COMMENTARY | As of Monday, the Washington Redskins were officially in the market for a new head coach. A popular name early in the search among experts is Art Briles.
Briles is the head coach of Baylor and Robert Griffin III's former college coach. Griffin took a major step back this season, leading to his benching for the team's final three games. Given the level of success the two managed together at Baylor, it is understandable why some, including Griffin's father, would believe Briles would be a good fit.
Briles, however, would be a disastrous choice.
Don't get me wrong, he's a great coach. He took the perennial Big 12 basement-dwelling Baylor Bears and made them relevant. Griffin, recruited by Briles, is the school's only Heisman trophy winner. In 2013, Baylor earned its first ever BCS bowl berth after winning 11 games, the most in a single season in school history. Baylor also won its first ever Big 12 championship in 2013 and first conference championship since 1994.
Griffin's development and confidence clearly suffered due to the knee injury. Hiring his old college coach with whom he was extremely successful seems like a good fit, but it would be a terrible choice for both Griffin and the team.
Briles has no NFL experience as either a player or coach. While Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll were able to transition from college to the NFL with success, they both had prior NFL experience.
Coming out of college, everyone knew of Griffin's potential, but there were some questions regarding his reads. Namely, he would key on his primary target for too long, and struggle at checking down to his other receivers. This is a problem he struggled with immensely this season.
Griffin still struggles to find open receivers and either holds onto the ball too long hoping his primary target can get open or he abandons the pass altogether even when his check-down options are open. This obviously leads to Griffin taking a lot of unnecessary hits.
How does a quarterback who struggles with making reads end up ranking second nationally in passing efficiency and total offense, third in completion percentage, fourth in passing touchdowns, and sixth in passing yards as Griffin did in 2011 at Baylor? It speaks to the simplistic nature of the Baylor offense.
Baylor runs a very wide spread offense. It is the same concept as a traditional spread offense, only the receivers are spread much wider, which limits the ways a defense can cover the receivers. For the most part, defensive backs are left man-on-man against their receivers. Passing coverage is much easier to read pre-snap when it is spread so wide as players must cheat over more to their zone in order to cover such wide formations.
When you have a quarterback of Griffin's caliber facing an easily readable defense, with defensive backs lining up man-on-man almost every play and little threat of a corner or safety blitz, chances are he's going to be able to find an open receiver fairly frequently.
This system certainly works in college, but its simplicity is its greatest weakness when it comes to the NFL. Griffin struggles to make reads now because he didn't have to in college. Whenever a defense managed to adequately cover his receivers, Griffin could always rely on his speed. As he's discovered in the NFL, he can no longer assume that he can outrun everyone on the field.
Let's also not forget Griffin is facing NFL defensive backs now as well who are much more capable at man coverage. Receivers in this type of system will not be able to get open as frequently as they did in college.
So let me get this straight: Griffin is struggling with his development because of the simplicity of his college offense and the solution is to put the coach who ran that offense in charge of an NFL team? How does that make sense?
There's also a serious problem with hiring a coach because of one player. There are 52 other players on an NFL roster. Making a hire like this sends a bad message to each and every one of them.
OK, so owner Daniel Snyder does not have to sell the hire to his players, but he does to free agents. With no first-round draft pick this year, the Redskins are going to need to lure a lot of free agents to DC. Why would a free agent be excited about a head coach with no NFL experience hired specifically for one player? The Redskins shouldn't be worried about appeasing Griffin, they should be looking for someone who can help him.
This is not the NBA and Griffin is not Kobe Bryant. That's just not a good way to run an NFL franchise.
JJ Regan is a freelancer for Comcast SportsNet Washington and Baltimore and is earning his master's in journalism at American University. Follow him on Twitter @TheDC_Sportsguy
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Washington Redskins
- Robert Griffin III