different type of fabulous veteran quarterback? Probably, with time.
But at least for now, it appears Griffin is still a bit of a young project quarterback, in development, rather than the electric leader, playing a step above the NFL that seemed destined to redefine the position for his era.
Mystique is fragile. Griffin had it. Now, his knee brace practically announces, like a dreary flag that he has to recreate it all over again.