Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Berea shock


In a shocker, Browns coach Hue Jackson named Robert Griffin III his starting quarterback Monday.

Stunning, no?

Who would have guessed The Third would beat out Josh McCown, Austin Davis and rookie Cody Kessler for the privilege of running the Cleveland offense this season?

Hold on a minute. Recalibrating my sarcasm meter. There . . . much better.

The move is a shocker only in that the new Cleveland coach waited so long to make his pronouncement. And he did so in a club release, not a news conference.

Foregone conclusions aside, why did it take him so long? Did McCown, Davis or Kessler really have a chance? Rhetorical question. Of course they didn’t.

There was absolutely no doubt the former Washington Redskins quarterback was in seal brown and orange for only one reason: To resurrect a career that started off brilliantly before derailing ingloriously.

“It’s time,” said Jackson, who added that “Robert has earned the right to be named starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.”

Citing The Third’s growing confidence and daily improvement throughout the offseason and training camp process, Jackson branded his new quarterback “ready to handle this role.”

It sorta, kinda justifies the club signing him to two-year, $15 million contract in March as a free agent shortly after the Redskins cut him. Then again, not winning the job would have been much more of a shock.

What this does is embolden The Third to step right up and become a leader, although he is still a relative stranger to the offensive scheme and many of the players who execute it.

The big question is how much The Third will play during the exhibition season. It’s not as though he is a veteran with the club, knows what it wants to do offensively and just glides through the exhibition season.

No, he needs to be ready in every conceivable fashion for the season opener Sept. 11 in Philadelphia. He needs as many reps in the exhibition games as he can get

Offense is all about precision and timing. The Third has been charged with directing a completely different kind of offense than he led in Washington. The more reps, the better. He needs them for that offense to be at least semi-sharp against the Eagles, especially in his timing with his wide receivers.

Under normal circumstances, the starting quarterback plays one or two series in the exhibition opener, a half and maybe one series into the third quarter of the second meaningless game and the entire game (the so-called dress rehearsal) in game three. Game four is spent watching the other quarterbacks play.

Jackson cannot allow his new quarterback that luxury if he expects any degree of precision against the Eagles. So it will be interesting to see how he parcels out the reps in the exhibitions.

The Third becomes the 25th starting quarterback for the Browns since the resurrection in 1999, an astounding statistical fact that has handcuffed this franchise for way too long.

That said, what are the odds No. 26 rolls into Cleveland within the next two years? The answer to that question lies in the performance by No. 25 this season.

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