It has been 635 days since the Cleveland Browns last won a regular season football game. On Thursday night the Browns played the Jets and ended that streak by beating the Jets 21-17. For much of the first two games fans and critics have said that they need to start rookie QB and the first pick the draft, Baker Mayfield. However, I disagreed with that argument because I believed that by him sitting until he was needed, it gave him a chance to learn from the sidelines. The NFL is a lot different than college football and by rushing a QB in to early it could ruin him. Perfect example is Johnny Manziel, had he sat and learned the offense and the speed of the game he may have turned out differently. Another example is Aaron Rodgers; he sat for years behind Brett Favre. Now, I realize that Tyrod Taylor is no Brett Favre; however, Taylor was still performing well enough to put the team in a good spot to win the first two games.
Tyrod Taylor’s first game he went 15-40 for 197 yards a touchdown and an interception and 77 rushing yards on 8 carries against the Steelers, a game that they ended in a tie. Game 2 against the Saints he went 22-30 for 246 yards one touchdown and one interception along with 26 rushing yards on 4 carries. The game ended in a loss but because of missed attempts by the kicker, who was then released the next day. These numbers show that Taylor was not to blame for the 0-1-1 start; rather he should be praised for keeping the Browns in the games. However, on Thursday, Taylor started the game in terrible fashion and it seemed like the clock was ticking for the Baker Mayfield era. Taylor took a hit late in the 2nd quarter and was ruled out for the remainder of the game, and it was at that time Cleveland got a look at the future.
Baker comes in down by 14 points and on his first drive goes 3-4 for 47 yards and gets the Browns in field goal range to begin chipping away at the Jets lead. Baker comes out of the half and picked up right where he left off. The Browns went on to score 18 points in the second half while holding the Jets to only 3 points. The Browns broke the winless streak and their QB of the future finished 17-23 for 201 yards and a receiving touchdown.
The Browns finally won a game but the key is not only that Baker looks the QB of the future for the Browns but the fact that if the Browns had a competent kicker they are sitting at 3-0 and are shocking the world. This team has started to put all the pieces together and is beginning to look like an actual NFL team right now. The Cleveland fans went crazy on Thursday night and from the videos seen of all the fans celebrating in bars and in their homes and how social media exploded some could have believed the Browns just won the Super Bowl. There is a lot to be excited about right now if you are a Browns fan and there is a lot of energy on this team. This being said, to all the NFL fans that have laughed and joked at the Browns expense, hold on because this team might not be the mistake on the lake for much longer.
The Oakland Raiders have announced that Jon Gruden is set to become their new head coach. Furthermore, Gruden is going to now be the highest paid coach in NFL history with a 10 year, 100-million-dollar contract with possible ownership stakes. Gruden has not coached in the NFL since 2009, however he was still involved with the NFL, he was a commentator on Monday Night Football as well as having his own show Grudens QB Camp where he worked with soon to be drafted QB’s.
I like the move by the Raiders. This is a guy who knows the game and has been around the game even when he was not coaching. Gruden worked with his now starting QB Derek Carr when he was about to go pro so he already knows how to elevate his game. Gruden also knows the strengths and weakness of other young QB’s since he has worked with most of them. Which will give him the advantage when working with his Defense.
Many people might not like the amount of money Gruden is going to get, let alone the fact that it is a 10-year deal but it seems like every year when there is a coaching job open, sports networks always throw in Gruden’s name as a possibility because they know that this is a guy who not only knows the game, but also is a coach that can win games and elevate his team’s performance.
What if I told you that Matthew Stafford would sign a mega deal that would make him the highest paid player in the NFL. Yes, Matthew Stafford, the QB for the Detroit Lions, the one who has a history of shoulder issues, the one who never won a playoff game and who’s best receiver currently is Golden Tate. Yes, that Matthew Stafford is now the highest paid player in NFL history with a 5 year contract extension worth 135 million dollars. The guy has a career QB rating of 86.8 and around 61% completion rate and is nowhere near a top 10 QB in the league.
The Lions need help in a lot of places which is not going to be easy to fill those spots when they dish out this kind of money to a tier 2 QB at best who has a history of injuries. With that being said Tom Brady will make around 41 million dollars at the end of his contract, Aaron Rodgers is set to make 110 million at the end of his contract, and these are two of the best QB’s in the NFL. I am not saying Stafford is a bum and can’t play, but I am saying that this is a guy who is likely not a Hall of Fame QB and is now the highest paid player in NFL history which is truly mind-boggling.
Furthermore, do not get me wrong if I was offered that much money I, like Stafford would take the money and run. However, from the front office standpoint I am not sure what they see in him that makes him worth that much considering they are nowhere near being a playoff contender like for example the Raiders. The Raiders gave Derek Carr a 5 year 125 million dollar contract which made sense considering what he has already done for that team and considering that team now looks like a playoff team and will for a very long time. Stafford has not done all that much for the Lions and I do not see him carrying that franchise deep into the playoffs or the super bowl.
Colin Kaepernick is yet to be signed this year and it does not look like he will be getting signed anytime soon. This should not surprise anyone, yet here we are just weeks away from week 1 of the season and people are still talking about how it is either good or bad that he is not on a team.
Everyone is aware that during the 2016 season he decided to kneel during the national anthem to protest the social injustices in society. Kaepernick is not on a team now and many believe the NFL is blackballing him because of his views and his protests however, I view this in a different way, I believe Kaepernick knew what he was doing and I do not think this was to “stand up for the injustices”.
Kaepernick a couple years ago, was one of the best in the league and many people jumped on the bandwagon when the 49ers were contenders every year. Kaepernick was quite then though and he stood for the anthem and just played football. However, when his career started to go downhill he decided to start a circus that every sports station in the nation would talk about. This is not about protesting and making a point, this is about trying to stay relevant in the media and not just fading away.
The past two seasons Kaepernick only played in 21 games with a 3-16 record and completed 59% of his passes and had a 52 QB rating. Those are not star numbers let alone numbers for a starting QB in the NFL. Kaepernick knew his NFL career was done so he wanted to have something he could point to as an escape goat for not playing anymore.
If he is getting blackballed then why did the people who feel this way not protest the NFL when Tebow could not get a job, everyone was quick to say look at his numbers, he can’t play QB. Look at Manziel, why is he not in the league, did he have a fair shake? The bottom line is Kaepernick’s numbers were among the league worst the last couple years and this if anything was just the final nail in the coffin. However, like I said instead of just fading away he is still being talked about. The issue is nobody wants to hear politics in sports, they want their athletes to play a child’s game and win their team games. Once the athlete cannot do that, then its game over for them. Kaepernick is smart and just decided to try to beat the system, only in my opinion he lost because the circus will only last so long.