Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is "highly unlikely" to return to the team next season, according to a report from Jason Reid of The Washington Post. Coach Jay Gruden announced Wednesday that Colt McCoy will start over Griffin in the the Redskins' game against the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Griffin, whom the Redskins selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2012 draft after trading three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams, is set to earn $6.7 million in 2015 under the terms of his rookie contract. The Redskins have until May 3 of next year to decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option.
Griffin has struggled over five games this season, completing 69.7 percent of his passes for 869 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions as the Redskins posted a 1-4 record.
In the report, Reid writes that Gruden convinced team officials that "change was necessary."
Owner Daniel Snyder and team president and general manager Bruce Allen believed Griffin could regain the form that earned him a Pro-Bowl appearance in 2012, but they noticed in recent weeks the same shortcomings that were apparent in the preseason, the report says.
Griffin's emphasis on spending time in the weight room instead of working on other aspects of his game, as well as his social media activity, were other contributing factors, according to the report.
Griffin’s approach off the field was part of his undoing. Whether or not it was fair, there was a feeling among some at Redskins Park that Griffin should have spent less time in the weight room and more on honing other parts of his game. Then there was all the hoopla that went into fueling Griffin’s RGIII persona.
In an effort to strengthen his brand, Griffin put too much time into attempting to be universally liked on social media, leaving Gruden to wonder about the young player’s priorities. When a team’s starting quarterback fails to “get it” on more levels than a head coach cares to count, that’s a problem. Factor in that Griffin continued to regress on the field — coaches wondered aloud how Griffin could consistently fail to locate so many open receivers — and Gruden had to take the keys from Griffin or risk losing the locker room.
ESPN.com reported earlier this week that even though Griffin isn't starting on Sunday, he still "appears to be a significant part of the Redskins' long-term plan."
In explaining his decision to sit Griffin, Gruden said he thinks McCoy gives his team a "better chance" against the Colts and that he thinks Griffin needs more time to learn his system, which will help him be more decisive on the field.
Gruden added that Griffin will be the team's No. 2 quarterback, with Kirk Cousins serving as the No. 3, and that it's a "game-by game-league."
"I'm not putting the blame all on Robert," Gruden said. "It seems like that when you make a change like this at the quarterback position. Robert has done some good things at quarterback, but I just think he needs a little bit more time in this system with the verbiage and the plays to sit back, take a step back and learn, and when he gets back in there he'll be a lot more decisive, hopefully, and ready to roll.
"But right now, I just felt moving forward for Indianapolis that Colt would give us a better chance this week." [...]
"A lot of people are making it out me vs. Robert. It's not at all," Gruden said. "I have a lot of respect for Robert as a quarterback and Robert as a person. We just want him to take a step back, work on his craft a little bit more, study the game a little bit more so the next time he's in there he's raring to go and has a little more faith and confidence in what he sees."
Cousins replaced Griffin in the starting lineup after Griffin dislocated his ankle in the Redskins' Sept. 14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 1,710 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions over five games.
Cousins was benched in favor of McCoy during an Oct. 19 win over the Titans. McCoy completed 85.7 percent of his passes for 427 yards with one touchdown and one interception while leading the Redskins to wins over Tennessee and the Dallas Cowboys.
With Griffin back under center, Washington has dropped three consecutive games to the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers. The Redskins enter Sunday 3-8 and tied with the New York Giants for last place in the NFC East.
The Colts are 7-4 and in first place in the AFC South.
- Chris Johnson