It’s become a sport of sorts for Washington coach Jay Gruden to talk publicly about the flaws in quarterback Robert Griffin III’s game. And it’s become a sport of sorts for the media to shine a light on the things Gruden is saying, apparently in the hopes of creating the impression of dysfunction in the building and/or a Costanza-style effort by Gruden to get fired.
While Gruden has indeed been pointed and harsh about Griffin in the past, the coach’s comments from Tuesday have unfairly been twisted by some in the media.
For example, Gruden’s Tuesday press availability included a comment about Griffin that caught plenty of attention on Twitter. The tweet sounded a lot worse than the transcript revealed it to be.
From Mike Jones of the Washington Post, via Twitter: “Gruden says it’s important to get a lead so griffin doesn’t have to do a lot of dropback passing and defense reading.”
Here’s what Gruden actually said, via the transcript provided by the team and in response to a question about Griffin’s development and whether Griffin has begun to “get it” in recent weeks: “We hope so. That just comes with repetition. You look around the league at some of the successful guys. I was looking at Eli Manning – I think he’s on his 195th career start and Peyton [Manning] is on 200. Drew Brees is on 200. He’s on what, 15 or 16? So, it’s going to come with time, man. This position is very difficult, especially when you’re learning new concepts with a new system. It takes time. So, it’s important for us to try and have some success on first and second down so we don’t have to dropback and throw it 30 times a game and have a lead so we don’t have to worry about it. But, eventually, like I said, when you get behind, you get in third down, you get behind the chains, those have to be accomplished — the dropback reads and progressions have to be accomplished and that’s something we’re fighting through right now.”
Slightly different, to say the least.
Jones also tweeted that Gruden said “it’ll take time for Griffin to become more savvy.” I can’t find that comment or anything close to it in the transcript. It would have been better for Jones to simply pass along direct quotes. Then again, the direct quote from Gruden that Jones posted on Twitter wasn’t an exact quote.
The tweet from Jones, quoting Gruden on Griffin: “I don’t expect perfection from him but I just need to see some progress from him.”
The actual quote from the transcript: “But, he’s taken this game, taken this game plan and these plays and has a better understanding and a little bit more confidence, but I don’t expect perfection from him, but we want to see improvement from a weekly basis.”
(It’s not a huge discrepancy, but there’s a not-so-subtle difference between the words “need” and “want.” Besides, if there’s any discrepancy, it’s not really a quote — so quotation marks shouldn’t be used.)
Gruden also was asked about his prior comments regarding Griffin, something that didn’t blow up Twitter.
“It was coaching out loud,” Gruden said. “The whole thing came up when it came out that he was ‘criticizing his teammates’ or what have you, and I just wanted to make sure that he was worried about his own game. There’s some things that he can clean up and I can clean up, and everybody just needs to clean up. That comes with coaching. I need to coach him to clean up his fundamentals. I need to coach our left tackle to clean up his fundamentals, our middle linebacker, our safety. . . . It’s just fundamental football that everybody needs to clean up on a weekly basis, and we’ll never stop coaching fundamentals.”
In fairness to Jones, he has written a story that contains some of Gruden’s full quotes, but Jones linked it on Twitter with a lamentation that “[e]verybody [is] blowing up a 140-character condensed Gruden on RGIII statement.”
That’s not the fault of the audience. The tweeter selects the 140 characters. If the message can’t properly be conveyed in 140 characters or less, then it shouldn’t be.