RG3, Jay Gruden trying to get on the same page again
Whatever they think about each other behind closed doors, Robert Griffin III and Jay Gruden appear to be determined to make the best of the rest of the season.
Robert Griffin III and Jay Gruden will be gritting out the rest of the season together, barring unforeseen circumstances. Colt McCoy is on injured reserve and Gruden assured reporters Tuesday that Kirk Cousins is No. 2 on the depth chart. Gruden isn’t going anywhere — he has reportedly been told that he will return to coach in 2015.
So the main players in this season’s tragicomedy in Washington are staying put. During their respective press conferences Tuesday, both made it clear that they had put some distance between themselves and past comments.
Gruden walked back on his statement that Griffin “needs to worry about himself” after the quarterback seemed to criticize teammates (though, not really) after a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in November.
“It was coaching out loud,” Gruden said of the incident. “The whole thing came out that he was criticizing the teammates, or what have you, and I just wanted to make sure that he was worried about his own game. And there are some things that he can clean up, and I can clean up, and everybody just needs to clean up.”
The coach still offered some coaching tips to the press, discussing the importance of getting a lead to take some heat off his quarterback.
“It’s important for us to have success on first and second down so we don’t have to drop back and throw it 30 times a game, have a lead so we don’t have to worry about it. Eventually, when you get behind, when you get in third down, you get behind the chains, those have to be accomplished — the drop-back reads, progressions have to be accomplished, and that’s something we’re fighting through right now.”
Griffin spent a good portion of his press conference explaining why he wasn’t using social media for the rest of the season.
“I just felt like, for me, anything that I was saying whether it was positive or negative, whether it was a positive retweet or anything like that, it was getting twisted and turned against me and against this team,” Griffin said. “It was by design, because I feel I can be free up here and talk to you guys, but sometimes things get twisted and turned and it creates a distraction for the team, and I didn’t want that to happen.”
Griffin’s performance last Sunday perhaps made it easier for both men to remain diplomatic. While Washington only managed 13 points against the New York Giants, it would be unfair to put the blame solely on Griffin. He went 18-for-27 passing for 236 yards and a touchdown, and arguably should have been given a rushing touchdown on a dive into the corner of the end zone that was waved off by referees. Griffin lost a fumble, but otherwise looked like a viable starting quarterback in Gruden’s offense.
The only point of contention was the bizarre end game sequence in which Washington seemingly tried to run the clock out on itself down 11 points with no timeouts inside the two-minute warning. Griffin was slow to get up after take a 4-yard sack on a second-and-4, and the play clock had nearly ran all the way down when Washington snapped the ball with 1:08 remaining and ran a draw play on third-and-8.
Gruden said that his quarterback should have gotten up quicker, but then hedged again.
“I don’t know what happened to him, but he laid down there and everyone saw it so the receivers kinda trotted back and we didn’t have a third quarterback so we ran a draw play,” Gruden said. “I was just worried about his health. He’s gotta get up. He’s gotta get up quicker. He’s gotta avoid those crazy falls if he can. But he’s such a competitor and he tries to get every yard he can that sometimes he puts himself in harm’s way. That’s just Robert being Robert.”
Griffin’s assurance that he’s going to “follow Jay’s lead” suggests that’s he willing to let Gruden be Gruden. Gruden says that he won’t demand perfection from his quarterback. The two should be able to suffer suffer each for two more weeks. And if the team goes out on a high note, they may be able mend whatever rift still exists between them during this offseason. Or at least, they can make the split more amicable.