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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

Robert Griffin III will have a chance to prove he belongs in the NFL...but he will have to do it in one of the worst environments in pro sports.

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

1. Like many of you, I am a sucker for a decent sports movie. When I see one is playing while flipping through the programming guide, I usually hop to it, and make it my base of operations as I search for other shows. I can easily get locked into movies like Hoosiers or The Natural. I lose track of what I may have been already watching and I stop looking for other options. Lately, a movie I have been guilty of popping over to and staying for the duration: Moneyball. I am an unabashed fan of Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, and any Robin Wright is good Robin Wright. In movies like Moneyball, where the characters are mostly real people, it is fun to look up the names and see how accurate they are portrayed. Jonah Hill plays Peter Brand, a guy I thought was real, but it turns out this character is a composite of a number of assistants Billy Beane had in Oakland. Paul DePodesta is the guy they are really trying to get right, but since he chose not to have his name or likeness used in the film, they created the character of Peter Brand. If you have ever labored over a fantasy draft prep sheet, or stayed up all night to invent and implement a model to predict player success (again, for the purposes of fantasy sports prowess), you would likely naturally gravitate to a guy like Paul DePodesta. I bring this up because the real DePodesta is in the NFL, and he just helped make the call to bring in our very own Robert Griffin III as the new quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In Peter King's MMQB, he details the manner in which this team employs sabermetrics, and how it led them to add the former Washington passer.

2. As much as I love the ideas behind Moneyball, and the ways in which data can be used to make educated predictions, there is something about football in particular that makes it a problematic approach--in my opinion--when picking quarterbacks. In baseball, a lot of the action is individual. A hitter stands alone in the batter's box. The pitcher stands alone on the mound. In football, on any given play, there are 22 guys on the field, all processing what they see and acting based on what they think and what they are trained to do (hopefully). Griffin's contract in Cleveland is great for the Browns, and the opportunity is great for Griffin...BUT, how real is the "upside" that attracts football guys when they look at RG3? I ask this as a person who thoroughly enjoys the style of play we witnessed when Griffin was a healthy member of our team. The biggest issue with Griffin is health. When a man of his size plays outside of the pocket and gets hit by guys the size of defensive linemen and linebackers, injury is the educated prediction. The Cleveland Browns aren't about to surround RG3 with 10 other All-Pro guys. He is very likely going to be running for his life on a regular basis whether he does it by choice or not. If you even just partly agree with this, you know in your heart that the future is not bright for Griffin.

3. My conclusion: the Cleveland Browns can talk all they want about how much they love Griffin and how well they think he can play and how brightly they believe he can shine, but they are using him as a punching bag while they develop whichever rookie they are about to draft. For a measly $6.75 million, the Browns get a guy with starting experience to be the face of hope their fans so desperately desire. They don't even need Griffin to be a mentor to their rookie quarterback. My guess is that they will insulate the kid from the world and try to mold him in whatever the new "Cleveland Way" is under Hue Jackson. Short of a miraculous season in which Cleveland dominates their division and cruises into the postseason, it looks pretty obvious to me that Griffin's best chance to play in 2017 will come from a team other than Cleveland.

4. You might recall that when Carson Palmer was drafted in Cincinnati (in the 2003 NFL draft), he sat out his entire rookie season. The Bengals gave all the snaps that season to Jon Kitna, who actually won the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award. When the 2004 season rolled around, it was Carson's team. As the wide receivers coach on the Bengals staff at the time (and a coach who has spent a lot of the last decade working under Marvin Lewis), Hue Jackson understands the value of having a guy take all the bullets while a future franchise guy is groomed. Perhaps a best-case scenario for Griffin is that he bags a Comeback Player of the Year-type of season. Cleveland would likely pick up the $7.5 million second year of Griffin's deal and--if they are ready to give the ball to their youngster--move RG3 to a team looking to land him as their starter.

5. These were my thoughts as I watched Moneyball for the 15th time last night. I choose to think I am not obsessing about one of my favorite players to come through D.C., but appearances might suggest otherwise. It raises some interesting questions about the manner in which our very own McLovin (Scot McCloughan to the layman) is building our roster. As opposed to using regression analysis and scatter plotting to forecast future results, he is more likely to trust his eyeballs and gut. (Maybe he employs more sabermetrics than people know about, but he is noted as a gifted evaluator of talent.) Is there anything you are seeing as he makes his picks in free agency and the draft that stands out to you? Is there any position you would be happy to let the sabermetrics guys develop for your team? Is it more about what stage of development your team is in--meaning do you find the last two or three guys of a championship-contending roster with a spreadsheet or with your gut? How are you picking the first handful of players when your team is a raging dumpster fire? These are the best debates we have on our site, in my humble opinion, and we will pick up this conversation from the comments section on tomorrow night's taping of The Audible.

6. I like the idea of recording movie trailers for the 2016 Redskins season, in the same fashion we did the 30 for 30 promos last week. Kevin, Tim and I will work on those and present them for your votes in the next couple days. The Audible, which is Hogs Haven's official Redskins podcast y'all, is getting rather excited about the draft, and as such, we are entertaining all kinds of ridiculous scenarios. I continue to make the case that if a bunch of defensive linemen get picked ahead of our selection at #21, two or three top players at other positions could potentially slip to us. Here are some debate-launching questions for you, and we will weed through your answers on tomorrow night's show:

  • What is the highest round you would be willing to select a running back (assuming we don't take Ezekiel Elliott or Derrick Henry)?
  • In which round are you seriously considering drafting a quarterback?
  • How many defensive selections will be or should be made prior to using a pick on an offensive skill guy?
  • Is there a player that is likely to be on the edge of going undrafted that you would advocate taking in the 7th round because you can honestly see him working out on a McLovin roster?
I appreciate that we all trust in McLovin, and that 'best player available' strategies tend to work out the best when you have faith that your evaluator knows which guys are the best players. I am looking for more than just, "Whatever he decides will be best."