1. Question: OMG! When did the Browns get so good?
Answer: Well they’ve finally had time to get used to their new coach. They got rid of some drama queen players who were dragging them down, and they have new quarterbacks which improves everything.
But the reason they look so much better at this particular moment is because they are playing the St. Louis Rams. They are one of just three teams whose record is worse than the Browns over the past two years (Rams, Lions, and Chiefs). They had the worst record in the league last year (1-15), and have a rookie quarterback who has no clue what he’s doing yet.
But don’t sleep on them––the Browns may have won four more games last year, but the Rams finished higher statistically in pretty much every team category. They had a better passing defense, rushing defense, and overall defense, and a better passing offense, and overall offensive standing that the Browns out of the 32 teams. The Browns were 8th in rushing offense overall; the Rams were 20th.
The Browns were dead last in total offense last year though, and second to last in total defense, while the Rams were 29 out of 32 in both. That will happen when you win games 6-3 and 13-7 with virtually no offensive production.
So don’t go talking trash to a Rams fan if you see one. They’ve got just as much reason to believe they’ll improve this year as the Browns do. The Rams know who their quarterback of the future is in Sam Bradford, and that’s the most important thing in football these days.
2. Question: So this Sam Bradford fellow is going to be good?
Answer: Actually no. They are going to let him play this year as a rookie because they have nobody else, and it’s going to get ugly. He was the #1 overall pick in the draft and could improve in his next year or two, but the odds are against it. Any team as bad as the Rams have been in consecutive years will ruin a young QB’s brains. According to Bryan Burwell of stltoday.com, last week Bradford was sacked four times in just 17 pass plays. So at that rate, if he throws 540 passes all year (same amount as the Rams threw in 2009) he would get sacked 127 times, or the NFL record by 50 sacks.
They won’t play the Vikings every week so that won’t happen, but the point is, too much failure and punishment at the NFL level does irreparable harm. It happened with Tim Couch, Joey Harrington, David Carr, Jamarcus Russell, Trent Edwards, Alex Smith, even Brady Quinn. Being hansom doesn’t save you either. The modern NFL is just too hard. You need to treat a young quarterback like a geranium; give him time and the proper conditions to grow.
Possible Follow-up Question: But Mark Sanchez was a rookie last year and he was good? — (The good news here is your girlfriend kinda knows her stuff. The bad news is she probably has a crush on Mark Sanchez)
Answer: The Jets finished with a winning record the year before they drafted Sanchez so that doesn’t count. They also had the best defense in football. You can play a rookie QB on a team with a great defense because it hides his blemishes. The Steelers did it with Ben Roethlisberger, and the Ravens did it with Joe Flacco.
3. Question: Hey a lot of their players sound familiar, where I have heard their names before?
Answer: Ah, you’re noticing the wealth of Ohio State players the Rams have on their team. They just traded for Bobby Carpenter, giving them four former Buckeye linebackers – James Laurinaitis, Na’il Diggs, and Larry Grant are the others. That’s a lot of guys from one school on a team playing the same position, but in general lots of teams have 4-5 guys from a single college on their roster.
For example the Rams also have four players on their team who played at Mississippi State. The Arizona Cardinals have five dudes on their team who went to Michigan. The Denver Broncos have six guys on their team who went to Notre Dame (name one). The Seattle Seahawks have the most with seven players who formerly attended USC, but that’s all because of Pete Carroll.
The most interesting grouping of college alumni however goes to the Chicago Bears, who have five dudes on their team who played for Northwestern, another five guys who played for Penn State, and five more guys who all played for Vanderbilt.
For the record the New York Jets also have four former Ohio State players on their team, and Eric Mangini didn’t trade them any! (Santonio Holmes, Nick Mangold, Vernon Gohlston, and Ben Hartsock). The 49ers have four buckeyes too (Ted Ginn Jr., Alex Boone, Matt Wilhelm, and Nate Clements).
The most the Browns have on their roster at the moment is three guys a piece from Georgia (Mohammed Massaquoi, Ben Watson, and Thomas Brown), Texas (Colt McCoy, Phil Dawson, and Shawn Rogers), and Clemson (Chansi Stuckey, James Davis, and Chris Chancellor).