Massarotti: The Browns’ Gamble Against Carson Wentz

By Tony Massarotti

Robert Griffin III ran to the sideline, braced for impact and absorbed a collision that looked more like a car accident. And just like that, we were left to wonder who is dumber: Griffin or the Cleveland Browns.

As usual, the NFL is bursting with storylines following an eventful week, but here is the one that could have reverberations throughout the league for years to come: the draft. The Los Angeles Rams took Jared Goff at No. 1. The Cleveland Browns traded No. 2 to the Philadelphia Eagles, who took Carson Wentz. Then the Browns brought in Griffin, who has gone from young to old faster than he can run.

RG3 is o-v-a. That’s how we Bostonians say it. You say over. We say ova. But the real story is just beginning.

Entering Week 1, Cleveland chief strategy officer (now there’s a title for you) Paul DePodesta said publicly that the Browns did not believe Wentz to be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL. Why DePodesta would say that will forever be a mystery, particularly when he is making the transition from baseball to football. Whether he is right will ultimately be decided on the field, where Wentz’s career got off to a promising start against, appropriately, the pathetic Browns.

And make no mistake, the Browns are pathetic. Take a good look at their schedule and try to identify the games that will be wins. If they go better than the dreadful 3-13 they posted last season, it will be an upset. And the beatings the Browns take will be nothing compared to the one they will suffer if it turns out that Wentz can actually play.

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Would I have taken Wentz? No. But I’m not an NFL talent evaluator. The problem is that DePodesta might not be, either, his image forged forever by Jonah Hill, who effectively played DePodesta in the film Moneyball.

Welcome to the NFL, DePo. In baseball, if you miss on a draft pick, you can recover relatively easily. But in the NFL, if you miss on the quarterback, you will be, as the British might say, sacked.

All of this brings us to the Los Angeles Rams, who began the season with a performance perhaps even more embarrassing than that of the Browns. St. Louis traveled to San Francisco and got squashed by what is expected to be a bad San Francisco team, failing to score a single point in the process. The Rams’ only saving grace was that they didn’t even attempt to play No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, the quarterback St. Louis selected directly ahead of, you guessed it, Wentz.

Translation: Goff had better be able to play, particularly if Wentz is any good. The Rams traded with the Tennessee Titans to select him with the No. 1 pick, at least in part to hype the team’s move back to Los Angeles. Thus far, head coach Jeff Fisher has resisted playing Goff, which might be a good thing. He’s already played better than Griffin in Cleveland — and lasted longer.

Obviously, it will be weeks, months and years before we have a definitive verdict on the 2016 draft. Maybe Goff and Wentz will both prove to be legitimate NFL quarterbacks. Maybe one will. Or maybe neither. What we know for certain is that the Rams and Browns gambled heavily — the Rams on Goff, the Browns against Wentz — and that both could end up kicking themselves while commiserating at the bottom of the NFL standings.

And all because of Carson Wentz.

Tony Massarotti is an avid Boston sports fan and has covered sports in Boston for more than 15 years for both the Boston Herald and Boston Globe. He now serves as a co-host on afternoon drive on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. He was a two-time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year as voted by his peers and has written four books, including “Big Papi,” the New York Times-bestselling memoirs of David Ortiz. You can follow Tony @tonymassarotti.

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