Griffin has spent the past three months learning the offense from coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay. He also has spent that time learning how they want him to play his position.
The third-year quarterback still admittedly has more work to do. But he can tell he is getting better.
“No doubt. No doubt,” Griffin said without hesitation. “That’s how you want to progress throughout your career. I feel like I’m seeing things better. I just feel like an offense, we’re moving better. Bruce will tell you – and he told me yesterday, ‘We’re back out here playing football, man.’ That’s the beauty of the game. When you come out here and play freely, just be the player that you are supposed to be, I think that the guys respond to that and everybody has come out and done it.”
Griffin says in addition to the tutelage of Gruden and McVay, last year’s trying season also has helped him improve mentally. He described himself as relieved to have recognized signs of growth, and he likened it to the strides he made during his track career in high school and college.
“When I was running track, when I was a kid, one year, I’d run 57 [seconds] in the 400. Then the next year, I’d run 54, and the next year, I’d run 51,” Griffin recalled. “You’re constantly improving, every year, and knocking those seconds off and knocking those seconds off. I think that every year, you should get better. Regardless of the reports or the stats, I feel like I got better this year. If I didn’t go through what I did last year, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I think I’m a better quarterback today.
Griffin later said, “I just have a belief in myself, and a belief in the guys around me that when I prepare, and when we prepare, things are going to go right. That’s just the way you approach it. Sitting there at 3-9 last year, and we’re going into that game, I’m still approaching it as if we’re an undefeated football team. You have to look at it that way, and you have to have that confidence. When you put in the work, it shows, and I think it’ll show this year more than last year.”
This offseason, Griffin has worked to speed up his release while also modifying his base and improving his accuracy and footwork on dropbacks and rollouts. He says he has a good command for the offense and could run it well if his team had to play a game tomorrow. But he said he hasn’t yet mastered it.
Griffin’s coaches agree with his assessments, however, and have praised his work ethic and development.
“He’s done an excellent job,” McVay said Wednesday. “I think one of the things that’s so great about going against our defense this offseason is [defensive coordinator Jim] Haslett has a variety of different looks in coverages and blitzes – different things where you have to change protections – and I think the things we asked Robert to do as far as above the neck, he did an excellent job through our OTAs, our voluntary minicamp, and this mandatory minicamp. So we’re really excited about the progress he’s made and think he’s going to do a great job.”
The Redskins have five weeks off between now and the start of training camp. Coaches want their players to use that time to get away, refresh and mentally prepare for a rigorous push toward the start of the season. But Gruden said he does want and expect for Griffin to continue honing his skills during this down time.
“Quarterbacks need to throw,” Gruden said. “He needs to continue throwing and working on his footwork and fundamentals, different arm angles throwing the ball. You see some, he’s got to throw three-quarters, over the top, high release, low release, footwork, stepping up into the pocket, two hands on the ball. There is drill work you can do as a quarterback that you have got to take care of yourself when nobody is watching you in order to be great. I know that Drew [Brees] is going to do it, I know Tom Brady does it, Peyton Manning does it. All the great ones are going to do it and he is no different. He is going to work his butt off in the offseason with a coach or without a coach, but he is going to just continue to work on his balance, footwork, and fundamentals.”
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