As I wrote last week, it’s high time for Hue Jackson to give up on his hope of making Robert Griffin III the franchise quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Though nothing has been confirmed, the consensus belief is the team will indeed part ways with the QB this offseason.
Per Jackson, though, this may not be the case, not yet at least. Asked at the Senior Bowl if he plans on parting ways with Griffin, Cleveland’s coach attempted to squash those rumors.
“That’s interesting,” said Jackson. “Who made that announcement? I didn’t.
“Everything’s premature right now,” he continued. “You guys haven’t heard that from me. So I wouldn’t read into any of that.”
The initial reaction to such a comment, to me at least, was one of fear. I’ve spent enough time making a case for how going back to Griffin would be a huge mistake. To hear Jackson give any indication he might indeed do just that, well, it doesn’t exactly give you a ton of confidence in his decision making.
That is until you consider two things. One – it’s January, so Jackson is right in saying it’s too early to buy in to any rumors. Two – he undermined any sort of endorsement for Griffin in the same exact interview.
Make no mistake, while Jackson did quell rumors that anything has been decided, he certainly implied Griffin’s time with the team, at least as its starter, is probably over.
First, just look at what the Browns coach said when following up on the aforementioned quotes. Consider this Exhibit A.
“It’s too important to our football team, to our fan base, to our organization,” he said about finding a franchise quarterback. “We’ve got to make the right decision. We’ve got to get that part of it right, and I plan on doing that.”
Read that however you’d like, but when I hear a coach go on and on about how badly his team needs to find a franchise quarterback, it certainly implies he doesn’t think he has one on his current roster. Jackson wouldn’t be telling us he needs to get the QB situation figured out if he felt as though Griffin was an answer.
But hey, that’s just one quote. If this was all Jackson said, maybe we could consider this as nothing but coach-speak.
Of course, Jackson wasn’t done. Allow me to present Exhibit B.
“We’ve got to have a quarterback that plays winning football for us, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he continued. “We’re going to find that guy. We’re going to find a guy that can win for us, and that’s what we have to do. That’s my job. That’s what I came to Cleveland for, and I’m not going to stop till we get that guy.”
Anyone noticing a theme in this quote? How Jackson keeps using the word “going to” instead of “may already have” when it comes to finding a winning QB?
Or how about his putting a whole lot of pressure on himself to find a franchise quarterback in the first place. How it’s his job to land one, how he won’t stop until he does.
This is far less subtle than the first example. Jackson is saying, without a shadow of a doubt, that he hasn’t fixed the quarterback situation for Cleveland. Even though he tried to do so with Griffin, he’s openly admitting said project didn’t go according to plan. If Jackson was to say all of this, then try to once again sell us on the idea of Griffin as a potential savior later this year, he would come off as quite a hypocrite.
For the sake of solidifying my case, let’s take a look at Exhibit C.
“It’s stopping us from being where we want to be,” Jackson said, referring to the team’s inability to find a QB. “We haven’t established that guy yet. We haven’t established who he is. Until you can do that, then I think we can make the next jump.”
Seriously, do I need to keep doing this?
Based on these quotes alone, there’s no way Jackson could claim Griffin is his 2017 starter. How could he be this adamant about the Browns’ lack of a franchise guy, then follow it up with “so we’re going to give Robert another try”?
Now sure, Griffin may end up staying as a backup. Nothing Jackson said here eliminated this as a potential outcome.
However, the question in the headline wasn’t focused on whether or not Griffin would be carrying a clipboard on the sideline next year. It instead asked if Jackson, while denying rumors of Griffin’s release, basically said he’s not the answer in Cleveland.
Yes. Yes he did.