If Robert Griffin III(Robert Griffin III Jersey)’s attempt to resurrect his career were a marathon, he’d be on Mile 3.
Griffin has done what he can with the Cleveland Browns to this point, but the hard work and uphill climbs are still ahead. Like any marathon runner, Griffin takes it step by step.
To get to this point, Griffin had to earn the starting-quarterback job. He was officially given that last week, though by every appearance it was his from the beginning of training camp. ?Now comes the next step: playing well in preseason games, which builds confidence for the regular season.
“I’m really eager to see our whole football team against a different opponent,” coach Hue Jackson said, “but obviously, to watch our quarterback under duress when it’s tough, when the other team is really coming after you.”
It is in practice games that Griffin can take a step toward showing he has improved in an area that needed the most growth: the ability to drop, read, process and react to a defense. To this point, he has performed against a defense he understands. Now he goes against teams that will try to confuse him.
If he had any failing in Washington, it was that he demanded the Redskins make him into a pocket passer, and he then never performed well enough from the pocket to keep his job.
When the Browns signed Griffin, he vowed he could play in any kind of offense, including pocket passing. Griffin has the ability to run, but eventually in every game a quarterback has to make a throw from the pocket with the defense doing everything it can to prevent that throw.
Griffin’s training-camp work peaked when it mattered most — he looked good in two scrimmages last Friday and Saturday, with even backup Josh McCown saying Griffin had thrown the ball better those couple days than he had all camp. ?But Griffin — and the team — followed with some “dog day” practices Tuesday and Wednesday, with too many balls on the ground and not enough plays.
In Friday’s preseason opener at Green Bay, Griffin will be without two of the Browns’ top receivers. Veteran Andrew Hawkins and first-round draft pick Corey Coleman both are sidelined by hamstring issues.
That does not change Griffin’s goal.
“It’s to go out and execute,” he said. “That’s always the goal. Any time you strap it up, you want to go win a game. Regardless of how long we play or whatnot — that’s up to coach — when we’re in there, we’ll be ready to go.”
Generic stuff, but at this point the approach is more or less generic. Griffin did not play a down in 2015, and his career plummeted from being the second overall draft pick in 2013 to being a free-agent signee with the Browns, whose quarterback woes in recent years are legendary.
“Since he’s been here, he’s been a true leader,” tight end Gary Barnidge said. “He’s embraced it.”
Barnidge admitted, though, that the offense remains a work in progress.
“Everybody is learning,’ Barnidge said. “It’s a new offense for everybody.”
The Browns do not bring a product to Green Bay polished by experience and years of working together. They bring a new coach, a new offense and a new quarterback.
Steps forward merely head toward the finish line, which the Browns hope is a productive offense led by a rejuvenated quarterback on opening day, Sept. 11 in Philadelphia.