No pressure, no diamonds: The arrival of RGIII

By Nick Shook, Gabriel Kramer, Wezley Garlick and Austin Moore
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Sometimes, an event in the sporting and cultural world inspires discussion. And sometimes, the Sports With Shook crew can’t get behind the mic together, but still has plenty to say. In lieu of podcasts, we take to the inbox and keyboard to discuss the latest happenings.

Nick Shook: You’re the eternal optimist, right? Or, at least you are with the Browns. So while I might already know the answer, I must ask — when you learned the Browns were signing RGIII (for real), did you feel like this:

Or…like this?

Gabriel Kramer: I’m feeling somewhere in-between. I’m definitely not “88-yard-touchdown pass” excited. But I’m not “torn ligament” disappointed.

New quarterbacks are easy to get excited about. Any new quarterback. Simply because it’s something new when things are getting old. It is a little exciting just because it’s a fresh move. But… I have to admit, Griffin does add an extra dash of excitement.

But just a dash.

He led a team to the playoffs. He was an offensive rookie of the year. And despite his more recent struggles, he is a big name.

Those recent struggles probably come quicker to mind than the early career success. He lost the starting job. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns in 2014 (starting seven games). And he cannot seem to stay healthy.

Now… my initial reaction to the (for real) signing…

Eh. OK.

When you’re aiming for bullseye on a dart board, you aim and focus and take your time with the throw. But if you’re a bad dartist (don’t look that up), you’ll miss and miss and miss and eventually you’ll just start whipping darts at the board hoping one hits the center.

That’s how I feel about the Browns bringing in quarterbacks. At some point they need to find one by any means necessary. Without even considering how good or bad this could turn out for the Browns, the reaction is simple. Why not?

NS: So we characterize this as a blind throw, or a calculated throw? I don’t think Griffin is a bullseye. He hasn’t been since the Redskins gave up the farm, the house and any future offspring for him. And look at how that turned out?

But you’re right — it’s better than nothing. The one problem I have, though, is timing.

They just let Alex Mack AND Mitchell Schwartz go. Anyone who knows me, has listened to Sports With Shook or paid any remote attention to my Twitter account knows I don’t think highly of Schwartz.

I once spent a film session just watching him, and couldn’t even make it through a full game (Week 1 of 2015) before turning off the footage in disgust. I mean, look at this.

That’s Schwartz, a backside tackle on a zone stretch play, turned around. He might as well have shouted “look out!” once he realized he was completely lost on the field.

Schwartz spent his first three seasons laboring as a replacement-level tackle. It didn’t go unnoticed. The phrase “on skates” comes to mind. In fact…

We got roller and ice skates from the Twitter experts.

So we as avid followers of NFL football and especially the Browns were well educated on the ineptitude of Mitchell Schwartz. Then 2015 came along, he had a decent year — one I haven’t yet verified because I haven’t yet been able to stomach watching 16 weeks worth of 60 minutes of frustration — and suddenly he’s a hot ticket on the market. Free agency opens, the Browns pull an offer off the table (even though Schwartz reportedly wanted to return) and he’s off to Kansas City on a fat contract. Not a single tear was shed on my part, but it would be remiss to overlook the fact the Browns still have two huge holes on the line.

And don’t forget the lack of professional-level talent in the receiving corps. Big Play Gary Barnidge still isn’t striking fear into the hearts of anyone, even if he’s shown he’s rather adept at making catches with his thighs, which will forever be worth Gamebreaker points to me in a real-life NFL Street game.

So why sign a quarterback who has such a lengthy injury history?

I get it, Josh McCown isn’t selling any tickets. But in an offseason in which the team is likely to draft its latest quarterback of the future, why bring in someone who is 26, should be entering the prime of his career and is one over whom the staff reportedly swooned?

It doesn’t make sense. But then again, it is the Browns, so it comes as no surprise.

