Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Discovering the Browns' future QB 

I saw a glimpse of the future Browns quarterback Monday night in a college football bowl game. He’s a 6-4, 225-pound, green-eyed redhead from Southern California named Sam Darnold.

Remember that name. The redshirt freshman threw for 453 yards and five touchdowns in USC’s come-from-behind 52-49 victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

Darnold still has one more season with the Trojans before becoming eligible for the 2018 National Football League college draft. If the Browns are smart, they will not attempt to solve their quarterback problem next season, choosing instead to play as well as they did this past season so they can get that top choice again when Darnold is eligible.

The kid is the real deal. He’s only 19 years old (he’ll be 20 in June), but plays like a seasoned veteran, showing uncommon poise for one so young. And he has a great throwing arm, snapping off lasers at times with a mere flick of his wrist, throwing into extremely tight windows with unerring accuracy.

He took over as the starter after senior Max Browne failed to live up to the success Cody Kessler (now with the Browns) enjoyed with the Trojans. After USC coach Clay Helton promoted Darnold, the team’s fortunes skyrocketed.

The kid took over after the Trojans lost two of the first three games under Browne, a senior captain. The only blemish on his otherwise pristine résumé was a last-minute 31-27 loss to Utah in his starting debut before reeling off nine straight victories including the bowl game.

The Utah loss was the only one where Darnold failed to throw a TD pass. With him in charge of the huddle, that offense flourished, averaging 38.6 points a game en route to the Pac-12 Conference championship and bowl appearance.

Other gaudy stats in his 10 starts include a 67.5% completion percentage, 2,950 yards, 25 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He has thrown at least two scoring passes in each of the last nine games, including three five-TD games. He has 29 touchdown passes overall with eight interceptions.

Darnold is strictly a pocket passer, which would be perfect for the NFL, with a pocket awareness that has enabled him to limit his sacks to just five. He seems to have an innate sixth sense to know where the pressure is coming from and has the ability to slide away from it. That can't be taught. 

Barring unforeseen circumstances, he will be the prize catch in the 2018 lottery. And barring unforeseen circumstances, like foolishly dipping again into the quarterback waters this year after failing with Kessler this past season, the Browns should play just badly enough to snatch the top spot again and be in position to select Darnold.

Forget Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer and Deshaun Watson in this year's draft. They aren't nearly the quarterback Darnold is. Be patient and wait for the kid from USC.

Hue Jackson has a reputation for being a quarterbacks whisperer. Hopefully, the Browns coach was stationed in front of his television set Monday night and saw Darnold perform. If he did, he was witnessing the quarterback who can come to Cleveland and make him the successful coach he envisioned when he took the job.

It then behooves Sashi Brown and his minions to seriously consider bringing back Robert Griffin III, Kessler and Kevin Hogan for the 2017 season and stocking up on players in the trenches, where the games are won and lost. Lose another 14 or 15 more games in 2017 to get that top pick in 2018.

It could turn out to be a case of bad timing by the Browns with regard to USC quarterbacks. They drafted the wrong one in 2016, but can make up for that by selecting the right one in 2018.

With Darnold waiting in the wings and the Browns continuing the misery for just one more season, it will be worth the wait for Browns fans. They’ve waited this long. One more awful season will be worth the reward.


  1. Who are you kidding? You just want the Browns to stink for another year so you'll have lots to write about. ;o)

  2. Yep. Guilty as charged. Didja watch this kid? He was amazing.

  3. Yeah, I watched a lot of the game and he was impressive, but I don't think I could handle another season like this one(and I think it would be the death blow to the fan base).

  4. Not necessarily. It will take a lot more than that to kill this franchise. Stay patient.