It wasn’t a surprise, but it was still headline news.
Mike Shanahan said today that rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III will be the Redskins' starting quarterback when the OTA's start next week.
“We’re going to put him on the first team,” said Shanahan of Griffin, who was the second pick in last week's draft. "He is the starter, period."
Shanahan indicated that they planned to put Griffin straight into the starter’s role as soon as they made the decision to trade in the draft to get him. “Any time you pick a player with the second pick of the draft and you give up two No. 1’s and a No. 2 to move up four spots you’ve got a game plan in mind,” he said.
Because the Redskins gave up all of that to be able to secure the rights to the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, it makes sense for him to be the starter. But the old-school approach would be for the rookie to have to work his way up the depth chart and perhaps even sit out the first part of the season to learn the intricacies of the position. And Shanahan is known for having an old-school approach at times.
But not in this case. Shanahan went with the more recent approach of letting the new kid learn on the job. Every quarterback taken in the top five of the draft since 2008--Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, and Cam Newton--was his team’s starter the first game of his rookie season.
Shanahan was effusive in his praise for his new quarterback. “You can see what an incredible athlete he is. I was impressed because on the first day we didn’t have one bust with a formation or play call,” he said. “We’re going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable and we’ll watch him grow.”
Griffin will be getting plenty of work to see what he feels comfortable with. Shanahan said that when the team started on-field drills on May 14, Griffin will work on one field with first-team offense running plays against the second-team defense. He will get about 80 percent of the snaps there with Jonathan Crompton, who was on the practice squad last year, will get the rest. On another field, the second offense will go up against the starting defense with veteran Rex Grossman and rookie Kirk Cousins each taking about half of the snaps.