ASHBURN, Va., -- Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden had no issue with the bulk of what quarterback Robert Griffin III said after Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay. But Gruden made it clear that Griffin went too far with his comments, leading to another potential issue with the struggling team.
And Gruden also emphasized, perhaps more importantly, a need for Griffin to improve his fundamentals.
After Sunday's 27-7 loss to Tampa Bay, Griffin spoke about the mistakes he had made and how he must play better. But towards the end of his press conference, Griffin said, "If you want to look at the good teams in this league and the great quarterbacks, the Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Mannings, those guys don't play well if their guys don't play well. I need every guy in that locker room and I know they are looking at me saying the same thing."
Griffin went one step too far for Gruden, who told the quarterback as much Monday. While Gruden agreed that others need to play better, that's a message that should come from a coach not a player.
"It's his job to worry about his position, his footwork, his fundamentals, his reads, his progressions, his job at the quarterback position," Gruden said. "It's my job to worry about everybody else. And, yes, everybody else needs to improve. There's no question about it. But it's not his place. His place is to talk about himself and he knows that. He just elaborated a little bit too much."
Perhaps spurred by Griffin's post-game comment, or perhaps by some headlines it generated, receiver DeSean Jackson posted a comment on Instagram that read, "You can't do epic s--- with basic people."
That led to Gruden addressing the issue in a team meeting Monday, not wanting another issue to escalate at Redskins Park -- as they often have over the years.
"I don't know exactly what DeSean meant, but I think he was frustrated a little bit with what came out about Robert," Gruden said. "One of the headlines was 'Robert throws team under the bus.' Whatever he said after the postgame got twisted around a little bit. It's our job in-house as players and coaches to make sure we say the right things and not let your words get twisted by the media or anybody. Otherwise it'll be he-said, she-said and there will be Twitter wars and social media events that will get out of control. We've got to put a stop to it now."
An hour or so after Gruden's press conference, Griffin took to social media and said on Twitter:
It's unfortunate that anyone would take a piece of my press conference & say I threw my teammates under the bus. These men are my family
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) November 17, 2014
I would never throw my teammates under the bus! I take responsibility for my play & will play better. #HTTR
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) November 17, 2014
The Redskins are 0-2 since Griffin returned from a dislocated left ankle. Since his rookie season, Griffin's star has fallen, thanks to injuries and subsequent lackluster play. Washington has lost eight straight games that Griffin has started and played the entire game.
Sunday, he completed 23-of-32 passes for 207 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked six times, often because of indecision or improper fundamentals, Gruden said.
"Robert had some fundamental flaws," Gruden said. "His footwork was below average. He took three-step drops when he should have taken five. He took a one-step drop when he should have taken three, on a couple occasions, and that can't happen. He stepped up when he didn't have to step up and stepped into pressure. He read the wrong side of the field a couple times. So from his basic performance just critiquing Robert it was not even close to being good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position."
Gruden said some of Griffin's issues stem from him trying to do too much, rather than just execute the basic play. He attributed that to Griffin's competitiveness. But sometimes, Gruden said, just simple precision works best.
"Just take your drops the right way and throw the five-yard stick route when you're supposed to and do the best you can," Gruden said. "Sometimes he worries a little bit too much, we've just got to try to get him better. His frame of mind is in the right place. It just doesn't come out the right way sometimes, but he wants to get better. He knows he has a long way to go to get better. If he stays on the right track as far as work ethic and listening and preparing, then he'll get better."
Gruden said sometimes Griffin sees something that isn't there or speeds up the play unnecessarily.
"You just have to play with greater poise," Gruden said, "and continue to rep these things so when you catch a shotgun snap or take a drop from center that should be the last thing you should think about. That should come natural. Right now, for whatever reason, those aren't coming natural and that's on us as a staff. We've got to make sure we make it as natural for him as possible."