CLEVELAND -- The career reclamation project quarterback Robert Griffin III undertook with the Cleveland Browns lasted just one game before an injury put him on the sideline.
In the Browns’ 29-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday, Griffin suffered a shoulder injury that was later diagnosed as a fractured coracoid bone, and was placed on injured reserve, meaning he will miss at least the next eight games.
Veteran Josh McCown will start in Griffin’s place in the home opener against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.
“Heartbroken,” McCown said of the news. “You see the time that somebody puts into the job and prepares themselves, so anytime that happens, but especially Week 1 in the opener, it is heartbreaking. I know how much he wants to be out there with his guys fighting for his team. Even the play itself just showed the fight that he had even late in the game, which is tough. I am just heartbroken for him.
“Just to keep his mind in it and stay around it, I know he will be right there every step of the way with us, prepare and just know this is another part of his story. It is unfortunate, but I have all the confidence in the world that he will do everything it takes to heal and get healthy and get back.”
Against the Eagles, Griffin completed just 12 of his 26 throws for 190 yards with no touchdowns and one interception, and was the Browns’ second-leading rusher with 37 yards on five scrambles outside of the pocket. However, his final run of the game proved to be a costly one.
Running toward the sideline late in the loss, Griffin was pushed from behind into another Eagles defender, who hit the quarterback in the upper torso. Griffin was evaluated on the sideline and finished the game, but in the testing Monday, the broken bone was revealed.
“I have faced those ‘why didn’t he slide’ questions before,” McCown said. “I am very familiar with those. As a competitor in your mind and in the moment of the game, you are fighting to win the game. You are fighting to get every extra yard that you can.
“Looking at the tape, I think his mindset was actually to get out of bounds. When you look at it, it is kind of bang-bang. It seemed like his mindset was get out of bounds. Talking to him, he thought he was going to be out of bounds. Sometimes, those things are unfortunate, and in that type of ball game, maybe giving up a yard and getting out sooner rather than later is better. It is in the heat of the moment, and in a competitive environment, it is hard to dial back that sometimes. I understand that.”
In his first season with the Browns, McCown won the starting job in training camp and the preseason, but was hampered by injuries for the bulk of the year. When healthy, McCown proved to be an impactful player, as in eight games, he completed 186 of his 292 attempts (63.7 percent) for 2,109 yards and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions.
“Especially in the quarterback room and in every room, you are so tight and you grow in relationships with guys,” McCown said. “It is not just a teammate. It is a friend that is getting injured. You are bummed and heartbroken for that guy because you know the dreams and the aspirations that he talks about when you talk in the quarterback room, the things he wants to accomplish and the goals he has for this season.
“It is heartbreaking, but at the same time, you have to shift mindsets and go to this is a job that I have to do for my team. It is a little bit of a juggling act, but as we always said, it is next man up and you move on and you focus on the next week.”