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Senior NFL Columnist

Redskins' free-agent moves put even more pressure on Robert Griffin III

With new receivers and a full offseason to work, it's time for RG3 to develop in the pocket. (USATSI)
With new receivers and a full offseason to work, it's time for RG3 to develop in the pocket. (USATSI)

More: Redskins sign Jackson | La Canfora: Good move for all | More news

The Washington Redskins have had a really good offseason, changing coaches (which they needed), loading up in free agency with some nice pickups and now signing Eagles castoff receiver DeSean Jackson.

We've spent many a spring ripping the Redskins for their free-agent moves, but this isn't one of them. So what's it all mean?

This: It's all on quarterback Robert Griffin III. Isn't it always on the quarterback?

But this is different. It's his time to show the doubters -- those who wonder if he can ever be a franchise passer -- if he can indeed sit in the pocket and make all the throws. The run-around days of his rookie year, the excitement of the read-option days, made some slobber over his talent, but the reality is it was just a crutch to help him overcome faults inside the pocket.

As one Redskins coach told me back in his rookie season, "It's what we had to do to get him on the field."

And RG3 did good things with what he was given as an offense. It was catered to his speed.

Then he had the knee injury late in the season. Things changed. He couldn't move last season like he did as a rookie. It meant he had to play in the pocket, and he was just ordinary in there.

There were times where he looked like he was making progress making reads, and then he would regress. His defenders said it was his knee holding him back. Shouldn't that have made him better in the pocket?

RG3 is a smart guy who I think can grow into a pocket passer. Now that the training wheels of designed read-option plays for him are off, he has to show he can ride the bike on his own.

With Jackson and Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts, also signed as a free agent, he has a trio of speedy receivers to throw to outside. Jordan Reed is a speed tight end who can threaten down the field with a receiver's body that you want in today's game, serving as another chess piece to throw at defensive coordinators.

Griffin threw 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions last season, but he made some really bad reads at times. That has to stop.

With new coach Jay Gruden, the offense will change some. With the speed outside, RG3 has to be thrilled that it will. He already has said he would drop the bulky knee brace. He also has organized some passing camps for him and his receivers already, away from the facility. That's bonding.

Those things are needed. But what's really needed is for him to become the quarterback in the pocket who can make his reads, 1 through 4 and then to the check down. The days of one-and-run are over. In fairness, RG3 has never had an entire offseason to work. Now he does.

And with these weapons, it's time to become a grown-up and play some real quarterback.

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