ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Jay Gruden on Monday characterized Robert Griffin III’s play as “a little bit hesitant.”
The same could be said of the Washington Redskins coach as he weighed the pros and cons of reversing course and giving the franchise quarterback a series or two in the final preseason game.
“You hate to end on a sour note,” Gruden said, “and we ended on a sour note.”
Griffin had a poor night in the 23-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, completing 5 of 8 passes for 20 yards with one interception, three sacks and a fumbled snap. The Redskins’ starting offense has yet to score a touchdown in roughly four quarters of preseason play.
Gruden, therefore, is considering sending out the starting offense for some limited action Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He meandered his way through several reasons to go one way or the other, including the value of having the team “feel good” about itself going into the regular season opener, the number of available players following the roster cuts on Tuesday, and the need to keep everyone healthy.
Eventually, Gruden said: “It’s probably a 10 percent chance. I’m leaning toward no.” He said he will probably make his decision after Tuesday’s practice.
“I think it would be beneficial in some ways, but I don’t think it’s mandatory that he plays,” Gruden said. “I don’t think it’s going to make or break his season whether or not he plays a quarter or a drive in a fourth preseason game.”
The fact that the rookie head coach is even considering playing Griffin show how much progress the quarterback needs to make in the transition to a more traditional offense. After all, the Redskins can’t give the ball to running back Alfred Morris — or fake to him in play-action — on every play.
“Our identity needs to be found,” Gruden said. “What are we going to be? Are we going to be a running team, I guess? I think for us to think we’re going to be a straight drop-back passing team is a little naive. For us to think we’re just going to hand it off every time is a little naive.
“Our identity has to be diversity. … We need to be pretty good at everything, but obviously the strength of our football team at this moment would be, I would say, our running game.”
The contrast between Griffin and backup Kirk Cousins has been stark during training camp and preseason. Cousins, a natural pocket passer, is making quick, decisive throws. Griffin, who previously was able to make up any deficiencies in his downfield passing game with his ability to run, at times appears uncertain with the ball — as if he doesn’t want to commit to a throw until he’s absolutely positive it will bear fruit.
Griffin remains the undisputed starter, at least for now, but Gruden said RG3 needs to develop a “trust factor” with the offense and “believe what he sees” downfield.
“He’s got to let some things fly,” Gruden said. “He’s just a little bit hesitant right now, which is normal with some new concepts.”
Gruden was coaching his quarterbacks hard Monday, at one point hollering “Aye-yi-yi-yi-yi!” in exasperation when Griffin badly overthrew a simple out pattern.
Griffin admitted he didn’t perform well against the Ravens but wouldn’t answer when asked whether he wants to play Thursday, saying, “That’s up to Coach.” Griffin also referenced the patience needed to master a new offense, while acknowledging that time is starting to run short.
“We’re going to be as patient as we possibility can,” Griffin said. “But at the same time we want to be ready. … It’s not going to just start clicking right away, but, once again, we want to make sure it is.”
Notes: S Phillip Thomas’ left foot is acting up again and will need more evaluation. Thomas missed all of his rookie season last year with an injury to same foot. … Gruden said CB Tracy Porter might have aggravated a shoulder injury. Porter was limited in practice. … TE Jordan Reed sprained a thumb in the Baltimore game but should be OK for the regular season opener, according to the coach. … Others who were limited or not practicing Monday included LB Brian Orakpo (sprained ankle), CB Chase Minnifield (hamstring) and LB Darryl Sharpton (sprained ankle). … The Redskins waived G Adam Gettis and CB Bryan Shepherd. The team has to cut three more players to get to 75 by Tuesday’s NFL deadline.
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