RGIII: Dealing with pressure hard here, but ‘I’ve got tough skin’

Robert Griffin III acknowledges intense pressure, but says he can handle it. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Robert Griffin III acknowledges intense pressure, but says he can handle it. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

As he and his teammates have opened the season with a 3-6 record for a second consecutive season, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has come under more scrutiny and drawn more criticism than at any point in his life.

Griffin surmises that his job as quarterback both of the Redskins, and in the NFL in general, subjects him to a brighter spotlight and more intense microscope. But he believes that he can handle the pressure.

All season long, analysts and fans have debated every one of the Redskins’ decisions regarding the handling of the second-year quarterback. They also have dissected Griffin’s every word and move on and off the field since his comeback from knee surgery.

A bright spotlight shined on Griffin last season, but things have changed this season  mainly in the success department. Griffin’s performances have been uneven, and Washington’s offense has resembled a roller coaster rather than the smooth-operating, high-powered attack from a year ago.

Whether fair or not, Griffin has received some of the blame for the struggles partially because he hasn’t made as many dazzling plays with his legs, and partly because of uneven passing performances as well. At this point last season, Washington owned a 3-6 record, but Griffin and the offense had fared better.

Griffin had accounted for 12 touchdowns (eight passing, four running) and three interceptions. This year, through nine games, Griffin has 12 touchdowns (all passing) and nine interceptions.

Washington this season has averaged 410.2 yards and 25.6 points a game. The yards are up from last season when the team generated 383.2 an outing. But the points have dipped from 27.3 per game to 25.6 per contest this season. Consistency has been missing this year.

Griffin this year was expected to return and help the Redskins build on last season’s 10-6 campaign and first NFC East title since 1999. But thus far, the growth has not come, and each week, Griffin has had to field questions on his effectiveness, his role in the team’s struggles and the health of his surgically repaired knee.

Despite acknowledging frustrations this season, Griffin said that the struggles, criticisms and lack of sustained success haven’t proven overwhelming.

“You take life as it comes. Life’s going to throw you curveballs sometimes. You just have got to figure out which ones to try and hit,” Griffin said. “Right now, it’s not a burden. It’s a burden if you make it a burden. You’ve got to believe. It only takes one person to believe so you can have success. I always believe in this team. I always believe in these players and so on and so on. That’s what it is for me. It’s not a burden. I understand what comes with being the quarterback of the Washington Redskins. I understand what comes with being a quarterback in the NFL. And yeah, it might be a little harder here because of certain aspects of what goes on around this team. I understand that.”

Asked what he meant by “a little harder here,” and “around this team,” Griffin explained:

“Just the big city, bright lights, big media market  those are the things. Our fan base is great. They demand success. They got a taste of it last year and they’re going to want more of that and we’ve got to provide it and we will. I think we will. So I think that those are some of the factors that go into it. It’s not a small town. It’s not a small-city team that doesn’t have a big media room like this. It’s part of it and I understand that. Even coming from a small town in high school and a medium-sized town in Waco in Texas, you come, you step up to another level, you’re in the big city, bright lights and you’ve got to perform, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Griffin said that he can handle whatever scrutiny he receives, however.

“I’ve got tough skin,” he said. “My parents brought me up the right way  military background, discipline and all that stuff  and I’m happy to call them my parents and they’ve done a great job there for me. I have all that inside of me and that’s all it takes. You’ve got to have it inside of you to make it in this world and that’s what I have got to do.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins’ practice began at 1 p.m. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is expected to speak with reporters afterward.

More on the Redskins & NFL:

D.C. Sports Bog: RGIII clowns G. Paulsen |  Green on state of Redskins | More

Outsider: How Foles, Vick attack differently | Which quarterback is a better matchup?

Doug Williams, fired by Grambling, mulls a return to the NFL | Photos

Wise: At 3-6 a third time, Shanahan won’t quit | Reid: Coach deserves new deal

Several Redskins auditioning for new contracts during stretch run

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