By Steve Silverman
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It all started so wonderfully for Robert Griffin III that it’s nearly impossible to believe that it turned south so disastrously for him.
Brilliant rookie season that landed the Washington Redskins in the playoffs. Suffered devastating knee injury in playoff game against Seattle. Never found his rhythm the following year, and then completely fell apart.
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RGIII was blamed by two different head coaches for a variety of the Redskins’ problems, and his inability to make adjustments to his game have had a serious impact on his ability to play the way he did as a rookie.
After getting banished to the bench by coach Jay Gruden last summer, the Redskins returned to the playoffs after a three-year absence with Kirk Cousins at quarterback.
Out with Johnny Manziel, in with RGIII.
The Browns, who have made nothing but bad and disastrous moves on a year-over-year basis, have given Griffin a team-friendly, two-year, $15 million contract.
The Browns can easily get rid of Griffin by the start of his second year if it doesn’t work out, and his contract is filled with incentives. That’s good on their part.
Cleveland can also still secure their quarterback of the future in the upcoming draft. There is no reason the Browns can’t use their No. 2 pick to select Carson Wentz or Jared Goff if they truly believe in either man.
If they are sharp enough, they can maneuver their way down in the draft and still select a quarterback while grabbing another valuable player. They haven’t paid so much for RGIII that they can’t select their quarterback of the future.
The Browns have options.
New head coach Hue Jackson comes to Cleveland with the reputation of being a man who can fix broken quarterbacks. He had success in Cincinnati with Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron last year, and there are many around the league who believe that his good work in Cincinnati as offensive coordinator the last two seasons has made him a legitimate QB guru.
They may be overstating the case. Jackson is a longtime coach who has been in the NFL since 2001 and had a long run as a college coach before starting his NFL career. Prior to his success with Dalton and McCarron, he had not developed a reputation for being a coach who could guide quarterbacks to greatness.
But at least RGIII is coming to a team that wants to have him around. That has not been the case for a long time in Washington. The only image of Griffin in 2015 was of him wearing his Redskins’ warmup sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head and him slumping on the bench.
The Redskins felt they didn’t need him and he was not a welcome figure on their sidelines. It’s an awful feeling for anyone, especially a former developing superstar, and the Washington coaching staff made no attempt to make him feel as if he belonged.
Some of that has been Griffin’s doing. His own actions and personality have drawn raised eyebrows in recent years, if not flat-out criticism.
But now he gets to put that behind him and start anew in Cleveland. If he is a physically broken man or incapable of making NFL-style adjustments, it will come out soon enough.
However, he will get to operate without prejudice in a new environment. The judgments of his previous coaches won’t matter.
Griffin is getting a second chance with a head coach who knows quite a bit about offensive football. Jackson may not be a true quarterback whisperer, but he does know something about the position.
The Browns had nothing to lose by signing RGIII, and he is about to get the opportunity that he has been looking for since a knee injury at the end of his rookie year put him on the road to nowhere.
Follow Steve on Twitter at @ProFootballBoy