The former Offensive Rookie of the Year and No. 2 overall pick was named Cleveland's starting quarterback Monday in an announcement made by the club. Coach Hue Jackson had hoped to name a permanent starter before the team's first preseason game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday.
"It's time," Jackson said in the release. "Robert has earned the right to be named the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns. Since he was signed back in March, Robert has made it clear through his actions that he is willing to do everything that has been asked of him to earn this role. Throughout this process he has gained the respect from his teammates, the coaching staff and the entire organization that is necessary for him to lead our offense and really the entire team.
"(Offensive coordinator) Pep (Hamilton) has done an outstanding job with that room to get us to this point so we can make this decision at what I feel is the optimal time which enables us to best prepare for the regular season," Jackson continued. "It's now on Robert to show the organization and our fans that this is the right decision.
For his part, Griffin called it an "honor" and told reporters he never doubted he could be an NFL starter again.
"You should never doubt," Griffin said. "There's a quote out there that says 'if you don't believe, who will?' I'm thankful for my teammates and coach, Coach Jackson, (executive VP of football operations) Sashi (Brown), all of those guys for believing in me as a quarterback and giving me an opportunity."
The decision is not a shocker for those reading the tea leaves. Despite Cleveland drafting a quarterback in 2016 (USC's Cody Kessler) and Josh McCown's presence on the roster, a majority of the focus was on hoisting Griffin, a fallen star once thought by some to be the preferred alternative to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck just five years ago. Instead, a rash of injuries and an intense pivot away from a scheme that fit Griffin's playing style resulted in just five wins over Griffin's last 20 starts. He was relegated to inactive on game days throughout 2015 with the Washington Redskins.
This is the type of high-upside gamble that could make the Browns more competitive than initially expected in 2016 -- or allow them to settle at the bottom of the AFC North like a few analysts have projected. Jackson has been marketed as a quarterback whisperer and is hell-bent on developing Griffin into an effective option both on and off the field.
His quote in the statement was telling in that Jackson expects Griffin to do a majority of the heavy lifting. With questions about leadership ability and locker room relatability prevalent, Jackson's hope is that a true face-of-the-franchise personality can bloom.
Jackson also praised McCown and Kessler, even if the competition never really felt like one from the outside looking in.
"I would be remiss if I didn't also commend Josh, Austin and Cody. Josh in particular has been outstanding throughout this process and all of our quarterbacks have worked well together," Jackson said. "Their play, professionalism and work ethic has pushed the room to really improve the level of play at the position for our team."
Griffin had his moments during the Orange and Brown Scrimmage over the weekend and has peppered in some dazzling throws with the not-so-dazzling throughout camp. Will it be enough to keep the gig? Friday will provide the first opportunity at answering the question.