Cleveland Browns: Robert Griffin III Doesn’t Deserve Another Shot

Three starts might not be enough to effectively evaluate most quarterbacks, but for the Cleveland Browns and Robert Griffin III, it needs to be.

The Cleveland Browns lost on Sunday to the Buffalo Bills. The loss wasn’t anything new for the 0-14 Browns. Unfortunately, neither was the inept showing of Robert Griffin III.

Griffin made his second consecutive start for Cleveland and his third of the season. While the Browns were hoping Griffin would be able to show some notable improvement over his Week 14 outing—12-of-28 for 104 yards and a touchdown—it wasn’t there. Yes, Griffin was better against the Buffalo Bill than he was against the Cincinnati Bengals, but dramatic isn’t any way to describe his improvement.

Griffin finished Sunday’s game 17-of-28 for 196 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. This, against a Bills team that is rated just 19th in pass rush and 23rd in pass coverage by Pro Football Focus.

For the season, Griffin has completed exactly 50 percent of his passes for 490 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles (none lost). These are numbers that wouldn’t look good for Johnny Manziel were he still on the team.

The Browns don’t have a clue who their starting quarterback will be in 2017, but if this is what the former Baylor has to offer, it isn’t going to be Griffin. In fact, the Browns shouldn’t even waste their time playing Griffin again this season. Browns head coach Hue Jackson wants to get his team a win over the final two weeks of the season, and even he isn’t sure Griffin is the guy to do it.

“Everything’s going to be on the table,” Jackson recently said, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I’m going to look at everything. I just have to. I owe these guys the best opportunity to win in the locker room. With the effort they’re giving me, I have to give back to them as a leader. I have to make sure I’m putting the right people out there for them.”

“Everybody is in play,” he added. “Absolutely.”

Securing the top overall pick in next year’s draft would be nice and all, but Jackson wants to give his the team the gift of a win. It would show that at least some of the pieces for success are in place and help avoid the psychological damage of a winless season.

If there was a quarterback the caliber of Andrew Luck or even Matthew Stafford in this draft, then maybe securing that pick would be a bit more of a priority—but there isn’t. If Jackson really does want a win, then he needs to turn to rookie Cody Kessler or veteran Josh McCown. In fact, rookie Kevin Hogan would probably even give the Browns a better chance at victory.

One thing seems to be almost certain, though; Griffin is permanently broken beyond repair. The guy who won the Heisman Trophy with Baylor and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Years award with the Washington Redskins no longer exists.

For all the hoopla Griffin conjured up during the offseason about changing, he still doesn’t know how to avoid unnecessary hits. Heck, he can’t even avoid hitting a defenseless cameraman.

The one thing Griffin can avoid hitting is wide open receivers. He’s shown the accuracy of a discount bottle rocket since arriving in Cleveland and he doesn’t appear to be seeing the field well at all either. Pro Football Focus rates Griffin 52nd overall among quarterbacks for the season. Just as alarming is the fact that Griffin still comes across as a self-absorbed, fake anti-leader. Griffin says plenty of by-the-numbers things about working to get better or fighting as a leader.

“I know I’m going to go out there and fight with my guys until the end no matter what so that’s the only thing I can focus on,” Griffin said, via the team’s official website. “I’ll go back and watch the tape and continue to learn and get better from it, but I do feel like I played better today.”

Yet, Griffin also spends a lot of time spewing out odd catchphrases like “no pressure, no diamonds.” (Which Griffin isn’t responsible for, by the way.)

It’s fair to wonder how much Griffin really means the things he says and how much is just an act of self-promotion and brand-protection. Griffin seems a lot more interested in rebuilding his brand than helping the Browns grow as a team. This may have been the case in Washington, as well, seeing as how Griffin had a tendency to go above the coaching staff and directly to ownership with issues.

Griffin seems to want to play the good guy and the hero, even when he isn’t that. Sometimes I wonder how many times he intentionally takes hits in order to feign toughness. To be honest, that cameraman hit on Sunday looked entirely like something Griffin could have avoided.

If Griffin was playing high-quality football, perhaps the Browns could overlook his character flaws. If Griffin was actively showing improvement and a willingness to alter his game, maybe the Browns could justify sticking with him through one-field struggles.

Griffin is doing neither of these things, however. He appears to be exactly the same quarterback the Redskins decided they didn’t want any part of last offseason. Cleveland doesn’t need two more games to recognize this.

If the Browns are going to lose their next two games and accomplish the 0-16 feat, they can do it while trying to win or while evaluating a quarterback that actually deserves to be part of the franchise’s future. Neither of these things can happen with Griffin under center.

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