RG III, Gruden defend progress

BALTIMORE -- The Redskins didn’t want this sort of a dress rehearsal. The last chance for quarterback Robert Griffin III to display his progression as a pocket passer resulted in more questions than points. Griffin hesitated on throws, was intercepted and struggled -- as did too many of his offensive teammates.

And as a result, Griffin and coach Jay Gruden were both defending his progress after a 23-17 loss to Baltimore on Saturday night.

Though he did not protect himself well against Cleveland the week before, Griffin generally threw the ball well -- except for one big blunder on an interception. Still, there were positives for Griffin and the Redskins to find.

That wasn’t the case Saturday.

“He is further along than it appears he is,” Gruden said. “Based on his production [Saturday], a lot of people would say he’s not further along. He’s a lot further along than he gets credit for. All you have to look at is practice and game tape, and it wasn’t very good from anybody. But I’ve seen him practice, and I’ve seen him come a long way. [Saturday] didn’t show how much he’s come forward.”

On the game broadcast, former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann was adamant in saying backup Kirk Cousins had outplayed Griffin in the preseason. The Redskins are committed to Griffin; Cousins has made his own mistakes, though he’s more comfortable in the pocket at this stage.

“There will be overreactions all over the place,” Griffin said. “It’s our job to make sure we stay cool, calm and collected and keep fighting on. ... I won’t judge Week 1 to Week 2 to Week 3 in the preseason as a regression on myself or on this team or the offense in general.”

Griffin finished the preseason completing 13 of 20 passes for 141 yards and two interceptions. The No. 1 offense did not score a touchdown in its 10 drives this preseason (though one was a kneel-down to end a half). Saturday, the Ravens generated too much pressure with four rushers, though sometimes they were helped by Griffin’s indecision.

Nor did it help that of the eight third downs they faced, five were for 8 yards or longer. Two of the eight third downs resulted in penalties, one by Washington negating a first down and one by the Ravens. On the third downs, Griffin was sacked twice and fumbled the shotgun snap another time. The Redskins continue to say it will take time for Griffin to improve in the pocket. Like the team’s fans, though, they get frustrated with the growing pains. But it wasn’t just a tough night for Griffin.

“Everybody is going to point at Robert, but it’s a total team thing,” Gruden said. “We had some chances to make plays, and we didn’t make them. Nobody played good enough in that first half to really talk about of note.”

Griffin was 0-for-3 on first-down passes with one interception. Another first-down pass resulted in a pass interference penalty.

“We have to do a better job of getting into a rhythm, get some completions early and get some first downs,” Gruden said. “We did a poor job of first and second down. It all starts with me the playcaller and on down to everybody else. We have to do a better job getting things going.”

Tackle Trent Williams, whose holding penalty wiped out a 29-yard catch-and-run, said of the game, “I don’t know if we can find a positive out of that.”

No, they could not. Not when the offense manages three points out of their first two drives despite getting the ball at the 50 and then the Ravens’ 42. But Gruden, with one preseason game left that will be devoted to backups, said he’s not going to let one game sully the preseason.

“They’ve done enough that I can take a lot of positives to draw from, not just the first half of a game,” he said. “We’re not going to panic and abort ship.”