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Why can’t RG3 and Gruden talk about football?

Jan 29, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

RG3-practice-bubble

Two weeks ago, Robert Griffin III went to Redskins Park for the first time since Mike Shanahan was relieved of his duties as head coach. New coach Jay Gruden also was in the building. Coach and quarterback met but they couldn’t talk football.

That’s right, the third-year quarterback and first-time head coach were not allowed to talk about X’s and O’s, what Griffin thinks he needs to work on to get better, Gruden’s offensive philosophy, or anything related to their actual jobs. That is because the collective bargaining agreement that was ratified in 2011 prohibits players and coaches from even discussing football until the start of offseason workouts in April.

The purpose, players union chief DeMaurice Smith told me after the CBA was ratified, is to give players both a physical and mental break from football for a few months. That makes perfect sense in many cases with veteran players on teams with stable coaching situations.

But it makes zero sense for a young quarterback and a new coach. The NFLPA needs to revisit those rules and come up with something better than their one size fits all approach. Maybe they could permit new coaches and quarterbacks—if you want to limit it to QB’s with fewer than five years in the league, that’s fine—to talk, review film, and come up with an offseason plan. If they want to limit the time they could do it until the Super Bowl ended.

Player agent Jack Bechta suggests taking it a step further and having a three-week camp with the coaches present for quarterbacks, backs, and receivers who have three years or less experience. A program like this could guide the players as they work out on their own getting ready for OTAs and minicamp.

The fact that Griffin and Gruden can’t talk now doesn’t mean that Griffin is doomed to failure this year. In late January of 2012 was a month away from finding out that he was likely to play for the Redskins. He wasn’t drafted by the team and therefore able to take the field at Redskins Park until late April. I seem to recall Griffin caught on pretty well as a rookie.

But a few days for Gruden and Griffin to talk some serious football and maybe go out into the practice bubble for a while wouldn’t seriously disrupt Griffin’s offseason plans.

Using a universal set of rules that may actually harm some players’ development doesn’t make much sense. It seems that the NFL and the union could get together and refine this rule.

  1. dcsportsfan2277 - Jan 29, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Thanks for that info Rich! I had never heard about this rule, however not being able to talk to your players until April? I can understand giving the players a break but this seems ludicrous and as you say is a hindrance to new coaches.

    You are correct in your belief that this is a rule that needs to change and soon!

  2. jaxjoe - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    What about providing the playbook? Although I don’t think the Redskins have one yet.

  3. internetcareer - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    how about at Pizza Hut? Nothing in the CBA about meeting at the local Pizza Hut for Pizza and a chat. No X’s and O’s just chit chat. Come on Rich, are you so naive to believe that they got together in a private room and talked about the weather? That is ridiculous…but I know…I know…you can’t infer that because you would get in trouble or fired. So I’ll let everybody know what’s REALLY going on behind closed doors. Oh..but wait..Robert wouldn’t deceive anyone. His leg really was healed last year and that bulky knee brace…no it didn’t really hinder his running ability at all. That’s why Olympic Track athletes all wear knee braces. lol

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 29, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      Believe what you’d like. Not saying it’s not possible but if one team has to be very, very careful about these things it’s the Redskins. If John Mara got wind of Gruden and RG3 talking about Spider Y2 Banana in February he’d have the Redskins’ draft picks revoked (and sent to the Giants, of course).

  4. coachemup1 - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Come on man!!! They need time away to count their millions without interuption! I also wonder, what about giving him the play book? Why were RG and liltte Shanny allowed to work together after the draft?

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 29, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      Griffin and Kyle did work some before the draft, not prohibited but you’d better be damn sure he’s the guy you’re drafting. Draft in late April, into rookie camp the next weekend and then into OTAs so were able to work a lot then until the end of minicamp. Then from mid June to start of training camp, blackout on football talk resumes.

      • coachemup1 - Jan 29, 2014 at 3:52 PM

        So then I guess the only answer is to pass word thru a friend telling said friend RG should look at working with a QB coach like _________ in the off season. Then of course giving directives to that coach.

  5. kenlinkins - Jan 29, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    I do understand the NFL rule of a football back out (just think what a guy like Shanahan might do if he was allowed to keep players on speed dial until April), but I do like your rule about new coach’s and younger QB’s being allowed to work/meet together until the Super Bowl was over. Teams in the play-offs get extra work in while teams missing the play-offs are already on vacation and that is very valuable time for younger players.

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