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Former UCLA Coach Jim Mora Says Browns Should Take Sam Darnold

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Is Mora playing 4D Chess? Who knows!

NCAA Football: UCLA at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Sigh.

You know, there is a part of me that was really hoping I could stop talking about Jim Mora once he was fired, and yet here we are, with Jim Mora going on NFL Network and answering a question about who he would take with the #1 pick in the NFL Draft.

Oh. Well.

There are a few lines of thought that are emerging after this was said, so let’s break them down.

Jim Mora is trying to protect Josh Rosen

Here’s how this goes: Jim Mora, as a rational human being, is fully aware of the death sentence that awaits any quarterback drafted by the Cleveland Browns football franchise. Out of love for Josh Rosen, a quarterback who tried his hardest to keep him employed these past few years, Mora is trying to set up a situation where the Browns decide to take another quarterback in the top spot, thereby freeing up Josh Rosen to get drafted by literally any other team.

This isn’t a bad idea, but I find it lacking for a few reasons. One, it supposes that Jim Mora is capable of the kind of 4-D chess moves that this would require, an ability that 6 years at the helm of the UCLA Bruins football team proved he does not truly possess.

But, more importantly, the crux of this idea misses the fact that, in order to get the Browns to take someone (in this case, young Sam Darnold of USC) over Rosen, Mora promoted Darnold’s positives in a way that made Rosen look bad. Specifically, Mora called out Josh’s propensity to speak his mind, a fact that anonymous NFL scouts love to point to as a reason Rosen is a risky draft pick. Remember, Rosen really is the most pro-ready of a loaded QB class, but he’s the one who is constantly battling narratives about being brash and not-a-team player, and Jim Mora isn’t doing Josh any favors with this answer.

Which leads us to:

Jim Mora is still salty about getting fired

Here’s how this one goes: Jim Mora, who is still upset and feels his firing was unjustified, decided to take out some of his frustrations on Josh Rosen by publicly throwing him under the bus.

Yeah, I.......don’t agree with this one either.

See, just like the previous line of thought, this one misses one key detail, specifically the fact that Josh Rosen and Jim Mora are very close. Remember this picture?

That was Jim Mora, visiting his quarterback the day he got out of the hospital. In fact, Josh’s Instagram account is littered with pictures of Mora, and from what Jim has said in the past, that respect is a two-way street. So no matter what ill feelings Jim Mora may have towards UCLA at the moment, I find it hard to believe that would carry over to the quarterback who consistently defended him.

But to approach this from a UCLA angle as well, Jim Mora is, above all, a professional, and one who will be looking for a new job at some point. Bad-mouthing your former employer is a good way to make that job search much harder. So no, I don’t think this is what Jim Mora was going for.

Which, again, leads us to:

Jim Mora was asked a question, and he gave an honest answer that isn’t that outside of the mainstream thought process, though he could have chosen different phrasing in order to better protect his former quarterback.

Hmm, that really doesn’t roll off the tongue that well. Let’s try:

Jim Mora gave an honest answer because he is human

I think that’s probably the best way to look at this whole thing.

And, let’s be honest, what Jim Mora said isn’t the craziest thing in the world. I took a look at eatdrinksleepfootball.com because they had a handy mock draft aggregator, and the vast majority of mock drafts have the Browns taking Sam Darnold with the #1 pick. Josh Rosen is not far behind, landing either second or third on most recent projections. And this all follows the situations for the draft: the Browns traded for an established quarterback on a 1-year deal in Tyrod Taylor, so they can afford to take the project QB with the potential for higher upside (whether that upside exists is up for debate, but whatever), while the Giants and Jets have QB situations that would demand a more pro-ready QB come in immediately, which is where Josh Rosen figures to end up.

Of course, Jim Mora decided to go with the cliche answer of “he’s blue-collar and hard-working”, which considering Rosen’s narrative issue, wasn’t the best course of action, but you can forgive Jim Mora for that decision.

But there is also the hidden, 4th interpretation:

Jim Mora is secretly dissing Sam Darnold

“I think he kind of represents what Cleveland is.”

Well, that’s just downright mean, Jim.