Between Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy, quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh believes he's got one of his best groups of signal callers to date during his NFL coaching career.
Matt Cavanaugh always knew Robert Griffin III was a special talent.
During the 2013 season, for example, when he was the Chicago Bears' quarterbacks coach, Cavanaugh got to watch Griffin III have one of his best performances as a Redskin, throwing for 298 yards and two scores along with an additional 84 rushing yards in a 45-41 Washington victory at FedExField.
Now with the Redskins, Cavanaugh's seen first-hand what Griffin III can do with both his arm and legs.
"He's extremely talented. I'm not saying I didn't notice that, but when you're not around it every day I don't think you appreciate it fully," Cavanaugh said to the media on Wednesday. "He has incredible athleticism. He has a very strong arm. He's really accurate. I just think fundamentally, we're working on some of the core things of throwing a football: being comfortable in the pocket and having a good base to throw from all the time, which helps you consistently be accurate down the field more than anything. That's what we're working on. I think he's made really good strides over the last month or two."
And since Cavanaugh studied Griffin III's game very little before joining the Redskins' staff, his new position as the Redskins' quarterbacks coach has allowed him to see Griffin III on a blank canvas, a project he's eager to help take to the next level.
"I came in with an open mind, and I've been impressed," Cavanaugh said. "He's got a great work ethic. He's got a lot of ability. By the same token, there are a lot of things we're working on that he's making strides on. I think next month will be important when he's got some time on his own to do some things by himself. When we get back for training camp we'll still have a lot of work to do, but I've been very impressed with him."
From a physical standpoint, Griffin III has both a "long stride" and a "long inseam" according to Cavanaugh, facets they're looking to better.
"For a guy with that long of an inseam, it takes work to really control your base to make sure that when you have to move in the pocket that each time you move, you get yourself back in a premier throwing position," he said. "I think he understands that, and he's been working real hard and getting better at it every day. There's flashes when he goes on runs of 10, 12, 15 plays where everything is right, and then he'll slip a little bit and gets back."
Even though the slip-ups will happen, Cavanaugh said Griffin III is aware of them and is continually looking to correct them.
"He now knows when he doesn't feel comfortable, and he can figure it out watching it on tape," the quarterbacks coach said. "That's encouraging. To get better at anything, you have to be aware of it. He's become very aware of some of the things that we want him to do a little bit differently, and like I said he's been working very hard to get better."
Cavanaugh has the background the Redskins really desire in most of their coaches, especially those on offense: he's a former player who has been in the current players' shoes before.
He also was a backup for a majority of his career, starting just 19 games during a 13-year career with four different teams.
So with Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy currently splitting time behind Griffin III, Cavanaugh understands what's going through their minds.
"It's really difficult," Cavanaugh admitted. "That was pretty much my whole career as a backup. You don't expect a lot of work, but you're happy when you get it. By the same token, this is the time of year we can get them some work, and we think that it's a competitive environment. Kirk and Colt both have been on the field and played, and they want to be on the field playing more."
Cavanaugh said the reps are split right now where Griffin III gets "about 60 percent" and Cousins and McCoy "are probably splitting the other 40."
"At some point, we might flip that around a little bit just to make sure they're getting enough work, because in this league, one guy playing every snap all year long is getting rarer and rarer," he said. "We just have to make sure that all three guys are ready to play."
Cavanaugh's been a part of teams where the third quarterback on the roster, and even sometimes the second guy, are forgotten about.
That's not the case with Cousins and McCoy, though.
"I have not been in a situation where there are three veterans that have all played, and you're trying to find work for all of them," Cavanaugh said. "When you do have that third guy who is a young guy who is developing, you almost don't care. You think, 'Your time will come Johnny, just shut up.' These guys need the reps. They want to be on the field, and we're doing the best we can right now with OTAs and minicamp. When training camp comes, we hope we'll be able to rotate them in a little bit more, but we've also got to make sure we've got one guy ready to go."