Anyone who follows Cleveland Browns football knows snap judgments are hard to ignore after Week 1. This is especially the case when there’s a new regime running the show. Doubly so when said new regime loads the roster with tons of young and raw players.
I just felt the need to open this piece with that admission. Overreactions happen, and sometimes some of the things we’re upset about end up correcting themselves instead of being as bad as they looked in Week 1. Such is life in the NFL.
With all of this said, with all of the “it’s just one game” shtick out there, it’s time to point out some major question marks hovering over Cleveland’s new front office. Despite the fact we’re only one week into the new bosses’ tenure, their decision-making is already under the microscope in a big way.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first – passing on quarterback Carson Wentz.
I’m not here to anoint the Philadelphia Eagles rookie as a future Hall of Famer after just one great game against a miserable Browns defense. Based on how Cleveland performed yesterday, you or I could’ve thrown for over 200 yards.
That said, Cleveland has insisted Wentz wasn’t a good fit for the team, with chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta claiming they didn’t feel he was a top 20 QB. If the Philly quarterback has more games like what we saw yesterday, those words are going to haunt DePodesta for quite some time.
Yes, Cleveland has needed a franchise quarterback since 1999, so if there’s any doubt surrounding a potential pick who could fill that role, I get the idea of passing. The Browns have made enough risky picks at that position, the latest of which is probably being dragged out of a club at the moment.
At the same time, Wentz got his career off to a great start yesterday, much better than any of the previous attempts the Browns made at starting quarterback. It certainly makes you question Cleveland’s evaluation of him.
The front office has also spent significant time selling the idea Robert Griffin III could actually be the team’s QB of the future. Based on yesterday, this, too, looks like quite a whiff.
Griffin had his moments, but certainly doesn’t look like a player you can hitch your offense to. Not yet, at least. His accuracy was off, he couldn’t sustain drives and frankly just didn’t inspire anyone to think he’s anything more than another stopgap.
Now, with word that he’s officially out for eight weeks at least, it’s tough to see even that coming to fruition.
Who he would’ve actually been a stopgap for leads to another issue with the Browns’ decision-making.
Outside of passing on Wentz at the draft, Cleveland also didn’t seem interested in taking Mississippi State rookie Dak Prescott. While he didn’t have as impressive a start as Wentz, he certainly showed plenty of potential in his Dallas Cowboys debut.
The Browns didn’t take Prescott because they grabbed Cody Kessler one round earlier. The same Kessler who many thought was drafted way too high. The same Kessler who, based on preseason performance, doesn’t look like he’d even be ready to start next year.
But, hey, coach Hue Jackson said we had to trust him on that pick. Just like we’re supposed to trust the front office on its evaluation of Wentz and why he was passed over. And the claim Griffin could’ve been a legit answer for the Browns at quarterback.
As you can see, though there’s only one week of evidence, how can you ignore how quickly Cleveland’s decision-making appears to have backfired? Wentz was supposed to look shoddy, Griffin was supposed to give fans confidence and be healthy enough to at least last a full season. Neither situation even remotely took place.
Again, this is a full-scale rebuild and patience is going to be 100% essential. We’ll need to try and resist the desire to overreact, no matter how difficult said task is going to be.
With that said, the rebuild can only be successful if the right players are picked. We’re just one week into the 2016 season, and it sure looks like the Browns have already made sizable mistakes in both the guys they selected and the ones they passed up.