Robert Griffin III’s assent to the starting job in Cleveland was of little surprise.
Anyone who watched practice saw Griffin get the vast majority of first team snaps over 14-year veteran Josh McCown in team 11-on-11 drills leaving may to question if it was even a competition. And if so, why bother?
Head coach Hue Jackson answered that question multiple times during camp but he once again addressed the disparity in snaps between Griffin and McCown Thursday night on ‘The Hue Jackson Show’ which airs on the PNC Bank Cleveland Browns Radio Network, including 92.3 The Fan.
“I know everybody thought that in order for it to be a competition he has to take the same amount of reps as the other guy,” Jackson said. “I don’t think that’s the case because we are talking about a guy that does have a lot of skins on the wall.”
As it turns out, Griffin can thank McCown for the extra work over the last week and a half according to Jackson.
“He was the guy that came to me and said, ‘Hey coach, make sure this guy gets all the reps he needs to be the best he can be. You know who I am,’” Jackson said. “Obviously he would love to have the job too, but I think he understands his role.”
Jackson made Griffin the 25th different starting quarterback – and the 14th week 1 starter – since 1999 on Monday completing the quickest and least controversial quarterback competition for the franchise in decades.
McCown’s selfless, team-first attitude helped.
“I’ve been in the league almost 10 years longer than Robert, so the evaluation process for he and I are different,” McCown said Monday. “They kind of know what type of player I am and so on, but it’s relatively new for Rob and learning the system and all of that stuff, I think the reps were necessary. Not in way, shape, do I think that it was unfair. It was exactly how it needed to be for them to fairly evaluate things and I trust their judgement, I trust their evaluation.”
Last week the Dallas Cowboys inquired about McCown’s availability with Griffin in the driver’s seat to win the job but the talks did not get serious. McCown’s preference is to remain in Cleveland with the Browns and keep doing what he is which is why he didn’t allow the barrages of calls and texts last week from his family in Texas distract him.
“If that happens, it happens,” McCown said, “but my focus is here and doing everything I can to help this team. I’m having a blast at this camp. It’s been one of my more fun camps so far, just being around these guys and I look forward to hopefully that continuing.”
From the moment Griffin signed in March he became Jackson’s project to not only improve him as a player but to elevate the quarterback position which has been a revolving door since the team came back.
“My job is to create the environment along with coach [Pep] Hamilton, and then Robert has to do the work,” Jackson said. “He understands that in the National Football League he can’t just take off and run all the time, that you do have to play from the pocket and be able to make plays from the pocket and I think he’s really grown that way.”
Griffin will make his preseason debut Friday night at Green Bay but for how long has yet to be decided.
“We’re going to play our guys,” Jackson said. “We’re going to give them a chance to get wet a little bit on the football field but we also have to take some of these guys off so we can evaluate the rest of our football team.”