Is Robert Griffin III coachable?

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
11:35
AM ET
ASHBURN, Va. -- One of the latest charges against Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is that he’s not receptive to coaching. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that, but I’ve also heard from others who like working with him. And I’ll repeat this line: I didn’t hear these charges at this time last season.

But it was noteworthy that when asked about how coachable Griffin is during his Wednesday press conference, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan answered the question -- without saying yes or no.

[+] EnlargeMike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III
Jeff Curry/USA TODAY SportsRedskins coach Mike Shanahan, left, said learning how to practice as a pro is "totally different than it is in college."
Take it for what it’s worth because obviously there’s a lot of stuff being said about Griffin, clearly by someone intent on damaging his reputation. Is it all true? Who knows? But it has become constant.

So the question came up twice Wednesday. First, Shanahan was asked if Griffin was coachable. Here’s his reply:

“I think part of the growth of any football player is to be a pro player. And like I said about London [Fletcher], what’s the best thing for a young guy to go through? And that’s to be coached, learn how to practice as a pro, because it’s so totally different than it is in college. I coached in college for 10 years. It was a great learning experience for me, but the difference between college and pro level with these players is night and day, so all of it is a learning experience. Some guys are more in tune than other guys, but it’s not a negative. It’s just, ‘Hey, this is a learning experience guys go through.’ To be next to a guy like London Fletcher is the ultimate experience for a young football player.”

OK, so we still don’t know the answer. So Shanahan was asked later if Griffin had grown in his ability to be coached. Here’s the second answer:

“Yeah, that’s what I think learning is, is taking every situation and learning from it and knowing in the back of your mind that, ‘Hey, I might have made a mistake here or there, it may be on the field or off, but this is the way that I can become a better pro. I’ve learned [from] my experiences.’ Some will be positive, some will be negative, but the great ones learn from their mistakes.”

Shanahan never really answered the question, which is not unusual. Although in many ways he did. What the message was: Accept the coaching and you’ll get better. The hard part is, sometimes to accept that coaching you have to trust those giving it to you. That’s not the case with each coach.

What I don’t know: How are other players at Griffin’s level in terms of coachability? How does he compare in this area to other young players of his stature? Is he stubborn or difficult? There’s a difference. Like I said, people I trust say they like working with him. Others have a different viewpoint. Does Griffin have plenty to learn? I don’t think anyone would dispute that.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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