The matchup has loomed on the schedule all year – it’s the conclusion to the Browns’ slate against the NFC East and a chance to see, and hopefully slay, what could have been yours.
Griffin has given his fans at the Washington Post much to brag about. He’s not just a football player, he’s a born star.
He lights up the camera with his smile, has inborn leadership and makes jaw-dropping big plays. ESPN spoils him every chance it gets while thanking its lucky stars he didn’t wind up in Cleveland.
With the passing of Mark Sanchez, Robert Griffin III has become their next Silver Panther.
And, as he attempts to come back from a scary injury suffered at the hands of Haloti Ngata last week, they’ll do him one better by claiming that Griffin is not actually a man.
Instead, he’s a cyborg, impervious to injury and oh-so-close to being Cleveland’s replacement savior.
It is here that what is remembered about Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert will twist again.
What the public has come to believe about the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft is that the Browns, with two first-round picks, missed out on a golden opportunity. After a halfhearted trade offer had been brushed aside, and after his boss chewed him out for the first time ever, Holmgren defended his hack job by claiming that Jeff Fisher and Mike Shanahan’s special relationship burned the Browns. You know, no fair.
But the truth is, the Browns were never hot for Griffin. For some reason, 50 percent of the fan base wasn’t either.
That may be tied to, in part, the astronomical (and now seemingly irrelevant) price the Redskins paid to swipe Griffin. But beyond that, this became a question of style.
Griffin was never perceived to be a fit in the Holmgren-Shurmur mutation of the West Coast offense and he was never thought to possess a skill set realistic enough to compete in the rugged environment of the AFC North.
This has been hard for Browns fans to swallow as Griffin rips off 76-yard TD runs and trends on Twitter while traces of Mike Holmgren are systematically removed from Browns headquarters. Griffin also leads the league in touchdown passes longer than 25 yards, the Browns have a losing record, and Holmgren is turning his attention to drinks with little umbrellas in them.
Or so it was a hard pill to swallow…
Suddenly, it’s Week 15, the Browns have won three straight and have more momentum than at any other point in the Pat Shurmur era, and Griffin trots into town with a knee injury suffered as a result of his playing style.
This is not to say the indecision to pass on Griffin was correct, only to hypothesize that perhaps our tune on Holmgren is subject to change. Heckert’s stock continues to rise, and a victory over these Redskins certainly says a little more than a victory over the Chiefs.
Despite the fact that the Browns seemed to backtrack on their position of not being impulsive when they drafted the 28-year-old (at the time) Brandon Weeden, their overall philosophy might as well be on the line in this game.
To defeat Griffin is to slay ESPN’s and Peter King’s and the NFL Network’s Silver Panther.
And, if his injury prevents him from even taking the field, while the parts that would be his sum do (Weeden, Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon, and Mitchell Schwartz), that’s just as well.
This is the Browns’ chance to validate their blueprint, if only temporarily.
In one of the strangest seasons of all-time – from the rise and fall of Boutygate, to the replacement officials, the sale of the Browns and the death of Art Modell – how will we remember the first chapter in the trade that never was?