Redskins

Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III struggled to stay upright against the 49ers.

Associated Press— Ben Margot

WASHINGTON — With a repeated, not-so-subtle use of the word “intent,” Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden launched another spate of suspense Monday concerning Robert Griffin III, this time over whether the quarterback would keep the starting job for next week’s game.

Asked several different ways whether Griffin will start against the Indianapolis Colts, Gruden hedged each time, citing the need to review the struggles of the passing game before making a decision.

“Right now, we have every intent for Robert,” Gruden said. “But we’ll look at the tape and make our evaluations here shortly.”

Gruden wasn’t as hard on Griffin as a week earlier, but the facts speak for themselves. The Redskins (3-8) are 0-3 since Griffin returned from an ankle injury and have scored only one touchdown in each of the last two games. He is 4-14 as a starter since the start of the 2013 season.

Following a conservative game plan after a terrible outing the week before, Griffin completed 11 of 19 passes for 106 yards and was sacked five times in Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He has been sacked 16 times in his last three games, more than Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy were sacked in their six starts combined. Third downs continue to be a problem: The Redskins are 1 for 41 when it’s third-and-10-or-more this season.

“We can’t attribute it all to Robert,” Gruden said. “He is the quarterback, though, so we’ll have to look at every avenue and figure out where we can improve.”

The first-year coach might have to resolve the dilemma of playing to win the next game vs. playing for the future of the franchise. McCoy, who had won two straight games before Griffin returned, might give the Redskins their best chance to beat the Colts, but there’s the argument that Griffin needs to keep playing to prove whether he can operate something akin to a conventional NFL passing game.

“We have a 24-year-old kid who has not had a lot of these concepts thrown at him,” Gruden said. “And you’d think we got it all sorted out, but he hasn’t seen these concepts against different coverages all the time. He’s still in a growing process, he really is. He wasn’t perfect in the game, there’s some things he could’ve done a lot better, but there’s some things our left tackle could’ve done better, our center, our right guard, our wide receivers. Everybody has a little hand in the mess in the passing game yesterday.”

That said, Gruden kept opening the possibility that a change at quarterback might be necessary.

“We have some issues, we just have to hone in on them and ... come up with a plan that’s conducive to winning with the quarterback that we feel good about moving forward,” Gruden said. “To have 100 yards or 80 yards passing is unheard of this day and age with the receivers we have, and we have to figure out something.”

It’s fair to say Griffin received a disproportionate share of the blame for some of the earlier losses because the entire team wasn’t playing well. Sunday, most of it the issues were his.

The Redskins had the elements for an upset. The defense forced three turnovers and allowed only 17 points despite running out of cornerbacks. The special teams won the field position game, largely because of an impressive day from punter Tress Way. Alfred Morris ran for 100 yards for the first time this season.

That left the focus on Griffin and the passing game.

It didn’t help that rookie Morgan Moses was making his first NFL start at left tackle — he was directly responsible for two sacks — but it got to the point that speedster DeSean Jackson was returning punts in part because Jackson wasn’t seeing the ball much on offense.

At least, unlike last week, Griffin’s postgame remarks left little wiggle room for controversy or misinterpretation. He played it mostly straight, saying he needs “to play better and find ways to make those big plays happen, no matter what’s going on.”

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