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Mora Did The Right Thing

The guy didn’t say or do anything wrong.

March 28, 2018 - 10:25 am

Reggie Bush made some waves last week when he said that he’d take Josh Rosen, not Sam Darnold, as the first quarterback off the board. That’s a former Trojan great picking the quarterback from across town as his QB1, not the guy from his old stomping grounds. But that didn’t make anywhere near the noise that former UCLA coach Jim Mora made when he told the NFL Network that if he were the Cleveland Browns he’d pick Sam Darnold, not Rosen at #1.

Here’s what Mora said on the NFL Network’s Path to the Draft, when asked who he’d pick at #1: “Because of fit, I would take Sam Darnold if I were the Cleveland Browns. I think that blue-collar gritty attitude. I think his teammates will love him. I think the city will love him. He’ll say the right things. He’ll come in and represent well. I think he kind of represents what Cleveland is.”

Now a few seconds later, Mora said he thought that Rosen should go number 2 or 3 to one of the two New York teams picking there. But that didn’t stop the internet from dragging Mora across the hot coals of cyberspace. They killed this guy for allegedly murdering his own quarterback, the kind of treachery that gets you strung up in a world where there is no context, just burning hot lava and freezing cold takes. MORA WANTS DARNOLD, NOT ROSEN?

But pump the brakes, y’all. Instead of killing this guy, you get up on the feet and applaud him. For giving a straight answer. A rarity in this day and age. He didn’t duck it. He answered it. And he answered it honestly.

And make it all about fit… fit with the team. Fit with the scheme. And fit with the city.  He didn’t say Darnold was necessarily a better quarterback, just that he was a better fit for Cleveland. Even a perfect fit for Cleveland. Because Cleveland is a Sam Darnold town. Cleveland is a place that’s going to love a guy like Darnold, if that’s who they end up picking, because he’s about everything that city is about: Blue-collar work ethic. Gritty attitude. A lead from the front attitude. And, then putting the intangibles aside…go back to the scheme. Darnold has a skill-set and on-field game that’s tailor-made for Hue Jackson’s scheme.

Jordan Palmer has been training Darnold in the run-up to the draft. He’s also the brother of Carson Palmer, who spent some of his best years playing for Hue Jackson. And here’s how Jordan compared Sam’s game to Carson’s, when talking to The MMQB: “It’s crazy how similar they are … This is like the same kid. The way I would compare them, though, (Sam’s) got about 10 percent less of Carson’s arm talent at that age and about 25 percent more athleticism than Carson at that age. So I’m not going to sit here and compare the two of them in terms of who’s going to project to be better but it’s pretty crazy … Very, very similar.”

So that’s also part of the fit. If you’re looking for reasons to pick a quarterback, having a clone of the guy you turned into a Pro Bowler is a pretty good start.

Now, there’s the other side to this. Maybe Mora’s saying what we’ve all said before. That he wants what’s best for his quarterback. And that’s NOT going to Cleveland. Did you forget what this city’s done to quarterbacks? The pile of corpses that Darnold or Rosen or whoever gets picked will have to climb over just to see the end of their rookie contract?

Tim Couch. Ty Detmer. Spergon Wynn. Jeff Garcia. Ken Dorsey. Brady Quinn. TWO different McCown brothers. Brandon Weeden. Johnathan Football. RG3. 28 different starters and counting. And that’s going to Cleveland without Joe Thomas protecting the blind side. So instead of just assuming he’s looking to put a knife in his former q.b.s back, maybe he actually has his back. Because he always has. And that’s going to change just because he’s not longer the coach at UCLA. So if you want to kill a guy for crimes against humanity, that’s on you. But before you do it, maybe you read a sentence or two past the headline. You might not have anything better to do than bury Jim Mora for actually answering a question straight up, without having any agenda at all. But I do. The guy didn’t say or do anything wrong. In fact, he handled it and answered it the way everyone should: honestly and without an agenda.