When Washington coach Jay Gruden benched quarterback Robert Griffin III more than three weeks ago, the initial impression was that Gruden wanted to bench Griffin for good. The truth, however, was that Gruden hoped to build Griffin up by tearing him down, ending the coddling and ultimately building a better team around him.
Reports emerging locally from D.C. painted a far different picture, with Gruden wanting to get rid of Griffin. Coupled with the franchise’s silence on the matter, the issue took on a life of its own, with every word from Gruden scrutinized and, recently, unfairly twisted.
In the aftermath of Saturday’s back-to-the-future-style win over the Eagles, the local reports are dramatically different. Jason Reid of the Washington Post, who wrote 17 days ago that “Gruden is now done with [Griffin], according to people within the organization,” leads his column with this admission: “Jay Gruden and Robert Griffin III are expected to return next season.”
Yes, they are. It’s not a recent development; the organization has been on the same page throughout this process. The franchise hopes to make Griffin into a franchise quarterback by: (1) making him better; and (2) putting better players around him in the offseason.
So, despite all the reports suggesting the end was coming for Griffin, the Post finally realizes he’s not going anywhere. He never was.
“Let’s finish this season out on a high note against Dallas when they come here,” Gruden told reporters after Saturday’s win. “Then after the season we will make all the necessary adjustments. It’s a great opportunity for Robert to reestablish himself as the leader of this football team – hoping he does it.”
There’s nothing to twist in that or anything else Gruden said Saturday. The team and the coach are sticking with Griffin at least for 2015.
Which means that the only remaining question is whether they pick up his eight-figure option for 2016 by May 3. If the goal is to support him, they either need to exercise the option or extend his contract.