Griffin was never able to shake off the effects of a torn ACL he suffered in the club's Wild Card Round loss to the Seahawks in January, 2013, and he ended up playing well below his capabilities last season.
The fact that he wasn't able to participate in offseason activities last summer while rehabbing definitely stunted his growth, and he clearly wasn't physically ready to participate at the level we all witnessed in 2012.
But with 2013 now squarely in the rear-view mirror, Griffin is once again poised to take the league by storm.
He's set for a massive bounce-back season.
A Full Offseason Will Do Him Wonders
Last year, Griffin missed the team's entire offseason program and didn't take one snap in any of the team's four preseason games.
Not enough was made of the significance of a second-year quarterback being denied the opportunity to work on his craft in between year one and year two. It was completely unrealistic for the Redskins and then-coach Mike Shanahan to expect Griffin to just show up in Week 1 and be the RG3 of old.
There's no question that the Redskins rushed Griffin back too soon, and that was a first guess last offseason. He didn't look as fast or fluid rushing the football, and his mechanics suffered as a result.
Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen sold the farm to acquire Griffin prior to the 2012 draft (trading three first-round picks to the Rams), and Griffin instantly became the face of the franchise. Shanahan and Allen didn't see the forest through the trees, and they opted to have Griffin return too soon in an attempt to win games in 2013. They should have let backup signal-caller Kirk Cousins start until Griffin was operating at 100 percent capacity.
But they didn't, and the Redskins' season was an unmitigated disaster, as the club slipped to 3-13 after winning the NFC East with a 10-6 record in 2012.
Shanahan paid for his mismanagement of the club's franchise quarterback with his job, and former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is the team's new head coach.
And the fact that Griffin will have a full offseason of work in Gruden's system will be huge for his continued development.
In a recent interview with NFL Media's Albert Breer, Gruden gushed about the work being put in by Griffin at team OTA's:
(Griffin) picked up everything effortlessly. He works hard at it, he studies it, he understands the position, and he's willing to learn and willing to take coaching. A guy with as much success as he's had, as early as he is in this young stage of his life, some guys are like, 'Eh, I don't need your coaching, I don't need this, I wanna do it my way.' He's not that way at all. He wants to be coached, he wants to learn the game, he wants to study. He wants to be the greatest. And he knows he has a long way to go, which is refreshing from a guy that's had a Heisman Trophy and as much publicity as he's had. He knows he has work to do, and he's willing to put in the work. That's strikes me as ... I just wasn't expecting that.
Gruden is a tough and demanding coach, so that quote speaks volumes. Griffin hasn't coasted on his reputation, and he is obviously ready to put in the necessary work.
And then there's this quote from Redskins receiver Santana Moss, who spoke about Griffin's growing comfort level to Jim Corbett of USA Today:
Robert is able to be comfortable. When you're not comfortable, you can't go out there and be yourself. I don't know whether it's the knee brace or him just being able to practice with us more. ... If you can't play this game comfortable, it's impossible for you to have confidence that you can do the job. You can see a more confident guy, especially in his legs.
Don't underestimate just how important Griffin's participation in offseason activities actually is. He'll be a much better and smarter player in 2014 than he was in 2013.
The Offense is Stacked with Playmakers
We've already established that Griffin's form will be closer to 2012 than 2013 this season, which indicates he's on the upswing.
But another important and tasty ingredient in Griffin's comeback stew are all the weapons that surround him at the skill positions.
This offseason, Allen signed free-agent receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, and both men, especially the speedy and dynamic Jackson, will inject a needed level of playmaking ability to the offense. Both men will join receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed to form a fearsome foursome of pass-catchers.
In fact, Garcon is ultra-confident in the impact that he and Jackson can make as the team's starting receivers, telling the NFL Network's NFL AM (h/t Marc Sessler of NFL.com) that they can be the best duo in the NFL.
Jackson is an electrifying talent who can take the top off an opposing defense, leaving the middle of the field open for Garcon, Roberts and Reed to maraud across.
Plus, running back Alfred Morris, the owner of 2,888 rushing yards in two seasons, returns as the primary back, and the offensive line should be improved with the addition of second-round offensive tackle Morgan Moses.
If Griffin has any time to throw the football, he will likely put up eye-popping numbers. His supporting cast will be far better in 2014 than it was in either 2013 or 2012.
His Improved Confidence
But more than any other factor, the primary reason why Griffin will bounce back in 2014 is because he's simply more confident in his abilities.
As a quarterback, my identity is I am the leader of this team, I am the guy that everybody looks to when things are going bad. I am the guy that delivers. I am the guy that everyone on the team offense, defense, special teams — when it’s crunch time, they’re not looking at Trent Williams, they’re not looking at Alfred Morris. They’re looking at Robert Griffin III and that is an identity and position I accept. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe, nobody else will, and that’s what I do for the guys around me, for my family. I give them that belief that at the end of the day, things are going to work out, and I don’t think their belief is misplaced, even with us being 3-13 last year. We will be a better football team this year. That is my identity.
If you're a Redskins fan, that quote should give you the chills.
Last offseason, Griffin deserved to be criticized for the way he handled his rehab. He was constantly in the public eye, and it wasn't a good look for a supposed franchise passer.
But now, he clearly gets it. He understands what is expected of him and the image he needs to project moving forward.
Count Corbett in as someone that thinks Griffin's confidence will help him bounce back in 2014, as he told Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe here that Griffin could be the early front-runner for Comeback Player of the Year.
Last year, Griffin didn't play his best and wasn't at his best off the field.
Thus far this offseason, he's already shown that he'll be a better leader in 2014.
And come September, there's little doubt that he'll begin a massive bounce-back season that could eventually take the Redskins back into the playoffs.
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