Jay Gruden on RG III: Make him comfortable

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
9:00
AM ET
RICHMOND, Va. -- One word jumped out to Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden when discussing what Robert Griffin III needs most.

“Repetition,” Gruden said. “Reps, reps, reps.”

And then Gruden added:

“You can never have too many reps.”

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
AP Photo/Richard LipskiThis offseason has provided Robert Griffin III the necessary reps he didn't get last year while recovering from injury.
Apparently not. Reps are exactly what Griffin needs after not getting many last summer, and certainly none before that point. For a young quarterback, and Griffin is only entering his third season, nothing is bigger than, well, reps.

Griffin spent all offseason working on his fundamentals and learning Gruden’s offense. But there’s more for him to do.

“The more you see that play against different defenses, the more you see the blitzes that he has to handle from a quarterback position, step it up in the pocket, his fundamentals, his footwork,” Gruden said. “It’s very difficult to miss an entire training camp and a preseason and come in Week 1 and say, ‘Here’s the ball. Go play’ It’s very difficult, so all quarterbacks need the reps. They desire the chance to compete not only on Sunday but every day during the week, and Robert is an ultimate competitor.”

Gruden made it clear, just in case it wasn’t, that Griffin is the best quarterback in camp -- by a good amount. Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy are the backups. Of course, the Redskins have made it a point to make life more comfortable for Griffin after a rugged 2013 season. Griffin was heavily involved in recruiting players from other teams; his happiness in public or private conversations was evident. He has a new lease with a new coach and no knee injury to worry about.

The coaches have been pleased with how Griffin has handled himself mentally, saying he’s doing a great job with the command of the game, his progressions, his audibles to runs. More is needed.

“He’s got a long way to go. He understands that,” Gruden said. “The preparation -- both physical and mental preparation -- he’s got a great understanding and a great feel for that already as a young guy and the maturation process that he has to have.

“The ability to make mistakes, learn from mistakes, take criticism -- it makes you a better person and a stronger man, and he’s realizing that, and he’s just going to continue to get better. He’s got all the talent in the world, there’s no question about it, so we’ve just got to get it out of him each and every day. He’s going to come to work and try to be a great player.”

Another obvious storyline is Gruden and Griffin’s relationship. Gruden did say “The big thing is not to make it so much about Robert, but make it about the Redskins.”

But Gruden also said when it comes to their situation that, “happiness comes with wins.” But Gruden understands a happy Griffin could be a highly productive one.

“Nobody’s going to be happy if we’re 2-14,” Gruden said. “Our whole goal is to make sure we make him as comfortable as possible with this system and that when he’s out there on Sundays, he’s comfortable and feels good about the direction we’re going offensively. And if we can make him feel comfortable and put him in a comfort zone and a place where he can succeed, then I feel like we’ll have a much better chance with this franchise to be successful.”

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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