RICHMOND — Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has a mended knee and a full offseason of work behind him. Gone are the questions about a contentious relationship with his coaches, about when he’s going to play, about who was going to make that decision.
Last summer at training camp in Richmond, a pure circus of an offseason continued. With three games left in the regular season, Washington shut down its star quarterback to protect him for the future. With the focus reduced now, as much as it can be for an NFL quarterback, Griffin has worked on becoming a better leader in the locker room. That wasn’t a natural skill in his first two years in the league.
“I think [Griffin] is becoming a pro,” said teammate DeAngelo Hall. “He’s been in this league, this will be his third year. He has had highs, he has had lows. He’s probably came in here and said the wrong thing a time or two. He understands that and he’s learned from those mistakes. He’ll be better about that that’s growing him into the person he is right now.”
Griffin has had to deal with becoming part of the news cycle. Too many times last season he made public comments that helped stoke the notion that he and Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan, his offensive coordinator, weren’t on the same page. Even boring clichés probably couldn’t have kept that fire from raging out of control. But it might have helped. Whoever was to blame, Griffin has a fresh start now with Gruden – though the relationship questions will always be there no matter who is coaching the Redskins.
“It’s just a normal head coach-quarterback relationship,” Griffin said. “Jay’s a guy, he brings a lot of energy. He’s funny, he’s personable and we’re just excited to have him here, excited for a new year. Like we’ve said, everybody is 0-0. It doesn’t matter what happened last year. We won the division one year and didn’t win the division the next. This year, we look forward to getting back on top.”
Both Griffin and Hall have said in recent weeks that the quarterback understands it’s “not just about him” this season – as Hall said again Thursday – even if that smothering attention will always be there. That can only help a maturation process that is difficult enough to manage on its own for any young player, let alone one who shoulders so much of the load. Griffin and his teammates hope reducing that pressure can only help him.
“The stress is kind of off, like you said, worrying about reps, worrying about a head coach who you don’t really know about – if he likes you or doesn’t like you,” Hall said. “From the jump, from the moment [Gruden] came in here, I think Robert kind of knew that Jay wanted him, he wanted to coach him and that he could be special. And we all see that.”
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