ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - It was a subtle change that maybe made a difference. With Robert Griffin III wearing a wristband for the first time, the Washington Redskins ended a six-game skid.
It made sense, given that coach Jay Gruden has been trying to get Griffin to play with a better tempo all season.
“We just wanted to experiment a little bit,” Gruden said Tuesday. “We have some calls that are a little bit wordy, and we just put about five or six runs on there and a couple of play-action plays and a couple of dropbacks, and maybe speed up the process. Maybe for third down where you say, ‘No. 5,’ he can look at it and read it.”
Griffin wore the plays on his left wrist - it wasn’t easy to spot, given how it meshed with his white long-sleeve undershirt - during Saturday’s 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
In-game communication hasn’t been ideal all season under the first-year coach, no matter which quarterback has been playing. The Redskins lead the NFL with eight offensive delay-of-game penalties. The New England Patriots, incidentally, have zero.
On Saturday, the Redskins were flagged for running out the play clock just once, although that one was particularly stupefying because it came after the game had been stopped for an injury.
Still, overall, Griffin and the offense appeared to have their act together better than in previous games. The wristband can be credited with playing a minor supporting role.
“Everybody wears a wristband around the league, mostly,” said Griffin, who said he also wore one in high school. “But it can help speed up the communication process between the coaches and quarterback, and get you in a better tempo as an offense. It’s something they wanted to experiment with, and we used it a couple of times, and there was no problems.”
Gruden said he’ll probably expand the number of plays on the list for Sunday’s season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
Of course, the wristband only helps if the coach actually uses it. As he learned during the Eagles game, it’s an adjustment calling out numbers instead of plays.
“I think towards the middle of the game we ended up just calling (the plays) anyway,” Gruden said. “It was kind of hard to find the numbers and all that. But there is some merit to it, no question.”
The win has calmed the Gruden-Griffin waters, at least for a week. Gruden said he’s still getting a feel for his quarterback, in part because Griffin missed six games with a dislocated ankle. Griffin said Saturday’s game was another chance to “sharpen up” his technique and other fundamentals that Gruden has continually preached.
“To be honest with you, we’re still getting to know one another, what he’s good at, what he likes, what he’s comfortable with,” Gruden said. “He did a good job in training camp. He does a good job as far as knowing the football plays, (but) you really don’t get a chance to see what he’s comfortable with until you call them on game day.”
After the game, Gruden said: “Winning football games is the only thing that matters to me for a quarterback.” Asked if that was fair, Griffin didn’t want to get into such analysis.
“Jay is the head coach, he’s going to make decisions and do things a certain way,” Griffin said. “My job is not to try to play that mental mind game. It’s to go out and try to lead this team to victory.”
NOTES: LB Trent Murphy was placed on injured reserve with a broken bone in his right hand, the 12th Redskins player to go on season-ending IR. OL Rishaw Johnson was signed from the New York Giants’ practice squad. … The Redskins rearranged their schedule and practiced Tuesday so that they could be off on Christmas Day.
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