ASHBURN — Robert Griffin III said Tuesday that he’s “not going to make any apologies” for the comments he made in a recent television interview in which he said he’s the best quarterback not only on the Washington Redskins, but also in the NFL.
Speaking on Sunday with WJLA-Ch. 7, Griffin said that he still believes he’s the best because he continually strives to reach that level of play. On Tuesday, in speaking with a small group of reporters, he said that “everyone in this circle knows what [he] meant” and found it unfortunate that his name got caught up in a “firestorm.”
Griffin didn’t address the topic further, with a team spokesman insisting that he’d walk the quarterback away from reporters if the conversation persisted. Some of his teammates came to his defense, however, noting that the confidence was just what they wanted to see from him.
“You have to think you’re the best,” wide receiver Pierre Garçon said. “You have to continue to work hard as the best, and you have to go out there and play hard and prove it every day. Nobody has to agree with you. You just have to believe in yourself and work hard at it.”
Added defensive end Ricky Jean Francois: “The man’s confident in himself. He feels he can rip it. He feels he can go out there, knows the offense, he’s comfortable, he can do whatever he want to. So, we will, as a team, we will back him up on that. We’re going to make sure he stands by his comments by going out there and executing our assignments for him.”
Griffin is trying to recover from a subpar third season with the Redskins, which was his first in coach Jay Gruden’s system. He took his first public steps toward improvement in the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns last Thursday, when he played just 18 snaps and threw eight passes.
Gruden said Tuesday that he wouldn’t commit to a certain amount of playing time for the Redskins’ starters, leaving the circumstances of the game to dictate when he pulls Griffin and the rest of the top unit off the field.
“I mean, whatever time Coach gives us, that’ll be sufficient for that,” Griffin said. “We just really want to get in and out healthy. Obviously, last game, we had a couple injuries … but you can get in and get out and make sure we can put together a good drive, two drives or however many drives Coach wants us to get in, and get on the sideline and watch the young guys go at it.”
Griffin completed four of his eight attempts for 36 yards and scrambled once for a three-yard gain. He left the game after the first quarter, making way for backup Kirk Cousins, who played into the third quarter and led the Redskins on three scoring drives.
If not for a dropped play-action pass to Pierre Garçon at the Browns’ 15-yard line, Griffin would have thrown for a 61-yard touchdown. Instead, the quarterback kept alive a streak of failing to lead the Redskins on a preseason scoring drive since Aug. 25, 2012.
“It’s very important, because if you can’t score touchdowns with the first-team offense, it’s definitely a problem,” Garçon said. “We experienced those problems the past few seasons, but this is what we’re working on this year, and this is what we need to do to actually win games and finish games off to end with a touchdown.”
Griffin piloted the first-team offense for only 10 drives and 63 snaps last preseason, when he completed 13 of 20 passes for 141 yards, threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked four times.
It was apparent by the third preseason game, against the Baltimore Ravens, that Griffin didn’t have control of the Redskins’ offense. The coaches had him play into the third quarter, but he threw an interception on the first play of the second half and was promptly pulled from the game.
The weight of the preseason workload isn’t a concern, said Griffin, who’s more concerned about being able to develop a “flow and rhythm” with his teammates.
“Whatever Coach has in store for the regular season, we’ll be ready for it,” Griffin said. “We’re just using these preseason games to get everybody into game shape.”