Rating NFL playoff drought breakers.

Oakland Raiders Rookie Minicamp

Text-book mechanics.

We’re in a dead zone here at Kanick, post-draft, and we’re looking for interesting subjects to write about.

The Indians? I’m watching and that was some special play in the series against the Tigers. But I’m not watching closely enough to have a relevant take much less a relevant contribution other than a borderline troll-y “More Josh Tomlin” post.


Owning the paint is like owning the line of scrimmage. Always a smart move.

The Cavs? It’s really great to have the number one pick in the draft and there seems not to be an Anthony Bennett in the conversation as the pick.  But again, I haven’t fleshed out a solid opinion here.  I’ve long thought the Cavs are missing ‘The True Center.”  A real #5. Drummond-Hibbert-Lopez-MGasol-Chandler. To me, center in basketball is kinda-sorta like o-line in the NFL and the paint is the line of scrimmage. We haven’t owned the paint since… Nate Thurmond? I like/love Spencer Hawes but sorry, I don’t want my center’s main charge to be shooting 25 footers so lanes open up for other guys. I want my center down on the block attracting double-teams so someone else can shoot 25 footers. I also want him not to need help defending same at the other end. All this leads to a preliminary want for Embiid.  But I also want no part of a top NBA pick with back problem history, particularly when there are other strong options. So, again, I pretty much got nothing to add here. (Except that I do think Lebron is coming back but that’s a whole other post.)

This leads me to a re-do of an interesting subject NFL.com covered yesterday but got hopelessly wrong.  They looked at the six teams with the longest playoff droughts and conjecture as to who is most likely to break out in 2014.  The droughts are:

  • Bucs (6)
  • Jags (6)
  • Rams (9)
  • Browns (11)
  • Raiders (11)
  • Bills (14).

I’ll take swing going from unlikely to very likely.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 9.45.46 AM

Says here Jason Campbell outplayed EJ Manuel. But the Browns have the QB questions. Ohh-kay…

#6 (least likely to make playoffs) Bills.
The Shaun O’Hara high-energy dumbness regarding the Bills is probably what made write this post.  Go to 1:15 here.  Lol.  Just watched it again.  Hey I like Robert Woods and who knows, maybe Watkins will be good.  I think Marrone will be a good coach.  The defense was good last year, but they lost Jairus Byrd and Mike Pettine.  But with the proctology exams that have been applied to the Browns’ QB situation, how in all the effs do these talking heads look at the Bills and EJ Manuel and determine that they’re set at QB.  Why aren’t the Lulls and Fedors of Buffalo sports radio pounding the table for a QB competition with Thaddeus Lewis?  (Quite frankly, I lean Lewis in that battle and would not be at all surprised for him to become starter mid-season and lead the Bills on a nice run.)  The Bills are building the team as if MKC was the GM.  They need more offense?  Simple!  Get receivers!!  Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams were the two big off-season pickups.  One wasn’t wanted by his old team, the other was way too expensive, and neither benefit from a QB who can get him the ball reliably.  They overpaid for their “PLAYMAKER” and went dumpster diving trying to patch an o-line that hasn’t recovered from losing Andy Levitre.  The Bills went Seantrel Henderson, Cyril Richardson, and Cyrus Kouadijo.  All slid in the draft for reasons.  The latest PFF depth chart shows Kouandijo starting at right tackle.  If he’s their right tackle, this team will go 0-16.

rdm 0014 vikings

Sure I’m biased and thus: way way way too much Touchdown Tommy Vardell.

#5 Jags.
Gus Bradley might be the best unknown coach in the league right now.  (Mike McCoy is 1a.)  I really wanted to rank the Jags #2 but I keep hearing talk about their wanting Bortles to sit this year.  Nothing about a QB competition,, just, sit.  Swapping MJD for Toby Gerhart is a step backward.  So I’m not sure what way to turn with the Jags.  I think the AFCS is a the softest division in the NFL  I thought that team that beat the Browns last year was very impressive.  They’re getting Luke Joeckel back.  But you just drafted a Bortles at #3 and followed it with Lee-Robinson in the second round and now you’re talking about learning curves and easing into roles?  It just sounds like a team building for 2015 and another high pick and (I think) the return of Justin Blackmon.  Probably in London.1

#4 Rams.
Ya know, the Rams picked up superb talent in the draft with Robinson and Donald.  But that’s where it ends.  You know how the Browns have been bludgeoned for not drafting a WR?  Here’s the Rams WR corps last few years:

  • Sep 2010: L. Robinson – Amendola
  • Sep 2011:  B. Gibson – Sims-Walker
  • Sep 2012:  Gibson- Amendola
  • Sep 2013:  Givens – Pettis

And your current starting wideouts for your 2014 Rams?

