Robert Griffin III has a new home. He heads to Cleveland in hopes of being the next in line of (not so) great Browns quarterbacks.
That is the list of the last four years of starting excellence at the quarterback position the Cleveland Browns have thrown to the wolves. It’s no wonder that they have 19 wins over that same span.
We all know the story. No one wants to go to the Browns simply because no one ever lasts on the Browns. Each of the past four seasons, this struggling offense has had a new coordinator. They went through three head coaches. The only guy that really wants to play for Cleveland keeps getting suspended for marijuana. Can you blame him?
So does RGIII have a chance?
RGIII of course made a huge splash his rookie season after being drafted by the Washington Redskins second overall behind Andrew Luck. Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan — the offensive geniuses many claim them to be — adapted a pro-style version of Baylor’s offense. Read options, stacked backfields, wide receiver screens, pistol formations, basically anything and everything the typical NFL defense wasn’t accustom to seeing.
In typical Shanahan form, they were unable to adjust once the NFL figured out their scheme. Like the Wildcat before them, their Baylor pro-system quickly went down the drain. RGIII would eclipse over 200 yards passing just once in the last four games of that magical rookie season, and then the infamous playoff disaster against the Seattle Seahawks occurred.
RGIII of course stayed in that game when he shouldn’t have. It struck up a hearty debate of whether Mike Shanahan was wrong for leaving him in and may have broken the trust between the two. RGIII would plummet the second season, seeing his QB Rating drop from 102.4 to 82.2. He would get hurt again that year, and be labeled broken.
And THEN the soap opera began.
Which is why landing in Cleveland is peculiar. I suppose in reality, once Jeff Fischer hinted that Case Keenum was the starter in St. Louis, there were really no other suitors in the RGIII sweepstakes… if there ever was one. Cleveland has their own fair share of drama, whether it be Gordon’s latest comeback, Manziel’s latest romp in Vegas, the next random firing by the front office, or the fact that they hired a New York Mets executive to save their franchise.
There are two things that Cleveland does have for RGIII, however. Opportunity and Hue Jackson. You know, the same Hue Jackson that replaced Jay Gruden? You know the same Jay Gruden that had no problem turning to Kirk Cousins and essentially running RGIII out of the nation’s capital. The soap opera continues.
Jackson revitalized Andy Dalton‘s career in Cincinnati. Dalton had easily the best year of his career last season. A quarterback known for making ill advised throws with questionable accuracy threw 25 touchdowns to just seven interceptions with a career best 66.1 completion percentage en route to a career best 106.2 QB rating.
The simple truth is we have no idea who RGIII is right now. He certainly has had plenty of time to heal any wounds, but does he have anything left? There isn’t really anyway to know until he suits up in the Browns jersey.
But look at Cleveland’s roster. There is no real threat to RGIII. McCown will probably be on his way out, and despite being able to throw up some big games, he is 36-years old. They do have former Fighting Blue Hen Pat Devlin (who as an alum I hold out hope that he will be the next in the great line of UD QBs like Rich Gannon, Andy Hall and Joe Flacco), but the reality is, he, like Connor Shaw, doesn’t seem to have much of an NFL career ahead of him as a starter.
The Browns snagged RGIII for $15 million over two years. All of their other options — like Ryan Fitzpatrick or Colin Kaepernick — would cost well more than that for one year. He will be 28 by the end of his contract. In today’s NFL, that is a bargain and even if he turns out to be a bust, it may be the most sound Cleveland signing in awhile.
Who he will have to throw the ball to with Travis Benjamin gone or hand it off to, or more importantly block for him with Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz on new teams will be even more interesting. Sure, they have Barn-kowski at tight end, but RGIII is probably praying that the NFL reinstates his former college teammate to catch balls from him. Gordon could make you and I look like an NFL QB.
I think the Browns made a good business decision, but RGIII made a curious one. I know he wants the opportunity to play, but Cleveland is the only place worse to play than Washington.
No matter what happens, it will certainly be entertaining to watch it all play out at the Dawg Pound.