Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Rex Grossman, Teaching Robert Griffin III Best Left To His Coaches
ASHBURN – Those late nights at Redskins Park, the ones where Rex Grossman and Robert Griffin III huddle around a film screen, a remote in Grossman’s hand, a notepad in Griffin’s lap, a clock striking midnight – those nights haven’t happened.
The Washington Redskins’ quarterback of the past and their quarterback of the future have coexisted over the first week of training camp. Their extended one-on-one interaction has been limited, confined by the structure of a highly regimented schedule and Grossman’s deference to the offensive coaching staff.
When it comes to giving advice to his protégé, Grossman won’t lie.
“I’m not going to overdo it,” Grossman said. “I’m going to let the coaches do their thing. I’ve seen a lot of our plays, a lot of drop back stuff. I’ve just about every coverage and have had a ton of reps on it, so I’m there for him to ask questions and in certain situations, [give him] reminders of hot routes, reminders of situational plays.
“I’m not going to overdo it. But I’m going to be there as much as possible for him to bounce things off of, if he doesn’t want to go to a coach.”
Grossman, for his part, hasn’t been unwilling to help, and he’s been professional about the situation. He said he knew “the writing was on the wall a long time ago that this was going to happen” when he signed a one-year, $1.3 million contract to return to the Redskins in mid-March; a week earlier, Washington traded for the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, which it used on Griffin.
The market for Grossman, 31 and entering his 10th season, was limited. He struggled with turnovers last season and was benched at one point for John Beck, and he understood his best option, given that he was likely to serve as a backup, was to return to the familiarity of the Redskins’ offense.
Still, his frustration grew shortly after Griffin was drafted. He knew the Redskins were likely to bring in another quarterback, but the decision to draft Kirk Cousins – another young quarterback to develop – surprised him. The following weekend, the team hosted a rookie minicamp, and head coach Mike Shanahan named Griffin the unconditional starter after the final day.
Both Cousins and Grossman split repetitions with the second team offense during offseason workouts, but Grossman has spent more time as Griffin’s primary backup in the first week of training camp.
“I know my role, and whatever my role is, I’m going to do it best in the NFL,” Grossman said. “If I have to come in and play, I’m going to be best quarterback that week. If I have to be there and mentor, I’m going to be the best mentor in the league. I know my role, and I’m going to try to do it to the best of my ability.”
Griffin has relied mostly on his offensive coaches – namely, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur – for assistance during the season. On one play Tuesday, Griffin turned to Kyle Shanahan after a bad pass, broke down his responsibilities, and then turned to LaFleur for additional guidance.
But he’s also talked with Grossman during practice, especially when Cousins is throwing.
“If you ask anybody on the team – offensive linemen, just anyone – they’ll tell you that Rex is a baller and he goes out and works hard and does what he’s supposed to do to try to help the team win,” Griffin said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for Rex, and I’m here, but he’s definitely stepping up to the plate and helping out and not being bitter about it at all. I think it’s great to have a guy like that just give you little tips on how to do things. It’s definitely been a big help for me.”
Grossman’s understanding primarily comes from when he was a rookie with Chicago in 2003 and Chris Chandler helped teach him the Bears’ offense and his responsibilities.
“We get a lot guys, a lot of veteran players, that want to help a younger player,” Mike Shanahan said. “They understand when they were rookies at one time, they probably had a vet sit down with them and really give them some tips that some veterans don’t do.”
Grossman doesn’t believe his career is over and still thinks he’d be a capable starting quarterback elsewhere. For this season, at least, that’s not his responsibility.
“In this situation, I’m all for it,” Grossman said. “I’m all for Robert playing great and taking this team to the next level, and I’m going to help him out as much as possible. That’s where I’m at.”