Why RG III isn’t Cleveland’s long-term answer at QB

With Robert Griffin III set to join Hue Jackson in Cleveland, Sam Monson explains why the QB isn't the Browns' long-term solution.

| 6 months ago
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Why RG III isn’t Cleveland’s long-term answer at QB


Former Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III signed with the Cleveland Browns today (per a report from Adam Schefter), but that shouldn’t be any kind of answer to the team’s quarterback issues. By the end of Griffin’s tenure in Washington, he was an unworkable disaster at QB—a far cry from the exciting rookie we saw back in 2012.

In 2014, RG III earned a -14.0 cumulative PFF grade on just 472 snaps (0.0 is considered average), which is vying for the worst grading pace we have seen among quarterbacks. The worrying part is that he was getting worse as that season progressed and descending into oblivion as a starter.

That season, he still had a passer rating of over 100.0 when kept clean in the pocket, but when the heat was applied, he fell to pieces entirely and threw just one touchdown to four picks, with a passer rating of 53.0 and ugly numbers across the board.

What we saw was a quarterback whose mechanics and poise had broken down, and a guy who just wasn’t able to get things back on track.

RG III needs to be re-built from the ground up, and the Browns might have the right man to do it in head coach Hue Jackson, a leader with a reputation for his work with quarterbacks.

What the Browns are hoping to uncover is the RG III of 2012, the rookie that impressed hugely in an offense that made the most of his athletic talent and utilized his ability to make accurate passes off the back of that running threat. That year, he finished the season completing 65 percent of his passes at 8.0 yards per attempt. He threw 22 touchdowns to only six interceptions and had eight games with a passer rating over 100.0, including one with a perfect rating of 158.3.

The talent of Griffin is undeniable, but the odds of rediscovering that player are not good, and this should not be seen as a move that addresses Cleveland’s quarterback situation at all. They should move forward as if Josh McCown is the interim starter and a rookie quarterback is the future face of the franchise; instead of a low-round developmental player like Connor Shaw or Austin Davis as the No. 3 QB, they have a reclamation project in RG III.

If the Browns are taking that approach, this is a fantastic shot at something they can simply move on from if it doesn’t work out, but which could pay off in a huge way if it does.

According to Schefter, the deal is a two-year, $15 million contract with $6.75 million in total guaranteed money. That’s a lot of cash for a No. 3 QB, but even with the team taking another passer with the second-overall pick in the draft, they would still have less money tied up in their QB group than the Eagles.

If, however, they see this move as a serious answer to their quarterback issues, and think it allows them to move Josh McCown on, or forego drafting a quarterback early in the draft, then they are just setting themselves up for renewed hurt and another name on the infamous jersey of shame.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • JudoPrince

    “That season, he still had a passer rating of over 100.0 when kept clean in the pocket, but when the heat was applied, he fell to pieces entirely and threw just one touchdown to four picks, with a passer rating of 53.0.

    So a player who struggled during one season under pressure, on a bad football team, can’t be salvaged? Who knows if Griffin will match up well with Cleveland or not, but this hard-line approach by Munson betting on his failure seems rather silly.

    • Craig W

      Have you seen him try to play since he hurt his knee? I’d bet on him not working out anywhere. He will be a really good backup to have for one game here or there. I’d never want him as a regular starter.

      • AJ

        You think Cleveland would offer that contract without a full physical w/ special attention to past injuries?

        • Vito Badamo

          AJ,
          You’re absolutely right! This is not the same guys doing the evaluating anymore!

      • Robert Smith Jr.

        Exactly! He is done! He can NOT read a defense and can not run anymore, hell he can’t even learn how to slide!

      • Vito Badamo

        Craig W,
        You just contradicted yourself! Have YOU seen him try to play since he hurt his knee??!! He might be really great! Didn’t cost a pick or player and The Browns have plenty of cap room!

    • Vito Badamo

      JudoPrince, you seem to be the smartest person posting (including myself)!
      What a ridiculous article this Munson guy wrote!!

  • Tim Edell

    With the money he is getting I highly doubt McCown is in their plans.

    • zinn21 zinn21

      They have $40 million is cap space both of their contracts are hardly back breaking..

      • Tim Edell

        If they draft a QB at #2 I highly doubt they keep McCown around as the 3rd string QB. Because they sure as hell didnt sign RG3 to that much money to not have him dress on game day.

        • phil

          Mccown will be traded before the draft. RG3 is his replacement

          • Vito Badamo

            Phil, you’re right!

        • Vito Badamo

          Which one of the two of you in the picture wrote this? The smart looking one on the right looks like he has more class than to use four-letter words!

