The Cleveland Browns have many knowledgeable fans, they just don’t seem to be very vocal.
How else can you explain the reaction to last Friday nights
exhibition, er, pre-season game, a game in which Cleveland ended up winning!
What was viewed as a very good draft by GM Tom Heckert is now relegated to horrible, based on one quarter of the Browns first game that doesn’t count.
How ridiculous is that.
Let’s look at the first few picks made by Heckert last April:
Trent Richardson, the third overall pick, had a “hangnail piece of cartilage” removed from his knee last week, so he is referred to as a bust who will never, ever be healthy. We aren’t doctors, but it sounds like a very minor procedure and it shouldn’t keep Richardson out of the season opener against Philadelphia.
The team’s second first round pick, QB Brandon Weeden didn’t complete every pass he threw, and didn’t lead the Browns to touchdowns in the three possessions he played, so now fans are looking forward to getting the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft so they can pick USC signal caller Matt Barkley.
It didn’t help Weeden that Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck looked impressive in his first start against the St. Louis Rams, who had the second worst record in the NFL last season. The Lions, by the way, made the playoffs.
Second round pick T Mitchell Schwartz was shaky against a pretty good Lions’ pass rush, led by All Pro Ndamukong Suh. So, he’s another rookie labeled as a bust, despite playing a half in his team’s first pre-season contest.
Supplemental pick WR Josh Gordon didn’t catch four passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns, so he stinks. Of course, no one allows that he hasn’t played a meaningful game of football on any level for over a year.
Detroit ran the ball very well last Friday, so third pick DT John Hughes certainly will never become even a decent NFL player.
The complaints go on and on.
The truth is these guys are rookies. This was their first game played at that speed, the professional speed. It would be very odd if they played great right out of the gate and stayed at that level for the rest of their careers.
It just doesn’t work that way.
Luck was regarded as the most NFL ready passer to enter the league since Peyton Manning, who’s been in the NFL for more than ten years. That’s how infrequently players like that come along. So, it’s not fair to Weeden to expect he plays at a high level right from the get go.
It will be interesting to see how all of the rookies play Thursday night at Green Bay. Will they take the lessons learned in the first game and make corrections.
Even if they don’t, it’s still crazy to proclaim them busts until they’ve played at least an entire NFL season.
As for Richardson, from many reports, he could have played with the soreness his cartilage fragment generated, but he and the team figured it was better to get it taken care of now.
If after four games, all of the rookies are struggling, then fans can be concerned. And concerned only. No panic, no proclamations of a horrible draft.
The more comments heard after the Detroit game, the more you have to think about former GM Phil Savage’s comments about Browns’ fans. They have a “woe is me” mentality.