- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2015

LEESBURG, Va. — Robert Griffin III strolled through the Lansdowne Resort on Monday afternoon, another offseason underway and another year quickly approaching.

The Washington Redskins have high hopes for the 25-year-old quarterback as he enters his fourth season in the NFL and his second year in coach Jay Gruden’s system. The Redskins and new general manager Scot McCloughan picked up the fifth-year team option in Griffin’s rookie contract last month, and Gruden has named him the starter entering 2015. The Redskins expect Griffin to improve — and so does he.

Before hopping in a golf cart at the Ryan Kerrigan Leukemia Golf Classic, Griffin spoke briefly about his deeper level of comfort heading into the upcoming season. As with any quarterback in any system, the former No. 2 overall pick believes familiarity breeds success.

“The more familiarity you can have with the coaches, the system, the better,” Griffin said. “That’s how you see the Tom Bradys, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Mannings of this league [succeed]. Same coaches, same system, and they can grow within that system. That’s what we’re looking to build, so we definitely feel that that’s something that we want to do, obviously, because we want to be successful for a long time.”

Griffin was one of several Redskins players in attendance Monday for the 10th annual golf tournament, which raises money to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. They completed their morning workouts at Redskins Park before making the short drive to Leesburg, arriving just before noon to tee off. Phase II of the NFL’s offseason workout program began last week.

Griffin missed six weeks with a dislocated left ankle last season and struggled upon his return, starting just three games before being benched in favor of Colt McCoy. The former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick finished the season with four touchdown passes and six interceptions in seven starts.
Gruden is hopeful that those numbers will improve in 2015, and he has liked Griffin’s mindset so far this offseason.

“He’s very smart, very comprehensive. He’s very detailed in what he does,” Gruden said. “Going into year two in this system should be a big jump, you know? You’re not really thinking about who’s where, what’s my footwork. Everything should come a lot more natural for you, and hopefully, we see that transition from year one to year two in this system with the terminology and knowing where to go with your footwork and anticipation of getting the ball out quicker.”

Though the start of training camp is still two months away, Griffin said he already feels more comfortable in Gruden’s system than he did last season.

“You definitely feel a difference,” Griffin said. “But the day you stop changing and adapting yourself and growing as a player is the day that you shouldn’t be playing anymore, so every year, you step on that field, you find those things that you want to work on, you listen to your coaches, you work on the things they want you to work on and you become a better and better player. You continue to water that Chinese bamboo and chop at that wood. We’re looking forward to allowing that tree to sprout up and I look forward to it.”

Griffin has made an effort to stay out of the headlines this offseason, granting only occasional interviews and straying clear of social media. When asked about Washington’s decision to exercise his fifth-year option, he was similarly quiet.
“I’m not worried about next year. I’m worried about this year,” he said.

As Griffin grows more comfortable in Gruden’s system, the second-year coach might also tweak his scheme to better play to his quarterback’s strengths. Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson hinted at as much in a radio interview with ESPN 980 last week.

“I definitely think you guys will see some things kind of similar to how [Griffin] did when it was 2012 and the success he had there, taking them to the playoffs,” Jackson said.

When asked about Jackson’s comments, Gruden said the offense would not change because of Griffin.

“He’s a quarterback in the NFL. NFL quarterbacks need to do certain things,” Gruden said. “He’s got to get better at everything. As far as running zone reads every play, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think anybody wants to see that — nor do I. I think there’s a combination of things to do to keep defenses off balance. Sure, he can run the ball, obviously, and he can roll out, like we did last year. We’ve got to get better and more effective at what we can do.”

Before joining his teammates on the golf course, Griffin was asked the same question. He, too, demurred.

“Hey man, I’m not here to give away secrets or anything like that,” Griffin said with a smile. “I look forward to playing football to the best of my ability and the best of our team’s ability, and coach is going to put us in situations to help us succeed. That’s what it’s about. What we do well is what we’re going to do.”

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