The problem with Griffin at quarterback continues to be his inability to read a defense and throw the ball on time. Griffin was sacked five times for 34 yards against the Bills, and the knee jerk reaction to that stat is to blame the offensive line.
Yes, there are reasons to blame the offensive line in this game. There were dumb holding penalties in the run game, along with missed assignments, bad technique and a continued inability to pick up stunts. However, not all those sacks are on the offensive line.
Griffin must own and correct his contribution to the problem. After four seasons in the league, the book on Griffin correctly states that he cannot read a defense and throw the ball on time, which puts the offensive line in a pickle.
The offensive linemen take their steps and create angles designed to open throwing windows while also holding a block for a set amount of time depending on the play call. The line will set up differently for a long pass than for a short or intermediate pass, and all three types of passes require different types of pass blocking.
By failing to execute the pass within the framework of the play, Griffin is putting an already makeshift offensive line in position to get the quarterback hit or hold the defender to prevent the hit.
This current offensive line seems to have no idea where Griffin will set up when he drops back on a pass play. Worse, they do not have a grasp on where Griffin will scramble if he chooses to leave the pocket. Leaving the pocket is then causing the line to hold rather than let their man put a vicious hit on the quarterback.
But this is not simply a defense of the offensive line. It is the recognition that Griffin is not the answer in Cleveland for the same reason he was not the answer in Washington: He cannot play within the offensive system. In this way, Griffin III is the exactly same player as Johnny Manziel minus the off-field issues.
This off-season the Browns traded one problem player with a limited skill set in Manziel for another player with the same limited skill set in Griffin. Browns fans have seen this nightmare one too many times.
It is past time for the Browns front office to stabilize the quarterback position. To do that, they need to draft an elite quarterback at the top of the 2017 NFL Draft. They are currently in position to have the pick of the litter, so it is time the Browns finally took their guy instead of settling for the best of the rest.
Setting aside the issue of process and evaluation, the Browns need to use the No. 1 overall pick (if they secure it) on a quarterback regardless of who is available on the defensive side of the ball. The culture and losing ways will not change in Cleveland until a quarterback is found.
Rumors have the Browns interested in defensive end Myles Garret out of Texas A&M. Garret is a great player, but he is not going to single handedly bring wins to Cleveland. If a defensive player could do that, then Jamie Collins would have done it already.
Taking defenders at the top of the draft does not always mean success for the franchise. The Houston Texans passed on several quarterbacks to take Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney was the 2014 version of Garrett – the can’t-miss prospect with an outrageous skill set and off-the-chart measurables. The Texans simply had to draft the once-in-a-lifetime can’t miss player who will change the game on defense.
And yet, the Texans are still looking for a quarterback and, consequently, post-season success.
Failure to draft a quarterback at the top of the draft will put the Browns back into the same old position they have always been. How many years have the Browns used their first pick on another position, only to be left with the also-rans at quarterback?
This strategy has landed the Browns players like Brady Quinn, Manziel and (gasp) Brandon Weeden. None of these quarterbacks changed the franchise for the better, nor did they stabilize the quarterback position.
Those three quarterbacks were all the second of two first-round picks by the Browns, and none of the players picked before them brought franchise changing victories. Justin Gilbert, picked before Manziel, was a colossal bust. But he was not as a big of a bust as Trent Richardson, who was picked before Weeden. Only Joe Thomas, picked before Quinn, has had a lasting impact on the team. Even after these players were picked, the Browns continued to lose.
If the owner and front office want to prove this is not the same old Browns, then they need to take an elite quarterback at the top of the draft.
Waiting until the second first-round pick, which looks to be in the top 10 thanks to the struggles of the Philadelphia Eagles, will be too late as the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers will be looking for a quarterback in the slots right after the Browns. The recent firing of head coach Gus Bradley in Jacksonville may mean the Jaguars will be in the quarterback hunt as well.
If the Browns are to get an elite quarterback, they need to take him No. 1 overall. If not, for Browns fans it may be déjà vu all over again.