Washington goes to third-string QB to wake up offense
Ashburn, Va. — Move over, RG3. It's Colt vs. the Colts.
Washington will start Colt McCoy over Robert Griffin III on Sunday against Indianapolis, the latest development in a stunning slide for the 2012 NFL offensive rookie of the year.
"My job is to do everything we can to win. … At this time, I just feel like Colt gives us a better opportunity," coach Jay Gruden told Colts reporters during a conference call Wednesday.
Washington is 0-3 since Griffin returned from an ankle injury and have scored only one touchdown in each of the last two games. The former No. 2 overall pick seemed poised to revolutionize the quarterback position with his arm and legs when he led Washington to the playoffs two years ago, but he is 4-14 as a starter since the start of the 2013 season. He has struggled in an attempt to transform into a traditional pocket-passer.
Gruden said Griffin "just needs a little more time" to master the team's offensive scheme. He said Griffin will serve as the No. 2 quarterback on Sunday.
"He wasn't happy," Gruden said, "nor would I expect him to be happy."
Gruden has been candid about Griffin's development and was particularly brutal a week ago, citing "fundamental flaws" after an abysmal performance in a 20-point loss to the Buccaneers. Griffin played a little better in a 17-13 defeat against the 49ers, but Gruden afterward hinted a change was possible, saying Griffin's 106 yards passing "is unheard of in this day and age with the receivers we have, and we have to figure out something."
Griffin has now been benched twice when healthy in his young career. He was shut down for the final three games last year as the season spiraled to a 3-13 finish under then-coach Mike Shanahan.
Griffin also has suffered two major leg injuries, a torn ACL in his right knee as a rookie and a dislocated left ankle this year. The injuries have played a part in Griffin's desire to become a pass-first quarterback, rather than the dual-threat player who rushed for 815 yards as a rookie.
The ankle problem caused Griffin to miss six games and hindered his work with first-year coach Gruden. But there already had been signs in training camp that he was having trouble with basics such as footwork and downfield reads. Drills ran more crisply with backups Kirk Cousins and McCoy.
Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) took over after Griffin was hurt in the first quarter of the Week 2 game against Jacksonville and led a 41-10 victory, but he lost his next four starts and proved to be turnover-prone. He was benched at halftime in favor of McCoy against Tennessee, and McCoy rallied Washington to a 19-17 victory, then to a Monday night upset of Dallas.
Despite McCoy's success, Gruden went back to Griffin the following week — and Washington hasn't won since.
For the season, Griffin has completed 70 percent of his passes — an impressive rate — but he has only two touchdowns and three interceptions and has been sacked 20 times in five starts. His passer rating is 85.7.
McCoy, who joined Washington this season in need of a job in his fifth year and willing to be a third-stringer behind Griffin and Cousins. He hadn't started since 2011 before he led the victory over Dallas.