Cleveland Browns: The unfair doubt surrounding RG3 in 2016
Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III has had a solid start to the preseason, yet there is the sense that something is bound to go wrong based on the quarterbacks of the recent past.
Being a Cleveland Browns fan is an interesting exercise in patience.
The team has only had two winning seasons since 1999, yet Browns fever runs wild every fall when the team opens training camp in Berea. The fever increases throughout the preseason and peaks on opening day. Unfortunately, things seem to go downhill after that point.
The optimism that seems to exist every year comes from the fact the fans are gifted with so many new faces each year. From new coaching staffs to new players, there is always the feeling that change is going to result in success.
But the optimism is usually pinned upon whoever lines up at quarterback for the Browns. It is the most important position in all of Cleveland sports, even though little success has been produced by Browns quarterbacks since the team returned in 1999.
The latest contestant in the quarterback sweepstakes is Robert Griffin III, who has had a solid start to the 2016 preseason.
He struggled in Green Bay last week, throwing an interception on an attempted touchdown pass, but bounced back Thursday night with two touchdown passes.
But even with the great performance he had Thursday night, there is still the sense that something bad is going to happen. This is not Griffin’s fault, but that of those who have played before him.
2001 was the last year a Browns quarterback started all 16 games in a season, when Tim Couch did so a year before the team reached the playoffs for the only time since returning to the NFL.
Since then, at least two quarterbacks have started a game in every season. Derek Anderson started 15 in 2007, but even that historic year ended on a disappointing note. And what was supposed to be a great 2008 turned into a disastrous year when four different players started a game at quarterback for the Browns.
It is now 2016 and Griffin is tasked with leading a team in the midst of a rebuild. He has a talented crop of receivers to work with, but this team may be a few years away from being a contender.
There is the possibility he can lead the offense to some success, but the defense may still be a liability for a few years. Even if the defense is the problem, losses will result in blame being thrown Griffin’s way, whether it be fair or not.
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Small aspects of his game will be picked apart by the fans and the media alike, as the quarterback is always going to shoulder much of the blame for losses in Cleveland for as long as the Browns exist.
In this culture of losing, it is just the way things go. If the losses pile up as the season goes along, fans will continue to pick apart Griffin and clamor for Josh McCown to be given a chance, or for the team to go after a quarterback in 2017.
Next: Keeping RG3's performance in context
The only way for Griffin to break this trend is for him to lead the team to the playoffs in 2016, and that may be too tall of a task for the quarterback.