Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi
Extra Points …
RG3 on their minds: On two occasions on Thursday Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron stated that he fully expects to be defending against Robert Griffin III when the Redskins take the field on Sunday.
The Redskins listed their rookie sensation quarterback as limited for the second day in a row, but he did practice. It is no secret that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan will make no announcement on Griffin’s status prior to the Redskins’ first offensive snap on Sunday.
The Browns seem to feel that it’s better to prepare fully for RG3 and be surprised if he doesn’t play than to waste time and energy preparing too much for rookie backup Kirk Cousins.
“I would think whoever’s in at quarterback would still run some of the RG3 stuff, the read-option (plays). But we’re preparing for RG3 to be out there,” Jauron said.
The challenge in defending Griffin, as Jauron sees it, is his foot speed, reputed to be in the 4.3 range in the 40-yard dash.
“Every week in our league we’re playing gifted athletes. He just happens to be significantly more gifted than most,” Jauron said. “We have to try to play as fast as we possibly can. Otherwise, you don’t have any chance at all.”
The foot speed is what sets Griffin apart from other dual-threat quarterbacks, such as Randall Cunningham and John Elway from a different era, and Cam Newton of today’s NFL.
Merely assigning a defender to “spy” on Griffin, to keep his eyes on the quarterback if he sets off on foot, is not enough.
“Yes, you’d like to have a lot of eyes on him,” Jauron said. “But no matter how many eyes you have on him, you have to have eyes and bodies that can catch him. That’s a hard thing to do because there aren’t a lot of people that move like that.”
Mortgaging the future or securing the present?: I had a few minutes on the phone Thursday afternoon with Bruce Allen, general manager of the Redskins, to ask about the mega-trade he pulled off to acquire Griffin.
Allen would not discuss anything about the Browns, who competed with him in the trade talks with the St. Louis Rams. But Allen did discuss his philosophy in giving up first-round picks in 2013 and 2014 and a second-round pick in 2012 in the deal.
“Obviously, we had been struggling at the position and we felt extremely confident (with Griffin),” Allen said. “One, we knew the person we were getting and the there was no doubt about his athletic talent. At the end of the day, it was about a grade on a player. We had as beautiful a grade as you can have on that athlete. We knew the talent and we were really comfortable with the person, a 10.
“Whether people, defensive coaches, want to admit it or not, this is a quarterback-driven league. The rules of the game are made for the quarterbacks. Yes, we gave up two future firsts for him, but we felt comfortable then and obviously now. You can’t tell me who those firsts will be. But I can tell you our quarterback will be Robert Griffin.”
The Rams set a deadline for the trade of before the start of free agency. By securing the No. 2 pick, Allen said, he was able to be aggressive in pursuing free agent receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan – both of whom were also targeted by the Browns.
After giving up the store for Griffin, the Redskins received some criticism for then using a fourth-round pick on Cousins.
“No. 1, we did a good job of following our draft board the past few years and he was the highest rated player when our pick came up,” Allen said. “But the same thing applies -- it’s a quarterback-driven league.
“We had a good discussion about this before the draft, Mike (Shanahan) liked the idea of having two young guys grow up together, where they’re learning together, hearing the first installation together. He had Elway and (Gary) Kubiak together.”
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.com
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