Gruden committed to Griffin, will have diverse playbook

Jay Gruden on his new quarterback, Robert Griffin III: “I don’t see him being a backup. … He was drafted here for a reason: to play.”  (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

New Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said that he hadn’t studied Robert Griffin III’s game, and as of Thursday evening, he had yet to speak with the quarterback. But the coach believes that the young passer has everything it takes to be a winning quarterback in the NFL.

Griffin ended the year on the inactive list for the final three games, as Mike Shanahan instead started Kirk Cousins. But Gruden said that Griffin is his starting quarterback.

“Well, I don’t see him being a backup. I like Robert. He was drafted here for a reason: to play,” he said.

Gruden – himself a former quarterback – explained that he will be demanding, but will work to earn Griffin’s trust while also aiming to do everything possible to position him for success.

“It’s got to be genuine,” he said of the trust that he intends to develop with Griffin. “He’s got to believe it. I’m going to let him know that I’m a trustworthy guy. He’s also got to understand that I expect a lot from the starting quarterback. I expect him to come in and prepare and work hard and I expect him to take the blame on some throws. I expect him to be a great leader. I expect him to do extra things to be great. As long as he’s working his butt off, I will provide him with everything he needs to be successful and I will give him every avenue – if he doesn’t like a play, I’m not going to call the play. I want to make sure that he’s going to be comfortable with everything we’re doing so he goes out on game day and he can succeed.”

After Gruden’s press conference, Griffin tweeted, “Excited about the hiring of Coach Jay Gruden. Can’t wait to get to work with him & the guys!”

Gruden is expected to promote tight ends coach Sean McVay to offensive coordinator, and that will help ensure a smoother transition for Griffin and his fellow skill players. But Gruden will serve as play-caller, he said.

Asked about the zone-read option attack and if the Redskins would continue to run it, Gruden said, “I love it. We ran some with Cincinnati with Andy [Dalton] and I think it’s part of football now. It’s something you have to get your defense prepared for. It’s something that has a place in the National Football League.

Gruden is known as a West Coast offense play-caller, but he said he has a diverse offensive philosophy.

“I like them all, man. I’ve never found a play I haven’t liked that works,” he said. “The one thing you really want to do is – during my process here the next few days, I want to really study the offensive personnel that we have in place. They’ve done some good things here offensively in years past. I think they’re in the top 10 the last couple years, so they have a system in place that’s very good.

“They’re an outside zone blocking team that can do inside zone. I like the power plays. I like the gap blocking plays. So there’s a little bit of everything. I don’t think any offense in the NFL anymore is just, ‘We are this.’ I think we have to adhere to what we have offensively, talent-wise. We can do the read option. We can do naked bootlegs. We can run outside zone. We can run bubble screens. We can run deep balls. We can do play-action deep things. I think the whole idea to be a successful offense is to be diverse and be good at a lot of different things and not just one.”

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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Keith McMillan · January 9, 2014

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