More mid-week thoughts
Sam Darnold has spoken about his future as a professional football player and the news for Browns fans hoping he might be the team’s future quarterback is not good.
Asked Wednesday in Dallas how he would look in a Browns uniform now that they own the top pick in the college draft again, he deftly sidestepped giving a direct answer.
“Whenever I come out to go to the NFL, I think I would be honored to play for any team,” the USC quarterback said while preparing to face Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl game Friday night,
“It’s been a dream of mine for such a long time to play in the NFL. Any team that would want to give me that opportunity to be a part of their organization, it would mean the world to me.”
“Whenever” he comes out probably means Darnold is going back to school for one more year before he achieves his long-time dream rather than playing for the Browns, who almost assuredly would take him if he declared for the draft.
He comes out His diplomatic answer was couched in a way that points to yet another season with the Trojans and the likely No. 1 pick in 2019.
It was rumored last month that the red-shirt sophomore might return to school if the Browns owned the top pick. That was before they secured it last Sunday. He denied it then by stating he “did not say anything about the Browns. . . . I’ve never said anything bad about (an NFL) team.”
But the closer he gets to the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare their intention to enter the lottery, the hotter the heat becomes for those anxiously watching which way he is leaning.
There are those in the scouting community who believe Darnold is not yet NFL-ready. That he needs to work on his mechanics, polish his footwork before he ascends to a higher level of football.
That then would give new Browns General Manager John Dorsey the latitude to trade for a veteran quarterback to helm the offense for at least one season while Darnold would do what the Browns should have done with DeShone Kizer – watch and learn from the sideline.
Just because he would be the top pick next year if he, indeed, comes out does not in any way guarantee he will be plugged in as the starter as a rookie. Kizer has paid a steep price after the club placed him in that very role.
He has learned nothing in his first season except slapping his hands repeatedly against his helmet in frustration and self anger after throwing yet another interception. Mistakes that were made early in the season have not disappeared.
Under Dorsey’s leadership, mistakes like that will be minimized. Part of his job should entail spreading the word around the NFL that the culture in Cleveland has changed. No longer will the Browns be the team players hope won’t draft them.
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You’ve got to give Hue Jackson credit. He sure knows how to massage a bad situation and come out smelling like a winner.
The Browns coach reiterated – no, make that declared – the other day that there is no doubt whatsoever he will be back next season as the boss man in spite of a two-season coaching record that is certain to be 1-31 after Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh.
“I unequivocally believe without question that what Jimmy Haslam said is what is going to happen here,” he said, referring to the owner’s commitment he would be back next season no matter what. “There is nothing that anybody has said to me to make me feel differently.”
And then he pointed out the reasons why there should be no question that’s the correct decision. “I’ve shown through my work ethic, through our coaching staff’s work ethic and how the players have been and how they respond that I’m the right guy to help get this organization to where it needs to be,” he said.
Sounds like a head coach with an ego out of control, not one who boasts of just one victory in two seasons. Not like the head coach of a team that will join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in the NFL’s 16-game winless-season Hall of Fame (Shame?) on Sunday.
The work ethic of which he speaks on his and his staff’s behalf has produced little or no progress over the last two seasons. Using his team’s no-quit attitude is nice. It would be nicer if it translated into victories. At this point, one or two would be an improvement.
Jackson later went on to buttress his contention that he will be back next season. “I don’t know that anybody else in the National Football League can do this job right now,” he said. “Being in this situation is hard. . . . I have been blessed to have the opportunity to do this. But this is as hard as it gets.
“At the same time, I’m not running from this. I’m part of the reason it is like it is and I’d like to be part of the reason it gets fixed sooner rather than later. I think we will do that.”
He said he was part of the reason? He is the head coach, the guy solely responsible for what happens on the field on Sundays between September and December. The buck stops at his desk. Blaming others for his failings is lame.
If Haslam keeps this loser of a coach after Sunday’s loss in Pittsburgh, he not only risks angering his dwindling constituency, he sends a message around the sports world that going winless in an NFL season has its rewards.
Haslam and his wife, Dee, have to be convinced there is nothing wrong with breaking a promise – or whatever you call his word that Jackson will be back – if it contributes to the greater good of the franchise.
Right now, that franchise desperately needs a whole lot of help. At the risk of sounding repetitious, making Jackson disappear from the Cleveland sports scene would be addition by subtraction.