Cleveland Rocked: RGIII Placed on IR

Jeff Miller

If this article ends abruptly, it is either due to my first heart attack (something I’ve been expecting for around 30 pounds) or my keyboard shorting out from the crocodile tears I am still crying over losing Keenan Allen. All things considered, option one may be the most merciful.

Water is wet. Hell is hot. Tom Selleck is handsome. The sky is blue. Robert Griffin III is hurt.

In a development that took around four and three quarter games (including the preseason) longer than I anticipated, RG3 has once again injured himself pretending to be Earl Campbell. Apparently, humans have this thing called a coracoid located on the top of the shoulder blade. Also apparent is that if you break said coracoid, you can’t play football (not that what RG3 was doing prior to the injury would be considered playing football by many). We don’t have a firm timetable on his return, but the injured Brown is eligible to be back after eight games. In the interim, Josh McCown will take over as starter, a happening I view as generally positive for fantasy owners.

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Considering the last several years of on-field evidence, it is hard to deny McCown will most likely put up better numbers and do more to help his supporting cast than did the oft-injured Griffin. Where that may not ring true in all regards is with Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor. At least for now, Coleman is a bit one-dimensional, with his dimension playing perfectly into the thing RG3 does best – throw it long. The same can be said for Pryor, whose catch rate resembles Ted Williams’ career batting average, except with even more certainty. With McCown being less of a gunslinger, the two young receivers should see their game-to-game upside neutered a bit with a higher level of consistency taking its place. Perhaps this isn’t the worst trade off, but it is a notable development worth monitoring.

Outside of McCown himself, the biggest beneficiary of the RG3 injury has to be Gary Barnidge. He saw only two targets in week one, a number that is sure to at least triple against the Ravens next week. I would not be at all surprised to see the tight end regain his role as Cleveland’s leading pass catcher, at least until Josh Gordon returns. Barnidge is certainly the most consistent of the Browns’ receiving options, something McCown values.

Speaking of Mr. Gordon, I’m back and forth as to how exactly this move affects him. On one hand, he had his best season catching balls from a similar player to McCown in the form of Jason Campbell. But on the other, RG3 is the type to have just thrown it up to Gordon over and over, letting the physically dominant receiver do all the dirty work. On the whole, a better quarterback should mean better production, so I’ll proceed under the guise that holds true here as well.

If anybody is truly hurt by this, it is likely to be Isaiah Crowell. We’ve seen mounds of statistical evidence over the years showing how much running backs benefit from having a quarterback who can get out of the pocket, something RG3 is known for doing. That said, if McCown can help keep the offense moving, it should create more opportunities for Crowell, so as with Coleman and Pryor, things may balance out. For my part, I’m not downgrading him much, if any.

Considering RG3 didn’t have much dynasty appeal anyway, most of us should be taking the silver lining approach to his continued (mostly self-induced) misfortune. For his sake, I wish he could stay on the field, but as long as he isn’t, it should be a boon to fantasy owners.


jeff miller