The Washington Post

Gruden befuddled by false start calls on Robert Griffin III

Jay Gruden on Monday against the Browns. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Redskins coach Jay Gruden wasn’t pleased with the 11 penalties that cost his team 100 yards in Monday’s preseason victory over Cleveland.

But when it comes to the two false starts called on Robert Grffin III in the span of 10 minutes, Gruden had empathy for his quarterback and voiced a touch of frustration and bewilderment with officials this week in explaining why.

What Griffin did wrong, under a strict reading of the rules, was move his torso while going through the snap count, which officials interpret as a ruse to coax the defense offsides.

But in Gruden’s view, there’s simply no way a quarterback can make himself heard in an NFL stadium filled with 70,000 fans without shouting full voice. A former quarterback himself, who followed his Louisville career with stints in the Arena and U.S. football leagues, Gruden demonstrated for reporters that it’s impossible to issue an audible count from a static position.

“In a loud stadium, in order to enunciate your words, sometimes you have to move your chest to yell. Am I right? ‘HUT!’ ” Gruden barked, by way of example. “Sometimes you yell, and that’s what he was doing.”

Given that Cleveland’s defense didn’t jump, the coach questioned whether the 5-yard penalties should have been called at all.

“We’ve just got to make sure we don’t have him do any sudden movement with his hands or try to really move his head and shoulders,” Gruden said. “But that to me was a little insane.”

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

More from The Post:

Outsider: A closer look at four rookies | At Griffin

Hall praises Rambo | Reid: Griffin needs to get on down

Maske: What would it mean if Sam was cut?

Redskins’ off coverage preference means crackdown is no worry

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

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @lizclarketweet | @JReidPost | @Insider

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.



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