Gruden makes changes on O-line, praises RG3

Speaking to reporters at the NFC coaches breakfast during the NFL meetings in Orlando, Florida, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden laid out a few details about the future of the team in 2014.

Gruden was generous in his praise of QB Robert Griffin III, calling him “a great kid. Young, eager.” The coach said he and RG3 have plenty of work to do, but he also wants Griffin “to relax and enjoy the offseason.”

Gruden seemed impressed by his quarterback’s potential, saying “there aren’t many things you can throw at him that he can’t do. My fear is I might have too many plays for him.” However, he did admit that the team would run fewer read-option plays if Griffin is not comfortable with that part of the offense.

Gruden, who played quarterback for years in the Arena Football League, said he understands how important protection is to a quarterback, noting that he suffered a bad knee injury because of a breakdown on his offensive line. “I got hurt because my right tackle got hurt.”

Speaking about RG3‘s health, Gruden said “his knee is strong” and opined that removing the brace will not have a big impact on his performance this season. I’m not sure RG3 would agree with that. He’s clearly made removing the knee brace a key priority and is obviously looking forward to it.

On the subject of Griffin’s backup, Gruden said no teams have called to inquire about trading for Kirk Cousins. In other words, expect Cousins to be on the roster this coming season. That makes good sense to me.

On defense, Gruden seemed to indicate he was not panicking that the Redskins have not signed OLB Brian Orakpo to a long-term deal. The Redskins placed the franchise tag on Orakpo right before the start of free agency, though Orakpo has not yet signed the tender offer that goes with the tag. The coach said he “wouldn’t mind letting (Orakpo) play out his franchise tag” to see how well he plays before giving him a long-term deal. He did, however, acknowledge the importance of Orakpo to the team, saying “pass-rushers don’t grow on trees.”

Kory Licthensteiger will be moving from left guard to center, a position most think is more natural for him. This does not come as a surprise, the Redskins released Will Montgomery, who started for them at center the past few years.  Newly signed Shawn Lauvao will play Lichtensteiger’s old position of left guard, while the under-performing Chris Chester will remain at right guard. I have to say, unless Gruden is able to get something out of Lauvao and Chester that previous coaches have not, it looks like the Redskins are spending a pretty fair chunk of change on two very mediocre guards. And don’t expect Josh LeRibeus to win a starting spot. Gruden never mentioned him, indicating the new coaches don’t regard him as an important part of the team.

Interesting enough, Gruden seemed intrigued with second-year RB Chris Thompson, saying his speed could help him be a playmaker. He did acknowledge, however, that Thompson has to stay healthy, something he has not managed to do in college or the NFL.