Monday, September 4, 2017

Success lies in future

There is an old expression in life that goes something like this: Youth eventually will be served.

It applies to football, too, especially professional football, And because it does, the Browns might have to wait a little while longer before being served because this season’s edition is extremely young.

After finishing second last season, the Browns this season take the top spot and will field the youngest team in the National Football League. And thus, the least experienced.

Cleveland’s 53-man roster this season averages 23.81 years of age, more than a year younger than the second-place Los Angeles Rams at 25.09. Which sort of proves younger is not necessarily better.

Of the 10 youngest teams in the NFL last season, only two (Houston and the New York Giants) were good enough to qualify for the postseason.

In order for the Browns to climb back to respectability before even thinking of anything more aspirational, they must first get older and become more seasoned. That won’t happen this season.

Of the 53 men on the current roster, 10 are rookies, 22 are in their second season and another eight are beginning their third NFL campaign. That means 40 of the 53 have no idea what it is to play more than two seasons in the league.

That is 75.5% of the roster Hue Jackson and his coaches must deal with for the next four months. A shade more than 60% are just entering their second season. Lack of experience is a killer in the NFL.

A lot of fans expect big things out of the Browns this season. Relatively speaking, anything more than one victory would be considered a step in the right direction after last season’s 1-15 embarrassment. 

It is patently unfair to think this extremely young team will march out there on a weekly basis this season and play competitive football. To do so requires wisdom for the game that is not learned in one or two seasons.

It is fair, though, to expect this team to play representative football. Do not go out every week, commit the same mistakes over and over and make it easier on the opposition. Learn from the mistakes.

Don’t make the coach after another loss at several points during the season say something like, “Looks like we’ll have to go back to the drawing board and work on those (mistakes) this week.” Only coaches with losing teams usually utter such refrains.

Perhaps it is the new front office’s intention to punt this season, keep the youngsters around to soak up another season of experience, pick up a dozen or so in next year’s college draft and build on that. In other words, let them grow older together; build on the experience.

If that is the case, then, fans will have to be patient a little while longer before the Browns are in a position to deliver what they want. This slow-but-sure process requires tolerance before being finally rewarded.

Fans will have to lower their expectations until 2018 before the fruits of the front office’s labor begin to bear that fruit.
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Roster facts: Rookie running back Matthew Dayes missed by one pick in the last college footbdraft of being Mr. Irrelevant. But at 5-7, he wears the crown as the shortest Brown. . . . And when he looks up at offensive tackle Zach Sterup, he sees the tallest Brown at 6-9. . . . Recent arrival wide receiver Reggie Davis is the lightest Brown at 170 pounds. . . . Defensive tackle Danny Shelton no longer is the heaviest Brown. That honor goes to newcomer Zach Banner. The offensive tackle, picked up on waivers Monday, is 6-8 and weighs 355 pounds. . . . Four newcomers share the youngest age on the roster at 21 – Davis, defensive end Myles Garrett, quarterback DeShone Kizer and safety Jabrill Peppers. Kizer is the youngest, having been born five days after Garrett on Jan. 3, 1996. . . . The oldest is offensive tackle Joe Thomas at 32, 3½ months older than punter Britton Colquitt.

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