  • Givens and Pettis with Austin, Quick, Bailey, Britt backing up.

Mathieu tackles Austin.

I’m not going to kill a team for drafting Greg Robinson but I will come close to it, especially when you’ve paid huge dollars for Jake Long and Rodger Saffold and when Mike Evans is on the board for you.  Congrats Les Snead on fleecing the Redskins in the Griffin trade but if you’re spending those resources on Tavon Austin and Lamarcus Joyner you’re not … you’re not doing it right.  Jordan Matthews was taken with pick after Joyner, Paul Richardson three picks later.  Adams, Latimer, and Robinson were also still on the board.  For a team that hasn’t had a true #1 WR since… Holt? … the selection of a 5’8″ safety in the second round is (yet another) fail.  I’m not even sure if Sam Bradford is good or not, but this will be his fifth year with a ready-made excuse of “well who did he have to throw to?”  Add in that Jeff Fisher is maybe a d-bag and that they in the NFC-SEC division and not even taking into account the unwanted attention they’ll get when they cut Michael Sam and the Rams are looking like a .500 team from here.  The good news is that they open at home against the Vikings and their teeny-tiny handed QB who is bereft of Carr-like mechanics.2


Center. No longer an under-valued position.

#3 Raiders.
Not as bad as you think.  I killed them for not replacing Veldheer at left tackle in the draft, but actually, Donald Penn is decent.  Love Wisniewski.  Not sure about Austin Howard, but seems that they like him (given the contract). Throw Gabe Jackson in there and a healthy Menelik Watson who we’ve all forgotten about and they could have a sneaky good o-line opening holes for McFadden and MJD.  That’s solid.  Streater and Jones are respectable wide-outs.  Schaub can’t be as bad as he was reputed to be in Houston but if he falters, Derek Carr is waiting in the wings to remind northeast Ohio draftniks that prototype NFL QB types can translate their skills from college spread to pro-style offenses.  A lot depends on Khalil Mack.  It’s addition by subtraction since Mack figures to eliminate the 1000+ snap counts that Nick Roach took at MLB.  I’d put Mack in the middle and ask him to do everything — blitz, cover, run-stop.  You’ve got winners with Woodley and Tuck.  The problem for the Raiders is playing in the only division that sent three playoff teams last year.  Also, I’m not sold on Dennis Allen.


He big.

#2 Bucs.
First, you’ll need to avert you eyes as the Bucs reclaimed the crown for worst uniforms in the history of the NFL.  Mother of god.  Great draft and a down division.  Looking at the division first:  Falcons are down, Panthers had a brutal off-season and then there’s the Saints.  Welp, the Bucs look like they were built with the Saints in mind — adding Verner as a FA to Barron (first round), Goldson (huge FA signing), Banks (high second round) and you’ve got a Seahawks-sized (not quite) backfield.  Adding Michael Johnson to Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David and you can get after the passer.  The high-spend in the d-backfield strategy didn’t work last year, but dump of Revis allowed the Verner-Johnson signings which, I think, is smart.  On offense, I just love their red-zone.  Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans –AND– Austin Seferian-Jenkins.  Josh McCown brings just a little experience in leveraging assets like that (Marshall-Jeffery-Bennett).  I suppose Lovie Smith is familiar with that goodness too.  Tampa was 24th in red zone offense last year.  They’ll be top five this year.


We’re in good hands against any in division #2 WR.