          • Tim Edell

            Hell?? What are you 70 years old!? Nobody is trading for McCown unless its the Jets that would be his only chance

          • Vito Badamo

            Ahhh, no, I am not 70 but what would that have to do with cussing around a cute Lil’ guy like you are holding. The “so-called-experts” claim there are at least 3 teams interested in McCown. Next time have the boy write since he obviously knows more about football than you!!

          • Vito Badamo

            I bet he knows what direction to wear the brim on his baseball cap too!! LOL!!!

          • Vito Badamo

            Tim,
            This old 30 y.o. needs his sleep now so I will let you have the last chop but how about cleaning it up around the boy who obviously looks like his Mother!

    • Vito Badamo

      There’s actually a couple teams who want McCown. I say forget the 6th or 7th round pick you would get for him and trade for a serviceable player to replace the players who wimped out in free agency. It’s funny how the ex-center Mack got picked for pro bowls. He is TERRIBLE at run blocking! Good riddance!!

  • zinn21 zinn21

    Who are these “experts” saying the Browns are going to draft a QB with their #2? Are they idiots? You sign RG III and you are going to burn a #2 to hold a clipboard with all the position needs going unmet? OR you sign RG III to compete with a rookie to start?? That would be gross misuse of personnel resources. They are going to draft a developmental QB to hold the clipboard, No common sense..

    • phil

      They will absolutely draft a qb at two. RG3 is low risk high reward that likely won’t work out and they fall back on their franchise guy. The sooner you get a franchise qb the sooner you start winning. How many wins will bosa/ramsey/jack log for the browns? None

      • Fred Kruse

        I’m warming to the idea of a slight trade down for extra picks. But if Browns evaluate Goff highly, then by all means draft him at two.

        • Browns love me

          No way U still draft a qb at #2 u trade down with the Eagles and get tredwell and give rg3 a legit shot to be a franchise qb!!!!! That doesn’t work you still have a a top 10 pick next year but now you have tredwell a legit #1 wr trust me guys unless your name is Russell Wilson you are only as good as your receiving core is in the NFL as a Qb

          • Shawn

            Out of the the top 10 WR’s in the league how many have won a Super Bowl? And belive me I was pissed when we traded away Julio Jones, but it wouldnt have gotten us any closer.

          • Johnny Rotten

            That’s a horrible argument I see some make all the time. It’s not about one pick, one WR, and whether or not they can make your team a contender alone by themselves. The draft is about picking great players and over time you accumulate great players on your way to building a great team.

            Julio Jones would have gotten you closer as long as you stop passing on top tier by always trading away your top picks. You can look at a number of players picked in the top 10 and say they didn’t win a Super Bowl therefore never pick their positions in the top 10. That’s now how it works. The Browns should just stop trying to be cute all the time trading away top picks.Take advantage of your top picks and pick top players.

          • zinn21 zinn21

            Absolutely.. Draft a damn QB with a foundation mess..

        • Vito Badamo

          Tiny Hands Goff from the hot climates can’t compare to a REAL quarterback in Wentz!

    • WarwickB

      Ever heard of a guy called Aaron Rodgers? Rode pine for years to learn pro football and look how that worked out. Getting rg3 for 2 years as wentz or Goff develop could be the smartest thing the browns have ever done.

      • zinn21 zinn21

        The Packers weren’t in a critical needs situation like the Browns are. The can’t afford to sign a FA QB and take their #2 and burn on another QB with so many positions needing help. Ridiculous use of a draft pick. That’s what the Browns have been doing for the last 20 years.. Wasting picks on QB’s when the team’s foundation is in a shambles..

      • Browns forever

        Huge difference between using the 22 pick on a stash pick and the number two pick. They are stupid if they use the two pick on a project.

      • Jody

        Or you could use the Brady example – name one QB that excelled after holding his clipboard for a few years (and there are a handful to chose from)…

  • phil

    Oh yeah, couldn’t have fooled me with that 2 year deal. Obviously he’s not expected to be the future, he’s a stop gap for goff. If he exceeds, great trade him for assets

  • dsnjd1

    RG ME is a best a stop-gap at worst he will be a disaster. He was never the same after the re-occurrence of a college injury in the 2012 play-offs when he should have been riding the bench in the press box. Since the injury, he lacks the foot-speed that made him the 2012 ROY. He WAS a special player, with unique skills unmatched in the NFL. No more. He’s got an EGO larger than Texas, and an offensive skill set that was always lacking but was covered-up by his foot-speed that made him so unique. He will go down as one of the biggest disappointments in NFL history. Oh’ what could have been RG III, ….what could have been.

  • Allaine

    The Browns’ GM was quoted as saying that “Robert is just getting started in this league”. Of course Sam, who is the GM for what team, is a top football talent evaluator. Or Sam, who is the GM for what team, could just be spouting last year’s bull based on an un-named source. Go Pound!

