LeBron James may have lifted the championship curse off of Cleveland, but the NBA’s best player can do nothing about the the city’s perplexing quarterback problem.
Robert Griffin III was the 25th try at getting it right since the tortured reincarnation of the Browns kicked things off in 1999, and his silver-anniversary stint as the “face of the franchise” lasted all of one game.
That’s because the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Rookie of the Year was placed on injured reserve after sustaining a serious injury to his non-throwing shoulder in Sunday’s season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ironically, and perhaps painfully for Cleveland fans, the Eagles look like they have solved their own quarterback quandary by drafting a player the Browns could have had, Carson Wentz.
There is a chance he makes it back this season because the new injured reserve rules no longer force teams to foreshadow their IR-designated to return candidate so, in theory, Griffin, who doesn’t need surgery, could return by early November.
In about a month, the Baylor product will be re-examined and a decision will be made but many around the NFL believe the oft-injured player’s days as a starter are over.
“It’s really unfortunate because Robert worked extremely hard to put himself in a position to be our quarterback, to be one of the team leaders and it’s just very unfortunate,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said.
Griffin was hurt trying to take on the tackle of rookie cornerback Jalen Mills, instead of the easy route and slipping out of bounds, something Jackson seemed intent of explaining because of the signal caller’s tortured injury history.
“Please let me make it known Robert didn’t get hurt trying to run into a linebacker or (defensive backs) as what happened,” Jackson claimed. “I think it was close to the end of the game when he broke out when I think it happened. I think he broke out and was trying to scramble and get out of bounds and I think (tight end) Gary (Barnidge) was blocking and defending, and the defender was really out of bounds and he was trying to get there and at the last second they pushed him back.”
To some, though, that wasn’t about a coach protecting a player as much as it was a decision-maker trying to defend a specious choice (the reclamation of Griffin over the promise of Wentz) that went sideways quickly.
“As (RG3) turned to go out of bounds and he turned and (Mills) was right there and hit him in the chest,” Jackson said. “So that’s how that happened. It wasn’t because he was trying to take on a defender doing a scramble or anything like it. It was just very unfortunate and these things happen in football and we’ll move forward.”
That’s easy to say for a first-year coach who hasn’t lived through this:
From a big-picture standpoint, the Browns may have been the worst team in football with Griffin so the bottom line isn’t changing all that much just because Josh McCown is under center or even rookie Cody Kessler.
From an emotional standpoint, though, this is a killer because it already puts the new regime of Paul DePodesta, Sashi Brown and Jackson under the microscope, one that will become increasingly high-powered if Wentz continues to excel during his rookie season.
LeBron proved Cleveland deserved nice things for once. Evidently, just not a quarterback.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.