Griffin, Browns both just need a win

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - DERON SNYDER

Mis­ery loves com­pany but the Browns are in a world by them­selves. Cleve­land cur­rently doesn’t en­joy com­fort from the world’s great­est salve when life doesn’t go your way, the abil­ity to point else­where and say: “They’re do­ing worse than us.”

No other team even qual­i­fies for “as bad as us” when it comes to Cleve­land this sea­son.

The San Fran­cisco 49ers have lost 10 con­sec­u­tive games since open­ing with a 28-0 past­ing of the Los An­ge­les Rams. The Browns have lost 11 con­sec­u­tive games since open­ing with a 29-10 de­feat against Philadel­phia. They en­ter their bye week just four games shy of com­plet­ing the NFL’s sec­ond-ever 0-16 cam­paign.

First-year coach Hue Jack­son nearly cried but quickly com­posed him­self af­ter Sunday’s de­feat against the New

York Gi­ants. “Be­ing 0-12 is prob­a­bly … the hard­est thing ever,” he told re­porters in his postgame news con­fer­ence. “It’s been a long 12 weeks.”

Maybe the break will help. And a fa­mil­iar face might re­turn at quar­ter­back, which can’t hurt.

Robert Griffin III wasn’t ex­pected to be Cleve­land’s sav­ior when he signed a two-year con­tract in March. RG3 was look­ing for a place to re­launch his ca­reer while the Browns were plac­ing a low-risk wa­ger for a po­ten­tial high re­turn. The ex­per­i­ment was put on hold when he broke his col­lar­bone in the opener.

Now Griffin might be Cleve­land’s last hope this sea­son, the only thing stand­ing be­tween in­famy and a vic­tory.

Cody Kessler hasn’t got­ten the job done in eight starts. Nei­ther has Josh McCown in three starts. For that mat­ter, RG3 was well on his way to be­ing 0-1 as Cleve­land’s starter when he scram­bled and took a dev­as­tat­ing hit late in the fourth quar­ter against the Ea­gles. The play re­minded ev­ery­one that he still has prob­lems slid­ing, get­ting out of bounds and gen­er­ally pro­tect­ing him­self like a quar­ter­back should.

He re­turned to prac­tice last week and was cleared for full con­tact this week. Jack­son hasn’t com­mit­ted to play­ing RG3 against Cincin­nati on Dec. 13, but the coach must be anx­ious to see how his recla­ma­tion project fares.

“There’s still things that we need to do and see be­fore I de­cide to stick him back out there,” Jack­son told re­porters Tues­day.

Jack­son went all-in when he named Griffin the starter in train­ing camp, hop­ing the for­mer NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year could re­dis­cover the form that elec­tri­fied Wash­ing­ton in 2012. RG3 showed marked im­prove­ment dur­ing train­ing camp and the pre­sea­son, but looked like the same­old has-been in the opener, com­plet­ing just 12 of 26 passes for 190 yards and an in­ter­cep­tion.

“Be­yond blessed to have an op­por­tu­nity to get back on the field with my broth­ers,” Griffin said Tues­day in a state­ment re­leased by the team. “I prom­ise my team­mates and coaches to give them ev­ery­thing I have as we work to finish the sea­son strong.”

RG3 and the strug­gling Browns are of lit­tle con­cern as Wash­ing­ton strives to reach the play­offs for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son be­hind Kirk Cousins. Once awk­ward team­mates, Cousins and Griffin have now started the same num­ber of NFL games with their ca­reers ap­par­ently headed in op­po­site di­rec­tions.

Cousins’ suc­cess since tak­ing over has helped Wash­ing­ton rinse the stench of be­ing ha­bit­ual losers. But for all the foot­ball fail­ure D.C. suf­fered this cen­tury, we don’t have any­thing on the Dawg Pound’s agony. In the last 18 years — i.e., since the NFL re­turned to Cleve­land in 1999 — the Browns have just two win­ning cam­paigns; they also won five or fewer games 13 times dur­ing that span. By com­par­i­son, Wash­ing­ton has pro­duced six win­ning sea­sons (in­clud­ing this year so far), and 12 sea­sons with at least six vic­to­ries.

Cleve­land is threat­en­ing to join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the NFL’s only 0-for-16 squads. For­mer de­fen­sive line­man Shaun Cody, who ended his ca­reer with the Hous­ton Tex­ans af­ter play­ing for those hor­rific Lions, has a ben­e­fi­cial per­spec­tive on the aw­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I think it made me ap­pre­ci­ate win­ning in the NFL more,” Cody told The Los An­ge­les Times re­cently. “Af­ter wins in Hous­ton, I re­ally tried to en­joy those mo­ments. Un­less you go through some­thing like I went through with the Lions, you don’t re­ally know what it means to en­joy win­ning in the NFL.”

RG3 can re­late when he rem­i­nisces about his heady rookie sea­son and the out-of-nowhere seven-game win­ning streak that gave Wash­ing­ton its first NFC East ti­tle since 1999. He likely gives Cleve­land its best chance at a W this year, maybe on Christ­mas Eve when it hosts San Diego in Week 16.

The Charg­ers won’t have any­thing to play for be­sides ig­nominy if the Browns en­ter the game at 0-14. No one wants to be the first loser when the op­po­nent has a goose egg in the win col­umn.

But by then, RG3 could be desperate to con­vince the Browns they didn’t make a mis­take.

“I still feel I can be the guy for this team, for this or­ga­ni­za­tion,” the told re­porters when he re­turned to prac­tice last week. “And I look for­ward to go­ing out and prov­ing it.’’

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Robert Griffin III likely gives the Browns their best chance at their first win against the Charg­ers on Christ­mas Eve.

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