Please pass the pacifier
Call them the Baby Browns.
Whether or not it was by design, the pruning of the Browns’ roster down the final 53 men has turned the club into one of the youngest teams in the National Football League.
It is said that a team can expect to lose at least one game for every rookie on its roster. That, of course, assumes those rookies will start.
Well, after Tom Heckert Jr. sliced and diced his way toward the final 53, an astounding 15 rookies remain on the squad, including five free agents. That represents more than 28% of the roster.
Add 12 more players entering their second season and that percentage rises dramatically to slightly more than 50. Throw in six more players with just two years’ experience and that number jumps to 62.2%.
In other words, nearly two out of every three players on the team check in with less than three years’ experience. That’s asking for trouble.
Two ways to look at that. On the optimistic side, Heckert is building quite a core for the future. On the pessimistic side, the lack of experience will cost the Browns dearly in a season they play the NFL’s third-toughest schedule.
Based on the final roster, it’s pretty safe to say they re going to experience an extremely bumpy first half of the season as they struggle to gain any semblance of respectability.
The size of some of the losses could be potentially harmful to the psyche of this club. It will severely test coach Pat Shurmur’s ability to keep his guys focused and on track to improve on a weekly basis.
Losses figure to heavily outweigh the victories in the first half of the season because of the inexperience. Fans will become intolerant once again as another doom and gloom season unfolds.
The H guys (Jimmy Haslam III, Mike Holmgren and Heckert) most likely will get together and issue a call for patience. Their pleas will fall on deaf ears.
Because they’ll be taking baby steps at first, we’ll get a much better read on this team in the second half of the season. It will be much more telling than the first half. We’ll have a much better idea the direction in which it is headed as it gains experience.
It remains puzzling, though, that a general manager in his third year, with a new owner ready to climb onboard, chose to take this path. It’s almost as though he decided the groundwork he laid in the first two years wasn’t working and moved in a different direction.
It is generally believed that it takes three years to totally reconstruct a team in the NFL. If that is, indeed, the case here, Heckert has chosen a most unusual course to navigate.
If it was his intention to cut unnecessary fat from the roster and replace it with new blood, he sure succeeded. But when you wind up with nearly two-thirds of the roster lacking significant playing time, you are gambling big time.