Robert Griffin III Can Nuke the Cleveland Browns QB Graveyard

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Robert Griffin III Can Nuke the Cleveland Browns QB Graveyard
Michael Perez/Associated Press

This is what you will read a lot of over the next 24 hours:

Robert Griffin III just became another crumbled skeleton pile in the Browns' quarterback graveyard.

Cleveland is a place where quarterbacks go to die.

In Cleveland, no one can hear a quarterback scream.

It is remarkable, the number of careers that have cratered there. It's like a bad horror movie. One guy after another has gone into a room where the man with the ski mask and sword is waiting, and no one has come out. Sucker after sucker. Hope after hope. Pass-thrower after pass-thrower. It's the football equivalent of red shirts on Star Trek.

The list since 1999: Couch, Detmer, Wynn, Pederson, Holcomb, McCown, Garcia, Dilfer, Frye, Dorsey, Gradkowski, Anderson, Quinn, Delhomme, Wallace, McCoy, Lewis, Hoyer, Weeden, Campbell, Manziel, Shaw, McCown (a different one) and Davis. If I listed first names, this paragraph would be 4,000 words long. Cleveland has had a league-high 24 starting quarterbacks since 1999. That's not attrition. That's The Hunger Games.

So you will read a lot about that. Here's what else you will read:

Robert Griffin III was a jerk in Washington.

He was. He didn't treat some people well—Kirk Cousins being one of them, I'm told—and he acted like a petulant child enabled by a petulant owner. None of it is untrue or an unfair characterization.

It looks bad, right? An immature quarterback going to a team that crushes all quarterback hopes and dreams like Daredevil versus a ninja.

But what if I said it could work? What if I said it will work?

I think Griffin will nuke that QB graveyard. I think he'll eradicate all of those demons. There are three reasons why.

First, I think Griffin is a changed person.

Matt Rourke/Associated Press

I've heard from people close to him for months now that he's been magnificently self-aware of what a putz he became. I'm told he's changed, and that the change is sincere. I trust the people telling me this. We'll see, but I do tend to believe it.

I'm also not sure any human being who isn't a psychopath could reach the highs he experienced, then tumble to the incredible lows, and not experience some type of serious change. And if he's still a jerk, by chance, Hue Jackson will help him get right.

Second, he's out of Washington.

This is a huge part of the Griffin story. He was allowed to create his own little fiefdom in Washington, and it's no secret that while players in the Washington locker room liked him, others couldn't stand him, and part of the reason was the perceived coddling by owner Dan Snyder.

That's gone now, and Griffin will be a grunt like everyone else. A quarterback grunt but a grunt nonetheless. Jackson will make sure Griffin's big-ass head isn't inflated any more than it should be.

This brings me back to Jackson and the third reason I think Griffin will succeed.

Jackson is, easily, one of the best offensive minds in the game. He is better with quarterbacks than almost anyone in football. This is not to say he's perfect and has had success with every pass-thrower he's ever coached. He hasn't. No one has.

But Jackson was the reason Andy Dalton had maybe his best season ever. He turned Dalton into a complete quarterback, and as a result, the Bengals started 8-0. If Dalton hadn't gotten hurt, the Bengals had a chance at the Super Bowl.

John Minchillo/Associated Press

Before the end of the regular season last year, Bengals veteran Andrew Whitworth spoke of how Jackson elevated the entire team, not just Dalton:

I would say there's a lot of guys around here playing their best. It's from Hue doing that. Week in and week out, as I always say, the greatest thing you can mark out of a coach is consistency. Coaches are consistent in how they teach and how they do things that are always the most successful, even if that drives media people crazy and even if that drives the people around them crazy.

The reality is consistency is the greatest attribute a coach can have. To me, that's what Hue is. Every week it's a challenge. Every week he's pushing us hard. Every week it's not good enough. He continues to push that even when sometimes you are tired of hearing that.

So among those factors, to me, the signing of Griffin is brilliant. That's not a word normally associated with the Browns—and it will cause some to chuckle—but it's accurate. The signing costs them very little in salary and no draft picks, and they can (and probably will) draft another quarterback. There is literally zero risk.

A source close to Griffin says that $6.75 million is all he is guaranteed in the contract. That's chump change in the NFL.

Chad Johnson tweeted in response to the signing:

I don't know about that. But we're going to see a resurgence.

The Cleveland quarterback graveyard will have to be destroyed—no more red shirts will die—and that notorious Browns jersey with all of the quarterback names on it will have to be burned.

We will see a new RG3 and maybe a new day in Cleveland, too.   

 

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at @mikefreemanNFL.

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