Jay Gruden’s benching of Robert Griffin III should end any doubts about whether the Washington Redskins are united behind their rookie head coach. And after displaying the type of persuasive leadership the long-struggling franchise needs, Gruden should floor the accelerator.
It’s time for Gruden to push for changes — the hiring of a top-notch player-personnel official, a significant increase in Washington’s scouting budget and granting more authority to the head coach in the player-selection process chief among them. These changes could help Gruden guide the Redskins out of their deep hole. By consensus-building to make the tough call on Griffin, he’s demonstrated he’s ready to do more.
It’s highly unlikely the struggling quarterback will return next season, people within the organization say. Gruden convinced owner Daniel Snyder and team President and General Manager Bruce Allen, Griffin’s biggest supporters at Redskins Park, that change was necessary. Although Griffin was coming off consecutive inept performances and had not led Washington to a victory in more than a year, don’t underestimate what Gruden accomplished in getting Snyder and Allen on his side.
Snyder and Allen were united in the belief that Griffin could turn back the clock to 2012. They hired Gruden to help make it happen, figuring it wasn’t lack of ability that derailed Griffin last season; it was Mike and Kyle Shanahan. In the past couple of weeks, though, Snyder and Allen began to see the same glaring shortcomings Gruden had noticed since the preseason, team officials say. The tape doesn’t have an agenda.
Griffin’s approach off the field was part of his undoing. Whether or not it was fair, there was a feeling among some at Redskins Park that Griffin should have spent less time in the weight room and more on honing other parts of his game. Then there was all the hoopla that went into fueling Griffin’s RGIII persona.
In an effort to strengthen his brand, Griffin put too much time into attempting to be universally liked on social media, leaving Gruden to wonder about the young player’s priorities. When a team’s starting quarterback fails to “get it” on more levels than a head coach cares to count, that’s a problem. Factor in that Griffin continued to regress on the field — coaches wondered aloud how Griffin could consistently fail to locate so many open receivers — and Gruden had to take the keys from Griffin or risk losing the locker room.
For Gruden, the next step is to get the assistance he needs to rebuild the roster. Losers of three straight, the 3-8 Redskins the past two seasons have shown the effects of trading three high-round picks for the right to draft Griffin. Combined with the front office’s missteps in free agency — Allen struck out a lot in the past offseason — it’s not surprising Washington could wind up finishing last in the NFC East for the sixth time in seven seasons and eighth in 11.
The Redskins need someone with a fresh perspective to help Allen select players. They must beef up a scouting department that has been neglected for far too long. And Gruden should insist on having significantly more input in all discussions about players. He can’t afford to get stuck with so many bad options again.
Often when one door closes, another opens. The Griffin era in Washington is over. The Gruden era is finally underway in earnest — and it’s up to Gruden to do everything he can to make it last.
For more by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.