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It’s Logical to Assume the Browns will be interested in RG3

January 4, 2012

First of all, I have no idea if Robert Griffin III is the guy to lead the Browns out of their misery. I used to be hard on that bandwagon, but softened a bit after the Alamo Bowl. Not sure why (other than an exceptionally mediocre second half), but that’s not what this post is about.

Some fans seem to question his ability to adapt to the Browns version of the West Coast offense, or whatever it was they put on the field when an offense was supposed to be out there.

Terry Pluto (who I usually like, fwiw) wrote in his Sunday column:

“Robert Griffin III is a playmaker, but exactly how does he fit into the passing offense? Everything he does is out of the shotgun, which is not the favorite formation of the Browns. He is most dangerous running around, rather than taking a quick drop back and zipping a short pass.”

Now, to be certain, Pluto isn’t the only one making this point about the offense he played in. A good number of media types and fans seem to share a similar concern. Even those who like Griffin use this point to illustrate why the Browns won’t show an interest in him.

It’s all unwarranted.

I see no reason to think that the Baylor’s style of a spread offense isn’t one that can be adaptable to the Browns’ WCO. Some bullet points to consider:

  • RG3 orchestrated an offense at Baylor that is the product of its head coach Art Briles.
  • Art Briles was also the head coach at the University of Houston from 2003-2007, and implemented a similar offense – which was run by Kevin Kolb for four years.
  • Kevin Kolb was the second round pick (36th overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007 – which was Tom Heckert’s second draft as GM. The Eagles also run a version WCO.
  • Tom Heckert is now the GM of the Browns, where he supposedly shares the same vision of an offensive philosophy as Mike Holmgren and Pat Shurmur.
  • Similarly, as Typical Cleveland points out, Holmgren loved Sam Bradford – who always played from the shotgun and ran a similar looking spread offense. Oh, and Shurmur was the offensive coordinator of the team that drafted Bradford first overall.

So, Tom Heckert clearly felt that the offense Kevin Kolb ran in college was similar enough to allow him to transition to a WCO. Then why would anyone believe that RG3 ran an offense too distant… when he ran the same offense in college as Kolb? (And ran it so effectively that he was named the nation’s most outstanding college football player?)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: but Kevin Kolb sucks. His play at quarterback this year can most properly be summed up by this:

True. Good point.

But it doesn’t change the fact that Heckert loved him as a prospect and the Eagles organization had a collective boner for Kolb until Mike Vick decided to become fantasy football’s MVP in 2010. If Heckert and the Eagles have any shred of hubris (which I’m sure they do), my guess is they probably feel that any of Kolb’s future shortcomings are due to inept development courtesy of Arizona.

So what is it exactly that makes people think Baylor’s offense is a reason the Browns will be cold on RG3? Because I’m getting lost on that point.

Pluto’s other concern was that “most dangerous running around,” rather than “zipping short passes.”

This was actually similar to one thing I found off-putting about Griffin’s Alamo Bowl: rarely did he make any plays from within the pocket.

But, the more I think about it, the more I’m not sure I care.

By most scouting reports I’ve read, and my own personal observation, RG3 can throw the ball really freaking hard. So, arm strength? Check.

He also completed 72.4% of his passes this season. Accuracy? Check.

Watch any YouTube video of his and look at how many bombs he dropped into someone’s bread basket without them breaking stride. Touch? Check.

Oh, and at one point had 18 TDs to 17 incompletions. Not interceptions. Incompletions.

18 touchdowns. 17 incompletions. What. The. #@$&.

Mind-blowingly cool stat? Check.

To review: The Browns head haunchos have all recently fallen for college prospects as fits to their versions WCO when those prospects came out of systems very similar to the one at Baylor. RG3 ran it as well as anyone in college football history and looks to have all of the physical tools to takes to be a great passer (touch, accuracy, arm strength and efficiency)… to go along with world-class athletic ability.

Now whether he would be the right move or the best move for the Browns is another discussion for another day.

But it’s absolutely logical to assume the Browns will have a keen interest in RG3.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2012 12:46 am

    I think Pluto’s point is that the shotgun/spread thing creates a question mark that’s precisely the same as an important question mark hanging over McCoy when he was coming out.

    After trying to jam a square peg into a round hole with Colt and apparently failing, it’s just a data point that makes it seem less likely they’ll risk winding up in the same situation.

    Also, Holmgren said he liked Bradford. No GM didn’t say that. He was the consensus #1 pick. I don’t think you can read much into that.

    • January 4, 2012 1:14 am

      Pluto may have only meant it as a data point, but I don’t think it’s as conclusive a hammer as many make it out to be. And by “many” I mean people on twitter. I also heard Chris Fedor mention that he didn’t think the Browns would consider RG3 because of the shotgun/spread thing. And I like disagreeing with Fedor.

    • January 4, 2012 1:19 am

      As for the Holmgren/Bradford thing, I agree that it’s not a weird thing for any GM to say they like a consensus #1. But not every GM is rumored to consider trading the farm for the consensus #1. I’m not sure how credible that rumor was, but, you know, where there’s smoke.

      Also, RG3 might not be consensus #1, but is a consensus top 5, then all the more likely Holmgren will “like” (and, therefore, seriously consider) him, no?

      • January 4, 2012 10:02 am

        Where there’s smoke, there’s a “reporter” trying to drive pageviews?

      • January 4, 2012 4:35 pm

        Maybe I’m just naive, but I have a hard time believing that a story could get that much play without having an inkling of a truth.

  2. Finn McGovern permalink
    January 4, 2012 11:00 am

    I appreciate the connecting of the dots, but I think it’s silly to assume a player “could” be drafted based on who their college coach was. The important thing is how their skill set will fit and subsequently translate to the NFL. I would also expect H & H to consider every player or they have failed at what they have been hired to do. And when it comes down to it, I don’t think Kolb is any better than McCoy.

  3. Dan W. permalink
    January 4, 2012 2:00 pm

    I think that RGIII would fit into the WCO as well as any quarterback in the draft. To me, the WCO does not have any qualities that make it any harder to run for talented quarterbacks than any other offensive system or philosophy. The WCO is just a different instrument for getting wide receivers open. What we typically hear about WCO quarterbacks:

    1. They throw the ball accurately.
    2. They’re distributors.
    3. They make good decisions.

    And those three traits *don’t* apply to other talented quarterbacks in the NFL?

    I’m convinced that any talented quarterback could run the WCO in the NFL. As with any offense, success is a property of (1) talented players, and (2) amount of time getting quality coaching in the system.

    Colt McCoy is moderately talented–he could be a top-20 quarterback in the league, if given the opportunity. Moreover, he came in and learned a new offense this year with little time for preparation. He also lost his top two running backs for nearly 20 combined games, and was throwing to a receiving corps that competed with Ohio State’s 2011 receiving corps for one of the worst that I’ve ever.seen.play.football. But I don’t think that Colt McCoy isn’t a fit in the WCO just because he took most of his snaps out of the shotgun in college, or because the WCO is not the system he ran in college. With that kind of thinking, NO young quarterbacks could play the WCO because no one runs a pure WCO in college football.

    RGIII is more talented than Colt McCoy. He has a stronger arm–maybe necessary in the winds of Cleveland Browns Stadium. If he’s less accurate, it’s not by much. He has a bigger, stronger body, and great athleticism. Would he be a fit in the WCO? Well, he’s a good quarterback. So by my logic, yes. There’s absolutely no reason the Browns would avoid him in the draft that has to do with how he would run this specific offensive system.

    Now, Sam, when you write your article on whether the Browns should pursue RGIII, I have another massive comment ready.

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