Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said Monday he's been encouraged so far both by the performance of his team and by quarterback Robert Griffin III throughout offseason workouts.*
The offseason is the perfect time to take both the good and the bad from the previous year, add some new pieces, sprinkle in some new strategies and head into training camp with the best plan possible to be the last team standing come February.
After a four-win campaign last season, the Washington Redskins have certainly already moved on from 2014. With a plethora of new players, coaches and front office personnel in the building working hard into the second week of Phase 2 of their offseason workout program, optimism comes in heavy doses these days at Redskins Park.
Check out images from the Washington Redskins' fifth day of Phase 2 offseason workouts at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
"It's an exciting time," Gruden said Monday, prior to the Ryan Kerrigan Leukemia Golf Classic in Leesburg, Va. "I think everybody is excited to get back on the field and play and put last year behind us and move forward."
Entering his second year as the Redskins' head coach, Gruden said he's certainly learned how "it's a pressure-packed business." To ease that pressure, the Redskins this offseason have been in constant change, hiring a new general manager, Scot McCloughan; hiring eight new coaches; adding young, talented and proven free agent talent to the defense; and utilizing the draft and signing college free agents that have both improved the offensive line and padded special teams.
With a rabid, passionate fan base always back of mind, Gruden said he heads into his second season much more comfortable than the first.
"You have to win," he said. "There's always that pressure, but knowing the players a little bit more, knowing what to expect every day from the schedule standpoint – really, the main thing: knowing coaches, knowing your players, I think, is a huge advantage for me moving forward."
With OTAs just two weeks away, Gruden also working closely with his three veteran quarterbacks –Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins – to ensure they make major strides in Year 2 in his system.
Gruden named Griffin III his starter in February, and then the team on May 4 exercised the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year's fifth-year option, giving him an even bigger vote of confidence heading into the 2015 season.
Gruden said Griffin III is "gonna get better at everything" as he continues to work on and master the offense.
"Going into Year 2 in this system should be a big jump, you know, because you're not really thinking about who's where, what's my footwork – everything should come a lot more naturally for you," Gruden said. "And hopefully we see that transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in this system with the terminology and knowing where to go with your footwork and anticipation, getting the ball out quicker. Hopefully that comes."
Griffin III – also appearing at Monday's golf tournament – echoed that same sentiment.
"The more familiarity you can have with the coaches, the system, the better," Griffin III told reporters. "You see the Tom Bradys, the Aaron Rodgers, the Peyton Mannings of this league, [they've had] the same coaches, the same system and they can grow within that system—and that's what we're looking to build. We definitely feel that that's something we want to do, obviously, because we want to be successful for a long time."
But for now, Griffin III and the Redskins' quarterbacks are restricted to simple drills, conditioning and coaches meetings as they work their way through the offseason workout program.
Day-by-day improvement, Gruden said, is key for Griffin III and every other player on the Redskins' roster.
"He's our starting quarterback, so hopefully we show improvement at the quarterback position – along with every other position, for that matter," Gruden said. "Right now, in Phase 2 with the little things that we can do with them, they're all doing well."