Despite struggles, Griffin believes offense is ‘in a good place’ entering preseason game

August 4, 2014

RICHMOND — The Washington Redskins‘ first joint practice with the New England Patriots revealed the warts on offense as Robert Griffin III & Co. struggled to move the ball consistently or hit on the big plays that they had against their own defense during the first two weeks of training camp.

Robert Griffin III, left, and offensive coordinator Sean McVay converse during a previous day’s practice. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Redskins did have some bright spots during the 7-on-7 portion of practice, particularly the first segment, when Griffin went 5 for 5. But during the 11-on-11 segments, protection issues along the line manifested themselves, and Griffin frequently found himself scrambling to avoid the pass rush as the pocket collapsed around him. At times, the quarterback couldn’t locate an open receiver fast enough, and the whistle was blown as defenders got into the backfield for Griffin.

Toward the latter portions of practice, the offense seemed to click a little better. Griffin, operating under a slightly quicker pace and working his mid-range passing game, moved his offense down the field with completions to fullback Darrel Young, tight end Logan Paulsen and slot receiver Andre Roberts. But the drive stalled with an overthrow to Pierre Garcon. Griffin then had a 20-yard pass to tight end Jordan Reed at the New England 25, but Reed got only one foot down, negating the would-be completion.

On third and 10, Griffin’s protection gave out on him again, and the Patriots recorded what would’ve been another sack.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady and New England’s offense operated with precision. Running an uptempo no-huddle attack, Brady moved the ball up and down the field against Washington’s defense.

Despite the ups and downs of the day, Griffin came away from the practice with satisfaction. He took into account the fact that his coaches hadn’t scouted their opponents, that it was just a practice, and that Washington is in the process of installing a new offense, integrating two new wide receivers and new starters along the offensive line.

“I think we’re coming along when it comes to chemistry and all those things,” Griffin said. “But, when you have as many new additions as we do, it’s going to take some time. We’re in a good place. We’re not behind, we’re not ahead. We’re right in a good spot for training camp and that will continue to grow as the season goes on.”

Griffin acknowledged the contrast between his unit and Brady’s but also noted how long Brady has been playing. He said he spoke to the future Hall of Famer, and that Brady reminded him that Griffin is only in his third year, and that the timing, chemistry and precision will come as his career progresses.

Griffin said he looks forward to the day when he has the same feel and chemistry with his weapons as does Brady, but he also expressed encouragement by Washington’s progress despite the struggles.

“It’s further along than people would’ve expected at this point with [Andre Roberts] and DeSean [Jackson] and Ryan Grant, obviously,” Griffin said. “And you have Santana [Moss] moving around all over the place. Everybody’s playing a different role and doing a good job of playing that role. But nothing is perfect. If it was perfect right now, we’d win the Super Bowl.”

The Redskins will practice against the Patriots again on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then host them on Thursday. Griffin said that he and his teammates and fans must temper expectations for their preseason opener.

More than anything, he believes the game will feature crucial experimentation opportunities for the offense, although coach Jay Gruden won’t fully open up the play book.

“We’ve got to be honest with ourselves,” Griffin said. “The preseason, it’s not like we’re going to go out there and show everything we do. The preseason for us is still a part of training camp – for us to get those reps, for us to get a feel for how fast is DeSean on game day? How fast is Dre on game day? How are they going to move a little bit different? How are we going to pick up on what we’re doing? Making sure that the offense we have in place is best suited for our offense and the personnel we have. That’s not necessarily my job. It’s my job to run it and to make sure everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to. It’s coach’s job to see what we’re doing best and what we’re not doing best. But, it’s not like we’re going to go out there and run 40 plays and have a whole gamut of what we’re doing. We’ll go out there and be really vanilla. We’ve got to go out and execute.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

The Redskins’ second joint practice with the New England Patriots on Monday is at 4:10 p.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

Eagles’ Williams doesn’t like joint practices or Patriots

Reid: Redskins could learn at lot from New England

D.C. Sports Bog: Fun things Belichick said about the Redskins

Could joint practices replace a preseason game?

More NFL: Home page | D.C. Sports Bog | The Early Lead | Fancy Stats | Fantasy

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Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Jason Reid · August 4, 2014