Jay Gruden knows from experience that installing his entire offense is going to take some time.
Accordingly, the first-year Redskins head coach has been working hard with his three quarterbacks to ensure they aren't overwhelmed by any schemes or strategies so that each day brings with it an increased understanding of the playbook.
"You build it gradually," Gruden told reporters after Friday's practice. "You don't throw everything out there at once, but you build certain situations, certain tempos from day one to day to two day three."
The Washington Redskins hosted the New England Patriots for the 2014 preseason home opener at FedExField on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.
The first major test for the Redskins' new offense was a success. Playing against the New England Patriots in their preseason opener Aug. 7 at FedExField, the Washington offense was balanced, collecting 210 passing yards, 177 rushing yards and two passing touchdowns. The offensive line, meanwhile, allowed just one sack, and, perhaps most importantly, the team did not commit a single turnover in the Redskins' 23-6 victory.
Gruden and the Redskins' offense faces their second major test tonight, when they take on the Cleveland Browns at FedExField. Not only will the preseason matchup be nationally televised on ESPN's Monday Night Football, but Gruden said he expects to play his starters at least one quarter, giving them many more opportunities to see how they've progressed while playing against the No. 9 defense in terms of yards allowed a season ago.
The preseason tests continue just five days from Monday's game, however, when the Redskins travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, who finished 12th in yards allowed in 2013 and have had a productive offseason making defensive tweaks.
"Every team in the NFL gives you different problems, but Cleveland's defensive personnel is obviously very good with Joe Haden, Buster Skrine and all those guys, and then Baltimore the following week," Gruden said. "We'll get a good taste the next two weeks, see where we are and how far we have to go."
Gruden is relying on his recent experiences to help ensure his young quarterbacks successfully grasp his style of play.
As offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals the past three seasons, Gruden turned an offense that ranked 13th in passing yards prior to his arrival into one throwing for 259 yards per game in 2013, good enough for eighth-best in the NFL.
Gruden also had much success with Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who made the Pro Bowl his rookie year and threw for at least 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns in his three seasons under Gruden.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is very familiar with Gruden's consistent successes with Dalton, and said he's never felt overwhelmed by his new head coach's style of play.
"I don't think anything they're asking us to do is too much or too heavy for us," Griffin III said. "I like to think I can hold a lot of weight on my shoulders as a team leader. That's what the greats do, and I want to be the greatest."
Griffin III knows one of those responsibilities will be the ability to change the play at the line of scrimmage.
"It's a quarterback's dream," Griffin III said. "You want to have some control at the line of scrimmage and be able to get out of some things and protect yourself. I enjoy it – it's fun."
Gruden said a quicker tempo for his offense in practice and in preseason games has meant the introduction of other nuances for his players to digest. After going through an adjustment period during offseason workouts and OTAs, Gruden said his offense is "to a point now that we feel good about where we are as far as installation."
"Now we can start to tinker with different tempos, different snap counts, different formations, things of that nature, and just continue to grow your offense," Gruden said. "It's all about moving forward and seeing how much they learn, but also how much they can retain."
That process continues tonight against the Browns.
"They are a good defense on paper," Griffin III said. "They're going to come out and be physical, and we're going to be physical, too."