Two weeks from the start of offseason workouts, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden says building an honest and open relationship with quarterback Robert Griffin III is his top priority.
“Just to try to be honest and open with him and not do things behind his back,” Gruden said during an interview Monday night with NFL Network’s Dan Hellie. “I don’t know what happened last year with Coach [Mike] Shanahan and him, and where the relationship went south, or if it did, or maybe the media blew it up. But [Shanahan] is obviously not here anymore and now it’s my job to get the most out of Robert.”
Last season, there was a sense of strain and dysfunction between Griffin and Shanahan almost from the outset. The season eventually unraveled with eight consecutive losses and it ended with a struggling Griffin getting benched by Shanahan for the final three games.
Although Gruden has been in charge since early January, his first opportunity to really work with Griffin is expected to begin April 7. That’s the first day that teams with a first year head coach can hold offseason workouts.
“I honestly believe that there has to be an open relationship between quarterback and coach/play-caller, to have a comfort level where he can come in and say, ‘Hey, honestly, I don’t like this play, I don’t feel good about it,’” said Gruden, who was a quarterback himself, though he never played in the NFL. “Or, ‘Can we run more of this?’ Whatever it is, there has to be an open communication for the quarterback to be the most successful and I welcome that type of atmosphere and hopefully it will work out.”
In addition to building a dialogue with his quarterback off the field, Gruden said polishing Griffin’s skills on the field will be equally as important to the Redskins' success.
“He missed the whole off season last year, the whole preseason, so to jump right into the regular season and say, ‘Here’s what we want now, be a pocket quarterback,’ that’s tough, you know what I mean?" Gruden said. "So they did what they thought they could do with him to be the most effective. But this year we’re going to try and take the offseason and really hone in on those pocket skills.”
As for Griffin, he’s intent on getting a head start. He’s currently in Arizona leading informal practices with several of his teammates, including wide receivers Pierre Garçon, Santana Moss and Andre Roberts as well as tight end Jordan Reed and others.