Here's Why the Jets Should Take a Chance on Robert Griffin III


Let’s start here: Why did Robert Griffin III fail so spectacularly these last three years in Washington after such a tremendous rookie year?

1) Injuries. His penchant for running was never going to be conducive in the NFL. It works for Russell Wilson (for now) because he knows how to take hits. That’s a foreign concept to RGIII. He never recovered from that injury in the Seattle playoff loss in January 2013. The franchise really hasn’t, either. He did this for three years: 3rd and 10, you’re nowhere near the first down and up 14-3 late in the half, yet you’re running through a thicket of defenders and end up taking a shot to the head.

2) He became the teacher’s pet before school even started. Napoleonic Daniel Snyder orchestrated a silly trade to move up and draft the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor. RGIII instantly became tight with Snyder, and when the QB struggled, he blamed his coach. This led to Snyder firing Mike Shananhan. That move just fed to the ego of RGIII.

3) The coaching change. Inexplicably, the Redskins hired a coach who preferred a pocket passer. RGIII is more than capable from the pocket, but he still loves to tuck and run rather than process the reads and make the pass. It didn’t help that his offensive line was a disaster.

[Aside: I can watch this on a loop (this too), and I’m not even a Redskins fan.]

It’s crystal clear now that the Redskins have to part ways with RGIII. Unfortunately, because of a terrible decision earlier this year – to pick up his 2016 extension – the team is in an unbelievably bad spot: Whoever trades for RGIII could be on the hook for his $16.1 million salary. I say could because it’s not that black and white.

That salary is only guaranteed if he can’t play in 2016 due to injury. I can’t seem to find in the Collective Bargaining Agreement what the deadline is to determine that, but some injuries that might preclude one from playing the next year include an ACL, Achilles, a concussion or a spinal injury according to Joel Corry, a former NFL agent.

According to Corry, if RGIII were to break a wrist (or suffer an ankle injury like this one) in week 17, he’d still be healthy enough to play the next season, and if Washington cut him before the start of the 2016 league year – the 1st day of the 2015 league year was March 10th – then they wouldn’t be on the hook for the $16 million because he’d be healthy enough to play.

At the risk of further hypotheticals: Robert Griffin III is traded to the Jets, he is outstanding, but in the playoffs suffers an Achilles injury. They’ll be on the hook for his 2016 salary because of the aforementioned extension.

That sounds bad, but if he’s the QB and they got to the playoffs, it’s pretty clear the move was a wise one. Now if RGIII suffers a spinal injury in Week 3 as the starter … well, that’d be an ugly gamble for the Jets to have lost.

But you’re the Jets. This is totally a risk you can afford to make. The Jets haven’t been to the playoffs since losing the 2011 AFC Championship game to the Steelers. They’ve got a new GM and a new head coach. Inheriting a bad team from a bad GM, they have a few years to “figure it out.”

They’ve acquired some quality players at valuable positions – Brandon Marshall and Darrelle Revis were major offseason victories – but without question the biggest hole is at QB. The argument could be made that with a QB, the Jets (who have better skill position players and a better offensive line than the Redskins) are in the mix for a wild card spot with Miami, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Kansas City, and Houston.

The Jets starting QB got his jaw broken in the locker room by one of his teammates. The backup is journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. They drafted Bryce Petty out of Baylor but he’s a couple years away. They’re so desperate at the position, the Jets just signed Matt Flynn (50 passes thrown in the last two years) and Josh Johnson (last threw an NFL pass in 2011).

Pessimist: There’s potential for disaster in that Jets locker room!
Optimist: It happened in Washington because RGIII was coddled by Dan Snyder. No way Woody Johnson is doing that. RGIII goes in there not as the #2 pick and franchise savior, but a guy who has to work to prove he’s not a flash in the pan.

Optimist: Ryan Fitzpatrick can be a game manager, the Jets can ground-and-pound and ride that defense to 9 wins!
Realist: Given Fitzpatrick’s history, that might work for a few games, but when he bombs, you’re left with vomit-worthy Geno Smith. And worse-yet, you have no QB for next year, and you’re not going to be drafting in the Top 5 to get Christian Hackenberg and who knows if you’ll be able to get Connor Cook.

Pessimist: RGIII needs to essentially sit out a year as a backup, get completely healthy, learn how to slide, and that can’t happen in New York because he’ll be forced to play.
Optimist: He does need to get healthy. And they need him to play, here’s why – Marshall turns 32 next March. Revis just turned 30. Who knows what will happen with Muhammad Wilkerson’s contract situation this offseason (and that of Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Antonio Cromartie). Your top two backs – Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell are free agents, too. Point being: Take a chance on RGIII. If works and you sneak into the playoffs, genius!

It fails? Well, we’re rebuilding anyway. We tried a mini-shortcut, it didn’t work, don’t worry, there’s always a Plan B.