Jay Gruden’s announcement Wednesday that Robert Griffin III would be the Washington Redskins' starter was an odd one given his stated desire the day after the season for an open competition. But Bruce Allen provided a little more insight into how the organization views the situation. And it comes down to Griffin’s health.
Allen, speaking on Sirius XM radio with one of his former Oakland players, Rich Gannon, expressed confidence in Griffin’s future -- as long as he doesn’t get hurt.
“If he can stay healthy, he has a high ceiling,” Allen said.
Griffin has suffered two serious leg injuries in his first three seasons, one of which forced him to rehab his entire offseason and one that cost him five games this past season
For a player who needs a lot of work on evolving as a pocket passer, missing time is a definite roadblock. Is it the only one that’s gotten in his way? No. But you can’t ignore it as a factor, either. This will be Griffin’s second full offseason where he can legitimately work on his game. Griffin started the last three games, but after the season, Gruden said there would be an open competition for the starting job next season. On Wednesday, though, Gruden said Griffin would enter as the No. 1 guy at the position. While the timing of the statement was surprising, if some in the organization believe his struggles are more related to health, then it's certainly not a shocking decision given their investment in him.
“You aren’t going to win in the NFL unless your quarterback plays well,” Allen said. “That’s not a new discovery. We’ve got to play better there. Our quarterback, Robert, has gotten injured. One thing you learn maybe growing and maturing in this league is you’ve got to protect yourself a little bit more. The No. 1 responsibility is to take the snap the next play. That hurts as you’re trying to coach and develop him and learn the techniques coach Gruden wants.”
Allen said Griffin is in a good spot mentally.
“He’s a confident young man, and he has a right to be,” Allen said. “He has hardware in his den that says he’s performed very well. He is focused on getting better, and he wants to make sure medically and physically he’s prepared for the offseason program when it starts.”
Allen then spoke to Griffin’s work ethic, which came under fire during the past season. However, the knock wasn’t that he work harder, but that he needed to watch more film. That was a knock of previous coach Mike Shanahan, and the current staff has hinted at that, as well. But one coach privately referred to Griffin as a smart player.
“There’s never been a question about him watching film,” Allen said. “He is motivated. He’s a [25-year-old] man who is still growing and learning the NFL game. We’ve seen him, a couple years ago, play at the highest of highs. Maybe it spoiled us a little bit to expect that all the time.”