I think I've taken my fair share of shots at the Cleveland Browns this offseason. You don't need to read between the lines to figure out that this organization is being run in a bizarre fashion, one that has led them to the bottom of the NFL barrel.
So it's hard to tell who needs the other side more in the Browns' awkward Robert Griffin III signing. I believe that Griffin deserves a second chance. The track star-fast 2012 version of RG3 has been permanently taken from us due to FedEx Field's shoddy surfaces. The problem is, well, every single thing we've seen since 2012 points to a quarterback who hasn't been able to adjust to his coach's expectations in the interim. Jay Gruden came as close as a head coach can come to admitting that Griffin was a square peg in his system.
The Browns signed a Griffin who isn't the 2012 model, but who still has the arm to be the kind of quarterback he was that year. He's just raw. I know it's weird to say that about someone who went to a Pro Bowl and won Offensive Rookie of the Year, but the Shanaclan system tried to meet Griffin 3/4s of the way to his college offense in his first season. Then, in Year 2, they reversed course and tried to make him into a protoypical, drop-back NFL quarterback. And he flopped. The ankle injury probably played some part in that, but an ankle doesn't help you read NFL defenses. Gruden came in and threw Griffin straight to the wolves, then acted like an innocent bystander.
Griffin can make more use of his talents than he was allowed to do in Washington. The problem is that his development is a two-way street. He has to be able to meet a coaching staff halfway. He no longer has the athleticism to play like he did in his rookie season, which was the cheat code that let him break the rules. Without that trick, he has to, you know, actually learn how to run an NFL offense. Or at least be able to get to his second or third read enough to be playable.
Now, much as I've besmirched the Browns, I think grabbing Griffin makes sense for them. Hue Jackson was able to make chicken soup out of a limited quarterback in Cincinnati with a great supporting cast. Griffin isn't an earth-shaker, but Jackson can cover up his biggest warts. In Cleveland, however, Griffin won't have a Bengals-quality supporting cast. And that's what worries me about this fit for him.
At the same time, where else was Griffin going to go? He could have tried the Steve Young career path with a better organization, but nobody was going to give him same the chance at a starting quarterback job like the Browns.
And who else could Cleveland grab that has this kind of upside? They're not a Ryan Fitzpatrick away from playoff contention. This is a marriage of two sides who realistically couldn't do any better at the moment.
But the important thing for the Browns is that they not act like Griffin is a sure bet to become the quarterback of the next good Cleveland team. If they realistically believe there is no franchise quarterback worth considering with their second overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, that's okay. But they can't let Griffin's signing hinder their pursuit of that quarterback. The best thing they can do for RG3 is to give him 400 snaps and see if they can resurrect his career.
From there, who knows? Maybe they pick North Dakota State's Carson Wentz and don't think he's ready. Maybe they believe that quarterbacks need more developmental time in general, and want to let Griffin be the bridge. That's not an unfair stance, based on the data.
The only thing the Browns have to lose here is their time if they get swindled from the get go. Griffin is the kind of quarterback you give a chance to when you're a moribund franchise, but not the sort of guy who should change your draft plans. With most teams, I would think that saying this is sort of redundant.
But when you combine a guy who was thought of as a franchise quarterback after his first season with Hue Jackson's bluster, the inexperience of the front office, and the general sense of desperation in Cleveland, there's some potential for combustion. The Browns simply have to take all that attention and put it aside. There's a slight chance Griffin devotes himself to the game and becomes a quarterback worthy of leading a franchise again.
The Browns should not build a team around that scenario coming true.