The end is near for RG III, Redskins

The Redskins will say they're not giving up on Robert Griffin III, that he can be developed, that he can still become the quarterback they hoped he would be -- and expected him to be -- when they gave up four draft picks for him in 2012.

It's hard to believe them. Everything else suggests this is the end for Griffin in Washington.

And if it isn't, there's a ton of work ahead to try and make this work. Does Jay Gruden have confidence that it will pay off? It's quite reasonable to have strong doubts. Gruden made clear a week ago what he thought of the state of Griffin's game. It wasn't pretty.

Still, it's not as if the Redskins have to move on from Griffin. He has one year left on his contract and can run and throw, a dynamic that has served other quarterbacks well. But those quarterbacks rely more on their arm than their legs. Griffin has not reached that point. Do the Redskins really want to invest in another young quarterback after giving up so much to land Griffin?

Here's another thing: They not only drafted Griffin in 2012, giving up three first-round picks and a second-rounder to do so, they also picked Kirk Cousins in the fourth round that year. They looked to be set at the quarterback position for years. And, yet, neither player will start Sunday. Instead, Colt McCoy, on his third team in three years, will get another look.

This is no longer about the future for Washington, but about the present. The Redskins felt they should have been 5-5 after 10 games. And, for Gruden, he needs to prove he was a worthy choice as a head coach. The spotlight now will fall on him, but this was a gutsy call in the sense that he knows what it means: Griffin is a favorite of owner Dan Snyder. If you're going to make this sort of move, you'd better be right.

Gruden was also hired in part to develop Griffin. It took him four full games to bench him. Did Gruden fail -- or was the job much bigger than he anticipated? Either way, if you make this move, you'd better win a few games. No, the Redskins aren't going to make the playoffs, but Gruden also can't afford a 3-13 record in his first season as a head coach.

While some players did not like that Gruden verbally spanked Griffin last week, they do like that no one is above accountability. They knew Griffin had played poorly. They knew they had won at Dallas with McCoy. To maintain a grip on the locker room, Gruden had no choice but to make this move. At some point, the needs of the other 52 players on the roster must be considered as well. Gruden did not like that the focus was always on one player, not 53.

For Griffin, though, this is about the future.

With a player of his skill level, it's probably best to get rid of him too late rather than too early. Make this decision in the offseason, devoid of emotion (one way or another). It's not uncommon for quarterbacks making this transition to get it later in their careers -- Steve Young and Rich Gannon come to mind.

But if you don't think he'll ever develop to where the investment is worth the time -- or that it will simply take too long --then you have to cut ties after the season. If you're worried that the combination of the drama surrounding Griffin -- not all of his own making -- and a lower-than-perceived ceiling, then it's time to call it quits.

This summer, there were whispers about the coaches' frustration over Griffin's development. Some days they'd be more frustrated, only to be brought down a bit by seeing him make certain plays in practice.

There was some belief in the organization that perhaps the Tampa Bay game would humble Griffin, that it would get him to finally see the true level of his game. He can, and has, played better than he did that day, when he threw two interceptions, was sacked six times and managed one touchdown. The coaches were more concerned after that game because of his failure to execute basic elements of the offense: taking wrong drops, failing to adjust to simple coverages and not throwing to open receivers.

But any payoffs from that humbling would need to take place in the offseason, when the Redskins need him to be even more dedicated to learning life as a pocket passer. This isn't about never using his legs, but rather using them wisely. Aaron Rodgers is always the best example of an athletic quarterback who uses his legs to help others make plays. This isn't about not letting “RG III be RG III.” If you want to survive long term in the NFL, you learn to throw from the pocket. You can extend plays, but you need to know how to move in the pocket. That's what they want from him and it's what they haven't seen.

The problem for Griffin is that coming out of a spread offense in college, he wasn't ready for what awaited him in the NFL. His first-year success obscured certain realities: He made plays, but he needed to develop as a passer. Coaches at the time doubted that he understood how far he had to go in that area. It led to distrust on both sides.

Two years ago, Griffin came to Washington as a savior. He might not even see the fourth year of his original contract. And that is shocking.