With Colt McCoy sidelined after aggravating an injured nerve in his neck, Coach Jay Gruden has put his struggling Redskins back in the hands of Robert Griffin III, the quarterback he disparaged earlier in the season, naming him Washington’s starter for Saturday’s game against Philadelphia.
In announcing his decision Monday afternoon, Gruden adopted a considerably more supportive tone than he had just 24 hours earlier, after Griffin failed to engineer a victory in relief of McCoy against the New York Giants.
Rather than enumerate missed opportunities, Gruden cited the positives of Griffin’s performance in the 24-13 defeat, in which he completed 18 of 27 throws for 236 yards and one touchdown. Evoking the improvisational skills of his rookie season, Griffin also ran for what appeared to be another touchdown, launching himself airborne into the right corner of the end zone, as time ran out in the first half. The score was negated when a video review showed he’d lost possession, making it a touchback rather than a touchdown.
Gruden said Monday he liked the energy Griffin displayed on the field, as well as several of the running plays he made when other options closed down. Gruden singled out Griffin’s first-half passing efficiency (9 of 15 for 140 yards) as something to build on. And he vowed, as coach and offensive play-caller, to “build around his strengths,” acknowledging that doing a better job protecting Griffin in the pocket was part of that.
Griffin was sacked seven times in three quarters Sunday, bringing his total to 28 in limited duty this season.
For a coach who appeared to have given up on Griffin’s ability to transform himself into a serviceable pocket passer, what was striking Monday was Gruden’s expressed willingness to invest in the success of the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, in whom Washington’s front office has invested even more.
SOURCE: Liz Clarke
The Washington Post