Well that was a fun experiment wasn’t it, Cleveland Browns fans?
After just one regular season game as the Browns’ starting quarterback, Robert Griffin III is on Injured Reserve after breaking the coracoid bone in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. He won’t need surgery, but it will be 3-4 weeks before he is re-evaluated and must miss a minimum of eight games.
Griffin has an extensive injury history and has found himself labeled as a player who is easily hurt. Aware of that, the Browns stressed this offseason that he protect himself in games and not take unnecessary hits. Unfortunately, Griffin was injured on just such a hit, getting blasted by Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills as he belatedly ran out of bounds.
Asked why he didn’t get out of bounds sooner or simply slide, Griffin told reporters: “that play kind of happened, and you just have to move on from it. … I feel like I did a decent job of protecting myself recently and wanted to continue that. But in the heat of the moment it kind of just surprised me.”
As a fourth-year quarterback, Griffin should not be surprised by any defender looking for a chance to light him up on the football field. That’s what they do. The rest of us, in turn, should not be surprised that Griffin is hurt and it is now fair to wonder if his career with the Browns – or anyone else — will continue.
Griffin joined the Browns on a two-year, $15 million deal this offseason. Including his base salary, remainder of his signing bonus and a roster bonus as well, Griffin would cost the Browns more than $9 million against the cap next season. Or they could just cut him in the offseason and be on the hook for $1.75 million.
Given those numbers, it’s hard to imagine him being back in 2017.
Cleveland viewed Griffin as a worthy gamble to hold down the fort for a couple of years until rookie Cody Kessler – or anybody else they could find – would be ready to take the reins. The team also felt that under coach Hue Jackson, who is noted for his productive work with quarterbacks, perhaps Griffin would blossom into the player most observers thought he could become.
Unfortunately, Griffin can’t blossom into anything if he is on the injured reserve, but due to a combination of dumb luck and his own carelessness, that’s where he finds himself. And to be honest, he wasn’t looking that good even before the injury and completed just 12 of his 26 passes for 190 yards, no touchdowns and an interception on the day. He also lost a fumble.
“This is a tough loss because everyone has seen how invested he has been in this team and his dedication to the work needed to improve his craft,” Jackson said in a team statement. “We all know these are the realities of the NFL, injuries occur and you have to find ways to overcome them so they don’t impede your progress.”
Jackson was talking about the Browns as a whole, but he may as well have been talking to Griffin. The once-heralded quarterback has seen more than his share of injuries that have impeded his progress. Now, it’s fair to ask if this one will end up being one to end his career altogether.