Sunday, February 5, 2017

Say no to Belichick

One of these years, sanity and the right thing to do will return to 76 Lou Groza Blvd. in Berea. This will not be that year.

That feeling is based on lingering rumors that continue to link the Browns with backup New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in an off-season trade. Those rumors refuse to disappear despite their absurdity.

Let us be perfectly clear about one thing. The Browns definitely need a quarterback. The talent at that position on the roster right now is not adequate enough to field a representative offense. That is an absolute.

But Garoppolo, who hasn’t proven a thing in his three seasons as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, is not the quarterback to take the Browns to a level they haven’t experienced since the old Browns left Cleveland for Baltimore in 1995.

There is no question he will be the flavor of the offseason when it comes to National Football League quarterbacks who will change teams. His name will be the most uttered the day after the Super Bowl ends as the rumor mills heat up even more.

Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns. Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo to the Chicago Bears. Get used to it. All those teams need quarterbacks. And they just happen to be 1-2-3 in the opening round of the NFL’s annual college draft.

All have high picks to deal when the Patriots come calling. The Browns also own two second-rounders and can easily offer the Patriots more that the 49ers and Bears.

The most envied man in that swirling world will be Patriots coach/dictator Bill Belichick, who runs his franchise autonomously. You can bet he will try to extract every ounce of blood and whatever other body matter from the team he will eventually swindle.

The problem here is the Browns are his No. 1 target, mainly because they own two first-round picks (Nos. 1 and 12) in the lottery in late April. First-round draft picks are precious. They are like gold, especially if they are high.

So why is that a problem? Because the Browns are the NFL team that most typifies Murphy’s Law. That’s the one that states, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” The Browns have become the league’s poster child in that regard.

How else can one explain what has transpired on the field since the NFL (sarcasm alert) magnanimously (end sarcasm alert) allowed Cleveland to reenter the league after three undeserved seasons of absence? It has been one blunder after another for 18 consecutive seasons.

And now, if the aforementioned rumors are to be believed, the Browns are on the precipice of making yet another mistake of disastrous proportions that will cost them for seasons. They have the goods to deal and Belichick is frothing in the shadows.

The Browns’ front office needs to answer the following questions.

Is Garoppolo the next Aaron Rodgers, who languished behind Brett Favre for three seasons in Green Bay before taking over and carving out a career that most certainly will end with him holding a Hall of Fame bust in Canton five years after his retirement?

Or is Garoppolo the next Scott Mitchell, who parlayed one great season in Miami in the 1990s into a mediocre career in Detroit? Or is he the next Kevin Kolb, the quarterback who failed miserably in Arizona between Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer?

Perhaps Garoppolo is the next Brock Osweiler, who shepherded the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl a year ago when Peyton Manning went down, ditched the Broncos for Houston in free agency and performed with such mediocrity with the Texans that he lost his starting job late this past season.

Is Garoppolo the franchise quarterback the Browns have sought for so long? Is he worth the ransom Belichick is certain to ask for? This 25-year-old, wet-behind-the-ears quarterback who has thrown only 94 NFL passes?

He was supposed to start the Patriots’ first four games this past season while Brady served a four-game suspension, He made it through one and a half, exiting the second game in the first half with a shoulder injury. Fragile maybe?

Is he worth the gamble that almost certainly will rob the Browns of the opportunity to improve a roster that needs help in so many different areas? The correct answer is no, although I’m not certain the poobahs in Berea realize it.

Belichick dangling Garoppolo will be an intoxicant for Sashi Brown and the boys. They must resist for the greater good. Let the 49ers and Bears fight over him. Let them make the mistake of paying way too much for an unknown quantity.

New San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, when he coordinated the Cleveland offense a few years ago, loved Garoppolo when he entered the draft. And Chicago is home territory for the Eastern Illinois product.

It’s high time the Browns’ front office did something right.  The only problem is the current crew has not shown any evidence they know what they are doing.

There is still plenty of time between now and the draft for the Browns to firmly toe the line and say no to any efforts by Belichick to entice them to part with any of their first four selections.

An untested quarterback cannot help the current Cleveland offense at the expense of any of those picks. It can be helped, though, by wise drafting that plugs holes in vital areas (the offensive line, for one). It all starts up front.

In their seemingly never-ending search for the quarterback of the future, the Browns have trotted 26 starters through the gristmill since the resurrection in 1999. One would think simple odds would have been in their favor to end that search.

Flawed thinking, such as what we have witnessed in the last year, indicates that trend is going to continue if the Garoppolo rumors are true. He will be just another name added to the list of failed Cleveland quarterbacks if that’s the road Brown and his minions choose to go down.

I said it before and I’ll say it again. Jimmy Garoppolo is worth nothing more than a third-round pick and even that is being generous.


  1. Rich - what's the difference if the Browns give a draft pick to NE for Garappolo or use that same draft pick on Watson or Kizer (which is what Jackson will lobby hard for)? Those two haven't proven any more in the NFL than Garappolo has, and most draftniks currently rank both of them outside the top 25 on their big boards. JG has spent a few years watching the speed of the NFL, watching how Bill Belichick prepares a team week in and week out, sharing the QB room and film study with Tom Brady - that experience alone puts him way higher on my chart than any QB in this weak QB draft class. That's no guarantee of success, but how do you see that as being worse than using a high draft pick on one of Hue's pet projects?


    1. Hi DW,

      Trying to figure out your line of thinking. You are giving Garoppolo way too much credit and putting him on a plateau above a couple of kids who haven't even drawn an NFL paycheck.

      First of all, Garoppolo has proven nothing. All he has done for the last three years is been the beneficiary of what it's like to be a New England Patriot.

      You seem to think he can translate the Patriots' success wherever he lands. That the teachings of Belichick and McDaniels have rubbed off on him and he can somehow take them along and make his new team better.

      I agree with you that this is not a strong quarterback class this year. Last year's was and next year's will be. This is not the year to be drafting a QB high.

      Garoppolo very well might turn out to be a decent NFL quarterback. And if decent is what the Browns are looking for, they should go for it, but not at the risk of sacrificing the future.

      Giving up any of the four picks they have in the first two rounds would be a major mistake, as I have stated. There are way too many other areas that need fixing.

      The Dallas Cowboys did it the right way on offense and it paid off last season. They assembled through the draft what is arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. Then they got Ezekiel Elliott, plugged in a rookie quarterback, and you saw what they did.

      The Cowboys did it the right way. And now that the offense has been fixed, watch them address the defense.

      I don't mind Garoppolo in a Cleveland uniform unless the price to get him in that uniform is too high. I hope the 49ers or Bears outbid the Browns.