#1 Browns.
I just noticed that the Ravens and Steelers used their top picks on pass cover linebackers.  HAHAHAH.  Meanwhile, the Browns added Tate and West and Bitonio and will also have Pinkston back.  It’s just one perhaps meaningless data point, but when is the last time the Browns out-smarted anyone let alone the Ravens-Steelers?  And that’s not the only example.  When the Browns wanted Manziel and knew Minny didn’t have a #1 to offer, it was simple and cheap to offer the Eagles a fifth round round pick for him.  Pettine wants to play nine-on-nine defense and needs press-cover corners to do so and identified the best in the draft for that role and got him AND got a first round pick next year.  I bet you Pettine-Farmer would’ve picked Gilbert at four if they hadn’t been able to make the Watkins trade.  (Can you imagine the garment rending that would have ensued?)  My point is:  everything is coming together and this team is built to compete NOW.  QB controversy?  Meh.  Start Hoyer?  No Gordon?  Enh.. Cameron had four TDs in two games with Hoyer.  McGahee-Ogbonnaya-Baker give way to Tate-West-Lewis.  DQwell-Robertson out; Dansby-Kirksey in.  The team is so deep and so improved.  Meanwhile, the best team in the division still has Andy Dalton at QB, now backed up by AJ McCarron.  I like Steve Smith (the player) as much as anyone, but no matter how you cut it, that’s a 35 year old 5-9 WR you’re matching up with Joe Haden there Baltimore.  Speaking of old:  Polamalu (33) and Taylor (34).

Steelers and Ravens are on the down, gents.  Browns are on the up.  I don’t see us failing to win the division let alone make the playoffs.



Late add to the post:  the latest DVOA-based predictions from the world of Sloan.  Let’s track some of these numbers guys and see how they do.  The guess here is that big data analytics applied to sports by data-scientists is usually wrong.  But we’ll check at the end of the year to see.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 7.33.02 PM

For now, here’s one who’s got the Browns in last place and the Steelers in first.  Click pic for AFC link; NFC link here.

NFCE – Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, Redskins;
NFCN – Packers, Bears, Lions, Vikes;
NFCS – Saints, Panthers, Bucs, Falcons;
NFCW – Seahawks, Niners, Cards, Rams.

AFCE – Pats, Dolphins, Bills, Jets;
AFCN – Steelers, Bengals, Ravens, Browns;
AFCS – Colts, Titans, Texans, Jags;
AFCW – Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders.

DVOA, y’all!3

  1. Although… if you’re a Jax person wanting a reason to believe they’re staying:  drafting Bortles and Johnson out of UCF says ‘Orlando is now Jags country.’  Teams in moving vans don’t care about gaining local markets.  Or it could be coincidence, I have no idea. [back]
  2. I promise, this is the closest approximation of the Carr photo up top that I could find of Bridgewater in Vikings’ camp.
    nfl_u_tedbts_600x600 [back]
  3. I guess I should put forward a May forecast too.  Mine goes:
    Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Skins;
    Bears, Pack, Lions, Vikes;
    Bucs, Saints, Panthers, Falcons;
    Cards, Seahawks, Niners, Rams.

    Pats, Jets, Dolphins, Bills;
    Browns, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals;
    Colts, Jags, Texans, Titans;
    Chargers, Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders. [back]

  • Pingback: NFCW status report. - Kanick()

  • Petefranklin

    I respect your opinions and will probably place a medium sized on the Charley Browns at 6/1 to win the division….shame on me!

    • Petefranklin


    • actovegin1armstrong

      Pete F,
      That is my favorite analogy. Who cares about Aristotle?
      The Lucy-football analogy is pure genius!

      • Petefranklin

        We’ve sooo been here before….It does seem like we might have a top 3 defensive unit though, so I am hopeful.

        • actovegin1armstrong

          I am completely with you on that!
          The Browns will have the top three or four defense in the division for sure!

  • mgbode

    Reverse order breakdown without looking at schedules:

    Bills – temp org. Making panic moves. We know better than any how it will turn out.

    Jax – bortles? Well, okay then. I like gus, but they need much talent and are still lacking compared to division.

    Raiders – brutal division and starting schaub. Next please.

    Rams – another brutal division and starting bradford. But, tons of talent on defense and ol, so a punchers chance.

    Bucs – love much of what lovie did, but defense still seems off.

    Browns – not saying we will make it as much still needs to go right, but they picked the coach I wanted (after I researched when interview announced), and used my draft board, so I obviously am a fan of our offseason. Pitt doesn’t scare me but Baltimore and Cincinnati will be very big challenges for where we are at.

  • actovegin1armstrong

    “Steelers and Ravens are on the down, gents. Browns are on the up. I don’t see us failing to win the division let alone make the playoffs.”
    jk, Have you been vacationing in Washington state, or Colorado? Did you go on a bender with biki and burn a pound or two of biki lettuce?
    Win the division? The Browns will most assuredly only win their respective division if the NFL restructures and each team has its own division.

