CLEVELAND -- Veteran quarterback Josh McCown wanted to be the starter for the Cleveland Browns, but coach Hue Jackson announced Monday morning that Robert Griffin III would be at the top of the depth chart.
Although McCown was disappointed that he would not be the starter, he is focused on doing what is necessary in his reserve role to help the Browns be successful.
“Obviously, as a competitor, you want to play,” McCown said. “You want to be the guy, but I understood the direction we were going. I’m excited for our team. I said this last time that I talked: I’ve been on both ends of it. When the quarterback competitions kind of drag out through training camp, I don’t know if you’re any better off because then, you have two guys that kind of had half reps.
“I think it’s great that we know who it is. Moving forward, we’re behind that guy. Our team can rally around that guy, and we can move forward accordingly. Robert is certainly playing at a high level right now, and that’s exciting.
“As a competitor, you want to be on the field. You want to play, there’s no question about that. At the same time, it’s so much bigger. It’s about the team. Now, that question is settled and we can go move forward in our game-planning this week for Green Bay, and ultimately, for Philly Week One.”
During the practice sessions in his first training camp with the Browns, Griffin was out to prove he should be the starting quarterback, and in a fully-padded practice, as well as the Orange and Brown Scrimmage, the young veteran showed progress in his development after being benched for the entire 2015 season with Washington.
Griffin showed an ability to move the Browns’ offense down the field during the Orange and Brown Scrimmage at Ohio Stadium on Saturday night, and he punctuated the practice with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.
Griffin put the pass where only Pryor could get it by outjumping a defensive back. Pryor won the jump ball, secured the catch and got two feet down in bounds for the touchdown.
“Just watching him these last few days, he’s throwing the ball really well,” McCown said. “He’s just running the offense. I think that bodes well for us. Obviously, on any team, if the quarterback is playing at a high level, you feel like he’s playing well, you’re giving yourself a chance.
“I just feel like the last probably five, six days of camp, he really settled in and he’s starting to stack one day after the next of good days where you’re just running the team and doing the right thing with the football and throwing the ball accurately and just everything you’d expect. As a member of this team, it’s encouraging because you want that out of your top quarterback.”
McCown is willing to do whatever it takes to help Griffin succeed, but what those needs are will be determined as the season goes on.
“The cool thing about Rob is we sit down and get ready for Green Bay or whatever opponent and he says, ‘Hey, what’s your process? What are you going to do? How do you break these guys down? What’s been your methods over the years?’” McCown said.
“That’s what makes him special is he’s willing to learn. Through that, different things will come up with ways I can help him. For me, it’s kind of being another set of eyes, and as he’s focused on maybe this thing over here, saying ‘Hey, don’t forget about that.’ You might get so caught up with adjusting this or doing that or telling this guy what to do, don’t forget you have to handle this, too. That’s give and take too. That’s not just me.”
In three years as the starting quarterback in Washington, Griffin completed 679 of his 1,063 attempts (63.9 percent) for 8,097 yards and 40 touchdowns against 23 interceptions and 18 fumbles. In addition, Griffin accounted for 1,480 yards and eight touchdowns on 244 career rushing attempts.
However, during his final season with Washington, Griffin did not play a single snap at quarterback for head coach Jay Gruden, and watched as Kirk Cousins, who was drafted by the Redskins with a fourth-round pick in the very same year, led the team back to the playoffs.
“As a player, when you come out of a situation like that, it’s easy to kind of wonder what happened and maybe, second-guess yourself,” McCown said. “To have the support that he does from the head coach and the coordinator and just our room in general is huge. I think it’ll allow him to play at a high level.”