Robert Griffin III's offseason work lacked that 'wow' moment

The focus on Robert Griffin III come training camp will be intense.

The Cleveland Browns have been through quarterback scrutiny the past couple years with Johnny Manziel, but Manziel drew attention mainly for the things he did off the field. Griffin will be under the microscope for his on-field actions.

The story of a former second-overall pick and rookie rockstar trying to piece together his shattered career will be one of the better ones in the NFL. Already, one national NFL writer -- Don Banks of SI.com -- has named Griffin among the top stories to watch in training camp.

The Browns were the only team in the league that reached out to Griffin to be a starter this season. They were the only team in the league to offer him with the kind of money he wound up taking. Griffin didn't so much choose the Browns as they chose him.

Hue Jackson clearly believes he can weave some magic with Griffin. The Browns coach does not lack for confidence, and Griffin seems to be trying whatever Jackson wants.

Tell him to slide? He slides, then pops up and yells loud enough for the neighbors to hear: "Who says he can't slide?"

Tell him to throw the ball away? He throws it over a 15-foot fence that surrounds the practice field.

Tell him to stand in the pocket? He says he'll play any style Jackson wants: read-option, true-option or in the pocket.

Griffin has seemed to embrace the opportunity Jackson has given him -- on and off the field. He sprinted from drill to drill. He clapped loudly before calling his first play in the huddle. He took part in numerous community activities. He took a low-key approach in interviews (though he did refer to a "mic drop" statement -- no pressure, no diamonds).

All of which is progress.

On the field, though, is where Griffin has to prove critics and doubters wrong. Griffin did not play a down for Jay Gruden in Washington last season. Mike Shanahan, the coach who guided him to his rookie of the year award and playoff season, said after Griffin signed with Cleveland that the only way he could succeed was to go back to the read-option style he ran his first season in Washington.

The challenge for Griffin remains the same as it was when he watched last season: At times in every game, a quarterback has to stand in the pocket, read the defense and make a throw. He has to be fundamentally sound. He has to use technique. He has to master the craft of playing the position.

It would be nice to say that he showed that he was doing just that in organized team activities and minicamp. But in the practices open to the media, for every good throw Griffin executed, he had a bad one.

There was a deep throw for a touchdown that ended minicamp, but before that three short passes were tipped, one was intercepted, two others could have been.

In individual drills, Griffin showed off the magic arm that can be so impressive. But in team drills, he threw a lot of short routes, at times displayed poor footwork and often took the checkdown.

OTAs lacked a "wow" moment for Griffin, a stand-up-and-take-notice moment. That lack could be caused by many factors, including what the coach requires on a particular day, but it seems like at some point a throw or a read or a pass would attract attention.

It didn't happen.

Now, there were only six practices open to the media, so that moment could have happened in a closed practice. But it still seems like there should have been at least one in those six open practices.

Griffin is working with as young and inexperienced a group of receivers as the Browns have had in recent memory. Six receivers are rookies or in their first year, one is trying to move from quarterback to receiver (Terrelle Pryor) and the most experienced is a special-teams standout (Marlon Moore). ESPN's Bill Barnwell ranked the Browns’ top three skill players as the league's worst group, and Pro Football Focus ranked the Browns' roster 31st in the league. All that youth must grow with a new quarterback.

Jackson said his offseason approach entailed throwing everything he could at the players to see what they could handle. Once he had learned what they do best, he would pare the plays back to those they would do well with and concentrate on just those in training camp.

In theory, a more focused approach should help the quarterback and the offense.

Griffin can grow into a successful starter. But he showed in the offseason that there is work ahead, and that work will intensify as the season approaches.

Hue Jackson’s QB reclamation project continues.