With the regular season finale looming against division foe Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1-14 Cleveland Browns have already started to look ahead to 2017. While they want to finish out 2016 strong and beat the Steelers away from home, it’s hard for them not to think about the future.
One of the biggest questions head coach Hue Jackson, the coaching staff, and the front office will have this off-season—outside of the draft—will be if quarterback Robert Griffin III will be back in brown and orange in 2017. If he is back, will he be the starting quarterback?
According to ESPN 850 WKNR’s Tony Grossi, RG3 could be back on the shores of Lake Erie in 2017 (and beyond), as Jackson stated on Wednesday.
“We have seen him get better from the first opportunity to the second to the third. Hopefully, he can keep making jumps as you go because that says a lot to me. I would like to if we could, but if we can’t, I understand that, too.”
Ever since his incredible rookie season in 2012 in which he set plenty of first-year records, Griffin has missed plenty of time due to injuries. This season alone, after being named the starting quarterback prior to the season, the 26-year-old fractured his shoulder in the season opener and didn’t return until Week 14. Then, in Week 16, he suffered a concussion, forcing rookie Cody Kessler to finish the win. With him cleared from the protocol and starts Sunday’s finale, Jackson wants to evaluate him even more. Earlier in December, the head coach stated that Griffin could possibly be his franchise quarterback but just needs more time to see and that appears to be the case.
“Yeah, once I am able to go back and sit down when this is over and look back through it in a different lens of just watching our guys play, I think I will be able to make that determination. But if he is [able to play], I would like to see him play a little more and continue to see if he can grow and get better.”
In four games so far this season, RG3 had completed 58-of-107 passes for 654 yards and two interceptions, along with 26 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns. One of the biggest problems with RG3 is that in four games so far this season, he doesn’t have a single passing touchdown. Nonetheless, not only does Griffin have the support of his head coach, but also All-Pro and Future Hall of Fame left tackle, Joe Thomas.
“I do [think he can still be a franchise quarterback]. I think we have a limited amount of film on him so far, but I think the things we have seen in meeting rooms and on the practice field and some games, you have seen franchise-level talent. I would not write him off by any stretch of the imagination. I would not be surprised at all if he was our guy at the beginning of next season because I think he has shown enough that if they do decide to make Robert the guy, I think he could definitely be the guy and will have the support of the locker room.”
With two potential top-10 picks in the upcoming draft, having RG3 be the franchise quarterback seems like a long shot given how this season unfolded, but Jackson and company are opening every possible door they can this season and seeing exactly what they have heading into 2017. Who can blame them, right? With no clear-cut No. 1 quarterback in the upcoming draft, the Browns could decide to stay with Griffin in 2017 solely because they want continuity for once during the off-season.