National Football Authority

The history of the Cleveland Browns is littered with draft-day misses. The 2012 draft is no exception.

Working off a 2011 season in which they went 4-12 while splitting quarterback duties between Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace, they desperately needed an infusion of talent under center. People were skeptical about whether they’d actually go after it. McCoy was supposed to be a prodigy, and Wallace was a favorite of the coaching staff.

It came as no surprise when the Browns used their No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft on Trent Richardson. Both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were off the board, and the next QB taken was Ryan Tannehill. No harm, no foul.

But then the Browns burned their 22nd pick on signal-caller Brandon Weeden. That proved to be a mistake. He would go on to play in 35 career games and throw almost as many interceptions (30) as touchdowns (31).

Whether the Browns deserved to be killed for this selection is a matter of debate. Another quarterback wasn’t taken until Brock Osweiler at No. 57. His career only turned out better than Weeden’s in the sense that he secured a major payday after one quality season.

And yet, Russell Wilson (No. 75) and Nick Foles (No. 88) both went in the third round of this draft. The Browns didn’t have a pick between Nos. 37 and 87, so taking Wilson was out of the question, but they selected Phil Hughes one spot ahead of Foles.

This may not seem like a huge deal. Mid- and late-round prospects can often be a crapshoot. But the best squads know to scout deep into the draft and find talent where others might not. The Browns have not done a great job at this over the past two decades, particularly when it comes to selecting quarterbacks. They’ve racked up basically all flops, many of them taken in the first round, including Weeden and Johnny Manziel.

Just imagine what the Browns could have looked like with Foles or Wilson, both of whom have won Super Bowls, instead of Weeden. Maybe neither player would’ve developed into a long-term starter under Cleveland’s tutelage. Foles, after all, has been touch-and-go while battling injuries.

On the flip side, maybe both were talented enough to get the job done anywhere. Wilson specifically is a one-man offense unto himself in Seattle. He could have done the same in Cleveland. The Browns will never know, They’ve instead remained on their treadmill of bust QBs, from Weeden and Wallace to Manziel and Brady Quinn and many others.

January 13th, 2012

Posted In: NFL

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Running back Michael Dyer still represents one of the most turbulent periods in Auburn football history. His departure in 2012 is still baffling many seasons later.

That calendar year wasn’t exactly the best for the Tigers in general. After posting an 8-5 record during the regular season and securing a victory in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, everything started to unravel.

First, offensive guru Gus Malzahn left for Arkansas State, in somewhat surprising fashion. Then, after he was suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl following a robbery scandal, Dyer, then entering his junior year, was rumored to follow suit. 

The news was borderline shocking, even after his suspension. Dyer had turned in a productive sophomore campaign, averaging 5.1 yards per carrying and racking up 10 touchdowns. He was in line for an expanded role over the next two years.

Maybe he was frustrated with the suspension. Or maybe he was just that fond of Malzahn’s offensive system. Whatever the reason, Dyer was supposed to end up at Arkansas State, a team not nearly as nationally recognized as Auburn.

And then, quite simply, he didn’t. Not really. He has kicked off the team at Arkansas State soon after arriving and then spent a year not playing football. After that, he landed at powerhouse Louisville, where he appeared in just 15 games over two seasons and never traveled back down to his path to superstardom.

Auburn, meanwhile, felt his departure—at least, they did at first. They went 3-9 in 2012, the season after both Dyer and Malzahn left. But they would not remain in the college football gutter for long.

After just one year away from the team, Malzahn was brought back as head coach. The Tigers went 12-2 in his first season at the helm and made it all the way to the BCS National Championship. Though they lost to Florida State, 34-31, they were officially back on the map.

What’s more, they’ve yet to leave the national conscience. 

Auburn has finished above .500 in each of Malzahn’s seven seasons running the show. Their record in Bowl Games isn’t great over this span, at just 2-5, but they’ve developed into one of the mainstays in the National Championship conversation. And considering how they were on the verge of disaster in 2011 following both Malzahn’s and Dyer’s departures, this about-face is a pretty big deal.

January 13th, 2012

Posted In: CFB

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Jeff Fisher is often identified as one of the most middling head coaches in NFL history. And there’s a good reason.

Despite never being a total flop, he was also never an unmitigated success. His resume has always been propped up by his intermittent triumphs with the Tennessee Titans, specifically when he coached them to an AFC Championship and Super Bowl appearance during their first season rebranded as the Titans, following their switch from the Tennessee Oilers.

Look at his overall track record, though, and a certain pattern starts to emerge.

Through 22 years of coaching, Fisher’s teams are 12 games above .500. A winning record is nothing to slouch about in the NFL. It’s a big deal. But his squads only made five total playoff appearances during that time. That’s hardly an impressive hit rate.

Hence why it was so curious that people were incredibly high on the St. Louis Rams, now the Los Angeles Rams, hiring him to coach the franchise in 2012. Sure, he was an upgrade over his predecessor, Steve Spagnuolo, who was a complete flop. But Fisher never demonstrated the concrete ability to guide his teams to that next level. If anything, with the exception of those early Titans squads, his units had a reputation of underperforming.

Sure enough, the Rams fell into the same category during his tenure. They never won more than seven games during his four-plus seasons at the helm. Poor quarterback play was a large part of the problem. Fisher inherited Sam Bradford, who spent two seasons under him as the starting QB, and then gave the keys to Austin Davis and Case Keenum.

Granted, the front office is at fault for never putting a solid QB foundation in place. At the same, Fisher never made the call to switch to Jason Goff in 2016, which was a big part of the reason he got fired.

The flip side of this argument: Goff put together a couple of bright seasons under current head coach Sean McVay, but he hasn’t exactly developed into a superstar. Fisher cannot be held responsible for the Rams’ struggles during his tenure as a result—not entirely.

What this comes down is more complicated. Fisher was a mediocre coach who was given mediocre rosters that he led towards mediocrity. That makes him neither a huge letdown or huge success. His time with the Rams was…well, in reality, it just was. That’s it. Nothing more.

January 10th, 2012

Posted In: NFL

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