Jay Gruden says he expects Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III to make “significant strides” in 2015.
The reason? Familiarity. With both the coaches and the scheme.
“You know, playing in the same system for the second year, usually that second year you have a little bit more confidence, a little bit more of an air about you that you should show improvement, lots of improvement,” Gruden said. “Hearing the concepts and seeing the plays over and over again and dealing with the pressure and all that good stuff.”
“I think Robert’s going to be fine," Gruden added, "it’s just that we have high expectations for the quarterback position and Robert in general. We expect significant strides to take place from Year 1 to Year 2.”
Gruden named Griffin the No. 1 quarterback entering the offseason back in February. And when the first meaningful snaps took place Tuesday—the first day of OTAs at Redskins Park—Griffin was under center for all of the first team reps.
“I think the word of the day from Coach Jay was, ‘Get better,’” Griffin said after the two-hour practice. “Every day, you’ve got to come out and get better. As football players, you get tired of throwing [to uncovered receivers], but as some people have told me, you never want to get tired of doing things the right way. So you continue to do it and continue to do it, and then we get out here and we get to get in a competitive environment. No pads and no tackling or anything like that, but at least you’re going against other players and you can see how guys react when someone is actually covering them.”
Griffin echoed Gruden’s sentiments on the importance of familiarity.
“To have that consistency with your staff and the offense and all those things only helps,” Griffin said. “It’s been a couple crazy years, and we look forward to making sure that we don’t have that constant change any more.”
Griffin also indicated that he received a bit of a boost from being named the No. 1 quarterback entering the offseason.
“For me, you have got to focus on what you can control,” he said. “Apparently Jay felt like I was the best option that he had at quarterback, and I’m happy about that.”
But now comes the hard part for Griffin: holding onto the starter’s job as Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy battle with one another for the backup role while simultaneously attempting to apply some pressure to the starter. Both Cousins and McCoy, of course, started games in 2014.
Gruden said he was pleased with Griffin’s first day. But he was quick to point out that he'll need to see the fourth-year signal caller perform solidly throughout OTAs, veteran minicamp, training camp and then the preseason before making any further pronouncements.
“You know, today was his first day and last week—last couple weeks—we were throwing routes versus air,” Gruden said. “He’s doing fine. We’ll see how it goes. He’s just got to continue to put practice after practice together and show the consistency that we’re looking for.”
Gruden did, however, say that he’s confident that Griffin has put in the work necessary to prepare himself for what amounts to the most important stretch of his NFL career.
“Robert’s got great work ethic, No. 1,” Gruden said. “That’s never been a question, you know? He works extremely hard. So I’m satisfied in that regard. He comes to work every day trying to get better. The rules allow us to do certain things and don’t allow us to do certain things, but he does a lot on his own. He gets himself in physically good condition to get ready to go.”
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