Gruden: Griffin needs to play with more confidence


Redskins Coach Jay Gruden sends in the plays to Kirk Cousins as quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) listens in during preseason action against the New England Patriots on August 7, 2014 in Landover, MD. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

Jay Gruden cited a lack of confidence as the primary stumbling block in Robert Griffin III’s game. The cure for this, according to the football coach, is repetition.

Griffin had his worst showing of the preseason Saturday, completing five of eight passes for just 20 yards and an interception while getting sacked three times in six possessions. The quarterback, who finished the game with a 27.1 passer rating, frequently held onto the ball too long, missing small windows of opportunities to extend drives. Other times, he gave up on plays too quickly and tucked the ball and ran rather than using his legs to extend plays. Griffin also made some ill-advised throws – two of which were intercepted, although one was called back because of a penalty.

The end result: a third straight game with no touchdowns scored by Washington’s starting offense.

Gruden said blaming all of the offensive struggles on Griffin would be inaccurate.

But he did say the quarterback has a number of issues hindering him – all of which stem from a lack of in-game confidence.

“It’s a little bit of everything. It could be a function of him not trusting the coverage, not trusting his footwork,” Gruden said. “That’s something he’s got to get out of. He’s got to have a trust factor that the drops going to match the receivers’ depth. He’s got to let some things fly. He’s just a little bit hesitant right now, which is normal with some new concepts. He was out there today, wasn’t hesitant at all. He was throwing the ball on time and accurate today. He’s just got to maintain that confidence going into games. Hopefully that’s something that comes in time. He hasn’t really shown that hesitancy like he did against Baltimore for whatever reason. I don’t know if it was push in the pocket where he felt the pressure or maybe he saw a linebacker or whatever. But he’s got to trust the fact. He’s got to let some of those balls go and let receivers do some work for him.”

Griffin always has exuded confidence off the field, and teammates say he does in the huddle as well. But he has yet to gain comfort in Gruden’s system as the coach works to help him develop into a pocket passer.

During Saturday’s post-game comments, Gruden said he would continue to work with Griffin to help him improve in these areas. But the coach said Monday that repetition and increased experience will make the biggest difference.

“He’s got to do it; he’s got to continue to do it. You know, he’s in his third year like I said, and some of these route combinations are new to him,” Gruden said. “He’s got to trust the fact that he’s got to believe what he sees, but he’s got to see it first. In order to see it, he’s got to have some protection, he’s got to keep his eyes on the right spot, and go through his progressions and make his decisions and get the ball out of his hands. It will come. He’s got the ability to do it; he’s got the smarts to do it; he’s got the wants to do it. He’s just got to do it.”

More from The Post:

Gruden: Outside chance offensive starters play Thursday

Safety Phillip Thomas injures left foot

DeAngelo Hall defends Griffin, Meriweather

Darrel Young says struggles go beyond Griffin’s performance

Robert Griffin III: “We can’t worry about what outsiders think”

Redskins cut Adam Gettis, Bryan Shepherd

Griffin’s struggles might make Redskins hesitant to trade Cousins

Redskins cut LB Rob Jackson and eight others

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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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