Richard Lipski/Associated Press
Despite the influx of new talent, nothing will work on offense unless the relationship between Gruden and Griffin is right. That dynamic is already rightly being touted as the major storyline of camp.
NFL.com reporter Judy Battista cites it as the "most important player-coach relationship" in football:
The dysfunction that developed between Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III was fascinating to watch, but clearly not productive for either party -- or the Washington Redskins as a whole. Shanahan lost his job, Griffin lost a bit of his lustrous reputation and the team lost its NFC East supremacy. Questions that emerged about Griffin's ability to develop as a more traditional pocket passer and become a team leader -- thanks to an awful lot of damaging leaks -- persist to this day. That's why the relationship between Griffin and rookie head coach Jay Gruden is so critical. The future of Griffin, not just as a player but as the most important figure in the franchise this side of the owner's box, is at stake.
The stakes are indeed that high, with implications that stretch far beyond this season. The Redskins invested their future, both the short and the long-term version of it, on Griffin when they traded for him in 2012.
Dealing away two first-round picks and a second-rounder robbed the organization of the opportunity to build a complete roster designed for sustained winning. Instead, Snyder, Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen mortgaged the lot on the belief that a star quarterback would help them win now.
Of course, it hasn't entirely played out as any member of that decision-making process intended. The NFC East title and playoff berth Griffin inspired as a rookie were all but erased by last season's 3-13 nightmare.
Yet the fact that Shanahan was shoved aside and replaced by a quarterback-friendly coach like Gruden was a far from subtle reminder of how committed this franchise remains to Griffin.
Gruden's experience working with a young quarterback, Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals, likely went in his favor. That's something Battista noted. However, the results weren't always positive.
Yes, the Gruden-Dalton partnership took in three straight trips to the playoffs. But many in Cincy would give at least equal credit to Mike Zimmer's defense for that success.
In fact, Dalton's ultimate lack of development could be cited as the main reason for the Bengals losing at the first stage in all three visits to the postseason.
That's not something any fan in Washington wants to see. Griffin has to be the man to win a Super Bowl with this franchise. Joe Theismann did it, as did Doug Williams. Even Mark Rypien managed it.
The point is that's how Griffin will be judged in Washington. Did he deliver a Super Bowl? The reality is every head coach he has will be evaluated based on whether or not they helped him achieve that goal.
Gruden and the Redskins have increased the pressure on the relationship by giving Griffin a host of new weapons. There can be no more excuses for a quarterback who has Reed, Roberts, Garcon and Jackson to throw to, and who also gets to hand off to Alfred Morris.
The danger is Washington has been down this route before. Shanahan gave Griffin everything he wanted during the quarterback's debut pro season. That included the notoriously inflexible coach junking a lot of his own system to incorporate the read-option, spread-style concepts that made Griffin a star at Baylor.
Ultimately, when it came time to balance things out, enforced or otherwise, tensions between quarterback and coach boiled over.
How Gruden communicates with Griffin, including how he places trust in him while still maintaining authority over a player with a lot of influence, will be heavily scrutinized during camp.