Let’s go back to the 2012 NFL Draft. Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin IIIare going 1 and 2 but there was a lot of conjecture around who would go 1st to Indianapolis or 2nd to Washington. Indy just lost their all time QB in Peyton Manning and were looking for someone to fill his shoes. Do they go with the pocket passer or the elite athlete? They decided on the Stanford product and allow RGIII to go to the Washington Redskins, a team that went 5-11 the season before and had little to look forward to.
All that happened with RGIII as their starting QB was to go 10-6 and win the NFC East for the first time since 1999. Consider that no rookie in NFL history has thrown for 3,200 yards with 20 touchdowns at a 65.6% completion rate. Others had more yards and others had more TD’s, but nobody had that package. Add to that 815 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns and it’s maybe the greatest QB rookie season ever.
After that… you don’t want to know. 3-13 in his sophomore season of 2013 and someone who looked more like an imposter running around in a Washington #10 jersey than the 2012 Offensive NFL Rookie of the Year. Mike Shanahan was out as head coach at the end of the season which spelt apparent doom for Griffin. And waiting in the wings was his fellow 2012 draftee Kirk Cousins. With RGIII’s struggles it seemed as only a matter of time before Cousins would take over as starting QB and send the #2 overall pick to the bench.
New head coach Jay Gruden appeared to have no loyalty to Griffin so had no issue with sending him to the sidelines and going with Cousins. The 2014 NFL season saw Griffin end up with just 7 starts (and a 2-5 record), a combination of injuries and indifferent form made him tough to rely on. Gruden then had a big decision… who to bank on as the franchise quarterback?
Unluckily for Griffin, it wasn’t him. Cousins took over as the starter for the 2015 season and led the Redskins to a division title for the first time since… 2012 and RGIII. How times had changed in the 4 seasons since being drafted. Cousins started a total of 9 games in his first 3 seasons (2-7 record) but exploded in his 4th season with 4,166 yards, 29 TD’s and an NFL best 69.8% completion. Griffin didn’t see action for the entire season and it was only a matter of time before he was done in Washington.
On March 7, 2016 that became official when he was released by the Redskins, at the same time all but securing the future of Kirk Cousins. But not all is lost for Griffin when 17 days later he was signed to a 2 year, $15 million deal by the… Cleveland Browns. They’ve put their own drama behind them (see Manziel, Johnny) and are looking forward with new coach Hue Jackson. Barring another signing or trade they will be going in with Robert Griffin III as their starting quarterback.
As someone who enjoys watching immense talent my fingers are crossed that Griffin can stay healthy and get the support from Jackson and the offense he deserves.