Last year, while Robert “SuperBob” Griffin III was preparing to be “all in” for Week 1, he told us that he was knee-deep in “Operation Patience.”
It may be time to resurrect that operation.
As the Washington Redskins wrap up training camp in Richmond, the theme of new coach Jay Gruden’s comments about the Redskins quarterback entering his third season in the NFL — the former Heisman Trophy winner, the second pick in the 2012 draft who would go on to win the NFL Rookie of the Year, the player the Redskins traded three first-round draft choices and a second-rounder for the right to select — is “making progress at a good rate.”
“We have to make sure it carries over into games,” Gruden told reporters. “Hopefully by [the season opener at] Houston, he’ll be ready to roll.”
I’m not sure Redskins fans are prepared for terms like “progress” and “hopefully” when it comes to their savior quarterback.
Progress from what, exactly? The quarterback who threw 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions in his record-breaking rookie season? The one who played on one leg last year, with just one receiver and an offensive line that leaked like a sieve, still managed to throw 16 touchdown passes and 3,200 yards in 13 games?
To be a good NFL quarterback? An elite NFL quarterback?
It’s going to be hard for Redskins fans to wrap their brains around the notion that a fully healthy SuperBob — without the knee brace to hold him back and a full offseason of preparation — still requires patience and progress.
If this quarterback requires so much patience and needs to make so much progress, then what Mike and Kyle Shanahan did here in Washington was nothing short of a miracle.
Of course, they were the problem, as we have heard from the quarterback in a number of his patented passive-aggressive references. Maybe the problem was that the Shanahans didn’t adopt a patience-and-progress plan their first season, instead of concentrating on winning games. They knew changing SuperBob into an NFL quarterback — given his lack of experience with that style at Baylor — was going to have to happen sooner or later.
Then again, this was Year 3 of the Shanahan regime, and after the debacle of the two Jim Zorn seasons, followed up by two seasons of 11-21, no one was particularly interested in hearing about patience.
Jay Gruden now gets to benefit from the do-over, and he is making sure everyone knows that is what this is for SuperBob.
“I like his progress, I like the fact that he works hard, he studies the game hard, he’s very accountable,” Gruden told NFL.com. “The only negative on him, if there is one, is he wants every play to be a touchdown. And it drives me crazy. It’s a good thing, but sometimes, it’s not a good thing, you know what I mean? Does that make sense?
“He’ll do some things, I know, on game day. He’ll jump around, make six guys miss, throw a bomb for a touchdown, and I’m sure I’ll high-five him. But if he does it again and it’s a 12-yard sack-fumble, then what do you do? You’ve got to take the good with the bad, but we’re trying to eliminate the absolute negative plays, the sack plays, and play situational football a little bit better.”
So far, SuperBob seems to be buying in. He hasn’t taken any shots at his new coach yet, and what we saw in his brief appearance in the first preseason game against the New England Patriots was a quarterback who was under control, playing situational football.
SuperBob admitted to reporters that it’s “tough” for him to be patient. “I expect a lot out of myself,” he said. “Jay expects a lot out of me. Sean [offensive coordinator Sean McVay] expects a lot out of me. The organization expects a lot out of me, my team expects a lot out of me. That’s something I’ll always have to deal with. It’s not patience, it’s about knowing greater things are coming. I’m excited about what the future holds.”
But there is a limit to SuperBob’s patience. “There might be things I do differently than other guys, but it’s always been a thing that made me who I am, made me the quarterback that I am,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to lose that for anybody, not be someone I’m not.”
The question is, though — who is that? The quarterback who electrified the NFL in 2012? Or the quarterback who still has to learn to play the position in the NFL?
• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com.