(ABC)–Tom Brady moved the ball with ease against the Washington Redskins during the two-minute drill, completing 9 of 10 passes in two scoring drives.
Robert Griffin III lacked the same polish and precision when it was his turn to face the New England Patriots on Tuesday, the second day of the teams’ joint practices. It was challenging merely to chart his statistics because of a few generous calls by the coaching staff that kept plays and drives alive.
Advantage Brady. He and coach Bill Belichick have together for 15 years, so long that they’re considered to have more of a partnership than a traditional coach-player relationship.
Griffin has yet to play a game under his coach. His special career-long partner was supposed to be Kyle Shanahan, the previous offensive coordinator and son of coach Mike Shanahan, but the Shanahans were deposed after a 3-13 season. Griffin, in his third year in the NFL, is rebuilding anew with coach Jay Gruden.
“It takes a lot of time,” Gruden said. “It takes a lot of trust, a lot of wins, a lot of ups and downs that you fight through together. You work out together, off the field, on the field. Fifteen years? That’s something that you only hope to have, you only dream of having as a head coach. Not many coaches last 15 years in the same city, but obviously that’s our goal here is to get Robert here for a long time, myself here for a long time. Hopefully we can build a relationship similar to that.”
It’s a sobering lesson. Shared experience might get Gruden-Griffin in formidable lockstep in a few years, but no one is that patient anymore. There are games to be played in 2014.
“Fifteen years is a lot different than one year,” Griffin said. “And they’ve had 15 years to evolve that offense and continue to build upon it. … As far as knowing our offense and moving forward, I think we’re there, but I look forward to evolving with coach Jay and Sean (McVay, the new offensive coordinator). Fifteen years, I don’t know how to put that in perspective, but I think we’re where we want to be right now and will continue to grow each day.”
Belichick said his relationship with Brady grew considerably in 2001, Brady’s second year, after quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein died suddenly of heart failure during training camp. Belichick started splitting the quarterback coaching duties with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and would meet with Brady and the other QBs anywhere from two to six times per week, depending on what was going on.
Of course, that was the year in which starter Drew Bledsoe was hurt, and Brady took over and led the Patriots to the first of three Belichick-Brady Super Bowl titles.
Nowadays, Belichick doesn’t have to meet with Brady nearly as often.
“As a head coach, you want your quarterback to be able to control the team, the way you see it, (the way you) want it controlled when he’s out there on the field,” Belichick said. “The last thing you want is to be looking out there and kind of have the feeling of, ‘What’s going on? What are we doing? This isn’t what we want.’ That isn’t where you want to be.
“I’m fortunate I haven’t had that feeling very many times — rarely have I ever had that. So being on the same page with a quarterback, whatever it is you’re trying to do, whether it’s strategy, plays, where the ball is going to go on a play — when we call a play we get a certain defense, we know where the ball should go on that play. That’s part of it, too. Tom does a great job of that.”