After the 2013 season, Washington owner Daniel Snyder made the predictable choice of quarterback Robert Griffin III over coach Mike Shanahan. Which means that the team’s new coach, Jay Gruden, has to make it work with Griffin.
So how will Gruden make it work with Griffin?
“I like his progress, I like the fact that he works hard, he studies the game hard, he’s very accountable,” Gruden recently told Albert Breer of NFL.com. “The only negative on him, if there is one, is he wants every play to be a touchdown. And it drives me crazy. It’s a good thing, but sometimes, it’s not a good thing, you know what I mean? Does that make sense?”
In looking to the reporter for affirmation, Gruden essentially conceded that he had wandered onto a tightrope. He then tried his best to find a balance.
“He’ll do some things, I know, on game day. He’ll jump around, make six guys miss, throw a bomb for a touchdown, and I’m sure I’ll high-five him,” Gruden explained regarding Grifin. “But if he does it again and it’s a 12-yard sack-fumble, then what do you do?”
What you don’t do is bench Griffin. Gruden can’t bench Griffin. Which eliminates the ultimate tool that a coach has to ensure that the player responds to coaching.
And which makes observations like this one from Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com after last weeks joint practices between Washington and New England even more intriguing: “I thought Kirk Cousins was better than [Griffin], from the perspective of running the offense, fine-tuned mechanics and how decisively the ball came out of his hand. I wondered if I was alone, and then heard the same sentiment echoed by some others in the Patriots organization.”
Even if Gruden has come to that same conclusion (or if he eventually does), Gruden can’t do anything about it. Not until others in the organization with higher titles and lesser qualifications come to that conclusion as well.
Until that happens, Griffin will remain the most powerful man in Washington who doesn’t reside at the White House.