Jay Gruden made the biggest decision of his short tenure in Washington on Wednesday, announcing that Robert Griffin III has been benched for Colt McCoy. It’s a move that will have aftershocks for the next six months, but let’s break down some of Gruden’s comments Wednesday to examine the immediate impact.
“I’m prepared to give Colt every opportunity to keep the job … I feel very strongly about Colt.”
This was our biggest takeaway from Wednesday’s news conference. Gruden truly believes — or wants us to believe — that McCoy has a chance to be a quality starter for Washington. Gruden is essentially putting himself on the line because he will truly look bad if McCoy struggles. It reminds us of when Mike Shanahan “staked his reputation” on John Beck and Rex Grossman.
“I’m hoping as a pro this helps toughen him up and fuels a fire in his belly.”
Gruden lauded Griffin’s work ethic, but also made comments like this. He said it was “not the end of the world” to bench Griffin and that in the long run it could help Griffin.
“It’s not me against Robert.”
Gruden stressed this point over and over, saying that the team simply hasn’t been productive when Griffin is at quarterback. He said the offense is “searching for answers” and stressed how much they have struggled when Griffin is under center.
“It’s our responsibility to put the best player in at that position, and right now it’s Colt.”
Gruden said that he preaches “accountability” to all his players, and that it was important to hold Griffin to the same standard as other players. No. 2 overall draft picks often don’t get held to that standard, but Gruden has made it clear that Griffin’s draft value won’t save him.
“It’s unfortunate it got out.”
The world learned about the quarterback change before Gruden could tell his team and his quarterbacks. That could speak to a larger dysfunction within the organization, and it has to be frustrating for the head coach.
“I think he has a future in the NFL.”
Gruden was asked if Griffin had a future with the team, and he couldn’t answer that question directly.
This was Gruden’s response after he was asked whether Griffin is better or worse as a player since Gruden arrived. A roundabout answer eventually arrived, but the awkward silence while he searched for words was telling.
“Kirk wasn’t happy when I went to Colt. Colt wasn’t happy when I went back to Robert. And Robert’s not happy that I went back to Colt, it’s like a merry-go-round.”
Your 2014 Washington Redskins in a nutshell.