(image courtesy of SBnation.com)
Reader George originally left this in response to my original RG3 post. I thought it was so thorough and excellent that I reached out to him, and he agreed to let me make it a front page article. If you’d like to respond, do so in the comments, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
So without further ado, here’s George’s response:
On that note, I don’t think I can disagree more with this. I suppose I’ll address each of your points in turn.
-Alex Smith: Smith was the top overall pick in the draft. Yes, he struggled early on and persevered through several scheme changes as coaches came and went. Yes, he was probably overrated a bit by a QB-needy team drafting from a weak QB class. However, he was the first overall pick for a reason. He demonstrated the physical talents and football skills to warrant the #1 pick. Coming out of college, he was a much more highly regarded prospect than McCoy could ever hope to be. There’s a reason Colt lasted until the third round. I don’t understand why so many Cleveland fans are devoted to a third-round lottery pick whose ceiling is Chad Pennington AT BEST. People had no problem running Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren straight out of town (which we should have done) even though we had a ton invested in both of them, yet they’re desperate to hang on to a third-round pick that was only chosen because Atlanta drafted the third-round prospect Heckert really wanted. He’s a tough little guy that everyone likes, and I think he could be one of the three best backups in the league, but he’s just not good enough to take this team anywhere. RG3 has every skill McCoy has, but he’s better at all of them.
-Evaluating Colt: I feel I can evaluate Colt because I’ve watched him play. He has no pocket presence and gets happy feet. I will admit: at the beginning of the season, the O-line was pretty rough. Pinkston was a rookie who looked lost, Lauvao made too many mental mistakes and committed too many penalties, and Pashos was hurt. By the end of the season, Pinkston was rounding into a pretty decent rookie starter, Lauvao had improved his technique and focus on the game (though he still commits a few too many penalties for my taste), and Pashos was at least semi-healthy. Instead of getting better along with the offensive line, McCoy looked worse by the end of his Harrison-cheap-shot-shortened season. Fans assume that if McCoy is scrambling or facing pressure, it’s the offensive line’s fault, but to expect a line to give any QB in the league five or six seconds on every drop back is foolish. He holds the ball until his receivers are wide open, which is not how the NFL works. He can’t throw his receivers open like elite passers do all the time. He can’t pull the trigger in rhythm with the offense, and even when he does pull the trigger, the results aren’t that impressive.
Yes, the receivers dropped too many passes, but Colt is as culpable as the receivers on many of those drops. He doesn’t make his progressions quickly enough, so instead of hitting a receiver just entering the soft spot in a zone–thereby giving him a head-shot-free zone to make the catch and gain some YAC– he lets his pass go after the receiver has stopped, sat in the zone, and the defender is closing in. It happened to Cribbs several times. After MoMass’s concussion issues, I wouldn’t blame him for short-arming a catch when Ray fucking Lewis is closing on him because Colt couldn’t find an open receiver until the guy had laid out a blanket and was having a picnic between the hashes. He doesn’t throw with anticipation and hangs his receivers out to dry on too many occasions. He throws too many back-hip passes that don’t go anywhere even if the receiver could catch them without getting laid out by a linebacker or safety.
The accuracy for which he was touted–the whole reason people thought he could work in the WCO despite his mediocre arm strength–has been relatively absent. Furthermore, this whole notion that the WCO dinks-and-dunks all the time is ill-informed. There are deep routes run in the WCO quite frequently. We wouldn’t know because Colt couldn’t hit a deep route unless the guy had a four-yard cushion on his defender, which only happens in the NFL on a busted coverage or when a CB slips. He couldn’t throw a decent 40-yard post route even if Megatron was out there on every down. The WCO runs short routes on every play either as a primary route or a safety valve, thereby replacing a large chunk of running plays typical in non-WCO playbooks. It doesn’t preclude deep throws. Colt just can’t make them.
-Cam Newton and the Panthers: In the 2010 season, the Carolina Panthers’ offense scored 16 touchdowns. 16! On average, one TD per game. Then they drafted Cam first overall, and the 2011 Panthers scored 47 touchdowns with essentially the same personnel. They had DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Steve Smith in 2010 and scored 16 times. They had all those guys but replaced Jimmy Clausen with Cam and nearly TRIPLED their offensive output. They added four wins with Cam in his rookie season. They still finished last because their defense is a goddamn train wreck, which is not a problem the Browns are facing in the near future. Don’t just look at the standings and say, “Hey, they’re still in last place. Fuck that guy.” They looked so much more impressive with Cam than the prior season without Cam.
-Going 6-10 next year even with RG3: I’ll take a two win improvement in a stud QB prospect’s rookie season every day of the week, and perhaps seven times on Sunday. However, I think he adds three wins at minimum with this team as presently constructed. He’s already demonstrated the intelligence and leadership at Baylor for which Colt was lauded coming out of Texas. Griffin took a perennial doormat to a 10-win season, a top-25 ranking they hadn’t seen in ages, and 2 bowl games in 2010-11 after a bowl drought dating back to 1994. On top of that, he possesses physical skills that Colt simply can never attain. That’s not even a direct criticism of Colt; Griffin is simply physically superior, and Colt will never hit that level without a Captain America Project of his own. Even with a lesser understanding of the WCO in his first year, Griffin’s ability to physically execute the game plan is simply greater than Colt’s, so I don’t see any drop-off. Combined with his astronomical ceiling, I don’t see the problem.
