The good news for the Redskins is that Griffin responded to his speaking mistakes with the same determination to improve that he exhibits while training. Griffin quickly realized he slipped up, team officials say, and he initiated a conversation with a reporter who regularly covers the Redskins who has a special-needs child to apologize for any pain his words may have caused.
“I am the quarterback, the face of the team and the face of the franchise,” Griffin said. “We all understand that.”
Teammates expected Griffin to meet the challenge head on, “because he hasn’t used being 22 as an excuse for anything, and no one expects him to start now,” inside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “If you’re a mature guy, you’re a mature guy no matter how old you are, and he is.
“You can be 35 and still be immature. We know there are a whole lot of examples like that around this league. When you make a mistake, especially when you’re in the position Robert is in, everyone is watching to see how you respond. Do you get down? Do you run from it? Or do you face up to it and move on? Robert does it the right way. That’s the type of guy guys want to follow.”
Griffin will get another chance to inspire his teammates Saturday evening against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Shanahan plans to increase the starters’ workload from 14 plays to around 30 to 35, which means they’ll likely play most of the first half.
During the preseason, defensive coordinators generally don’t devise game plans geared for specific opponents. Exotic blitzes and pass coverages designed to slow the best players on offense appear when the regular season begins.
The Bills played it simple against the Redskins and the Bears aren’t interested in setting preseason records, either. This could be another confidence-builder for Griffin.
“Facing a little adversity won’t hurt Robert . . . it’ll make him better,” Fletcher said. “In this game, there are always tests.”
Griffin can count on getting many more. And as he learned the hard way this week, they can come at times when he’ll least expect them.
For previous Jason Reid columns, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.