Griffin, who returned to action last Sunday in relief of an injured Colt McCoy, did well during the first half as the Redskins used the run game to set up the offense. As a result, Griffin had success on play-action passes and bootlegs. But when the Redskins fell behind in the second half, Griffin struggled when the team had to resort to schemes that required him to operate primarily from the pocket.
Gruden said he’s not expecting perfection from Griffin, but that he needs him to make progress in this department if the Redskins are to succeed, and that a fast start will help ease pressure on the quarterback.
“It takes time. So, it’s important for us to try to have some success on first and second down so we don’t have to drop back and throw it 30 times a game and have a lead so we don’t have to worry about it,” Gruden said. “But, eventually, like I said, when you get behind, you get in third down, you get behind the chains, those have to be accomplished – the drop-back reads and progressions have to be accomplished, and that’s something we’re fighting through right now.”
Since getting benched three games ago, Griffin has tried to narrow his focus to improving his fundamentals and decision-making. He maintained last week, and again on Wednesday that his confidence remains high despite the benching. On Saturday, he says he aims to build on the positives from the Giants game, while also eliminating the negatives.
That’s exactly the type of mind-set Gruden wants from Griffin.
“As a quarterback, you’ve got to have the confidence and you’ve got to feel like you have total control of the situation, which in turn makes you play free and have some fun playing,” Gruden said. “I think he might’ve been pressing a little too much early in the season, putting a little bit too much pressure on himself and therefore, some of the troubles incurred. But, he’s taken this game, taken this game plan, and these plays, and has a better understanding and a little bit more confidence. But I don’t expect perfection from him, but we want to see improvement from a weekly basis.”
Here’s video of Gruden at the podium. It might be wise to watch the entire thing for context, but the 1:10 mark is where the quote about playing with a lead begins. — Keith McMillan