A year ago, Robert Griffin III’s primary focus was rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee and being physically ready to play Week 1.
This offseason, Griffin’s health hasn't been a concern, allowing him to work toward being mentally prepared, as well. And that’s got the Redskins hopeful that the third-year quarterback is poised to take a significant step forward in 2014.
“I thought he did an excellent job above the neck as far as absorbing the new system, some of the terminology,” offensive coordinator Sean McVay said this week. “Going into his third year, I think you’re seeing a lot of progression, both from a physical and a mental standpoint.”
Griffin agreed, noting that he’s recognizing defensive tendencies and tactics more quickly and, as a result, reacting more decisively.
“No doubt,” Griffin said, asked if he had become a more polished player over the past six months. “And that’s how you want to progress throughout your career. I feel like I’m seeing things better. I feel like as an offense we’re moving better.”
Griffin added: “That’s just the nature of life. When I was running track as a kid, one year I’d run 57 [seconds] in the 400 [meter dash]. Then the next year, I’d run 54. Then the next year, I’d run 51. You’re constantly improving, knocking those seconds off. That’s how it should be—every year you should get better.”
Since early April, Griffin has immersed himself in Jay Gruden’s playbook, which is expected to incorporate the controlled passing game Cincinnati used with so much success as well as the ground game concepts that helped Washington rank among the league leaders in rushing yards the past two years.
Griffin’s comfort level with Gruden’s offense has grown steadily during OTAs and minicamp. In fact, Griffin’s growth has prompted Gruden and McVay to begin increasing the quarterback’s responsibilities.
“Some of things that we’ve done with him are similar and some are also different,” McVay said. “I think he’s done an excellent job being able to translate his knowledge in the meeting room to the field, recognizing some of those looks from [the defense] and audible situations where we’ll give him the opportunity to call things at the line of scrimmage. And he’s shown us that he’s fully capable of doing that.”
On one passing play during 11-on-11 drills last Wednesday, Griffin showed the coaching staff just how far he’s come. And it happened so effortlessly, Gruden missed it.
“I made a check at the line and Coach asked me after the play, ‘Did you make the check?’” Griffin said. “We made the check so fast, he didn’t even see the check. It’s just little things like that, the mental aspect of the game, knowing where to go, knowing where your eyes need to be on certain plays. …I just have a belief in myself, a belief in the guys around me, that when I prepare, that when we prepare, things are going to go right.”