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Shanahan: Griffin, Kaepernick Have Growing Pains

Posted Nov 20, 2013

Washington's coach outlined the challenges the second-year quarterbacks face in achieving something like their first-year successes.


Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III aren’t the same player, and they certainly aren’t having the same season.

But that is what makes them similar.

When San Francisco’s quarterback and his Washington counterpart meet on “Monday Night Football,” they will each do so under less than ideal circumstances.

Kaepernick is 6-4 in his second season as a starter, but he has left fans and pundits alike wanting more given his subpar statistics.

Griffin is 3-7 in his second season as a starter, and he has come under fire more for his leadership than his lack of showy numbers.

READ: RGIII Has No Regrets

For Mike Shanahan, Griffin’s current coach in D.C. and the man who worked with John Elway for four seasons in Denver, the “sophomore slumps” of two of the NFL’s up-and-comers is less surprising.

“If you’re talking about Robert or if you’re talking about a guy like Kaepernick, everybody comes from different (college) systems and when you go to the National Football League and you’re working with a drop-back passing game and you haven’t done a lot of that, it takes some repetition,” Shanahan said on Wednesday morning via a conference call with Bay Area-based reporters. “Whoever has been in those shoes realizes that it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice, it takes repetition, going against different coverages, understanding the strength and weaknesses and just becoming more comfortable in passing situations.”

Griffin is completing 59.7 percent of his passes (versus 65.6 percent in 2012) and has already thrown twice as many interceptions, 10, as he did during his rookie campaign.

READ: Josh Morgan to Face Former Team

The No. 2 overall draft pick last year also hasn’t rushed for a single touchdown; he scored seven times on the run before tearing his ACL during a Jan. 6 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, has his team in the playoff hunt despite a drop in individual production. He is completing 56.2 percent of his passes (versus 62.4 in 2012) and has tossed four more picks, 7, than he did in three fewer starts during his second year in the league.

Despite the fact that “Kap” is on pace for another strong season running with the football – he is averaging six yards per carry and has rushed for three touchdowns – he seems to have made fewer highlight reel-worthy plays out of the read-option, a scheme Griffin also runs at times in the nation’s capital.

Still, Shanahan has been impressed from afar.

“You can see what a great arm he has and what great speed he has… and he seems like a natural leader. It just takes a while. Every year is a learning experience,” Shanahan said. “Defenses will always catch up to a guy, but that repetition is going to get him more comfortable with some situations.

"You can see what a bright future he does have because his arm strength, his ability to make plays with his legs. I like what I see.”

Washington’s coach intimated that perhaps expectations had been too high for both the quarterback he’ll be coaching and coaching against come Monday. Their breakout 2012s set the bar high for 2013.

“That’s part of the process of the NFL quarterback that it is hard, the amount of hours that you have to spend studying film, going through your progressions, studying defenses,” Shanahan said. “It’s 24 hours a day, not only during the season but the offseason, to get to that elite level.

"Everybody is going to have a year or two that is better than the other, but for that consistency, you need a guy that loves football, loves studying because there’s so many different parts. That’s one of the reasons I think it’s the hardest position in sports to play.”

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