RICHMOND, Va. -- The transformation of his game, trying to develop quarterback Robert Griffin III into more of a pocket passer, requires something that often is difficult: patience. Griffin hasn’t always wowed in practice; at times he’ll make good throws, but other times he’ll frustrate by holding the ball too long.
He’s a young passer. He’s also the present and future of the Redskins. That means they need him to help now while still developing as a passer.
That doesn’t just mean hitting a pass or two; it means knowing how to operate in the pocket and how to slide and feel the rush and knowing when to unload the ball.
“It’s tough,” Griffin said of having to be patient. “I expect a lot out of myself. Jay [Gruden] expects a lot out of me. Sean [McVay] expects a lot out of me. The organization expects a lot out of me, my team expects a lot out of me. That’s something I’ll always have to deal with. It’s not patience, it’s about knowing greater things are coming. I’m excited about what the future holds.”
Two years ago there was little doubt what the future held for Griffin. That is, until he hurt his knee. But after last year doubts about his game surfaced. The Redskins haven’t wavered on their support of him. Nor has Griffin lost any confidence while learning to be a pocket passer. Numerous coaches have talked about how the passing game at Baylor did not prepare him for life in an NFL pocket.
“No one works harder than I do in that film room or in any of those things at any position,” Griffin said. “That’s not a knock on anyone else. I’ll tell you what, Trent [Williams] works his tail off, Alfred [Morris] works his tail off. Pierre [Garcon], DeSean [Jackson]. We’re all working hard to go in the same direction.
“There might be things I do differently than other guys, but it’s always been a thing that made me who I am, made me the quarterback that I am. I’m not going to lose that for anybody, not be someone I’m not. My job is to be a leader for this team to help us win Super Bowls. That’s our goal and we’re going to get it done.”
Getting it done means taking steps one practice at a time. The Redskins’ offense did not handle the two-minute situation well Sunday, with Griffin one time not feeling the rush and holding the ball too long. Another time he threw behind receiver Andre Roberts, running in the clear on a crossing route. The defense looked solid, too, making it tougher.
But Griffin and the starting offense fared better Monday, converting a 12-play drive into a touchdown. There was one near interception by safety Brandon Meriweather -- Gruden ruled that he only got one foot in bounds. And it wasn’t a good throw.
But Griffin was better at making quicker decisions, hitting tight end Logan Paulsen in particular on underneath routes. One of Griffin’s best throws was a seam route to Paulsen, who had it sail through his hands. And Griffin threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver Aldrick Robinson, looking first at Paulsen and then back to the left to hit Robinson for a catch-and-run on the left seam.
“It was a lot smoother,” Griffin said. “We felt in rhythm, getting to the right places with the ball, everybody being in the right place, making the right checks at the line. That’s what camp is about. We will have days where it seems up and down. Today was a day we were climbing a lot. It takes repetition. It takes guys being on their stuff.”
One of Griffin’s better throws, ironically, was an incompletion. Sunday, Gruden looked annoyed after one play in which Griffin held the ball too long; Gruden said it would have been a sack, though Griffin had thrown the ball away. The coaching point: Get rid of the ball sooner.
Griffin did that Monday. On one, he went through his progressions, nothing was available so he threw the ball away at the running back’s feet. McVay yelled to him that it was a smart play. Griffin completed a 7-yard pass on third-and-6 on the ensuing play.
“Those are the little things you learn from,” Griffin said. “In move-the-ball [drill] or team, I can move around and do the scramble drill. But in two minutes, it’s not about that. On fourth down, yeah. But on second down, definitely get rid of it.”
McVay said: “He continues to improve on his decision-making every day. Anytime you get experience feeling the rush, feeling the soft spots, keeping your eyes downfield, remaining a passer and also knowing when my internal clock goes off … it’s [helpful].”