Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has spoken with new head coach Jay Gruden since the coach’s hiring and has come away from the discussions with a sense of encouragement and additional motivation.
Griffin — who just completed a trying second season in the NFL, a year after winning offensive rookie of the year honors — expressed an eagerness to get back to work and begin learning from Gruden.
At the same time, his team was in the middle of a coaching search following the firing of Mike Shanahan, but Griffin purposefully tried to maintain a low profile. He declined interview requests on the day that Shanahan was fired, and issued only a statement, thanking the coach for his help in the last two years, and wishing him well.
Earlier that same day, while cleaning out his locker at Redskins Park, Griffin said he was getting ready to leave town and wanted to stay out of the middle of the coaching search.
Last Thursday, on the day of his hiring, Gruden said he looked forward to the chance to work with Griffin. But the coach said that he hadn’t communicated with the quarterback, who at that point was still in Hawaii.
The two have since spoken, and Griffin liked what Gruden had to say.
“Excited, man. Can’t wait to get to work,” the quarterback said. “Key takeaways: excited to get this thing going, get better together, have fun, win.”
Griffin hopes to soon begin immersing himself in Gruden’s system, which is expected to have a fair amount of familiarity to the Redskins’ previous offense because Gruden comes from the same West Coast offense coaching tree as did Shanahan. Redskins players and coaches actually referred to some of the Bengals’ game video when preparing for mutual opponents because the concepts of Gruden’s passing attack closely resembled their own.
Another factor that should help Griffin’s transition is the retention of tight ends coach Sean McVay, who is expected to be promoted to offensive coordinator. Redskins players have praised McVay’s extensive knowledge and effective communicating and motivational skills. McVay helped plan third-down packages in Washington’s offense and already has an understanding of Griffin’s capabilities.
Griffin hopes to rebound from a 3-13 campaign in which he regressed in some areas as he missed offseason practices while rehabbing from the reconstruction of his right knee, and then returned to action just eight months after the surgery.
A year after throwing 20 touchdown passes and just five interceptions and boasting a quarterback rating of 102.4 and completion percentage of 65.6 as a rookie, Griffin threw 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions while seeing his completion percentage dip to 60.1 and his quarterback rating to 82.2 in 13 games. He also got sacked 38 times (eight more than he did in 15 games in 2012) and didn’t rush for a touchdown. Shanahan benched him for the final three games of the season, saying that part of the decision stemmed from a desire to protect the quarterback from injury after he got sacked 24 times in his final five games.
Gruden, however, is committed to Griffin as his starting quarterback, and he expressed confidence that Griffin has the capability to rebound in his third season and develop into a winning quarterback.
“I see a ton of talent,” Gruden said at his introductory press conference. “I see a guy that can run, I see a guy that can maneuver in the pocket, I see accuracy, I see long-ball accuracy, I see toughness, I see a guy that wants to win and I see a strong leader. I see every trait that a quarterback has to have to be successful. I see Robert having all of those, so why wouldn’t you want to coach a guy like that? So I’m excited to coach him.”
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