Browns must make Robert Griffin III earn playing time

Here’s something that we haven’t heard much in a long time: The Cleveland Browns are making the right decision. While Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network had previously said that Robert Griffin III is the team’s presumptive starting quarterback, his colleague Albert Breer is reporting the opposite is true.

This isn’t simply the right move for the Browns to make, it’s the only sensible move.

Before we go any further, we’ll start by saying the decision to sign Griffin was a good one. He’s a fairly low-risk option who’s done enough in the NFL to make his new team think he can yield a big reward. There is a chance that Griffin can reignite the spark that he had in 2012 when he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year and led the Washington Redskins to an NFC East championship.

The guy is only 26. Even when we consider his injury history, it’s hard to imagine that his skills are in any way diminished at this point.

The problem is that since 2012, Griffin has clearly regressed. In 2013 and 2014, RG3 was a combined 5-15 as a starter, throwing for 4,897 yards, 20 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, and had a mediocre 83.7 passer rating. He also rushed for only one touchdown. All of those numbers are well below his 2012 totals.

Griffin may well be good enough to be his team’s starting quarterback come Week 1 of the 2016 season. He’s not good enough to be declared the starting quarterback in March.

The Browns must draft someone whom they see as the quarterback of the future. This doesn’t necessarily need to be in the first round, though the pickings are awfully slim this year outside the top passers.

If the scouts, front office, and Hue Jackson believe that a long-term quarterback option will be available after the first round, then there’s no problem in waiting. Actually, given the salary-cap structure and how much an early first-round quarterback would cost, they’d be well advised to wait if they see a potential franchise quarterback in the later rounds.

When a rookie quarterback is drafted is not important. What’s important is that the Browns do draft someone to compete with Robert Griffin III for the job.

The path to RG3 being Cleveland’s starting quarterback needs to include him outperforming a legitimate competitor for the quarterback position. There’s no issue with him starting should he win the battle, but he’s not good enough to skip that step.

The next step for the Browns will be to find the person to compete for the starting quarterback position. If they do that, then Cleveland will be taking a step in the right direction, no matter who their Week 1 starting quarterback is.