    • GRRustlers

      I sold him the lettuce. There was so much second hand smoke that I am fully on the Browns train. I think the division is terrible and the Browns might have something this year. It kind of makes me sad in a way…all these pics of dumpster fires on my pc that will be unused until the Cavs start.

      • actovegin1armstrong

        The Cavs are going to dominate the league next year. They will win at least 80 games and the championship.
        They have had the number one draft pick in 3 of the last 4 years. Last year’s pick (what’s his name) is about to dominate the league. He is the greatest player to come out of the draft in decades, Kyrie is a dominant force, LeBron is coming back and most importantly this year’s obvious number 1 pick, Perry Como from North East Montana State Junior College will lead the Cavs to dominate the league for decades to come.
        It will be like having Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kobe Bryant, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson all on the same team.
        Get with the program GRR!

      • actovegin1armstrong

        I thought I remembered pounding this “gem” out on my little keyboard months ago. I may end up being correct in spite of my ignorance.

    • win. the. division.

      browns are so far under the radar even our fans cant process that they’re actually set up to be good/really good. what’s the weakest on the starting roster?

      FS? tashaun gipson? hell, he wasnt even that bad and will surely benefit from adding gilbert at CB2 as well as from skrine moving to nickel.

      WR2? burleson (never sucked), austin (miles, one word: yoga.), hawkins, benjamin. it’s not the bengals’ WR corps but it won’t be horrible and dont forget cameron and dont forget all signs point to not leading league in pass attempts this year.

      ILB? love the kirksey film i’ve seen but i’m still expecting groves to move inside and to emerge as a force.

      QB? pfft. without considering cost, i’d rather have hoyer than dalton and maybe flacco. at 15M cap hit (vs 1M for hoyer) tho, i take hoyer all day.

      climb on board acto this is for realz.

      • actovegin1armstrong

        If they do, I hope they lose early in the playoffs, I do not want to stop wearing my “Just One Before I Die” shirt. I am not the T-shirt wearing type, that is the only one I wear.
        It is very difficult to be optimistic after so many years of disappointment.

  • zarathustra

    “when is the last time the Browns out-smarted anyone let alone the Ravens-Steelers?”

    There was of course last year when they traded a fourth round pick to the the Steelers for a third this year–the one that allowed them to trade for jff. . . .
    As far most likely to end a playoff drought, I think the bucs probably have the best shot with the browns and rams with a realistic shot. (I am bullish on the browns, but believe you very much underrate the division.) The jaguars are a wildcard, but I agree it is probably a year early for them.
    I agree with a lot of your division standings. My early predictions would be:
    Eagles, cowboys, giants, Washington
    Bears, packers, Vikings, lions (I already have bears super bowl futures.)
    saints, bucs, falcon, panthers
    Niners, rams, seahawks, cardinals
    Colts, jags, Texans, titans
    Chargers, Broncos, chiefs, raiders
    Patriots, jets, dolphins, bills
    Ravens, Steelers, browns, Bengals (although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were the reverse.)

  • Tron

    Soo.. When is the Lebron-is-coming-back-Kanicki-breakdown??

  • I’ve been thinking same thing about Bortles and Jags. People are freaking over Browns not naming Manziel starter before he even walked off stage in NYC, but somehow it is OK for Bortles to sit because the Jags have Chad Henne. Come again?

    Browns need Buffalo to stink it up this year, that No. 1 pick is going to look better and better each week this fall.

    Not as high on Tampa, as long as Saints have Brees and Payton they are tough. And that Panther defense is the real deal. Agree on new unis, which fill me with dread over what Browns could become, but their original creamsicles with Buccaneer Bruce were the best.

    Don’t undersell the work that Larry Nance and Hot Rod Williams did for the late ’80s Cavs, they owned the rim on defense.

    Hang in there, World Cup starts in a few weeks, which will carry us to the start of training camp and the continued national exposure of every move Manziel makes.

    • fuck an a. world cup. we have to do some kind of preview for world cup. i’ll tell ya right now: germany and yeah, i just watched real v atletico. germany.

