INDIANAPOLIS -- The question isn’t about whether or not Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will receive another chance. There’s a good reason he will: He’s only 26 years old and still has enough of the talent that intrigued the NFL when he was coming out of college.
That’s Louis Riddick's opinion. But the ESPN NFL analyst, and former NFL front-office member, added: “There aren’t a lot of sustained encouraging signs.”
After the Redskins release Griffin sometime before 4 p.m. Tuesday, another team will sign him and begin the task of reviving his game. Here’s a look at Griffin’s situation from three perspectives without a personal interest in Griffin -- an agent, a front office (Riddick), and a current NFL offensive coach -- and how each would handle it:
It’s all about finding the right fit, both from the standpoint of a team and a city, said the agent, who has met Griffin briefly a couple times.
“Everyone says come back to Texas,” the agent said. “That’s the last place I would put him. I would want him to be his own person. And I wouldn’t want someone sitting next to him at his locker protecting him from the press [as the Redskins did].
“I wouldn’t want his name on a billboard. I would want him to earn his way into putting his name back on the billboard, which I think he has the capability of doing.”
The agent said he would want Griffin to play where he had to compete for a job. He said Houston would be a good team for that reason, but the Texas aspect makes that not the best fit in his mind.
There’s one team that intrigued him most.
“L.A.,” he said, knowing the Los Angeles Rams need a quarterback. “Listen, they’re a team that needs some excitement. They need some headlines and he can bring them. They don’t have any real primary receivers so it’s not like you’ll have receivers bitching, ‘This guy needs to throw me the ball.’ That worked with Russell Wilson. I would think [Griffin] is a great fit. Would the media be bad? Yeah, but there’s so much going on in L.A. and I think at this point he’s trained to handle it. He’d be a lot more wary of the media because he really took a bath on it. It wasn’t all deserved.”
The front office
Riddick would have plenty of questions. Can a team build a system, especially on obvious passing downs, that can help Griffin? Can they get him to process information fast enough, allowing his talent to take over? Can they do anything to nurse him along, perhaps more outside the pocket (which leads to other issues, such as taking more hits)?
“Two staffs haven’t been able to do that,” Riddick said. “If I’m on a team, why is it going to be any different for us?”
But a big question to ponder for any team: Could Griffin really handle being a No. 2 quarterback? He did so this past season, but that doesn’t mean he wants to continue in that role, or would be OK biding his time again.
“You have to be careful,” Riddick said. “Is he really ready to become a No. 2 for the rest of his career? That’s a very, very, very real possibility that may be who he is. I don’t care how fast he is and I don’t care about his rookie season anymore.”
When Riddick worked in Philadelphia’s front office, the Eagles signed Vince Young, another former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowler. The Eagles were his first stop after Tennessee, his original team. Backups must learn to survive without a lot of reps or attention; they must be self-motivated to keep preparing as a starter.
“Some guys aren’t like that,” Riddick said. “You have to make sure he’s willing to accept that. And then if he’s not the starter, could it be where teams are saying he’s either the starter or bust? If I was a team that’s how I’d look at it. If he’s not someone you’re considering to be a starter, then no.”
To help Griffin, this coach would go back to the beginning. The trick is doing something two previous staffs, with coaches whose reputations were built on quarterback play, haven’t been able to achieve.
“I would treat him like he was a rookie and start from scratch,” said the coach, who works for a team without a need at quarterback. “Teach him our core beliefs in the fundamentals and you want to teach those from all the different drops and the play pass and obviously you have to teach him your scheme.”
And then you work on him mentally, repairing his confidence. It has to be tough to go through what Griffin has experienced. He was on the highest of highs after 2012 only to fall fast down the mountain.
“There will be some scars so, yeah, you have to get him over whatever his failures were from his previous team,” the coach said. “As a coach you have to try to eliminate the preconceived notions and get to know a guy and see what he’s about and make your own judgments off that.”
Whoever signs Griffin surely will have vetted him before acquiring him. Plus it’s been hard to miss all that’s transpired with him, the stories about how well liked, or disliked, he was in the locker room and any issues with the coaching staffs.
“But whoever signs him won’t know him,” the coach said. “Everybody talks and they’re digging, but unless you really worked with a guy you truly don’t know and you’re just taking other people’s words. Ultimately you have to make your own judgments.”
The coach said he’d have no issues starting Griffin immediately -- if he proved better than the others. But they also must decide how much they want to change the offense; it’s mostly about how much zone read do they want to incorporate (Griffin was not a fan of this offense) because the third-down offense would remain the same.
“There’s a whole lot of unknowns about whether or not he can do it,” the coach said. “Like whether or not he can really get back to 2012 from a production standpoint. ... Any time you get a guy, and I’m sure Robert has the same mentality, it’s a fresh start, a clean slate. Hopefully that can breathe some life into him.”