  • enai D

    Why RG3 isn’t a long-term solution at QB? Really? You need to write an article about that? What’s next, an article about how Aaron Hernandez isn’t a good role model for your kids? I know its a slow part of the offseason, but surely we can think of something better to write about than this- like, for example, ANYTING else.

    • Rikers

      Shut up, idiot.

      • enai D

        Lol, take your own advice little boy

  • Adam Fogarty

    This was the worst guy to bring in unless your not drafting a quarterback, all the dumb RG3 fans are gonna come screaming for him as soon as a rookie quarterback makes a mistake, at least with just McCown there nobody will scream for him to start

    • Browns Forever

      A reasonable person would think that, but believe it or not Cleveland is loaded with idiots who think there is upside to playing a 40-year-old quarterback who has never won his entire career over a young option with upside. Hard to believe, but Browns fans have and will pound the table for McClown to ruin yet another season.

  • Three putt

    I live in DC and have watched RG for his entire career. His speed and mobility are gone. He has never developed a pocket presence because under pressure he was used to taking off and running. With plays designed for a fixed receiver, he does not deliver. He takes too many hits, has never learned to slide and when pressured his accuracy drops 50%. Besides that, he is frail. Behind a makeshift line and within the AFC North, he will not last beyond the first game against the Steelers or Ravens. Although he is a gym rat, he showed little effort at film study, frustrating his coaches.

    You would think that a quarterback oriented coach like Jay Gruden, he could have been fixed. Obviously, a starting QB who is behind both Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy, neither of which reminds anyone of Joe Montana, should not even be considered an NFL prospect or backup.

    The Browns cut a QB with talent but off the field issues and picked up a QB with a sterling character but no talent.

  • Backinmd

    RG-3 is just plain uncoachable …Saw all the Redskins games while RG-3 was there and his rookie year in DC was spectacular …He deserved and won Rookie of the Year ..Griffith reminded me of Randell Cunningham when he was with the Eagles ..He never had a serious injury with the Eagles but he never improved after the first couple of year years … Never won a playoff game with the Birds and after every playoff lose it was always everyone’s ones fault but his …And like R. Cunningham , RG-3 was as big a flake as Cunningham in the locker room …Both had no leadership at all and both became prima donnas after their great rookie years and alienated their team mates ..Other players don’t have to like their QB personally to respect him …I don’t wish RG-3 any bad luck but I don’t think RG-3 will do much in Cleveland ..And in MHO, the past two decades 1st round draft QB picks, it’s too much $ to fast ….JaMarcus Russell was a good example of that …

    • Kyle

      By all accounts, Rg3 was a fantastic teammate this year and certainly grew a lot. This locker room cancer nonsense has got to go. Rg3 failed because of the organization around him. He was rushed back from injury in 2013 and suffered, and was rushed back again in 2014 from a dislocated ankle and was clearly hobbled.

      It’s a shame he went to Cleveland, as I really do think he could’ve become a very good qb had he gone to a stable environment that is conducive for growth.

      • Backinmd

        I remember RG-3 spectacular 1st year ; and the injuries too ..I think Shanny brought him back too fast also ( it happens) his second year .. But his fourth year – 1st under Gruden — he was 100% healthy but still stunk the place out …BASIC passing plays he would take a seven ft. drop when the play called for a three ft. drop.. Constantly bird dogged his receivers when passing …Had the arm strength but not very accurate .. The whole is the some of it’s parts …Browns and Redskins were in the same division for years ( I lived in DC ) & Cleveland had the best head coach ever – Paul Brown- and the greatest player ever to play – Jim Brown ..Would never wish the Browns any bad luck but think they’re making a mistake signing RG..Will never forget RG-3 electrifying ,unbelievable rookie year … Never …

  • WhySoSerious

    It will be interesting to see what Hue Jackson can do for R3 behind what was a very solid O line that just lost two very good starts at C and RT. I have a hard time seeing a new OL duplicate the success of the previous OL. No serious threats at WR, TE and RB and an injury prone QB who takes more hits than he should. Hue has his work cut out for him.

    • Thomas Walker Sr.

      Are you kidding me. Gary Barnedge was one of the best tight ends in the league last year. Josh Gordan willmbe back and after a season out of the league has a chip on his shoulder and a lot to prove. Duke Johnson had a descent rookie year and should improve. How can you say there are no serious offensive threats. I need some of that good stuff that you’re smoking!!!

      • CDinCalgary

        It won’t matter who the playmakers are in Cleveland – they won’t be getting the ball. Bum knee + Bad O-line + AFC North pass rushers = RG3 won’t survive until Week 3.

  • Circaman

    “Jersey of shame”???? I get it. Can’t think of an ending so….so…..just do what anyone does who wants to go get a snack rather than finishing their homework, just slap in a knock against Cleveland! So simple. Pizza time!