The stats from Robert Griffin III‘s return to action in Week 14 were alarming. Completing just 43 percent of his pass attempts and barely topping 100 yards, the highly touted off-season acquisition finished with a QBR of just 38.4.
Of course, this came against the 12th-ranked passing defense in less than ideal conditions. The bad news is, Buffalo’s pass defense is ranked seventh, and Sunday’s weather isn’t supposed to be much better.
The key to success on what will be a difficult day through the air for the Browns will be giving Griffin more flexibility. There were too many instances last week when the 26-year-old was forced to make a poor decision because either the play called for it, or he didn’t have any other options.
For example, his lone interception on the day came off of a flea flicker play in which he threw into triple coverage. Doing this seemed to defy all logic, yet the former Baylor Bear had no other choice.
The Browns absolutely need Griffin to be himself on Sunday. This means escaping from the pocket even if it puts his health at risk. After all, with the way Cleveland’s offensive line has been pass protecting, his health is at risk anyway.
Terrelle Pryor also needs to exceed his total of one reception for three yards from last week. More than one receiver needs to have multiple receptions, and the Browns desperately need to connect on a deep throw.
But this all begins with opening up the playbook for Griffin. Allowing him to move out of the pocket will give the offense a better look, give them confidence, and alleviate some of the pressure on the offensive line. Doing this will also make the offense flow smoother, and give it an unpredictable vibe. With an 0-13 record, predictable offense results in a predictable outcome.
And if nothing else, allowing Griffin to be himself will serve as an honest assessment of the skills which made the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner a smash success in his rookie season. If the Browns believe he can be the longterm solution at quarterback, they will need to find opportunities to see whether or not his skills mesh with the current scheme established by Jackson.