Nothing signals dismay to a Browns fan quite like that stark realization that the Browns drafted wrong at QB, again. Browns fans stared into the starkness a week ago. And stared into the starkness again on Sunday.
It’s a Charlie Frye Christmas.
If there was a way For Jimmy Haslam to trump firing first year coach Rob Chudzinski after a team somehow eked out 5 wins without a running back and with the lowest rated QB in the league and also the league leader in drops at wide receiver, it was placing himself as the decision maker in drafting the most important position on the team.
So much for quotes on stability. So much for quotes on hiring folks and letting them run.
- The Browns could’ve had Derek Carr who was the best looking and most accurate passer the Browns brought in for a look. Or Terry Bridgewater. And without giving up a 3rd round pick that could’ve become another Kirksey or Ben Tate.
- Johnny Football’s hurry up text to get him and wreck this league wasn’t a text born of worry that someone else would take him. It was simply worrisome to sit and wait well past when you thought you would be taken by someone, and Manziel wanted the wait to end.
- Browns fans who sit a few miles down the road and had front row seats to Johnny Football in College Station voiced concern. No one thought Manziel was the smart choice amidst worries about character, size, and lack of NFL pocket abilities that spidered worries in all directions when projecting Manziel as an NFL starting QB.
- Coach Palmer once said you cannot change the fundamental style of a player, and a pint sized running QB that doesn’t play well within structure raised alarms. Manziel showed he isn’t NFL ready, and no one this side of Jimmy Haslem’s gas pumps is counting on him being ready next year. Sigh.
- The larger story in all this is Brian Hoyer. Hoyer passed for 200+ yards in the first 8 games and for the first time since Brian Sipe in 1983. Hoyer’s EPA (clutch passing) ranked 10th at the time and ahead of folks like Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford and Joe Flacco near the halfway mark around the oval.
- A Browns running game that had averaged 146 yards/game tumbled to less to 88.3 yards/game following the injury to Alex Mack. The passing game collapsed as Hoyer struggled to get into rhythm, appeared to press, struggled to hit open receivers, and increasingly found jerseys on the opposing team after a start in which only Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger threw for less interception and with more pass attempts.
- A network graphic flashed the Browns were one of two teams in the league without a first round pick at a skill position, and the Browns leading receiver was 5’7" and the number four receiver on the Bengals depth chart last year. There wasn’t a lot to work with was the simple answer while things were working, somehow.
- Franchise QB’s can put a team on their back which is the deep message in Coach Pettine’s off-season statement that you do not need a franchise QB to go to the Super Bowl. You don’t need a franchise QB to put a team on its back if you have the right pieces on the team.
- Coach Pettine was less clear in saying exactly what you do need on offense, and isn’t it about time Pettine or Ray Farmer speak up on the topic? What exactly do the Browns need to make things work?
- And what exactly is the answer as the Browns head into the offseason and a draft devoid of reasonable talent after Marcus Mariota? Do the Browns mortgage the ranch and toss a bucket load of picks to make up for the colossal stupidity of an owner who can’t sit on his hands when it matters most? Does Ray Farmer ready a box of puzzles and chinese boxes to keep Haslam busy and send a memo to the Browns QB position coach and other staff to NOT send text messages to ownership during the draft?
- The conundrum is this: Hoyer showed he can make clutch passes to a receiver corps absent talent and be amongst league leaders with a receiver corps that is well below average. Hoyer showed he can lead an NFL team to wins last year. And this year. He also participated in a meltdown as the Browns most recently went through four games failing to score a touchdown on offense with at least two interceptions per game— the league’s longest streak since 1977 according to Elias.
- How exactly do offenses collapse so dramatically, and do you give Hoyer credit for leading a team with essentially the same talentless offense that led to 4 and 5 win seasons for the past 6 years? Do you look at what Hoyer needs to stay comfortable in the pocket and stay in rhythm and build confidence and trust? Or do you pass Hoyer through the QB shredder?