Say this about Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson: He must not be into the notion of a couple safe passes to allow his quarterback to settle in.
On Robert Griffin III’s first snap with the Cleveland Browns, his first game action since last preseason, Jackson called a deep pass. Griffin hit his back foot and let one fly to Terrelle Pryor, who got great separation from Green Bay Packers cornerback Damarious Randall. Pryor made a nice catch for a 49-yard gain.
Cut! That’s a wrap! Ah, if only it was that easy.
Griffin made a few more nice throws on the drive, including a nice third-down pass to Pryor. He got the ball out on time and hit his primary target for gains. And then he threw a bad-looking interception.
Griffin missed Gary Barnidge badly to the inside. Micah Hyde made a great diving catch to pick it off, but the pass was nowhere near Barnidge. It seemed clear that Griffin expected Barnidge to be in a different place, and perhaps that’s something that will be worked out with more reps together.
Not so fast:
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2016
The second series wasn’t good. Griffin had to throw one into the ground when the Packers blitzed. On third-and-10, he felt the rush coming from his right side, started roaming to the left and then badly missed a pass on the sideline.
And that was it for Griffin on his first night with the Browns. Josh McCown took over the next series. The final tally for Griffin: 4-for-8, 67 yards, no touchdowns, one interception. Not really enough to draw any conclusions over. There was one really nice pass and one regrettable interception.
There’s no secret that this could be Griffin’s last chance to establish himself as a regular starting NFL quarterback. Jackson did a great job with Andy Dalton as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator last season, and the hope is that he can turn Griffin around too. Cleveland was probably Griffin’s only real shot to definitely start in 2016, and if he struggles this year it’s hard to see another team (or the 2017 Browns) coveting him as a starter.
The Browns were smart to make it clear Griffin is their preferred starter and not turn it into a quarterback controversy. Griffin reportedly got almost all of the first-team reps in camp and the team didn’t delay in naming him the starter for the preseason opener. If the Browns think confidence was an issue for Griffin his last couple years with the Washington Redskins — not a crazy theory — then it was smart to immediately throw all the support to Griffin. The Browns aren’t going anywhere this season, and seeing what the 2012 NFL offensive rookie of the year can do is smarter than playing 37-year-old McCown, even if you can make the argument McCown is the better quarterback right now.
Griffin’s first snaps with the Browns didn’t tell us much, though we could see he still has the arm strength. He was also allowed to be a bit rusty after sitting out the entire 2015 regular season. We’ll get a clearer picture of Griffin as we go through the preseason. The Browns hope his first throw Friday night is the norm for him in this reclamation season.
– – – – – – –