After a particularly strong practice for Robert Griffin III on Tuesday afternoon, Coach Jay Gruden did something he's avoided in recent months: he lavished praise on the quarterback, noting Griffin's work habits, attention to detail as well as his growing confidence.
“Every day he is doing something a little bit better, and that’s all we can ask, man,” Gruden said of Griffin following the first of three minicamp practices at Redskins Park. “We’re just taking baby steps right now. We’re all getting better together. You can see that [he’s] starting to have confidence in the pocket and going through his progressions.”
“That’s got to be a consistent theme with him, and not always is that possible with the pocket the way it is," Gruden continued. "But for the most part, he’s coming along at a good rate right now. He’s doing a great job of exhausting all of his progressions, playing the quarterback position with good fundamentals and getting better. That’s all we can do.”
Griffin wasn’t perfect by any stretch. But the effort was indeed sharper than his previous performances during OTA sessions that have been open to reporters.
The fourth-year signal caller appeared more decisive and comfortable. He also made a number of on-target throws, including impressive completions to Niles Paul, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon.
One play in particular stood out late in the day. During 11-on-11 drills, with the offense backed up deep in its own end, Griffin calmly scanned the field and before rifling an intermediate pass to Garçon for a first down. Gruden quickly voiced his approval, yelling, ‘Robert, way to stand tall, big boy.’”
“I hope so,” Gruden said later, asked if Griffin has begun to display more confidence in the pocket. “You know, that comes. He’s got to continue to just play the position, and the more he plays, the more success he has, the more confidence he’s going to build as a player and the more confidence this whole offense is going to be with him under center.”
Gruden added: “That comes with reps and that comes with time. I don’t think anybody lacks confidence with him as a quarterback. I think the transition for him into a new system last season was a little bit rocky for all of us. But when you have the same system going in for Year 2, I think he’s going to get better. You can see the progress every day that he makes and it’s exciting to watch—it really is—with all three quarterbacks, actually. Robert especially is doing an excellent job every day. He’s not perfect; nobody is. I’m not perfect. But he is really striving to be perfect and he’s doing a great job of working.”
Hearing Gruden describe Griffin with words such as “excellent” and “great”—even after a no-pads practice in June—certainly is a departure from the lukewarm responses the coach has typically made when asked about the quarterback’s progress.
They are, however, just words. But they do make you wonder if Griffin, at long last, is starting to do things they way Gruden wants them done.
Time will tell.