Cleveland Browns: RG3 looking to do “something special”
By Thomas Moore
Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III says he is ready to make the most of his new start in town.
Robert Griffin III is looking to do something that very few quarterbacks have done with the Cleveland Browns since 1999.
He wants to do something “special.”
Griffin spoke with the media via a conference call shortly after the Browns signed the free agent quarterback to a two-year deal worth a reported $15 million over two years – and a maximum value of $22 million. The veteran quarterback, who went from Rookie of the Year in 2012 to an inactive player for all but one game in 2015, is ready for a new start in Cleveland.
“If you ask any competitor and you take them out of their competitive realm and say you can’t do what you hope to do, it’s going to be tough. I wouldn’t be who I am today if that wasn’t tough on me last year,” Griffin said, according to the team’s website. “But I learned a lot, grew a lot, dedicated myself to make sure I took the time after practice every day for an hour to continue to work because I knew I’d be presented with an opportunity like this.”
“I’m looking to do something special here in Cleveland.” – Robert Griffin III
Whether or not Griffin has the ability to help reverse the fortunes of a team that has not made the playoffs since 2002, has not had a winning season since 2007, and has posted double-digit losses in 11 of the past 13 seasons remains to be seen. But if head coach Hue Jackson is to be believed, Griffin already delivered on his promise to do something special.
“It felt like the Earth moved beneath my feet,” Jackson reportedly said at one point during the team’s workout of Griffin last weekend.
Well, if Griffin can make the Earth move during a routine workout, just imagine what he may be able to do against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.
Joking aside, something obviously went wrong in Washington between Griffin and the team. A player doesn’t just go from passing for more than 6,400 yards and 36 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions in his first two years, to appearing in just seven games and throwing for 1,694 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions in his next two.
We shouldn’t discount the role that Washington head coach Jay Gruden played in all this as there have been numerous reports that he refused to adapt his offense to fit the few things that Griffin does well, which is one of the hallmarks of a mediocre head coach.
As Pro Football Focus points out, Gruden’s first year in charge brought about a severe decline in Griffin’s production:
"In 2014, RG III earned a -14.0 cumulative PFF grade on just 472 snaps (0.0 is considered average), which is vying for the worst grading pace we have seen among quarterbacks. The worrying part is that he was getting worse as that season progressed and descending into oblivion as a starter."
Of course, that doesn’t absolve Griffin of blame for demise as, according to PFF:
"That season, he still had a passer rating of over 100.0 when kept clean in the pocket, but when the heat was applied, he fell to pieces entirely and threw just one touchdown to four picks, with a passer rating of 53.0 and ugly numbers across the board. What we saw was a quarterback whose mechanics and poise had broken down, and a guy who just wasn’t able to get things back on track."
Griffin is a broken player and there are no guarantees that what ails him can be fixed. Everyone is counting on Jackson working some kind of magic to transform Griffin back into the 2012 version, but that may prove to be a tall order.
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However, that doesn’t necessarily mean this if a bad move for the Browns as long as they are not going all in on Griffin being the future of the franchise. The success rate of highly drafted quarterbacks switching teams and finding success is spotty, at best. And even if Griffin is committed to making a new start, his body may not be up to the challenge.
Griffin represents a nice insurance policy for the Browns in a couple of ways:
- If they decide that Jared Goff or Carson Wentz is worth selecting next month with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft then Griffin, rather than the rookie quarterback, can take the pounding this fall as the team works through its latest rebuild.
- If they decide that Goff and Wentz are not worth taking, then Griffin takes the pressure of off forcing a pick, allowing the Browns to wait until the 2017 NFL Draft to see if they like someone better.
Browns fans are still in the honeymoon stage with Griffin, which should last until he throws his first interception or suffers his next injury.
But it still turned into a good day for the Browns, which have been hard to come by for this team in recent years.
And if Griffin can really do something special in Cleveland, this may not be the highlight of his tenure as a Browns quarterback.