INDIANAPOLIS — After getting benched each of the past two seasons, Robert Griffin III is back to being the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback.
For now, at least. And the way coach Jay Gruden sees it, everybody – quarterback and coaches alike – needs to work hard to keep it that way.
”We’ll go into the season with Robert as the No. 1 guy,” Gruden said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. ”It’s up to Robert to continue to grow and mature as a quarterback. In the future, we want to see some improvement, and it’s up to us as a staff to get the most out of him.”
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Earlier this month, the Redskins sent out a letter to season-ticket holders that listed a group of the team’s core players. Griffin’s name was notably left out.
That development, like so many involving the Redskins and their quarterback situation, led to as many questions as answers. As the 2014 season wore on, Gruden was not shy about detailing Griffin’s deficiencies. Griffin, who dislocated his ankle in Week 2, moved in and out of the starting lineup. He finished 2-5 as a starter for a club that went 4-12 and finished last in the NFC East for the sixth time in seven seasons.
When the regular season wound down in late December, Gruden declined to say whether Griffin would be considered the starter at the outset of training camp. The Redskins also must decide in the next few months whether to pick up a team option in the quarterback’s contract for the 2016 season.
A former quarterback himself, Gruden shouldered plenty of the blame for Griffin’s struggles. The Redskins hired Matt Cavanaugh as quarterbacks coach, hoping a different perspective might help Griffin as the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year starts his fourth NFL season.
”I thought I’d be more hands-on with the quarterbacks than I was,” Gruden said. ”I felt it was important to get another set of eyeballs on him.”
Meanwhile, Gruden sounded almost surprised when asked about reports that Redskins backup Kirk Cousins was training with the coach’s brother, Jon, the former Bucs and Raiders coach who works with quarterbacks in Florida.
”I didn’t know about it (ahead of time),” Gruden said. ”Obviously, Jon’s my brother. I knew after the fact that (Cousins) went down there, as do a lot of quarterbacks. (Jon has) a great setup. He just likes to be a part of working with players.”
Griffin has been working with longtime quarterbacks coach Terry Shea – an arrangement Gruden said he has no problems with.
”He’s an experienced guy. He played the position, coached a lot of quarterbacks,” Gruden said. ”Just to have another element working with Robert is a good thing.”