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Redskins coach Jay Gruden: RG3 'is further along that it appears he is'

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

How long will Jay Gruden still with RG3 if the QB continues to struggle? (USATSI)
How long will Jay Gruden still with RG3 if the QB continues to struggle? (USATSI)

This is going to be a thing until Robert Griffin III is benched for Kirk Cousins. Right or wrong, fair or not, Griffin has gone from savior to pariah in the 19 months since tearing his ACL against the Seahawks in a January 2013 playoff game.

Last season was doomed from the beginning; Griffin played in Week 1 despite the lingering effects of the knee surgery, and he was benched for the last three games, a final (some might say spiteful) act of Mike Shanahan on his way out the door.

But new coach Jay Gruden and his new offense haven't returned Griffin to his rookie-season form. Despite the struggles -- or the calls for Cousins -- Gruden is sticking with Griffin, the 2012 first-round pick.

“I feel good about the starters we have," he said, via the Washington Post, adding that RG3 "is further along that it appears he is, I think he's a lot further along than he gets credit for.”

But when it comes to public opinion, appearances are sometimes all that matter. Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann proclaimed as much Saturday, after Griffin's 5-for-8 for 20 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT performance against the Ravens.

"Let's stop beating around the bush," Theismann said. "Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now, Robert is learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn't look as smooth or as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know."

It's hard to argue with Theismann but it's too early to give up on Griffin, who cost the Redskins two first-round picks and a second-rounder to trade up and take him in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Griffin had a 27.1 passer rating against the Ravens Saturday. The week before against the Browns it was 77.1 and 56.2 in the preseason opener against the Patriots. But RG3 doesn't think he's regressing as a quarterback.

“I don't look at it that way,” he said, calling his performance against Baltimore “a learning experience. I'm not going to judge Week 1 or Week 2 or Week 3 of the preseason as a regression on myself or on this team or the offense in general. We'll keep working.”

In fact, Griffin thinks a shaky game now could serve him well once the regular season starts.

“I know people can't see that right now,” RG3 said. “There will be overreactions all over the place. It's our job to make sure we stay cool, calm and collected and keep fighting on.”

For now, Griffin is Gruden's quarterback. But who knows for how long.

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