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It’s next to impossible to evaluate teams in the preseason. It’s not impossible to evaluate individual player performance in the preseason.

Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris

Robert Griffin III hands the ball off to Alfred Morris during training camp on Sunday, August 2nd in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Jason Hirschfeld)

The player in the spotlight tonight and for the next 2+ weeks more than any other is Robert Griffin. You can try to pretend that he isn’t but the coaches would tell you off the record that they are watching him very closely.

The coaches are looking for the following.  Griffin must get the play called, get the team out of the huddle on time, and he MUST, MUST, make the throws that they want him to make and make them on time.

No more missing where the ball is supposed to go based on the design of the play.  No more holding the ball and taking sacks when the design of the play has produced an open receiver.  No more throwing the ball to the wrong spot when the design of the play has produced an open receiver in another spot.

See, Jay Gruden is convinced that he knows how to design an offense.  More specifically, he believes he knows how to design a pass offense. He wants his quarterback to run it the way he thinks it should be run.  He could never rely on Griffin to be that guy last year.

Here’s an example of what Gruden doesn’t want to see anymore. There was a rout concept the other day in practice where Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts were on one side of the field against a Cover 2 look.

The play design was to get Roberts to go deep down the seam taking the safety on his side of the field away from Garcon. Garcon would then be left one-on-one with the corner who would be expecting safety help over the top.

Roberts took the safety away from the premier target Garcon and Garcon beat the corner. The corner was expecting safety help but there was none because of what Roberts had done which was exactly what the design of the play was supposed to create. Garcon was wide open but Griffin threw to Roberts down the seam.

The other safety came over, had an interception in his hands, but dropped it.

This is an example of what can’t happen anymore. Griffin is in his 4th year and 2nd in the Gruden offense. If these kinds of plays are missed as consistently as they were last year, the confidence in him which currently is tenuous at best will be shattered again.

Gruden must see progress over the next month. Griffin must run the offense the way it’s designed to be run.

This has been a major frustration area for Gruden.

He designs a play, and the design works, everyone is where they’re supposed to be, but the ball either doesn’t come out or it comes out to the wrong guy.

Griffin has a great arm, throws accurately most of the time, and throws a great deep ball.  You see that more typically on early-down play-action when they’ve been running the ball effectively.  Those are throws he has made.  Now it’s time for him to improve when it counts the most.  On 3rd and 7, he needs to drop back, and execute the play Gruden has designed.

If he can’t do it, the leash will be short.

That’s where the spotlight is this preseason.

Is Griffin making progress running Jay Gruden’s pass offense or not?

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