- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PHOENIX — The decision to anoint Robert Griffin III as the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback last month should give Griffin additional confidence after he struggled to learn a new offense in 2014.

Coach Jay Gruden, speaking at the owners’ meetings Wednesday morning, said Griffin understands what he needs to work on as he prepares to enter his second season with Gruden as the team’s coach and his fourth season overall.

“I think Robert has always been a very confident guy — a very confident quarterback,” Gruden said. “I don’t think he’s ever lacked in that department, but if he has wavered a little bit because of the last couple years, then it’s good to come into this year knowing he’s the starter and the guys are behind him and the coaches are behind him and we’ll see what he can do. You have every opportunity to succeed.”

Griffin struggled in his transition to Gruden’s offense and in his development as more of a pocket passer last season. He also was hampered by a dislocated left ankle sustained in the Redskins’ second game, forcing him out of action for six weeks and further stunting his growth.

Per the terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the Redskins’ coaching staff can’t work with Griffin — or even talk about football — until offseason workouts formally begin on April 20.

Gruden said, though, that Griffin understands the need to tighten up his footwork and his fundamentals and also to be decisive and confident when it comes to making his throws.

“Every quarterback in the National Football League, whether you’re 39 years old or 24 years old or 25, you have to continue to work on your fundamentals every offseason,” Gruden said. “He’s got to do that. Then, from the Xs and Os part of it, you know, that’s just something he’s going to have to work through and figure out how to do it.”

Griffin has spent part of this offseason working with Terry Shea, a private quarterbacks instructor who has been his mentor since his days in college at Baylor. Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, has spent some time working with Jon Gruden, spending a weekend at a passing camp in Tampa in early February, as well as Jeff Christensen, who has also helped Josh McCown, Drew Stanton and Jimmy Garoppolo.

The Redskins’ other quarterback, Colt McCoy, rejoined the team last week on a one-year contract. Gruden said there’s no reason to believe that the three players couldn’t spend the entire season on the roster, considering the team had them all around for all of last season.

Naming Griffin the starter, though, doesn’t mean he’ll hold that role entering the season. Cousins and McCoy will still have the opportunity to win that job from Griffin during training camp.

“When we start, day one, Robert will be the starter, and then we’ll divvy up the reps from there,” Gruden said. “There will be plenty of work to go around. There will be plenty of balls for these guys to throw, and we’ll get plenty of reps for them all.

“The tough thing when you have three quarterbacks, when you’re having a three-way competition is getting equal reps and making it a fair competition, but really, we’re gonna start out with Robert getting the first-team reps and then split it up from there, and then we’ll adjust as need be. But it’ll be good.”

As for whether the Redskins add a fourth quarterback remains to be seen. General manager Scot McCloughan has insisted, and Gruden again echoed Wednesday, that the team’s philosophy will be to select the best player available during the NFL draft.

That could, in some scenarios, leave them in line to draft either Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Gruden said those discussions haven’t significantly taken place at Redskins Park, but that they likely will at some point.

“If we think it’s worth the risk to hit the ‘reset button,’ if he’s that good of a football player, if we decide in the building that he’s that good of a football player and that we should do that, then we should do that, you know?” Gruden said. “We still have some time to determine whether or not we want to go in that direction, but [Mariota] is a heck of an athlete, I’ll tell you that, and Jameis is a heck of a passer, so two very good options to have if you are in need of a quarterback.

“And if you think you want to go that direction, then they’re both worth going in that direction for, probably. But we haven’t come up with that determination as a whole group, as an organization yet, and it’s something that we’re working towards. Based on what I’ve seen so far, both of them are very talented people.”

• Zac Boyer can be reached at zboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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