WASHINGTON (AP) — This Gruden-Griffin thing isn't done yet, and it still might not pan out.
But in an example that shows the magnitude of victory after a long losing spell, all suddenly seems workable between the Washington Redskins coach and quarterback.
After Robert Griffin III got his first real win in more than a year — 27-24 over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday — his most meaningful statement reflected a desire to stay right where he is.
"You would think a 3-11 football team would just quit and we're not," he said. "So that shows the character that we have, and I don't want to be anywhere else."
On Sunday, first-year coach Jay Gruden was also knocking down barriers, whether real or perceived. He has been highly critical of Griffin this season, and it's an open question as to whether Griffin is truly the right quarterback for Gruden's offense. But the door is clearly open for the two to work together and succeed in seasons to come.
"A lot of the talk of me not liking Robert, or Robert not liking me, I think has been a little bit misinterpreted or misunderstood," Gruden said. "Obviously I have a great respect for Robert and what he does, and I'm happy with the way he came out and competed.
"I'm glad he likes it here, he likes his teammates, and I think everybody has a genuine respect for what he does as a football player and what he's gone through. He's just got to continue to build off his performance, and hopefully against Dallas next week he can finish the season on a high note and have something positive going into next year. But it's good to hear him say that."
Regaining the starting job after a season-ending neck injury to Colt McCoy, Griffin completed 16 of 23 passes for 220 yards with one interception against the Eagles. He didn't wow anybody, but he managed the offense well and avoided crippling mistakes.
It helped that the game remained competitive throughout, allowing Gruden to call more running plays to maintain a balanced offense. Griffin was sacked only twice — a major improvement from recent Redskins games — in part because he wasn't throwing nearly every down in catch-up mode in the second half.
Gruden said he didn't regret benching Griffin last month, saying the quarterback needed to "take a step back" and "learn a little bit more."
But what the Redskins (4-11) needed most was any kind of win by any means after six straight losses. That, more than anything, moved Griffin up a notch in the coach's eyes. Griffin's only previous victory as a starter this season came in Week 2 when he left in the first quarter with an injury.
"Winning football games is the only thing that matters to me for a quarterback," Gruden said.
Gruden confirmed that Griffin will start the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, then emphasized the importance of finishing the season strong.
"You don't want to have a 10-game losing streak going into the offseason — then you're not sure what you're doing is right and there's question marks going in," Gruden said. "But if you have a couple-of-game winning streak and you see some results from your hard work, then I think people buy in a little bit more, the players will listen a little bit more to the coaches, maybe."
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