Decision to start an 'alienated' RGIII didn't come from coach, per report
Robert Griffin III will be in the lineup Sunday as Washington takes on Minnesota. But who made the call to turn back to Griffin less than a week after Colt McCoy led the Redskins to an upset of Dallas?
Not coach Jay Gruden, if a Sunday report from ESPN is accurate.
The move to start Griffin "is an owner- and general-manager-driven decision," Adam Schefter reported. His colleague, Britt McHenry, added on Sunday NFL Countdown that "Griffin has alienated himself from the locker room."
Washington executive Tony Wyllie "strongly denied" the report, according to ESPN, stating "the owner had nothing to do with" Griffin topping the depth chart this week, and that it was in fact Gruden's decision.
Griffin has not played since dislocating his ankle early in Week 2. Washington initially turned to Kirk Cousins in his stead, then sat Cousins for McCoy midway through Week 7. McCoy helped orchestrate a come-from-behind win over Tennessee that afternoon and played relatively well Monday night in Dallas. The two-game win streak under McCoy's watch is Washington's first since running off six straight to close the 2012 season.
Still, the belief all along was that Griffin would reclaim his starting job once he was healthy. The 24-year-old QB still has one year remaining on his rookie contract, and the hope remains that he can again show glimpses of becoming a franchise building block.
"Will he make mistakes? Of course he will; everybody will," said Gruden of Griffin this week. "His will be magnified obviously because he is the quarterback. But that won’t stop us from coaching him up and trying to get him to do right. The more he sees with the concepts that we are doing, with the drop-backs, with the pressure and how he handles pressure in situations, the better he will get.
"That is why it is important for him to play as soon as he is healthy. We feel like he is 100 percent healthy. We’ve got to get him ready and get him learning the position."
This is Gruden's first year as the Redskins' head coach. Right out of the gate, though, there were some who argued that Cousins actually was a better fit for Gruden's offense than RGIII.
Cousins' play more or less shot down that notion. He threw nine interceptions to 10 touchdowns in his six appearances, with a completion percentage (61.8) and QB rating (86.4) that both were far lower than what McCoy and Griffin have posted so far this season.
Griffin hit on 29-of-37 passes back in Week 1 -- his only full regular-season appearance in 2014 -- but lived mostly on check-downs and short passes. Washington lost that game to Houston 17-6 as Griffin threw for 267 yards with zero TDs and zero INTs.
The Redskins will need more from him this week and for as long as he can stay on the field if they dream of erasing a 1-5 start with a 2012-like playoff push. When Griffin has been healthy during his tenure with the team, there has been little indication that he is on a short leash, with Cousins or McCoy on the verge of supplanting him.
"I feel great. It’s been a process," Griffin said, via the Washington Post. "We [went] through it -- coach, doctors, trainers, everybody working together to make sure I had the proper amount of time to be ready to go out there. Coach made that decision to allow me to go back out there and play with the guys, and I’m excited about it."