As Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison discussed the goings on of the first week of the NFL regular season, with the entire NBC Football Night in America staff awaiting the kickoff between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos, live from Whatever Corporation Field at Mile High, the two well-respected and suit-clad gentlemen offered up who their “winners” were as judged by the opening week’s festivities.
With Dan Patrick listening on, Dungy offered his winner: Dan Snyder, the always-spending owner of the Washington Redskins. Harrison would follow up with his nomination: The Atlanta Falcons.
Both winners were very deserving. The Redskins would drop 40 points on the New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl hopefuls amidst the chaos within the suspended coaching ranks, largely led by their rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Falcons would match the ‘Skins’ total by putting up 40 points on the Kansas City Chiefs, a team some pundits have picked to win the AFC West, largely led by their quarterback in Matt Ryan as well as their second-year wide receiver Julio Jones. Both “winners” very deserving, and both being dubbed as much large in part to the Cleveland Browns.
Winning, at least in sport, is often a zero-sum game; every winner has a loser sulking off of the field while the victor celebrates, levels of anguish varying based on the path taken to the final outcome. As the Redskins and Falcons improve dramatically with their high-powered additions, it may not necessarily be the Cleveland Browns who lose — though they did just that on Sunday, in typical yet epic fashion — but the perception of history and the subsequent fallout will shine such a light. With in-game cut-aways and Redzone Channels and Fantasy Football in-game scoring, we are all privy to what’s going on outside of Cleveland. And what went on this past Sunday merely added salt into the would-be rebuilding wounds.
It was the Browns who offered up the sixth-overall selection to the Falcons, allowing them to add yet another weapon to an already vaunted offense. In return, the Browns received what amounted to the presently injured defensive tackle Phil Taylor, wide receiver Greg Little and quarterback Brandon Weeden. Chalking Taylor’s injury up to poor luck is undoubtedly acceptable, but the Weeden-to-Little combination has, through the sample size of one game, offered nothing but a ball deflecting off of the neck of the receiver and into the hands of the opposition. Jones, meanwhile, hauled in six balls, collecting 108 yards and two touchdowns in the process.
Weeden’s impact crosses over to that of Snyder and his winnings as he joins rookie running back Trent Richardson on the “this” versus “that” scale.
Just this week, it was reported that Snyder, upon completing the trade which would net his team the second-overall selection and the right to land Robert Griffin III, hosted his front office in what was dubbed a celebration. In the Bahamas. While the rest of the nation, and a good chunk of Cleveland, attempted to tell themselves that the Redskins lost that deal due to cost, Snyder was dumping Vueve Clicquot down the gullets of his staff like it was the Rich Kids of Instagram. If Snyder was watching this episode of Football Night, he was undoubtedly doing so from a hot tub, surrounded by grapes and cigars and women of various descent, all wearing “Griffin” jerseys, but barely. Compare this to Randy Lerner who was likely on a couch 1 , wearing sweatpants, and engorging himself with bar-b-que Pringles, wondering why, despite the armor-like canister, half of the can is full of broken chips as he dusts the shards of flavoring off his bare chest.
The Browns were nothing but competitors for the rights to obtain Griffin III, with the technical “other side of the coin” being the St. Louis Rams (who also lost during the final minute of their respective contest), but try telling that to the 70,000-plus who forked over a portion of a paycheck and their Sunday to watch the picks that would have been used amass a 5.1 passer rating and 39 rushing yards on 19 carries. Again, only one game. But again, Griffin was the only rookie quarterback to lead his team to victory, throwing, running, and even blocking — and he looked very, very good while doing it.
Those who are still in support of either or both of the draft day deals 2 will point to time — after all, most trades are judged after an arbitrary three-year holding period. Typically, this process unfurls when there are multiple years of draft selections are involved and we have to see just who the other team landed with those very selections. In Cleveland’s case, however, three of those first-round picks are already on the roster, this year’s being provided the exact same starting point as Griffin III with Taylor, Little and Jones having the same. Just as one cannot judge a trade right out of the gate, we certainly cannot use one week of football to throw our hands up on this iteration of the Cleveland Browns rebuilding process.
On Sunday night, on a national stage, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison were asked to provide their winners for the week, and they were just that — one week, with no history or cost or outlook taken into account. Disappointments were also discussed, but no specific losers were mentioned with regard to flip side of those being praised. But as each additional week unfolds, potentially bringing additional wins by the Redskins, additional 100-yard days by Jones, and yet another loss by the Browns 3 , the arguments to the contrary of what the Browns did (or did not do) will ring exponentially louder in the city of Cleveland.
The costs become ancillary once winning is involved.
- A very nice couch, I’m sure [back]
- Or non-deal with regard to Griffin III [back]
- Now 9-24 over the last two-plus seasons [back]