The Washington Redskins held the first of three joint practices with the perennial AFC East champion New England here Monday and quarterback Robert Griffin III was happy to have a brief chance to talk to his Patriots counterpart Tom Brady, who started five Super Bowls and won three.
"He was saying that he's been in the same offense for 15 years, which is astounding," said Griffin, who is learning the second offense of his three NFL seasons.
"That's amazing. ... He said this is only my third year and ... I have a lot of football left in me. That's good coming from a guy like him. Hopefully I get a chance to sit down with him if he's not too busy. We'll both be watching a lot of film getting ready for tomorrow's practice."
Some might think Griffin, who was injured last year, and most of his teammates might want to forget that ugly 3-13 experience that was the 2013 season.
But not Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield, who won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2006.
"We reference last year all the time," Cofield said. "Believe it or not, we did some positive things last year, even defensively. You know, we had some good snaps, especially towards the end of the season. You know, we actually played some really good football at times. We reference that for encouragement, and we also learn from the bad plays -- every bad snap, all the bad stats, all the rankings. You definitely use that to fuel your fire. As much as you want to look forward, you want to use last year."
And where former coach Mike Shanahan got involved in all aspects of the team despite having spent his career on offense, new coach Jay Gruden, also a defensive specialist, is letting veteran coordinator Jim Haslett and Co. do their jobs without much micromanaging.
"He's letting us play defense," Cofield said of Gruden. "I think the great head coaches let their assistants, let their coordinators and let their players police themselves. He's a great offensive mind. He's obviously going to be slanted that way as far as his time. We have Coach Haslett and (defensive line) Coach (Jacob) Burney has been around forever. (Defensive backs) coach Raheem (Morris) has been a head coach. We have so many great coaches on the defensive side of the ball that I don't think we need the head coach (on defense) at all. I definitely see Jay giving (Haz) the reins."
Cofield added that Gruden, a first-time NFL head coach, isn't "biased" like other offensive-minded coaches, without, of course, naming names.
"Most offensive coaches are biased, but I don't think he's being biased," Cofield said. "If its third-and-two in the drill and the (ballcarrier) gets tagged at the line of scrimmage, it's going to be a first down. The ball's going to keep moving and ... the ball's going to end up in the red zone somehow, someway. ... But today we got a pick and the twos came up after (cornerback DeAngelo Hall) got his pick and that was a good sight. I think everyone loves Jay right now. When the bullets start flying and you take that loss, that's when everybody's true character comes out. It's all good feelings right now so hopefully we can keep those feelings."