The Cleveland Browns just signed the GOAT. Yes, it was the greatest quarterback of all time to play in the Alliance of American Football. But why not?
The Cleveland Browns made a smart move today. They signed the greatest quarterback to ever play in the Alliance of American Football. I know that is a stretch, but there are real reasons for Browns fans to be excited.
Browns fans were teased by the signing of former quarterback Johnny Manziel by the Memphis Express. Then, of course, after signing Manziel the league folded. But on the bright side, Manziel finally made good on his promise to “wreck this league”.
As mentioned previously on DPD by editor Randy Gurzi,
"“The 27-year old Gilbert does have some NFL experience under his belt. He played college ball at Texas and then SMU and was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams. He never played for them and then was a bit of a journeyman, making stops with the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, and Oakland Raiders.Gilbert was the starting quarterback for the Orlando Apollos and led them to a record of 7-1. He completed 60.6 percent of his passes while amassing 2,152 yards with a 13-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.”"
The key to this signing is not found in the stats or his previous NFL history. Those things are inconsequential now that the NFL is heading in a new direction offensively. In previous years the NFL had been exploring with read option and more spread style offenses. Last year saw the incorporation of Air Raid style offenses. The Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the teams leading the way in this department.
Former Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Todd Monken is now the Browns current offensive coordinator. It is reasonable to conclude that the Air Raid experimentation will continue well into the 2019 season.
Enter Garrett Gilbert. He didn’t have much of an NFL career while playing in the typical boring pro-style type offense. But the Orlando Apollos head coach Steve Spurrier decided to adapt his “Fun ‘n’ Gun” style offense by sprinkling in a lot of Air Raid plays.
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The Apollos offense was the best in the league. If you have not had a chance to watch the Apollos offense, get a copy of a game and watch it. They ran an offense eerily similar to that of the Browns, Chiefs, and Buccaneers last season. And in that offense, Gilbert wrecked the league in ways Manziel can only dream of.
Gilbert’s skill set fits perfectly with what Air Raid offenses are trying to do. These offenses typically want to attack downfield with the passing game. They have a short screen and quick passing game designed to take advantage of defenses trying to stop the deep pass. The run game is also designed to take advantage of defenses playing the deep pass first.
The newly acquired Gilbert will be a perfect backup for Baker Mayfield. He has excellent down the field accuracy. He’s excellent in his ability to read defenses quickly while making smart decisions. The Browns may have found a guy who can play in an Air Raid offense.
Herein lies the beauty of the “New NFL”. Players who didn’t fit the cookie cutter mold of the pro-style offense or pro-style quarterback, like Baker Mayfield, now have an opportunity to prove they can play in the NFL. These discarded players may be perfect for the “New NFL”.
The Browns are headlong into the “New NFL”. In Garrett Gilbert, they found a discarded diamond. They found a quarterback who truly wrecked a league. Now he gets another chance at NFL glory. Browns fans should be excited. This will be a fun team to watch.