Can Hue Jackson Fix RG3?
Former Bengals offensive coordinator has a tall order
After being cut lose by the Washington Redskins hours before free agency officially began, former Rookie of the Year quarterback Robert Griffin remained without gainful employment for quite some time, before the Cleveland Browns finally took the plunge and signed the former Baylor standout. With Hue Jackson as his coach, the free football world is wondering if he is the man to return Griffin to super stardom, or even salvage what talent the last three seasons have left him with.
Hue Jackson has a reputation as one of the brighter offensive minds in the NFL, and has enjoyed success at most of his stops. He was the quarterback coach for the Baltimore Ravens between 2008 and 2009, the first two seasons of Joe Flacco’s career. While Cam Cameron was the offensive playcaller for the Ravens, with Jackson’s help Flacco completed 61.7% of his passes during these two seasons, but only attempted the 17th most passes among signal callers. He threw an interception on 2.59% of his pass attempts. Flacco was a complimentary part of the Ravens offense behind the running attack, and as a result he finished as QB17 over the two seasons.
In Jackson’s next stop, he spent two seasons in Oakland (one as offensive coordinator, one as head coach), and successfully coaxed the only overall winning record from a Raiders quarterback since the days of Rich Gannon. Jason Campbell, a former first round draft pick of the Washington Redskins (this sounds familiar), won 11 of his 18 starts with the Raiders, completing just under 60% of his passes for 3557 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, throwing a pick on 2.4% of his passes. As effective as Campbell was, he too was hardly a fantasy stud, amassing 12.03 fantasy points per game during his tenure. (During the same period that future Hall of Famer Rex Grossman contributed 12.06 FPG, so this is hardly a mark to be proud of).
Jackson’s last two seasons have been in Cincinnati, as the Bengals offensive coordinator. Under his tutelage, Andy Dalton has completed 65% of his pass attempts, and been intercepted only 2.77% of the time. In his previous three seasons, these figures were 60% and 3.01%. Dalton has finished 16th in terms of fantasy points among quarterbacks over this period, despite finishing 19th in terms of fantasy points per game.
As you can see, Jackson has a reputation for producing steady quarterbacks, not fantasy superstars. Assuming Robert Griffin is capable of submitting to coaching, there is little doubt that Jackson can re-build him into a serviceable NFL quarterback. But given the other limitations being placed on him at Cleveland (an offensive line in need of rebuilding, a paucity of weapons at pass catcher, and six games a year against three of the better defenses in the league), it is highly unlikely that Griffin can do what no other Browns quarterback has done since Derek Anderson in 2007…finish as a top ten fantasy quarterback.No greater authority than Chris Wesseling believes that Griffin is a long term project, rather than the answer to one of the longest standing questions in professional sports, namely which quarterback can hold the Browns quarterback job for long enough for them to realise they have other problems that need solving. If Griffin is to be the man, he will need a coach with the time, patience and skill to put the jigsaw pieces back to together. There is no doubt that Jackson personally has the skill and the patience, but in the warp speed world of the NFL, and the ever changing mood of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, he may not have the time.
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