I’m already preparing my ears for the “Carson, Carson (Wentz)” chants in Week 2, when Griffin throws his second interception of the half. Just please,please don’t cheer when he’s carted off the field with a gruesome injury. Tim Couch was enough.

GK: Would the timing have been better if it was another guy?

A healthier guy?

I don’t think health should keep the Browns from taking a low-risk chance.

It’s obvious on paper that the Browns offensive line is worse now than it was last season. And the receiving corps isn’t different than it was last season. We could give the team the benefit of the doubt and say they will address those needs in the draft, but there’s only so much a new class of rookies can do — especially if they keep drafting they way they have been drafting.

Should the Browns refrain from bringing in quarterbacks because they don’t have enough talent around the quarterback? They’ve struggled for years to find QB1, but they’ve also struggled to find talent around any potential QB1s.

Maybe the Browns have been so bad for so long because they can’t find the right quarterback. Maybe if you find the quarterback, the rest will will follow.

NS:I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bringing in any talent, at any position. I just think they’re setting him up to get killed.

Of course, there’s an example of that already, in what Washington did with him in the 2015 preseason. He was crushed, repeatedly, by the Browns and Lions defenses before he suffered a concussion — then didn’t — then actually did and never saw the field again. It was like Jay Gruden and staff put out a hit on the starting quarterback, and succeeded.

There is, however, another point about which to be excited. Did you see his hair?

Look at those braids. That’s a fresh braid. It’s like a new Robert!

For perspective on this, we bring in braid aficionado Austin Moore and noted Redskins fan (and former Bob Griffin campaign supporter) Wezley Garlick. Fellas, what do you think?

Wezley Garlick: Those new braids spell success for this coming season. I have long said that if and when Rob ditches those weird braid-dread things he adorned, that he would become a very solid quarterback.

I believe that this change of scenery could be good for Rob. I think he still has the skills to become a very good QB in this league. But from a team standpoint, he needs what every good QB needs: a good line, good running attack and reliable wide receivers. I don’t follow y’all Browns closely, but from what I can tell, y’all are lacking in a few of those departments. So draft Zeke Elliott and try to find some WRs to help him out.

On a Rob standpoint, I hope the year off gave him time to watch film of himself from the 2013 and 2014 seasons. He has to make quicker decisions and needs to learn to go through the progression quicker. It’s not great that we’re asking this from a somewhat veteran QB but it is what it is.

Hue should be a good coach to help Rob develop further, but he needs talent around him to truly succeed. I’m glad to be able to commiserate with Browns fans all over now that we share Rob as our QB.

In Rob, We All Trust!

Austin Moore: Cleveland is not exactly the QB Lazarus Pit, where deceased QBs reclaim their former glory (see: Trent Dilfer, Jake Delhomme, Jeff Garcia). However, this an excellent low-risk option for the new regime.

Hue Jackson is essentially a QB guru, and if he can’t squeeze some quality play out of Bobby G then no one can. The Browns indeed lack weapons, and proven protectors on the offensive line. But the Browns provide Robert with an invaluable opportunity that he has not experienced in quite some time, one with ZERO pressure.

We are not expecting RG3 to revitalize the program and win the Heisman Trophy. We are not placing the hopes and dreams of the entire city on his back. He’s essentially a stopgap with high potential, one that can bring some energy and electricity while we begin the arduous process of reversing 50 years frustration. He is frail, he is downtrodden, but somewhere under those freshly-platted braids lies the talent of a champion.

For once, the Browns cannot lose. If he’s injured, or truly a shell of his former self, then we move on and press forward. If he is even moderately successful, then we have an opportunity to facilitate the resurgence of one of this generation’s great talents, while simultaneously grooming The Next Big Thing (as long as it’s not Jared Goff).

Welcome to Cleveland, Robert Griffin, where expectations are low but hopes are high. We shall bond through our shared history of mediocrity, and claim the cellar of the NFL as our bounty!

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