Robert Griffin III appeared on Redskins Nation and was asked about his relationship with Head Coach Jay Gruden by host Larry Michael. CSNWashington provided a short clip of interview.
"Everybody wants to characterize your relationship with your coach. How would you characterize that relationship?" asked Larry Michael
"We both want to win, that's just the bottom line" Griffin said. "You know Jay, he came in here with the plan to help develop me as a quarterback, and help this team win and help this organization be a consistent winner. He's going to hold me to my commitment to him, and the players are going to hold him to his commitment to us. And that's what it's all about. We're all in this together, we want to win, we're there for each other, and that's all that matters."
Griffin and Gruden's relationship last season was rocky at best. Jay Gruden installed a new offense and tasked the three QBs on the roster(Griffin, Cousins, McCoy) with learning and mastering it quickly. Griffin had very limited playing time in the preseason, and then the team went into Houston and was only able put 6 points on the board after several red zone turnovers killed scoring drives. Griffin came into week 2 against Jacksonville running some read option plays and looking better in the passing game, but a dislocated ankle on a rollout knocked him out of the game.
The injury cost him 6 games before he returned in Week 9 vs the Vikings. Griffin admitted in an interview with Chris Russell on ESPN 980 in January that the ankle injury was more severe than most people realized and it could have ended his season. Griffin also talked about not getting wins, and eventually being benched by Gruden for Colt McCoy. Griffin returned to the lineup after McCoy suffered a season-ending neck injury and was able to get a win in Week 16 that essentially ended the Philadelphia Eagles playoff hopes.
I could have sat out the rest of last year with as bad as the ankle was, but I felt like I could play, and I wanted to get out there and play with my guys and help them win games. And that didn't happen when I got back out there, and coach made a decision. And that was an unfortunate decision, and something we all had to go with because that was coach's choice. But at the end of the day I got to go back out there with my guys, we had a little bit of fun, we beat Philadelphia and the season didn't close the way we wanted it to, but we all know what we can do and we gotta go out there and do it, and there's nothing that we can say that's going to change what happened last year.
Gruden was openly critical of Griffin last year during a few pressers for what he viewed as fundamental flaws in his game(taking the wrong drops, leaving receivers open, etc). He toned down the criticism at the end of the season, but when talking about next season, said there would be competition at the position, just like every other spot on the team. That message changed slightly at the NFL Scouting Combine when Gruden, unprompted, announced that Griffin would be the starting QB going into the offseason, and would be getting the reps as the #1 QB. That could still change if another QB on the roster outplays him, but it's Griffin's job to lose. GM Scot McCloughan said that Gruden felt obligated to make that declaration so early in the offseason process.
The relationship between Griffin and Gruden will be one of the more interesting storylines of the season, and could end with both of them exiting Washington. Griffin has a $16+ million 5th year option that needs to be picked up by the first week of May, but it is considered unlikely that the team goes that route. Instead, they will let Griffin's play this season determine his future with the team. A deal can be worked out during or after the season if he plays well, or the team can move on if this year is a repeat of the last two. Jay Gruden showed last year that he doesn't have a problem pulling a QB that is not performing. If there's a repeat of the QB carousel and the record from last year new GM Scot McCloughan(along with President Bruce Allen and owner Dan Snyder) could choose to have a fresh start entering the 2016 season.
Griffin knows it's not his job to publicly judge his coach, but both he and Gruden will be judged by a lot of people this season, and they both have a lot to prove going forward.
"He wants me to go out there and be the quarterback he knows I can be, and I will be. My job is not to characterize or judge him as a coach." "Players play. Coaches coach," RG3 said. "I respect that."
[UPDATE: Redskins.com has released two longer clips from the interview that can be viewed at the link below]