After re-signing with the Ravens, Robert Griffin III had a long sit-down with Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman and Quarterbacks Coach James Urban. It was an open dialogue.
They talked about the importance of Griffin’s current role as the backup quarterback to Lamar Jackson. They discussed Griffin’s desire to be a starter again in the NFL. They described the Ravens’ offense the coaching staff has rebuilt this offseason, and how it would fit Griffin’s skillset.
Griffin appreciated the conversation. It reinforced his belief that he made the right decision to re-sign with the Ravens, knowing that Jackson is the franchise quarterback but that the Ravens value Griffin’s talent.
“It meant a lot for them to sit down and have that talk with me,” Griffin said. “I haven’t had that talk with anyone for a long, long time. I’ve just been fighting for the next meal. And when I got drafted in 2012, I never thought I’d be in that position where I had to fight for the next meal.”
Griffin’s career has been a rollercoaster ride, from being the No. 2-overall pick who led the Washington Redskins to the playoffs as a rookie, to being out of the NFL in 2017 and written off by many. Having experienced the valley, Griffin’s career is trending upward again. Consistent play during training camp and the preseason last year earned Griffin a roster spot as the No. 3 quarterback behind Joe Flacco and Jackson. With Flacco traded to the Denver Broncos, Griffin is now the No. 2 quarterback, Baltimore’s insurance policy if Jackson misses time.
Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta made it clear at his introductory press conference how much he valued the backup quarterback position, even before he re-signed Griffin to two-year deal.
“I think that position is often overlooked, unless you need that guy, and then he becomes critical,” DeCosta said. “We want to make sure we have a good backup in place regardless of Lamar Jackson being quarterback or somebody else being the quarterback. Having two quarterbacks is essential in the NFL. There’s no faster way to ruin your season than to get your starting quarterback hurt and not having an effective backup quarterback. Your season is basically over at that point. We never want to be in that position again.”
Jackson’s development is being highly scrutinized because his play is critical to the Ravens’ season. But if Jackson were to go down, even for just a game or two, Griffin would immediately become highly important to the Ravens’ offense.
Griffin says he’s a better player than last season, and at age 29, he believes his best football lies ahead. He has continued to do extra work before and after practice, and if called upon during the regular season, Griffin needs to be comfortable with every aspect of the Ravens’ new offense. The faster a quarterback can make reads and anticipate what the defense will do, the easier the game becomes.
“I’ve got to make sure I understand the offense, forward and backward,” Griffin said. “The offense will look different. I think we’ll shock some people with what we’re going to do. If we need to run it 60 times, we can do it. But if we need to throw it 30 to 40 times, we can also do it. I think that’s what we’re working on, to make sure we have those capabilities.”
Griffin believes the offensive weapons the Ravens have added, including running backs Mark Ingram II and Justice Hill and wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin, will give the Ravens more versatility and quick-strike capability. Like many, Griffin is eager to see Brown on the field during training camp once he recovers from Lisfranc foot surgery.
“This game is about mismatches and that’s what we’re trying to create,” Griffin said. “You get a guy like Hollywood, it’s a speed mismatch. When you get a guy like Boykin, it’s a height and reach mismatch. Get them in situations where they can be successful. If we can get Hollywood out there in training camp, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Because the guys we have out there already, I think, are playing phenomenal. It’s exciting.”
Griffin will surely see action during the preseason, but once the regular season begins, he can’t be certain if he will play, or how much. He appeared in just three games last season and attempted six passes, filling in for Jackson briefly when he was injured against the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs.
However, Griffin has earned the trust of coaches and players with the professionalism he has displayed. His preparation remains diligent, and Griffin plans to help the Ravens win games if he gets an opportunity.
“I’m happy to be here, I’m excited to be here, I love this place, I love this organization,” Griffin said. “They’ve treated me well. I have bigger goals in mind, and those goals start with the Baltimore Ravens. So I have to make sure I do everything I can to be the best for the Baltimore Ravens.
“My ultimate goal is to become a franchise quarterback. At 29, I believe that’s still attainable. But that’s going to come from the work, making the most of all opportunities. I feel like I’m a better quarterback than I’ve ever been. If called upon, I can’t wait to showcase it.”