Keeping Tabs on Washington's Team

Browns Preparing for RGIII

Cleveland has won 2 games in a row

By Ryan Wilson
|  Thursday, Dec 13, 2012  |  Updated 9:51 AM EDT
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Redskins 31, Ravens 28

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Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins drops back to pass against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, Oct. 21, 2012.

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In addition to his other-worldly football skills, Robert Griffin III also happens to be an extremely fast healer (he seems like the type of guy who could perform the Mr. Miyagi magic on himself). He said Wednesday that his sprained right knee has "gotten a lot better," and even admitted that "Sunday night, I thought there was probably no chance that I could play the next week."

There's still nothing definitive on RGIII's status against Cleveland, but while the drama plays out in D.C., the Browns are preparing as if they'll face Griffin.

When asked the best way to contain the Redskins' rookie quarterback, Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor got right to the point: "Fire off the damn ball, whip the o-line's [butt]," he said via the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Tom Reed.

Reprising the role of RGIII this week in Brown's practice? Former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who wasn't afraid to run in college.

"Let me just say this," Browns coach Pat Shurmur told the media Wednesday. "I’m not sure we have that kind of speed on our team to simulate a player as talented as RGIII in terms of his just flat speed."

That may be less of an issue given that Griffin could be limited by his knee. Either way, it's obscured a storyline that's gotten lost in the mix in recent days: Cleveland was also in the running for RGIII last spring.

The Browns also wanted to trade up to No. 2 to get the Baylor quarterback, but the Redskins made the better offer to the Rams, pulled off the deal, and ended up with Griffin. The Browns, meanwhile, drafted running back Trent Richardson third-overall before getting their franchise quarterback, Brandon Weeden (29 years young), with the 22nd pick.

Shurmur, who was an offensive assistant in Philadelphia under Andy Reid during the Donovan McNabb era, was asked if he ever had discussions with McNabb about minimizing the opportunities for defenders to lay him out.

“No, you don’t do that with these athletes," Shurmur said. "They want to make every yard and they want to get in the end zone. With Donovan we trained him as a drop-back passer. Then you go through your progression and if it’s not there you hitch twice or three times [and] then you take off and run. We had some structured quarterback runs, but not as many as I’m seeing from teams with [Colin] Kaepernick, RGIII, Cam Newton and so on. It’s just all how you decide to use the players that you have.”

So would Shurmur have put Griffin in a more pro-style offense had the Browns drafted him?

"No, I promise you we would have had more" running plays than what the Redskins have now, he said. "I’m going to call them structured quarterback type runs. That’s what I’ll call them.”

We wonder what the Browns would look like with RGIII. The organization is under new ownership and Shurmur's future remains in doubt, as does Weeden's. Remember: Before the season, there were discussions that if this whole "trading up for the next franchise QB" thing didn't work out, Mike Shanahan was probably as good as gone.

With the 'Skins in the playoff hunt, no one's had those thoughts since, well, Washington was 3-6 and Shanahan talked about players earning jobs for next season.

The point: Winning fixes everything... although it remains unclear if even RGIII's mystical powers could overcome the football gods' stranglehold on Cleveland futility.

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