AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — New coach, same old story for Robert Griffin III: He can’t seem to avoid getting clobbered.
The debate that was so prevalent under Mike Shanahan remains under Jay Gruden, even though Gruden is trying to mold Griffin into less of a runner and more of a pocket passer.
RG3, who has had major knee surgery in both college and in the NFL, didn’t have any designed runs in the Washington Redskins’ 24-23 win over the Cleveland Browns on Monday night, but he scrambled four times for 24 yards and usually failed to seek safe ground.
Even when he did try to slide, it looked awkward — a craft he’s far from mastering. Overall, it was hardly a surprise that one of his souvenirs from the performance was a bruised thigh.
Griffin and Gruden addressed the physical punishment immediately after the game, but it remained on Griffin’s mind enough for him to take to Twitter as well, telling his followers: “Just want y’all to know I will keep working on getting down” and not take the big hits.
Gruden’s words, meanwhile, could have easily been Shanahan’s at any point during Griffin’s first two seasons.
“It’s something we have to continue to talk to him about — how important he is to this team and this franchise,” Gruden said. “When he gets out of the pocket, he needs to protect himself. He’s had a habit in his career of being able to get himself out of those predicaments with his speed and his athleticism. But here it’s a 16-game season, with the great talent across the league in the NFL, (and) he’s got to pick his shots and learn how to get down a little bit better.”
Griffin had an inconsistent training camp, and Monday’s game reflected more of the same. The 49-yard pass to Andre Roberts and the 23-yarder to DeSean Jackson looked brilliant, but there was also an interception that hit the don’t-try-this-at-home trifecta: Griffin was off-balance and under pressure, the throw was late, and the receiver was covered.
Griffin was also whistled for a pair of false starts while in the shotgun. NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino explained the calls in a phone interview Tuesday.
“He’s giving a hard count, but that’s not the foul. The voice inflection is not the foul,” Blandino said. “There’s too much movement (by) his upper body. It’s a flinch, and it’s a quick abrupt movement that simulates the start of the play.”
Just something else for Griffin to work on.
“He (the official) just said my shoulders were moving,” Griffin said. “I talked to him about it, and all I can do is try not to move on hard counts.”
AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.
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