Cleveland Browns: Is the Washington RG3 in camp?
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns are hoping for a better Robert Griffin III in 2016, but can he be a different quarterback than he was in Washington?
The Cleveland Browns signed quarterback Robert Griffin III in the off-season with the idea that he would be more the player who earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2012 and less the player who was a scout team safety in 2015 with the Washington Redskins.
It is a belief that head coach Hue Jackson reiterated after the first day of training camp.
“I think he’s still Robert Griffin, the same guy that came out in 2012 but just wiser,” Jackson said. “He’s been through a lot of different systems and a lot of different things, and I think he’s growing by leaps and bounds. We still have a ways to go.”
While the Browns still have a “ways to go” as Jackson points out, the early returns are that Griffin’s game is the same as it was with the Redskins, at least according to Pro Football Focus, which visited training camp over the weekend and turned the spotlight on Griffin:
"The first look at Robert Griffin III in the Cleveland offense was both encouraging and discouraging, depending on how you look at it. He was very much still the same player he was in Washington, which is to say an impressive athlete with all the arm talent you could wish for, but one also severely limited as a quarterback."
"He very rarely made it far through his progression in the team portion of practice, and was usually on the move if he had to come off his first read. The good news is that the Browns seem to be only too aware of that, and are almost building it into the offensive system, with receiver routes designed to uncover later in the play than is usual, catering to the fact that the QB may well be on the move and looking for an open target several seconds into it."
"When Griffin took aim at a target and delivered, he was reasonably accurate and threw a nice football, but the big question mark for him as a starter this season (assuming he wins the job, and he was getting the first reps with each drill in this session) is whether that limit to his work in the pocket can succeed at this level."
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The good news is that PFF’s observation came from just the second day of practice and represents a single period in time. Any player can have one bad (or good) practice that is not always a reflection of their overall play.
However, the coaching staff has been working with Griffin through the entire off-season and if he is still struggling to break his old habits (not surprising since he’s played the same way for at least the past decade), how realistic is it to think that we’ll see anything different come the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles?
The Browns are all in on Griffin being QB1 as he has worked exclusively with the first-team offense so far in training camp. With Jackson saying he will name his starting quarterback in time for the preseason opener on Aug. 12 against the Green Bay Packers, it seems highly unlikely that it will be anyone other than Griffin.
Knowing that, Griffin needs to be on the field as much as possible so Jackson and assistant head coach-offense Pep Hamilton can build an offense around Griffin’s limitations.
Next: Who benefits the most in Josh Gordon's absence?
The only question now is: which version of Griffin are the Browns truly getting?