-Using our draft picks: There’s no way for anyone to know this unless Heckert just comes out and says it, but I think part of the motivation for making the trade with Atlanta was to acquire the ammunition to take a run at Andrew Luck this year. No one knew PeyPey was going to contract neck AIDS, but that’s just how it goes. The Browns still have the ammunition to get an absolute stud quarterback prospect. Even if they trade #4, #22, #68, and perhaps a second- or third-round pick next year for #2 this year, they still have 6 other picks in this draft IN ADDITION TO Griffin. Essentially, they have the exact same draft they would have any other year, plus a QB prospect that would probably go #1 overall in any draft that didn’t have Andrew Luck in it. The Browns haven’t been disallowed from participating in the rest of the draft or free agency if they decide to draft Griffin. Plus, we will have another six draft picks and free agency next year. And then a full draft and free agency the year after. The NFL isn’t going to stop us from making personnel moves for the rest of history. Trading up for Griffin and continuing to build the rest of the team are not mutually exclusive endeavors. Acting like they are is either ignorant or disingenuous. (I’m not saying you are acting like that, or that you’re ignorant or disingenuous. That was mostly a shot at the crazies that make up the cleveland.com comment boards. That place is a goddamn insane asylum.)
Ask the Giants if they’re disappointed trading more than the above scenario for Eli Manning. Also worth noting: the Giants had an absolutely shit team when they drafted Eli. They didn’t care. They knew they needed THE GUY before they’d ever have a shot at winning anything. He was available, and they went for him. They didn’t wait until they had 21 All-Pros before saying, “Hey, it’s time to get our quarterback.” They saw what they wanted and then got it.
This brings up another issue that I just don’t understand. The vast majority of fans have been happy with Heckert’s draft record with the Browns, yet so many of those people are 100% against trading up for Griffin. Why don’t they trust Heckert’s ability to evaluate and draft talent if he decides Griffin is the guy? What changed? If you trusted him before, trust him again. My faith in him makes me believe that even if we give up both first-round picks plus another pick this year, he will still be able to score talent throughout the entire draft and help this team. Also: FREE AGENCY.
Quick side note: if another person suggests we should take Trent Richardson at #4, I might break something expensive. First of all, he’s not Adrian Peterson. Secondly, what have the Vikings ever down with Peterson on the team? The closest they’ve ever been was the year Favre pulled one last elite season out of his ass. Other than that year, they’ve had Peterson and no quarterback, and that team has never won shit.
-Your worst case scenario: If the Browns don’t get Griffin and add talent with the picks they have, particularly if it’s on the offensive side of the ball, they win five games at minimum next year. I’d probably say seven if forced to make a prediction. However, I believe that’s the ceiling on this team as long as Colt’s the QB. On top of that, seven wins probably slots us around 10-14 in the draft order next year. Unfortunately, we won’t have that extra first-round pick as trade ammunition. We will be in no position to move up and draft a guy like Barkley or (Joe Thomas help me) Landry Jones… I almost threw up while typing that name. Next year is a complete unknown. Barkley could wreck his shoulder and be done. Landry Jones could continue to flame out the way he did in the second half of this past season. Taylor Bray could be as average as he’s been so far. No one has any idea how next year’s draft order/class will work out. Waiting for next year and getting unlucky with available personnel is how NFL executives get fired.
The guy is sitting there RIGHT NOW. We have the assets available to get him. We don’t have to do the whole “If Colt sucks, I hope we can somehow get Matt Barkley in the next draft” dance. Even if he isn’t a Pro Bowl player next year, I’d rather give Griffin a year right away to develop. I’d rather have that than grab a couple skill position players and let what little elite talent we have get another year older before we have a stud QB ready to make the leap and push this team into serious contention.
Browns fans need to stop being afraid of getting an elite guy to play quarterback. I know we’ve never seen one since Kosar (who cost us two first-round picks to grab in the supplemental draft), and that track record has been even more horrible in the expansion era. (Disclaimer: I think Tim Couch could’ve been pretty good if he hadn’t been dropped into such a horrible situation. I think he would perform a human sacrifice if it would’ve given him our current offensive line.) The closest we’ve been was DA in 2007. And 2007 DA is the perfect reason that we should want to get an elite quarterback when we can. He played out of his mind that year until a late-season breakdown, and the team went 10-6 and was a Tony-Dungy-coaching-decision-to-sit-PeyPey away from making the playoffs. The offensive line that year was essentially what we’ll have when Steinbach comes back healthy and we draft, say, a fourth-round tackle to put on the right side. Remember, our lord and savior Joe Thomas was merely a rookie that year, fresh out of his manger. Everyone thought Braylon was an elite receiver after his performance that year, but he has never put up the same production playing with any other quarterback. (Sanchez is shit, in case there was any question about that.) KW2 went to Tampa Bay and has been just another guy. He’s been good, but he hasn’t been anywhere close to 2007 good. Jamal Lewis was a shell of his former self that season, but the threat of DA torching teams deep forced defenses to put no more than seven in the box at any time, leading to Lewis’ last really productive season. When DA fell off the earth in 2008, they all looked like shit and were promptly gone. They did not make DA look good; he made them look elite. That’s what good QBs do.
Get the guy. Worry about the rest later.