Sports tend to have unique lingo all their own or take words and phrases from other walks of life and incorporate them into their sport. A running list of some of those, like ‘shotgun,’ ‘Hail Mary,’ ‘dime defense,’ etc would be fun to walk through sometime. Especially to learn how they started.
‘X-factor’ has become more and more used in sports language over the years to identify a player that isn’t the most important player on the team but could make a huge impact. Somewhere between a star player and one that doesn’t see the field much is where we often find ‘X-factor’ players.
Ben Solak at The Ringer went through to give one of those players for each of the 32 teams in the NFL. For the Cleveland Browns, a player like David Njoku, Anthony Schwartz, David Bell or Martin Emerson could make sense.
Instead, Solak identified the Browns new starting center, Ethan Pocic:
This past offseason, the Browns elected to move on from Tretter in favor of Nick Harris, who was placed on injured reserve following a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. A running game like the Browns’ requires great communication, chemistry, and no weak links. If Pocic can’t handle his role, the keystone of the Browns’ entire offensive scheme could falter.
Solak is not wrong, Pocic’s role is huge given the style of offense the team runs and the importance of the offensive line. One weak link can easily break the chain.
While the choice for Cleveland was unique, the one chosen for their opponents, the Carolina Panthers, was a slam dunk to be QB Baker Mayfield:
The only way a flailing head coach can save his job is with a huge turn of fortune at quarterback, and Rhule has placed his eggs in the Mayfield basket. It’s not a terrible bet. Baker tends to play best when he feels like the underdog, and before the 2021 shoulder injury was a promising stretch of 2020 play. I’d still be shocked if Mayfield looks like a rising star, but if he plays well enough to win the Panthers a few games, they could keep Rhule around for another year and try to build around a Baker contract.
An interesting bet for the Panthers’ future for sure.
Who do you think is the Browns ‘X-Factor’ in Week 1?