Terry Shea — the quarterback guru who prepared Robert Griffin III for nearly three months to play in the NFL — has been watching the fall from grace of his former student from afar.
"It's been a 180 change," Shea said of the negative publicity that is marking SuperBob's second season in the league.
But that hasn't changed Shea's mind about SuperBob's potential. "He will be an elite NFL quarterback," Shea said.
Shea runs Terry Shea's Quarterback Institute and has a book called, "Eyes Up," about learning the quarterback position. He is often sought out to prepare college quarterbacks entering the NFL draft, and his former students include Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford. He's been an offensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears and a quarterbacks coach with the St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.
He spent hours working with SuperBob before his rookie season, and still speaks occasionally to his former student.
"The mental part of it is as big a challenge as anything in terms of dealing with the lack of success," Shea said. "That is what I've been able to offer Robert. Everyone tends to forget he is in his second season, and coming off an injury that would have sidelined a lot of guys. I see his counterpart [Andrew Luck of the Colts] has been struggling. That is what happens in the NFL when you expect too much of a quarterback entering his second season."
SuperBob looked like he might have finally broken through and figured out his sophomore season in the first half of Sunday night's game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium south, otherwise known as FedEx Field. He completed his first 12 passes, and went 16 of 17. However, in the second half his production fell off considerably, as he completed 8 of 15 throws, finishing with a respectable workday of 24 for 32 for 207 yards, one touchdown, and a 102 quarterback rating.
But the final numbers mask the problems that were on display in the second half, the problems that have plagued SuperBob this year — holding the ball too long, failing to see open receivers.
Shea said he spoke earlier this season with SuperBob about these problems. "I've watched a couple of Redskins games closely this year," he said. "I shared this with him: In order to make accurate passes, you have to make sure your feet and eyes are in line to make the decision whether to throw the ball or not. I shared with him to make sure his base is in line to throw the ball accurately.
"I recently saw he missed a couple of hot reads. But I just don't know from watching from a distance if a hot read is built into it or they are asking Robert to get rid of the ball. It's tough to figure out if he is totally accountable for all that."
Because of that, Shea calls into question the criticisms leveled at SuperBob.
"It's unfair for the general public and media to attack Robert on things we are not privy to on game-planning within an organization," Shea said. "We're not on the inside to understand offensive concepts."
Some of the criticisms leveled at SuperBob go to his very capacity to understand the position of quarterback — that he can't see the whole field when he is back there. And some criticisms are very personal, going back to his days at Baylor, that he wasn't asked to do much in terms of play-calling, and charging that he asked coaches not to show his bad plays in team film reviews.
Shea said that's not the student he worked with in 2012. "When I hear people say he only sees half the field, I shake my head at that," he said. "Quarterback play is about progressions. There's not a quarterback in football that is asked to see the whole field. You have to pick a side based on the concept of the play and go from there.
"I spent 9½ weeks with Robert going over his Baylor tapes," Shea said. "He would take me through his progressions and what he was asked to do, and it was very impressive. It is not an easy offense. The quarterback is asked to do a lot at Baylor. They have a very solid and well-designed offense.
"The quarterback had to go through a decision-making process," Shea said. "You had to see the coverage and make a decision based on coverage recognition. He brought a thorough understanding of all that."
Shea, like many others, thinks that SuperBob, coming back from reconstructive knee surgery, is not 100 percent.
"His injury may be keeping him a little off-balance when it comes to mechanics," he said. "And he has especially been getting bounced around a bit this year. The NFL season is a long journey, and it takes its toll by the 12th game. You're not the same quarterback."
Shea offered his former student this advice: "What I tried to share with Robert most recently is that the NFL has all kinds of quarterbacks who can spin the ball and make plays, but the most prepared are the ones who separate themselves. If he continues to prepare himself, it will show up on the field."
• Thom Loverro is co-host of "The Sports Fix," noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com
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