Four years ago, when quarterback Robert Griffin III took the league by storm as a rookie in Washington, a couple of teams in the AFC North brought down on him a specific brand of thunder, with the Steelers specifically choosing to hit him early and often and with the Ravens eventually giving Griffin (not intentionally) the knee injury that later became a torn ACL (if the ACL wasn’t the moment it happened).
Now a member of an AFC North team, Griffin will see the Steelers and Ravens twice this year, along with the Bengals. It therefore becomes more important than ever for Griffin to protect himself. So how will he do it?
“Well, I think we have to protect him,” coach Hue Jackson told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN. “That’s part of his teammates, you know, he’s not by himself. He’ll be out there with ten other Browns, and we truly understand that part of our success is keeping our quarterback clean and keeping him standing.”
Still, there will be times when Griffin needs to slide or to throw the ball away. How has the process of teaching him better habits in this regard gone?
“Robert has done everything that we’ve asked him to do since he’s signed back in March,” Jackson said. “He’s done a great job of taking coaching and really applying what we’ve been teaching on the field. So I feel real good about those things that those issues are behind him. I think he understands that the best opportunity for our team to win is with him out there playing and not standing next to me.”
Whether Griffin can avoid those things that are apt to keep him on the sidelnes during the heat of the moment remains to be seen. In high school and college, he didn’t have to protect himself because no one could touch him. During four NFL seasons, Griffin has yet to learn how to live to fight another day.