- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Robert Griffin III’s fan base may be dwindling, but he still has one supporter who believes in him.

Rex Grossman, Griffin’s teammate his first two seasons in Washington, still believes in the struggling, benched, young quarterback.

“I still think he can be a great quarterback,” Grossman said.

But Grossman rang the same alarm bell we’ve heard about Griffin repeatedly, the “humility” bell.

“Life in the NFL has a way of humbling you,” he said.

“I think as he grows into understanding himself as a quarterback and takes a step back this offseason and doesn’t have to worry about anything than himself, I still think he can be a great quarterback,” Grossman said. “People need to help him, and he needs to look at himself as well.

“You go through a maturity process and begin to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully he can stay healthy and progress and come back next year worrying about only what he can control.”

It doesn’t take much to read between the lines there from Grossman to see what he is talking about — Griffin needs to shut out everything outside Redskins Park, the whole RGIII persona and everything and everyone that goes with it.

Grossman knows about how this league can humble you. He was a far more successful college quarterback than Griffin. Grossman led the Florida Gators to an SEC title and appearances in the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Outback Bowl. He was the 2001 Heisman Trophy runner up.

Griffin may have been the heralded Heisman Trophy winner coming out of Baylor in 2012, but all he had to show for it was an Alamo Bowl victory.

Grossman was the first-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2003, and three years later helped lead to Bears to an NFC championship and a Super Bowl, where he lost to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 29-17 in 2007.

It was all downhill after that for Grossman, who finished his playing career in Washington his last four seasons, from 2010 through 2013, spending his final season behind Griffin and fellow rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins. He started 16 games over that time, and played well, like Rex Grossman — 23 touchdowns, 24 interceptions, and a 57.4 completion rate.

But Grossman was a favorite of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and his son and offensive coordinator Kyle, because he ran their offense they way they wanted it run — sort of like Colt McCoy and current Redskins coach Jay Gruden. Grossman followed Kyle to Cleveland, where the younger Shanahan was named offensive coordinator this offseason, but was cut by the Browns in training camp.

Grossman, 34, has been keeping himself busy traveling and doing other things since then. But he says he is staying in shape in case he gets a call from an NFL team.

“I took a trip to Italy, but I’ve been staying in shape, waiting for a call,” Grossman said. “I told myself I would give it a year of not getting picked up, and then put the career to bed after that. But I’ve been paying attention to everything and getting ready for my next chapter, whatever that may be. I would like to get into coaching and finish my degree.”

He’s been paying attention to what has been happening in WashingtonGriffin benched and Cousins inactive in favor of McCoy, who appeared to be on his way to having a Rex Grossman-like career.

Grossman still believes in Cousins, too.

“I still think Kirk will be successful as well,” he said. “He is really talented. He just go into an odd series of bad games, and you only have so many opportunities. I still have a lot of confidence in both those guys.”

He said the tentative, unsure Griffin in the pocket in 2014 is not the same quarterback he knew in 2012.

“I am surprised how unsure he is out there,” Grossman said. “Mike and Kyle did a great job with him in 2012, and I was impressed with how far he had come and how much confidence he had when he played in his first game in 2012 against New Orleans.

“I don’t know what is going on with his mechanics and I can’t speak to how much work he is putting in,” Grossman said, referring to the criticisms of Griffin by Gruden and others. “He just doesn’t look as comfortable in the pocket as he once did, and that could be due to a lot of things.

“I still think he has a tremendous upside,” Grossman said. “He will be a better quarterback in the future, whether with the Redskins or another team. Eventually, I think he will be a great quarterback.”

Grossman said he texted Griffin when the latter went down with a dislocated ankle early in the second game of the season against Jacksonville, but has not spoken to him.

“I’m not going to be calling him,” Grossman said. “I know he is busy. I don’t want to cause any sort of issue with the team or say anything out of turn.

Robert is a likeable guy. I enjoyed working with him. He is a good person, down deep.”

Down deep. Has Griffin fallen far enough to find that place down deep?

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com

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