      • I have a 5 questions on the World Cup that is still in the idea stage; still working on some global perspectives so it is all not USA and In Jurgen We Trust (which, of course, we do.) But I’m open to any ideas on collaborating on something.

      • Petefranklin

        For all intents and purposes you are talking the wrong cup. Lord Stanley will still be making rounds to the playboy mansion and Malibu long after the U.S. gets eliminated after only mustering up a tie in the first round. I was very bullish on Klinsman and the US’s chances until they landed in the group of death. #2018 champs!

        • oh i dont actively root usa, though if they do well it’s bonus. i’ll be pulling for germany, random eastern euro team, random african team, random arab-mid_east team and uruguay.

          in fact pencil me in for germany, croatia, ivory coast, and algeria. might have to swap ecuador for uruguay since my mom and uncle visited there last month. throw in russia too.

          • The odds are against them, but looking forward to seeing if Spain has one more run in them. When they have it working they are so much fun to watch.

            For the USA everything hinges on the opening game vs. Ghana. Take 3 points that day and the rest of the group is set up pretty nicely for them.

          • if this ghana team is anything like the last ghana team, usa loses.

            i also forgot that you have to pick one of japan or korea. those bastards always play over their heads. greece too is usually sneaky good. the dutch and english always disappoint. net net: i know nothing about the players on each team but that wont stop me from having #hotsportstakes and loving it.

          • Petefranklin

            So are we going to have a World Cup bracket then? I know nothing about the actual teams, just past performances.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            GRR, please be careless, you must keep an ardent safety vigil on jk.
            He has imaginary teams and most assuredly phantom friends to go with them.
            korea? greece? japan? And, ghana?
            Not one of those teams has a FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK, and I also doubt that they exist.
            Are they obscure teams from the Pioneer Football Conference?

  • GRRustlers

    Lazy Saturday afternoon for me here…good stuff.

    Few thoughts on my part here.

    I’m going to go ahead and group Toronto, London, Oakland, and St. Louis in the same group.

    I’ll give Shaun O’Hara a pass on the Bills talk (after all your city league youth basketball teammates have to stick together) but that team has 3-13 written all over it.

    Jacksonville. I’m not a big fan of grading drafts but I’ll go on the record as saying 5 years from now the Jaguars will have had the worst draft this year. You drafted a QB who looks the part and just can’t play it. You miss that high and you pay. Love the coach and they may win 5-7 games but that is all.

    Raiders and Rams fall into the same category for me. Questions at the QB spot and have the misfortune of just being in really good divisions.

    Tampa…I think it’s happening this year. Big fan of Lovie and I think you will have a boomerang effect from remaining players from last year who are just so thrilled to be rid of Bill Jr. I think they grab a wild card.

    Cleveland…couple different thoughts on my part. I think this is the year that the defense takes the next step. They filled the holes and I just have this sneaking suspicion that Pettine is going to find the perfect way to get a huge year out of Mingo. I also don’t think that Hoyer takes a single snap this year. However I also don’t think that Manziel will throw more than 30 passes in a game more than a handful of times. I think you are going to see a ton of handoffs using all 3 backs and a ton of rollouts and short completions and using Manziel when needed to make a play on 3rd down. We can joke about it but they are following the Seattle and San Francisco model. Pound other teams on the ground, use a mobile QB to make a play when you need it, teach said QB to protect themselves at all costs. It’s the perfect division and the perfect storm for the Browns…I’ll one up you here…they not only take the division…they grab the #2 spot and bye right behind the Broncos.

    A side note on the Cavs…what is really going on here? Are they waiting for the proper channels to see who LeBron wants them to hire as a coach? Are they going to do the ultimate ego stroke and offer him the player-coach spot? Last year Coach Scott was still cleaning out his office when Mike Brown walked back in and this year you have a GM going on the radio and basically saying…we have a long list. Umm…OK. The next 60 days may be the most interesting in franchise history. All I ask is just avoid a 19 year old with spinal issues please.

    • i love the possibility that the browns are zigging (building shanny run game) and catching the ravens-steelers zigging (drafting pass defending ILBs). hadnt noticed that until today. i do think we’ll know the browns intentions at qb by opening day and we’ll know by whether or not hoyer is signed.

      • mgbode

        even if signed, having a valid backup QB is good strategy. just ask Dallas (staring Weeden & Hanie in the face as QB2 after Orton told them he’s done).

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