Two games is a small sample size.
We’ve seen the worst of Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson in the opener at home followed by the best last Sunday in Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III has put together two solid games for the Washington Redskins. As a Browns fan, it is hard not to let the mind wander and think, “What if?”
What if the Browns and Rams were able to agree on trade stipulations last March and Griffin III would be in orange and brown? What if Griffin’s 39-for-55 passing for 529 yards, three touchdowns and 20 rushes for 124 yards and two touchdowns came against the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals?
Someday we’ll know the answer, but it won’t happen for a handful of years. For now, the more Griffin III does for the Redskins offense and longer the question lingers.
Historically, well, since 1999, the draft day passes by the Browns are almost as numerous and devastating as the first-round busts. The list reads like an all-2000s team you can play on Madden: Ben Roethlisberger, Haloti Ngata, Clay Matthews, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Aaron Rodgers, Richard Seymour and LaDainian Tomlinson. It is understandable for Browns fans to covet thy neighbor’s draft pick.
Yes, the Browns weren’t in position to draft Griffin III, but they certainly were in the running to nab the Rams’ No. 2 pick. As it turned out, the price was astronomical. St. Louis received Washington’s first-round pick in 2013 and 2014, which brings us back to the Browns’ two first-round picks in 2012. Instead of landing one first-round pick in a three-year span, the Browns will have four.
First, the hope is Weeden and Richardson continue to progress. The improvement from week one to week two was simply incredible. Weeden went from 12-for-35 passing for 118 yards and four interceptions to 26-for-37 passing for 322 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Richardson’s was just as eye-popping. Against the Eagles, he rushed for 39 yards on 19 carries in the opener to 109 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. He added four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown in the encore.
Richardson showed his ability to make plays from a simple hand off or check down reception in the flats. Playmakers run this league and the Browns have been sorely lacking in that department. It appears Richardson will ease that pain.
The same goes for a competent starting quarterback. For a variety of reasons, it has just not worked in Cleveland since 1999. If Weeden and Richardson continue to progress in the coming 14 games, the Browns have a running back and quarterback for the foreseeable future. More importantly, the Browns will have their first round picks the next two Aprils.
Second, the Browns have been better with their first-round selections in recent years. From 1999-2006, the list of draft busts is long. Since 2007, the Browns have had seven first-round picks. All but quarterback Brady Quinn (2007) are still with the team including Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Joe Haden, Phil Taylor, Richardson and Weeden.
Third, if this trend continues, the Browns will add two more young and contributing pieces in 2013 and 2014.
Finally, come 2015, 2016 and beyond, we can then look back to March 2012.
Did the Browns catch a break? As good as Griffin III appears to be, the option to continue to build the Browns back to their winning ways with young, first-round talent is too promising and beneficial to dismiss.