Washington Redskins  

 

Mike Shanahan eager to get started with Robert Griffin III

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Minnesota Vikings are on the clock.

The Indianapolis Colts formally made it known Tuesday they're taking Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on Thursday. Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan followed suit Wednesday, saying it's "99.9 percent" the 'Skins are taking Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III at No. 2, with the only uncertainty being Indianapolis pulling an unexpected "just kidding" and drafting Griffin instead of Luck.

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It's important to be prepared for everything, right?

One thing Shanahan is prepared for: adjusting his offense to cater to the fleet-footed, strong-armed Griffin.

"You always incorporate the offense to the [player's] skill set," Shanahan said Wednesday. "I've coached seven quarterbacks and we've always changed."

A few weeks back, former Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb claimed that Shanahan and his offensive coordinator son, Kyle Shanahan, would force the multi-dimensional Griffin into their version of the West Coast offense, which would lead to failure. Though not referencing McNabb, Shanahan torpedoed the notion of his own inflexibility.

It was the least he could do after Washington traded away three first-round picks and a second-rounder for the rights to St. Louis' No. 2 overall pick.

Shanahan is clearly smitten with Griffin and the possibilities the Heisman Trophy winner creates. He can throw from the pocket and on the move, and he can run in a way that's within a prototypical quarterback structure. Griffin's academic and football acumen whet Shanahan's appetite even more.

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It seemed almost as if Shanahan was designing schemes and play calls as he addressed the media Wednesday, or at least thinking about dusting off pages from playbooks that had been off-limits to John Beck, Rex Grossman and McNabb.

While recounting some of the quarterbacks he's worked with in the past -- including John Elway, Steve Young, Brian Griese, Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler -- Shanahan neglected to mention any that he's coached in Washington.

With Elway, Shanahan said he utilized more shotgun formations because that's where Elway felt most comfortable. Young and Plummer were outside-the-pocket players, while Griese was a drop-back thrower who preferred using different formations. Cutler could do it all, Shanahan said, and based on his initial impressions, he feels the same way about Griffin.

"He's got everything we look for," Shanahan said. "I look forward to working with him."

Like most coaches who've selected quarterbacks early in the past few drafts, Shanahan wouldn't name Griffin the immediate starter, although he did say, "You want to get the guy in as quickly as possible."

So expect Grossman to get the minicamp and OTA reps with the first team. If precedent stands, Griffin won't step up to the starter's role until about the third game of the preseason. This move will come under the guise of, "Organizationally, we want to see how he responds to being in that situation."

By Week 1, RG3 will be the starter.

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It has to be that way. If Griffin or Luck or Ryan Tannehill or any rookie quarterback gets anointed before he's quasi-earned it, then veterans might not respect him because of the assumed sense of entitlement. Regardless of Griffin's sterling character, if he's immediately handed the job, those veterans won't be feeling him. That's not a good way to fix a team that's been very broken.

Shanahan pointedly said Griffin is going to need help. He's going to need it from Washington's defense and its running game.

If Griffin has to absorb all the pressure, he's going to make a lot of mistakes. That's not a good thing in this region. Redskins fans have endured years of losing with quarterbacks who have failed to live up to even modest expectations. They won't be very forgiving, regardless of Griffin's charm and talent.

That's another thing of which Shanahan can be 99.9 percent certain.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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