After 17 seasons of searching for quarterback stability, is Griffin the answer? "I know the history, a little bit, of Cleveland," said Griffin at his introductory news conference in April. "And guys sometimes don't want to come here. I wanted to come here. I wanted to be here, and I wanted them to know that." The Browns signed him for two years at a bargain price -- he has a modest cap hit of $5.047 million this season, 29th-highest in the league among quarterbacks. And the experts say he could be higher up the list in terms of his performance. ESPN Fantasy Football projected stats have Griffin ranked 22nd among all QBs in yards, 27th in touchdowns, fourth in rushing yards and 23rd overall.
Projected 2016 statistics
As of Sept. 8, courtesy of ESPN.com Fantasy Football expert Mike Clay
When compared with the 28 previous Browns QBs seasons since 1999 with at least 100 pass attempts, Griffin's projected numbers would stack up very well, especially in terms of volume (passing yards) and efficiency (yards per attempt). And when you plot Griffin's first three seasons in Washington against his predecessors, it's clear that anything close to his previous output would be a level of big-play ability the franchise hasn't see this century.
Griffin/Browns QB season totals
All seasons with at least 100 pass attempts since 1999. Hover for details.
Potential good news for Griffin, who turned 26 earlier this year: statiscally speaking, he's the right age for a career year. Using year-by-year numbers 2000-14 (more than 1,100 individual seasons of data), we broke down the average change in Approximate Value from the previous year for each age. Peak age: 26 by the slimmest of margins over 27, 28 and 29. Another starters in his age-26 season per Pro Football Reference: Houston's Brock Osweiler, who is also settling in with a new franchise.
QB aging curve
Year-over-year change in Approximate Value, all NFL QBs 2000-14
One major blow to Griffin's chances for success: the four-game suspension of receiver Josh Gordon, a college teammate of RG III, to start the season. While that could hinder Griffin's success, it also might very well get balanced out by favorable scheduling. Using projected fantasy points (an indicator of the big-play ability of a defense), the Browns play just six defenses on the season rated above the league average, and only the one in Gordon's absence. So Griffin should have time to get comfortable in the offense before facing top-10 defensive units from the Bengals, Jets and Bills later in the season. A look at the defenses he will face, in order:
Browns' opposing defenses
By projected fantasy points (including special teams) for ESPN.com Fantasy Football. Hover for totals.
In Cleveland's first game against the Eagles, Griffin will face off against a ghost of the Browns' QB past (Doug Pederson, now Philadelphia's head coach) and another who could haunt them (Eagles starter Carson Wentz, drafted after Cleveland traded the No. 2 pick to go with RG III). So the question is, can Griffin turn the recent tide of history and raise the bar for recent Browns QBs? These factors indicate that he can. Of course, if injuries derail his season or he struggles, backup Josh McCown waits in the wings. And worse yet for Browns fans: the specter of rookie Cody Kessler taking over -- he would become starter No. 26. And the carousel would continue.