With another offseason learning Jay Gruden's system, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and the second-year head coach are confident for better results in 2015.
Maybe practice doesn't make perfect, but one can get pretty close.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden believes that with another year of work with his system, coaches, and receivers, quarterback Robert Griffin III will see a sizable boost in effectiveness this season.
"I think the transition for him into a new system last season was a little bit rocky for all of us," Gruden said. "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. Robert especially is doing an excellent job every day."
Griffin III agreed with Gruden's concept of building upward in the second year, noting the importance of strong relationships with coaches and teammates as well as mastery of the system.
"The more familiarity you can have with the coaches, the system, the better," Griffin III said. "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."
Along with the arrival of Gruden as head coach after the 2013 season, Griffin III saw an influx of receiving talent that included free agents DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, as well as draft pick Ryan Grant. Combine that with the fact that it was the first year using Gruden's offensive system and "everybody was kind of learning the system," as Gruden said, and it was understandable the offense seemed out-of-whack at times.
While there are still newcomers on offense this season — running back Matt Jones and wide receiver Jamison Crowder are rookies but are expected to be immediate contributors — they will likely be asked to carry light loads until they are caught up with the veterans higher up on the depth chart, although they have the athleticism to make plays without complete command of the system.
With almost all of Griffin III's receiving options back — running back Roy Helu Jr., who signed with the Oakland Raiders, is the only Redskins player with 400-plus receiving yards in 2014 who is not returning — the fourth-year quarterback out of Baylor now has the continuity to move forward and develop with the offense.
"This year, we still have some new players but we have some guys coming back that are doing the same thing," Gruden said. "When you have the same people doing the same thing for two years in a row, it's beneficial to everybody. There's more consistency. There's more knowledge. There's more confidence in where you're going, where you're supposed to go, where the ball is supposed to go. So it should be hopefully a lot smoother process."
Keeping Griffin III healthy and on the field remains, of course, a high priority. Going hand-in-hand with that is Griffin III getting the football out of his hands and avoiding sacks. Gruden reasons that with more familiarity with his receivers and the system — and, of course, with improved offensive line play — Griffin III will have more of a pocket presence.
"We're trying to get the ball out of his hands," Gruden said. "Let him get the ball to our playmakers. We've got some playmakers on offense. If he can anticipate some throws, get the ball out of his hands, his footwork sound, I think everything will be fine with him."
And when Griffin III elects to scramble out of the pocket, Gruden says for the most part Griffin III is "doing what he feels is natural and a lot of those things you can't coach," which is important to remember when analyzing the quarterback's decision making down the road.
"I'm not going to criticize him forever for aborting a play and getting out of the pocket and trying to make a big play," Gruden said. "Once the pocket breaks down, Robert's going to be Robert and do the best he can to make the play work."
Overall, Gruden is excited about Griffin III and the rest of the offense's progress this offseason. He notes part of that is due to the work ethic of his starting quarterback.
"He's not perfect, nobody is," Gruden said. "But he is really striving to be perfect and he's doing a great job of working."
— Jackson, Griffin III Establish Offseason Connection
— NFC East Intel: 7.24.15