By Nick Shook
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Robert Griffin III‘s first pass as a Cleveland Brown took the top off the defense and had wide receiverTerrelle Pryor diving to make the grab. It was the highlight of his night.
The majority of Griffin’s debut occurred under duress, and as is true for any passer, it’s not going to be all that pretty when you’re frequently running for your life. But to head coach Hue Jackson, it wasn’t too bad.
“There were some things that he did good,” Jackson said on a conference call Saturday, via Cleveland.com. “Obviously we can’t have a fumbled snap the second play of the game and you never want to see the turnover. But I thought he stood in the pocket and looked real relaxed, kept his poise and tried to make some throws downfield. Obviously the first play was a great way to start, and that’s something to build on. But I thought for a guy that hadn’t played in a while, I thought there were some positives there.”
The game was Griffin’s first live action since August 2015, when he last suited up for the Washington Redskins and was pummeled into irrelevance by Detroit Lionsdefenders. Unfortunately for Griffin, it seems like he’s always taking hits. But as Jackson said, Griffin stood in the pocket and made multiple quick throws to continue the Browns‘ opening drive, which ended on an interception by safety Micah Hyde on Green Bay’s 1-yard line.
That drive also included Griffin standing (with linebacker Nick Perry bearing down on him) and firing a dart to Pryor to move the chains on third down, a pass that had the wideout praising his quarterback after the 17-11 loss.
“That’s a sign of maturity on his part,” Pryor said. “It’s the mark of a great quarterback to be able to deliver the ball while getting hit. The ball was right where it had to be.”
Griffin’s second drive took onlookers back to the Browns‘ offensive dysfunction of days past, throwing three straight incompletions before Andy Lee was called on to punt. The game did offer a silver lining: As Gregg Rosenthal wrote Friday and in a tangible example of the value of Jackson’s wisdom, the uneven performance won’t rattle Griffin going forward, because his coach has already solidified him as the starter.
There’s plenty of work left for Cleveland’s offense. But as Jackson said, it’s a start.