Jay Gruden striving for balance in designing playbook for Robert Griffin III and Redskins

Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson

Jay Gruden referenced Seattle’s use of Russell Wilson when discussing his desire to construct a balanced attack for Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. (Laurence Kesterson/Reuters)

As he continues to compose his team’s new playbook and decide how he will utilize quarterback Robert Griffin III, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden is striving for balance.

During his extensive review of video of Griffin’s games the past two years, Gruden has come to the conclusion that the young dual-threat quarterback has the capability to execute almost any type of scheme.

“It’s fun to have a guy like Robert because I think there’s really not much that I can throw at him that he can’t do. I think he can do it all,” Gruden said earlier this week in Orlando.

“I think I’ve seen him do everything. I’ve seen him be successful in quick game. I’ve seen him be successful from time to time in drop-back game. I’ve seen him roll out and make throws. I’ve seen the play action. I’ve seen the read option. Not many quarterbacks are very good on third and nine or 12. That’s very difficult time to be in, so we probably need to work on that one – but everyone does. When you see the success he’s had in different parts of the game, as far as being a normal drop-back quarterback – he’s done that. Option quarterback – he’s done that. But it’s now just a matter of packaging them all together and try to find out the best ways to attack whatever defense we’re playing.”

The offseason program, which will begin April 7, will prove valuable for Griffin, Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay. Then, they finally can begin discussing football, plays, schemes, strategies and philosophies. During the on-field sessions, they can begin experimenting with the playbook to figure out what Griffin does best, what he needs to work on, which plays he has the most confidence in and which plays don’t suit him as well.

“I know he’s a very smart guy and he can handle everything mentally, so, my fear is I’m going to have too many plays,” Gruden said with a laugh. “That’s always been a thorn in my side, even in Cincinnati. I had too many plays. Hopefully, I can taper it back and find plays that work instead of just having too many.”

Gruden says Griffin will have a degree of involvement in the planning of the offense this offseason. He wants his quarterback to have the greatest comfort level possible, because comfort leads to confidence, which leads to better execution. That doesn’t mean the coaches will not challenge Griffin to expand his game and sharpen his skills, however. And that doesn’t mean Griffin will have a full say on the offense.

“I anticipate Robert will be in there watching tape quite a bit and will have some ideas for us also, that we’ll use or not use,” Gruden said.

The coach then further explained that he aims to develop Griffin to the point where his skill set has such extensive and sound diversity that on a given week, Washington can tailor the game plan to thrive at exploiting the opposing defense’s weakness regardless of its style.

Gruden said if he learns during his talks and experimentation with Griffin that the quarterback no longer is comfortable running the read option, he will scale back. But he doesn’t expect to entirely abandon it. He referenced the success Seattle and San Francisco have had in utilizing the read option to varying degrees, and then reiterated that his ultimate goal is finding balance. And, he understands that regardless of the offense he creates for Griffin, he likely will come under a degree of criticism. Success, Gruden says, is the only way to quell such chatter.

“If you turn him into a pocket passer, people will say, ‘Hey he’s not a pocket passer, you should run him more.’ If you run him more and he gets hurt – ‘Aw, goddang, we’re getting him killed. He’s never going to make it,’” Gruden said with a smile and roll of the eyes. “You have to balance that. You have to find ways to best suit his talents. I think it all starts – and I keep saying it – in these OTAs, where we get to know him, both mentally and physically and see what he can and can’t do.”

Have a football 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 Tuesday.

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