WASHINGTON — And that was just the first drive.
Appearing in his first NFL game of any kind since the disastrous preseason meltdown against the Detroit Lions that eventually paved his way out of Washington, Robert Griffin III continued to show why, good or bad, he is must-watch football.
Suiting up for the first time for the Cleveland Browns, his first drive started inside the team’s 20-yard line after a Green Bay Packers’ punt.
On his first play from scrimmage, Griffin III lined up in the shotgun and slung it to fellow college quarterback sensation, Terrelle Pryor, now playing receiver for the Browns, for 49 yards down the sideline.
This is everything you want in an NFL quarterback: good footwork, pocket awareness, the right read, deep and accurate throw where only his guy could reach it. No gadgetry, no gimmicks, just good football.
The collective groan from Redskins fans didn’t last long, however, as he fumbled the ensuing snap. He recovered the fumble and was dropped for a three-yard loss.
Griffin III turned to tight end Gary Barnidge on the next play, picking up seven yards for a third-and-manageable situation.
On the fourth play of the drive, Griffin III again showed confidence in Pryor, finding the lanky receiver for an eight-yard gain, converting the first down, down to the Packers 19-yard line.
After a failed running play, Griffin III was back in the driver’s seat, looking to put points on the board. Never fully planting his feet in the pocket, Griffin III winged it into double coverage over the middle:
Emotional rollercoaster, thy name is Robert.
After just two weeks of training camp, Browns head coach Hue Jackson named Griffin III his starting quarterback, before seeing him lead the offense in live action.
“It’s time. Robert has earned the right to be named the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns,” Jackson told the media. “Since he was signed back in March, Robert has made it clear through his actions that he is willing to do everything that has been asked of him to earn this role.”
He beat out incumbent starter Josh McCown in what Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland called “the most anticlimactic quarterback competition in Browns history.”
Barring a change of heart or injury, Griffin III is slated to become the 14th different Week 1 starting quarterback for the Browns since the franchise returned in 1999. He will be the team’s 25th total starting quarterback over that span.
After being released from the Washington Redskins this offseason, before his option year contract vested, Griffin III signed with the Browns on March 24 for two years, $15 million.