Robert Griffin III does not give the Cleveland Browns the best chance to win. He does not make the team better. He is not on the cusp of returning to his 2012 form.
I know this. You know this. Anyone who’s watched Griffin play this season knows this. Everyone, that is, except Cleveland coach Hue Jackson.
Up until this point, Jackson seemed to be under the assumption he could get the most out of a quarterback who hasn’t looked like a true NFL starter in four years. He seemed hell-bent on proving wrong everyone who mocked him when the Browns signed Griffin this past offseason. When his quarterback struggled, Jackson was right there to say he played fine, that he showed poise, that he belonged.
This week, leading up to what some felt was a winnable game against the Buffalo Bills, Jackson appeared to reverse course a little bit. Instead of handling Griffin with kid gloves, the Browns coach said he needed to see more from his quarterback than what he’s been showing so far. Jackson essentially put his hand-picked QB on notice, implying that more sub-par play just wasn’t going to be enough.
Yet, that’s exactly what he got today in Cleveland’s 14th loss of the season. The Browns, still winless, got pasted by a Bills team which appeared dead in the water. During the 33-13 blowout, Griffin played average at best, finishing with an underwhelming 196 yards on 17 completions.
That Griffin has only played three games this year is no longer any semblance of an excuse. He’s looked like nothing more than a mediocre backup quarterback in each of these appearances, and it’s high time Jackson realized it.
To be blunt – Cleveland’s coach needs to give up on his failed dream of turning Griffin back into a solid quarterback.
I get why Jackson would feel confident about his ability to potentially fix another wayward quarterback. When coaching the Oakland Raiders in 2011, he had Jason Campbell playing some of the best football of his career before a broken collarbone prematurely ended his season. Last year, Jackson had Andy Dalton — who some felt was wearing out his welcome with the Cincinnati Bengals — looking like an elite quarterback.
So, when people laughed at him after he went up and down praising Griffin, claiming he was worthy of starting for the Browns, it was understandable for him to ignore the criticism.
It’s safe to say things have changed since then.
In Griffin’s limited time on the field, he hasn’t been able to shed any of his signature red flags. He’s still prone to injury, as proven by his refusal to slide resulting in a broken bone in his shoulder back in Week 1. He still struggles at going through his reads, almost always missing a wide open receiver.
Most importantly, Griffin still looks nothing like a quarterback you can build a team around, nor does he seem like a player who can lead a potent offense. The 13 points Cleveland scored today was the most the team has netted with Griffin at the helm. That should tell you all you need to know about how successful his tenure with the Browns has gone.
Throughout all of this, Jackson has remained steadfast in his support for Griffin. If he’s been healthy enough to play, his coach has started him. However, the results have yet to look remotely positive.
For what it’s worth, Jackson appears to be finally coming around to the realization that he can’t fix Griffin. After today’s loss, speaking as a coach who has two more chances to avoid an 0-16 season, he claimed every quarterback on the roster is in play to start next Sunday. It’s the first sign of wavering support for Griffin he’s shown all season.
As big a moment as this is, I’ll believe it when I see it. In an ideal world, rookie Cody Kessler gets the nod. Not so much for his being a potential solution at quarterback, but more so for looking significantly better than Griffin this year. However, I still struggle to believe Jackson will give up on his project.
If he’s smart, though, he’ll finally admit defeat. Griffin is not the answer. He was never going to be the answer. His final three years in Washington showed us far more about his potential than the first one did.
I know this. You know this. And, God willing, Jackson finally realizes this, too.