Earlier this week, Washington head coach Jay Gruden delivered some candid remarks on the disappointing play of Robert Griffin III, saying, “He’s auditioned long enough,” and “We want Robert to excel, we really do. But the last two games, it hasn’t been very good, anywhere.” These comments came on the heels of Griffin’s own statements that many perceived as an attempt to pass some of the blame for his own poor performance to his teammates.
Unlike in years past, however, Washington’s front office is standing behind its head coach. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Gruden received support from upper management following his comments regarding Griffin, and Rapoport adds (via Twitter) that Gruden has the license to bench Griffin if his play is not good enough. Of course, this stands in stark contrast to reports three weeks ago that the decision to start Griffin over Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins following Griffin’s return from injury came from the front office and not from Gruden himself.
However, it appears that Griffin’s lackluster play following his return has forced the administration to change its approach. As Rapoport tweets, there are no longer “special rules” in place for Griffin, rules that previously included “all-access” to Washington’s facilities for Griffin and his family. Rapoport further tweeted that the team has “internal doubts” that Griffin will ever return to his 2012 form, as the quarterback’s numerous injuries have clearly taken their toll. Although it seemed out of the question when he led Washington to the playoffs two years ago, we have seen several reports over the past few weeks suggesting that not only will Washington decline to extend Griffin this offseason, the team will not even pick up his fifth-year option.
While there is always a chance that Griffin can harness his talents and give his team reason to believe in him with a strong showing over the last few weeks months of a second consecutive disappointing season, the odds of that happening seems to grow longer with each passing day, and Washington appears to have steeled itself for a future without their once-promising star.