By Steve Silverman
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There is hope for Robert Griffin III, but not with the New York Jets.
If the Jets make a bid for the deposed Washington Redskins quarterback, that would be yet another mistake for Woody Johnson and John Idzik, or whoever turns out to be his successor.
RGIII once looked like the NFL’s quarterback of the future. He appeared to be at the same level as Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson during the 2012 season, and he led the Redskins to the playoffs in his rookie season.
He appeared to have his ticket punched, because he was not going to just remain at the same level he exhibited as a rookie. He was going to work on his downfield passing and learn even more about what opposing defenses were trying to do. As he learned how to read defenses, his overall play and his passing efficiency would go up.
Two years later, it hasn’t worked out that way. RGIII suffered a devastating knee injury against Seattle in the 2012 playoffs, and he has not been the same player since.
But it’s not the physical issues that have kept him from regaining his ability to play the game successfully, at least that’s not the biggest part of the problem.
RGIII has not allowed his game to develop at all. He still wants to be a read-option quarterback, even though the Redskins and the NFL came to the conclusion that that was not the kind of offense that was going to be successful over the long run. RGIII got hurt running the read option, and it’s likely that any quarterback who runs that type of offense while competing against the top athletes playing defense in the NFL would suffer the same fate.
Former Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan were willing to help RGIII get the hang of running an NFL offense and teach him the intricacies of drop-back passing. They never got the cooperation from RGIII that they needed, and the team floundered last season. The elder Shanahan and owner Daniel Snyder soon found themselves at odds, and that was the end of the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach’s tenure in Washington.
Snyder hired Jay Gruden after the end of the 2013 season to take over the head coaching duties. Gruden, not as bombastic or as publicity-hungry as his older brother Jon Gruden, gained credentials during his run as offensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals and he knew how a quarterback was supposed to play.
His efforts to get through to RGIII and teach him how to be successful have largely been ignored. He wasn’t trying to teach him the nuances or finer points. He was trying to work on fundamentals like footwork and delivery.
The results have been abominable and that’s why RGIII has been replaces in the lineup by Colt McCoy. While he doesn’t have RGIII’s physical gifts and he does not have overpowering arm strength, McCoy understands how to drop back, square up to his target and deliver the ball with accuracy and timing.
Why in the world would the Jets — as they are presently constituted — be interested in RGIII? With Idzik running the show and Rex Ryan on the sidelines, the Jets are not equipped to teach any quarterback how to play.
Even if that responsibility fell to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, it wouldn’t work.
But as just about anyone who follows the Jets knows, it seems that Ryan is in his final weeks on the job and that a new coach will be given a chance. Perhaps even a new general manager will get a shot too, if you listen to a couple of NFL executives who may have some insight into Woody Johnson.
So, bringing in a quarterback like RGIII would be premature. You have to know who is going to run this team going forward and who is going to coach it before you saddle them with baggage like RGIII.
RGIII has ruined things for himself in Washington. He may be able to resurrect his career in another environment, but that would be a longshot.
Talking about him as a potential quarterback for the Jets is folly. No move like that can be made until the team decides its future direction.
Hopefully, whoever is put in charge won’t hand the team to a quarterback who has not been willing to learn his lessons.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @ProFootballBoy
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