- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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I’m not sure whether Robert Griffin III needed to clarify his comments from Monday, but that’s what he did Tuesday, saying there’s no conflict between him and coach Mike Shanahan. Problem is, the more someone has to clarify such remarks, the more others wonder whether there is indeed a conflict. My take has always been that this is a developing -- and rather public -- relationship in which both sides continue to learn about one another. Friction? At times, yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad relationship. Their relationship does not have to be buddy-buddy in order to flourish. However, it has to be a strong one in order to survive the scrutiny both are under.
Mike Shanahan has been involved with high-profile players before -- guys who were in the middle of Hall of Fame careers. The lessons he’s learned can be applied to his dealings with Griffin. “Me and John Elway used to have knock-down, drag-out fights all the time,” Shanahan said. “That’s part of being a competitor. That’s one of the reasons you have a great relationship with your quarterbacks. That’s part of the process. You want that strong mindset, but at the same time, when I look back on that experience and dealing with all these injuries, I think I have a good feel for what a guy can do and can’t do and what it takes to get him ready for his first game. That’s what I hope to do.”
More from Shanahan on he and Griffin: “One thing that’s interesting about a relationship with a head coach and a quarterback, it’s a constant communication. We’ll have lots of talks. That’s just part of a quarterback and a coach maturing their relationship as time goes on. That happens all the time.” And Shanahan reiterated that he doesn’t mind Griffin saying how much he wants to play.
And then Griffin’s dad gets back into the mix. One reason this story has remained alive is the occasional quotes from his dad that certainly seem to question the coaching staff. Like this one from the latest issue of GQ Magazine: “I will not tell Coach Shanahan how to do any part of his job,” he says, “because he’s been doing this for a long time.”
But: “You tell a kid that you want him to be there for fourteen years, guess what? Historical data will tell you that the more he runs, the more subject he is to career injury,” the elder Griffin said. “You name one quarterback out there that would rather run the football than throw the football and I’ll show you a loser.”
He’s right in that no run-first quarterback would survive in the NFL. But I’ve never heard the Redskins say, publicly or privately, that they want Griffin to be a run-first QB. His 120 runs were too many last season, and, sure, there could be fewer designed runs. It would be prudent. But it’s also true that Griffin bears responsibility for the numerous times he tucked and ran when he could have either dumped off a pass or simply missed an open receiver downfield because he had made up his mind too early to run. It’s part of his learning process, but it definitely led to extra hits. This offense will evolve with Griffin as a passer; the coaches know this.
It’s not often you see parents of pro athletes quoted this much. I’m not always sure whose fault that is -- his dad talks because he's asked. Regardless, it’s a lot.
As for on-field work, Griffin completed 12 of 15 passes in seven-on-seven work. He had one pass dropped by fullback Darrel Young; another came on an overthrown deep ball to Aldrick Robinson versus Chase Minnifield. And the third incompletion was a deep ball to Pierre Garcon, who had to come back slightly for the ball and jumped. As he came down, the ball hit Jordan Pugh and came free.
Most of Griffin’s passes were checkdowns or a classic case of taking-what-the-defense-gives-you. Can’t say there was really one throw that jumped out. He did throw a nice ball down the left seam to tight end Niles Paul for a catch, but rookie safety Bacarri Rambo, had this been a live game, would have had a clean shot at Paul.