3 teams that should target RG III
John Breitenbach examines the best landing spots for Robert Griffin III, identifying the top offensive fits.
3 teams that should target RG III
The inevitable news broke yesterday that Robert Griffin III is set to be released by Washington. Backup QBs don’t typically make $16 million, especially when there is no remaining dead money in their contracts. The king’s ransom Washington paid to move up four spots in the 2012 draft appeared reasonable after RG III’s rookie season, where he ranked eighth amongst QBs. Franchise signal callers are priceless, justifying Washington’s investment.
However, the king’s reign was short-lived; RG III tore ligaments in his knee against the Seahawks in the 2012-13 playoffs, and hasn’t been the same player since. Even Mike Shanahan gave up on him, favoring the pretensions of Kirk Cousins, and even Colt McCoy in his final season as head coach. After a brief stint back on the throne in 2014 proved disastrous, RG III finished as our 32nd ranked QB, despite playing only 500 snaps; the former second-overall pick’s stock fell to an all-time low.
Hope remains, however, that the arm talent he showcased as a rookie can be coaxed out of him once more in a new environment. Here are a handful of teams who should have interest in signing Griffin.
1. Houston Texans
The impression coming from Houston is that the organization is fed up of re-treads; the franchise wants a young QB to build around. Picking in the latter part of the first round makes that easier said than done, however. RG III would offer a potential upgrade on Brian Hoyer, and he fits Bill O’Brien’s offense. Griffin was most effective in the play-action heavy, zone-blocking scheme Mike Shanahan ran in his first year with the rookie QB. That season, Washington ran play fakes on 39.9 percent of passes, the highest we’ve seen since we started collecting that data in 2012. RG III finished third with a QB rating of 116.2 when using play action, completing 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,826 yards, nine touchdowns, and four interceptions. He managed six more yards per attempt when using a fake compared with running a simple straight drop.
As for Houston, Brian Hoyer used play action on 25.4 percent of passes in 2015 (fifth-most frequent), suggesting RG III might be a good fit. Outside zone is also a staple of the Texans’ offense, which would allow O’Brien to mix in the bootlegs RG III had success with as a rookie. Houston is also looking for a backup QB after the Ryan Mallett debacle.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens make sense for RG III for similar reasons as the Texans. Marc Trestman runs outside zone with frequency, and then develops play action off the same look. Joe Flacco was one of the only QBs to use run fakes more frequently than Hoyer, employing play action on 25.8 percent of dropbacks. Familiarity with the offense explains why both Mallett and Matt Schaub moved to Baltimore after leaving Houston.
The organization has also shown an interest in mobile QBs with big arms in the past; Tyrod Taylor spent four seasons in Baltimore before moving to Buffalo in 2015. The Ravens subsequently tested the waters with Jerrod Johnson.
Even though Flacco is locked into the starting gig, Baltimore needs a backup who can push him for playing time. The Ravens’ signal-caller had arguably the worst season of his career in 2015, finishing 33rd out of 37 qualifying QBs, with a passing grade of just 67.4. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,791 yards, 14 scores, and 12 picks. Neither Mallett nor Schaub have shown the kind of talent that RG III possesses, making the Ravens a good fit.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Prior to the 2012 draft, there was noise coming out of Philadelphia that Andy Reid was trying to engineer a trade up to get RG III. The head coach of the Eagles at the time was reportedly infatuated with the Baylor QB’s skillset. Reid is obsessed with developing QBs and will firmly believe RG III can be coached up, assuming the medical examinations checks out. As he illustrated with Michael Vick and Alex Smith, Reid likes athletes at the position. Those players also prove that he can generate impressive production from limited talent.
RG III also makes sense in KC for other reasons. Reid’s offense involves plenty of play action, Smith used it on 24.3 percent of snaps in 2015, and the Chiefs lack an adequate backup. Chase Daniel is a free agent and is yet to prove he’s capable of seeing the field after taking 256 snaps in his seven years in the league. RG III would be one of the better No. 2s in the NFL—with starter upside. Andy Reid may not be able to resist another pet project.