If we’re being perfectly blunt, and perfectly honest, then we will have to acknowledge that it has been a while since the Cleveland Browns were not a near-perennial laughing stock. Whether it is through questionable personnel decisions, poor drafting, undisciplined actions on the field that cost games, or simply a general dearth of quality talent, the elder Ohio team, and its fans in particular, have had it hard for a good, long while.
And I don’t know that the new regime of Hue Jackson as head coach and Robert Griffin III as quarterback will be part of the solution to rectifying that. Certainly, the odds are very much stacked against them, and the chances of internal sabotage from an organization that has demonstrated a quick trigger finger in response to failure are high.
But at the very least, it would seem that the front office has been able to compile between them two individuals who sound like they have their head in the right place. Jackson in particular is an individual whose crowning as a head coach has been viewed as inevitable for a few years now. Many are they who believe that he can succeed in leading a team.
From appearances, one would assume that it will be Griffin, the Redskins’ second-overall draft pick in 2012, for whom they paid a king’s ransom, that will get the first crack at being Jackson’s quarterback and turning things around.
I do not know what sort of football player Griffin will be one the field. Indeed, it is rather hard to say, especially considering that he was benched last season in favor of Kirk Cousins, so it has been a while since we have even seen the previously electrifying talent on the football field in a meaningful moment.
But I think it would be hard to have listened to his press conference yesterday and not come away at least somewhat impressed by where he is from a mental point of view, embracing his history and understanding that he has the opportunity to harvest that experience as a resource from which to grow and improve as a person and an athlete.
From an earlier time in the 26-year-old’s life where he may have been caught in a few moments spurred on by emotion of poorly-worded comments or ill-advised behaviors, we now see a man who describes himself as “experienced” rather than humbled, because “if you say you are humble, then you are not humble”. And experience has taught him where he has failed before.
“After a loss, you can’t be emotional and say things that are meant to be behind closed doors or that might be taken the wrong way”, he said during his press conference. “I understand that now and I don’t hold that against anybody else. I just know what I have to do as a player and as a leader of this team and I am going to do that”.
Of course, words are just words, and humility and experience won’t throw a football 40 yards down the field on a dime. Again, I don’t know what sort of football player Griffin will be able to be for the Browns, and for Jackson, whom he singled out as a motivation for coming to Cleveland. But I do like what I have heard so far.