Well, that didn’t take long.
Robert Griffin III was hit early and often in Washington’s preseason win over Detroit on Thursday before exiting the game in the second quarter with a concussion. With the Lions teeing off and the Redskins’ offensive line in shambles, shouldn’t Jay Gruden have pulled Griffin from the game before he got hurt?
“You know what? Every time you go into preseason games, injuries may occur,” former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew told Damen Amendolara and Bart Scott, who were filling in as hosts of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Obviously they’re trying to address their offensive line, but right now those guys are doing the best job (they can). RG3 has to understand that. He has to have a better pocket awareness. He has to be able to move, slide, run – pretty much that’s why they drafted you No. 2. They traded all those picks because you’re a threat in the run game as well. So you need to be able to use your legs and run the ball and make plays. At the end of the day, we have all been waiting for the rookie RG3, and Bart, you know this more than anyone: Quarterbacks that run the ball don’t really last that long in this league, but while you can run, you might as well use what you have.”
That may be true, but Scott believes Gruden is at fault for what happened Thursday. Once you see the offensive line struggling, Scott said, you’ve got to call some seven- and -eight-man protections. You’ve got to get Griffin on the move. You’ve got to get him to the edge and give him some easy reads and check downs.
Gruden did none of that – and in doing so, acted like he didn’t care.
“We know there’s a lot of people in this league that aren’t that bright and they tend to want to stick with what they do instead of adjusting,” Jones-Drew said. “I’ve had offensive coordinators in my past that would rather throw the ball down the field and not run quick game protection early on or not get us in a rhythm by doing play-action pass and things like that. And as you continue to talk with them, as a coach, you can’t be so confident in your game plan that you’re not willing to adjust for your players. So I think that’s their biggest issue right now. They have to be willing to adjust. RG3 is a great talent, don’t get me wrong. But if you don’t allow him to get in a rhythm with three-step drops, aggressive protections, slide protections – things that get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly – hey, he’s going to continue to get beat up, and that’s just kind of how it’s going to be for a long time.”
Indeed, Scott sees this incident as Gruden making a statement without speaking; he doesn’t value Griffin that much and would like to get rid of him after this year and build a team with a prototypical quarterback who can better run his offensive system.
If that is the case, though, Gruden probably shouldn’t be getting ahead of himself.
“My thing is, the NFL is about winning now – regardless of if you get hired this year or last year, he’s on the hot seat,” Jones-Drew said. “If he can’t win with RG3 after giving him that big extension – that $15 million extension – Jay Gruden might not have a job for after this year. So you might want to win now and do whatever it takes to help your quarterback.”