(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Former Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell has defended Robert Griffin III against his critics before. As someone who transitioned from being a running quarterback to a more traditional pocket-passer after suffering a knee injury before his third season in Jacksonville, Brunell, now an ESPN analyst, expressed optimism that Griffin would be able to make similar changes to his game.
“He can get there,” Brunell told ESPN’s John Keim last May. “He’s one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and he got there because he’s a great athlete and he’ll be coached well. He’ll be fine. Other young quarterbacks couldn’t get to that point. He won’t be one of those guys. He’s smart.”
Even after Griffin struggled through the 2014 season, Brunell expressed hope that, with hard work, Griffin’s pocket instincts would improve.
“You can develop those [instincts],” he told Keim in January. “But to develop those instincts you have to stay in the pocket. You’ve got to be in there and it’s not easy because a lot of quarterbacks’ heads tell them to stay in there but the feet tell them we’ve got to go. It’s tough.”
On Monday, Brunell was part of a discussion of what went wrong for Griffin in 2014 on ESPN’s “NFL Live,” and his outlook for the Redskins QB sounded considerably less rosy.
“There were a series of things that were wrong with RGIII, and it really starts with his fundamentals,” Brunell said. “Unfortunately for the young quarterback, he has gone backwards.”
With video supporting each point, Brunell rattled off a few of Griffin’s biggest issues: poor footwork, including not stepping into his throws and transitioning his weight correctly, an inability to find open receivers and holding onto the ball for too long.
[Matt Cavanaugh provides consistent coaching to Redskins’ quarterbacks]
“Mark, the bottom line is this,” host Stephen A. Smith said. “Do you think RGIII is good enough to succeed in the NFL?
“I do not,” Brunell said. “From what I’ve seen the last couple of years — listen, he burst onto the scene and that was impressive — but like I said, he has gone backwards. It’s not just his decision-making, it’s his fundamentals. He’s taking too many hits, he’s quick to get out of the pocket. Last year was difficult to watch. Does he have the skill set? Yes, but we haven’t seen it in some time.”
Fellow analyst Damien Woody disagreed.
“Here’s the thing with RGIII,” Woody said. “Yes, you can look at a lot of deficiencies in his game. I’m going to choose to look at certain things that’s around him. Number one, the offensive line. ‘Suspect’ is putting it lightly. They were terrible. They were turrrible last year. What did they do? They brought in, in my opinion, the best offensive line coach, Bill Callahan. They drafted Brandon Scherff. What the Washington Redskins are doing right now, they’re focusing all of their energy on, outside of quarterback, probably the most important part of the team. That’s the trenches. They drafted heavily on the offensive line and defensive line. They’re going to get back to just smashing people in the mouth.”
Woody and Brunell both suggested that Griffin’s development depends on Redskins Coach Jay Gruden’s ability to maximize his talent.
“This is a make or break season for RGIII, without a doubt,” Brunell said. “If he doesn’t fix those inconsistencies, this could be it for him [in Washington]. It really could. … He hasn’t had a great supporting cast. Jay Gruden has to find out what he does well and focus on that. Find out what RGIII’s good at and let’s call those plays, let’s get him into a rhythm, get him some completions, take a little pressure off of him and let that running game get going.”
Smith asked if we know that Gruden is capable of that.
“I don’t believe we do,” Brunell said.
Article Credit here