RICHMOND, Va. -- Jay Gruden knows he wants quarterback Robert Griffin III to throw the ball away every once in a while. Griffin already made it clear that’s something he won’t do in practice. It’s something he’s loathe to do in the regular season as well.
Even the Redskins' coach understands why.
“Sometimes you say he should have thrown it away,” Gruden said, “and he scrambles around and finds a guy wide open and it’s a 70-yard gain and you’re high-fiving him.”
Against the New England Patriots Tuesday afternoon, Griffin had a couple occasions when he didn’t unload the ball. Rather than throw it away in a practice setting, even if it was clear he’d have been sacked, he’ll scramble out of the pocket. His goal: keep the play alive so they can work on the scrambling drill with the receivers.
On two occasions Griffin scrambled outside the pocket, but he opted to run instead of throwing it downfield. Another time he found tight end Jordan Reed along the sidelines. Last week, though, he scrambled to the right and connected on a deep ball to receiver DeSean Jackson.
Griffin wants to get the other receivers used to knowing what to do when he starts to run. Jackson was used to playing with a scrambling quarterback in Michael Vick -- and, on tape last year, adjusted immediately as soon as Vick would start to run. Andre Roberts has adapted well. Santana Moss, in his third year with Griffin, had to shake free from playing with quarterbacks who did not scramble and was in a structured system.
In those situations, once the play went away from him, he would be done.
“Robert’s so athletic that he thinks he can keep a lot of plays alive,” Gruden said. “Maybe he can. But there’s a point in time where he has to not make a bad play worse.”
Griffin said, “The time to throw it away is in the preseason. I understand that. My thing is in practice most of the time I won’t throw it away and sometimes if the play doesn’t present itself, I will try to extend the play and work on the scramble drill. In the regular season the scramble drill is a big part of what we do. Not every play will work out the way you plan it. In the preseason I’ll definitely throw the ball away.”
Griffin and the Redskins’ offense struggled in their first 2-minute drill against New England’s defense. But they improved in their next showing. During seven-on-seven work Griffin was more adept at finding receivers underneath -- Reed in particular.
What the Redskins want to see from Griffin is a strong command of the offense, knowing it will take some time. He did have a couple good throws to Jackson that showed what they want to see: get to his drop, plant and throw. On the first, he found Jackson on a comeback against corner Darrelle Revis. On the second, he nearly connected on a deep ball in the end zone. Revis, though, wound up knocking the ball away. Most corners would not have made the play -- and the Redskins likely would have argued that Revis interfered with Jackson.
A play-action screen to the left was high and in front of Jackson, who would have been drilled if it were a regular game. Griffin also was a little off at times, missing behind Roberts on one cross.
“He’s coming,” Gruden said. “He has a long ways to go but the more chance he has to take a snap from center with people rushing him, seeing coverages and seeing routes develop, making reads, making progressions and making throws with his footwork, the better he’s going to be.”