by Anthony Lima
Listen to Anthony on The Ken Carman Show with Anthony Lima, weekdays from 6 am-10 am
In a couple of days the NFL world will tell you that the first three quarters of a the third preseason game is as close to real football as you can get. You’ll hear buzzwords like “dress rehearsal” all week from fans who are clamoring to see what players like Justin Gilbert would actually look like in a real NFL football game, if actually tasked to do things like actual NFL football players (including, but not limited to tackling, defending, and not sleeping through meetings). FOOTBALL IS BACK, so much so that fans will be willing to subject themselves to the same delusions they have grown accustomed to over the years — we’ll forget that we might have uttered phrases like “Brandon Weeden is fitting the ball through windows we never thought possible.”
So what have we learned through the first two games? The Browns offense looks like it actually might have some life to it. Through his play, Robert Griffin III has actually taken the defibrillators to fans hopes, and done his best to end speculation — fueled by some idiot radio host in Cleveland — about a rumored “Browns Vacation.” He has actually looked extremely solid in limited play thus far, looking composed under center and in the shotgun, refusing to take off at first blush, and throwing the deep ball with relative ease and accuracy. The only negative has been an interception that the WEWS broadcast team is determined to pin on Big Play Gary Barnidge (later blaming him for the Browns move, PSL’s and G.E. Smith.
These early successes have led Browns fans to wonder where this reputation as a “polarizing” player ever came from in the first place. Beat writers around the team have reported nothing but positives about his demeanor and work ethic, while players and coaches beat RG3’s own self-proclaimed 4.3 40 time in rushing over to compliment him. He even pulled off the savvy veteran move of drawing the defense off-sides for a first down, something I had previously thought was only possible by QBs opposing the Browns. Training camp has come and gone and the reclamation project has looked more like smooth transition that would make Caitlyn Jenner jealous.
But will it last?
It must be noted that the training wheels have been on so far for RG3 this preseason, with Hue Jackson providing the cushion for any potential falls. In last weekend’s game against the Falcons, Griffin has very little in the way advanced reads. Both touchdown throws looked like simple designed plays with one target in sight. We even got to see him run a couple of times, a pair of first downs to keep drives alive, with his head coach admitting afterward that the plays were designed runs. He is going up against the most vanilla of defenses so far and has avoided taking too many of the big hits that had Redskins fans clutching their politically-incorrect merchandise to cover their eyes.
The Hue Jackson/RG3 marriage has been considered a low-risk high-reward move from day one by most Browns fans. I disagree. If Hue Jackson really is the miracle worker that some feel he is, then this experiment has to work. If it doesn’t, fans will be left to wonder whether Hue really knows what he’s looking for at the most important position in all of sports — and they won’t exactly be soothed by Hue’s other hand-selected protégé.
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