“So many people want to just say our line is terrible, but it’s not always about the line,” Gruden said. “One time we called the protection wrong. It really is a total team effort when you’re talking about giving up pressure by the quarterback. It’s never on just the line. Tight ends, running backs, quarterbacks — receivers sometimes take blame — offensive coordinators, head coaches, we’re all in it.”
Asked if Griffin (2-of-5, 8 yards) could have done more to help the line, which was without Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, Gruden said: “Well, there’s always an element of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ by everybody. We can look at the tape and speed it up, slow it down, rewind it, fast forward, and say, ‘Hey, step up over here. Slide over here. Do this.’
“…Robert hopefully will continue to work on his progressions as far as finding lanes, stepping up, moving over, whatever he can do, maybe aborting, getting out of the pocket if need be. That’s just something he has to go through.
“Unfortunately in the game, the bull rush hit him right now and he got kind of grabbed by the 3-technique and the other one, he didn’t see the backside bull rush on Willie [Smith]. But the third [sack], he just stepped up, had a lot of time and he dropped the ball. That sack, that was not on the line. It really works hand-in-hand. The backs are involved. The tight ends are involved.”
For a second time in as many weeks, the second-team offense entered the game and spurred a comeback. The Redskins improved to 2-0 in the preseason with the 21-17 victory at Fed Ex Field.
It was a rough night for rookie Brandon Scherff, who was beaten by Detroit defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker on the game’s opening series, resulting in the first sack of Griffin and a nine-yard loss that brought up a third-and-21. The damage could have been worse, had Willie Smith, filling in for Williams, not recovered the ensuing fumble.
Gruden said he wasn’t concerned about Scherff, noting that it’s common for young players to struggle in the NFL—particularly when asked to play a new role.
“Not many rookies are going to come in the National Football League and change positions from left tackle to right guard and be a dominant player from the word ‘go,’” Gruden said, alluding to the 6-5, 319-pound Scherff, who won college football’s top honor for interior linemen in 2014. “I think given time and the work that he puts in with [offensive line] Coach [Bill] Callahan, he’s going to be a fine lineman, no question about it.
“But, we can’t panic and get in a tizzy because he lost on a bull rush third play of the game. He’s going to learn from every mistake that he makes, and he will make some, but I have total faith that Coach Callahan will get him corrected and Brandon will put in the work to become a great lineman.”