Rating NFL playoff drought breakers.
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.
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.
#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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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]
- I promise, this is the closest approximation of the Carr photo up top that I could find of Bridgewater in Vikings’ camp.
- 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]