Ten wins. Six reasons why.

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Here are the two main reasons that Browns have a great 2014.

ed4c25faaa25fbba40b11fabe8241a59_400x400Browns preview time.

I refuse to believe that they will suck this year.  No.  Nein.  Nyet.

Oh yeah I saw the preseason games and oh yeah I’m reading the guys who spent their August (and their last decade of Augusts) watching this team and reporting the familiar “there doesn’t seem to be an offense” reports.  No touchdowns.  Cornerbacks playing 15 yards off line and getting beat deep.  Yes, I’ve seen and read.

But still they can’t be as bad as last year.

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I mean cmon.  This is a better roster, right?

Right?

Actually,,, not significantly.

Seriously Joe Banner?  You gave multiple draft picks for this guy?

Seriously Joe Banner?
You brought this guy in for his veteran presence?

Position by position it’s better, yes.  Here’s where there are changes:

  • WR1 Hawkins >> Bess;
  • WR2 Austin > Little;
  • LG Bitonio >> Lauvao;
  • QB Hoyer >> Weeden;
  • RB Tate >> Richardson;
  • Whitner = Ward;
  • Dansby >> Jackson.

I also think Mitchell Schwartz 2014 is greater than Mitchell Schwartz 2013 by having Greco next to him instead of Lauvao.  Craig Robertson starts in this depth chart but having a Kirksey behind him is greater than having Tank Carder.  And I don’t know what shenanigans are behind this chart that has Sheard and Taylor not starting but if nothing else it speaks to the outstanding depth on the defensive front.

But so ok, the roster is slightly improved over last year’s 4-12 team.  Say again, last year’s FOUR AND TWELVE team.

I can not take another freaking 4-12 gents.  Our record… man, our record:

  • That’s three season over .500 seasons since 1990.
  • Six years in a row of either four or five wins.
  • No division wins since 1989.  That’s like four decades ago man.
Les Grossman knows.

Les Grossman knows.

The laws of probability exclude another 4-12 as a possibility.1 Barnwell’s got all his luckiest teams statistics and regressions-to-means jive talking and so forth… he ought to be all over the 2014 Browns because there are no Pythagorean models that allow for this level of relentless losing football.

There will be no sub .500 shit show in 2014.  There will be important games in December and January.

The universe is talking to us, all you have to do is listen.

Armed with this __assurace-confidence-certainty__ all that’s left for me the blogger is to chart how the Browns progress to the mean.

Here are six contributing factors.


6. Josh Gordon, not suspended all year.

I’m not touching the rightness or wrongness of Gordon’s suspension.  I see both sides.  The punishment is over the top.  But the rules were well-known to Gordon and even if was second hand smoke, he needs not to be partying with guys smoking weed when doing so puts a couple million dollars in jeopardy.

Regardless, not the point.

The point I wish to make is that Gordon’s camp have been quiet since the suspension.  Too quiet.  Something is going on at the Rosenhaus offices and it can only be that a reinstatement is in the works.  Drew Rosenhaus would not be shy filing for an injunction otherwise.

5. Andrew Hawkins can do this.

4. The three studs rule goes into effect now.

Joel Bitonio, stud in the making.

Joel Bitonio, stud in the making.

As was demonstrated in one of our earliest posts, there no examples of teams with three stud offensive linemen not making playoffs and precious few who haven’t done better.  Thomas and Mack are studs.  Do we have a stud among Bitonio-Schwartz-Greco?  Taken in the aggregate do they add up to a stud?  Don’t know.  Do know that Greco and Bitonio graded positive by PFF in the preseason games.  Do know that we have an o-line with two first rounders and two second rounders.

3. Significant upgrades at ILB and RB.

Dansby.  Impact linebacker.

Dansby. Impact linebacker.

Unlike the preceding regime, Ray Farmer used his resources, both draft and free agency, to address positions of need (rather than creating depth at positions of strength).  Other than Bitonio, I don’t see the draft picks making an impact this year and that’s ok.  Rookies making impacts are rare and usually a sign of a weak roster.  Free agents on the other hand, need to step right in.  Ben Tate and Karlos Dansby are both looking to be strong, impact players and also log-scale improvements over Willis McGahee and DQwell Jackson.  And let’s note that Chris Kirksey has flashed early playmaker signs.  Playmakers have long been needed on the Browns.

2. Brian Hoyer, good NFL QB.

Pay no attention to national talking heads (or local ones) calling for Johny Manziel to start and using Brian Hoyer’s inability to unseat Tom Brady as a mark against.  Trust.  Your.  Eyes.

Brian Hoyer played winning football in those two games last year and Brian Hoyer had his team inspired in those two games last year.  That really happened.  I swear it seems like Browns watchers were so unnerved by this utterly foreign occurence that they were unable to process it or adapt to it and chose consciously or subconsciously to repress the memory.  To deny it happened.  Think dinosaurs and meteors; cavemen and monoliths.

Gents.  This really happened.

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Not flukes.  Those are touchdown passes put in perfect spots with Jordan Cameron making the plays a top five tight end makes.

I won’t go predicting Hoyer for MVP or OPOY.  But I’ll go out on a limb and say he’ll continue his play from last year.

1. Mike Pettine, know thyself.

Pettine's been prepped trained all his life for this.

Pettine’s been prepped trained all his life for this.

Can you imagine if Pat Shurmur had to deal with the Johnny Manziel press corps?  Romeo?  Even Chud would have struggled.  Pettine had no problems sticking with his plan and ignoring the bizarrely shrill and idiotic takes and questions from this uniquely bad set-up in his first camp.  Think about it:  rookie coach (and Banner’s twelfth choice), his hiring manager fired, shackled to coordinators who went unhired during the usual coordinator hiring period, owner picks most hyped college player in several decades thus ensuring a high profile QB competition.  Really everything you wouldn’t want.  I say Pettine looks the part.  Not the replay challenge part or the timeout management mechanics, no idea if that’s in place.  Mike Pettine looks the part of a man in full who knows himself and how to manage other men.  I say you have to go back to Rutigliano for a coach like this.


Eleven wins or just ten?

I booked us for eleven wins pre pre-season.

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And in the pre-season I saw the same old lame Browns offense you did.  It was alarming.  Also alarming were reports for camp watchers that the performances in those games reflected the play in practice.  WIth that in mind, I’ll move my prediction down to ten wins.

But this is happening and it starts in Pittsburgh today.2


  1. Just as they did with the Cavs getting three #1 picks in four years. [back]
  2. Here’s what I wrote on the game today for Cheddar:
    Browns +6.5 at Steelers; The real Hoyer was seen in his two games last year, not in the ridiculous competition circus that happened in August.  Shazier and Jones underwhelm.  Brown/Wheaton don’t present length matchup problems for Skrine.  Even Miles Austin can separate from 34 yr old Ike Taylor.  The Munchak effect on the Steelers o-line doesn’t mitigate Kelvin Beachum at left tackle.  Pettine is going to show Cleveland how a coach preps a team for opening day because seriously we’ve forgotten. [back]
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  • jpftribe

    Good write up 603B, and I am mostly with you. Not into predictions, but if they can show up for a whole game like they did in the second half of the Steelers, at least it will be fun to watch again. Unfortunately, half one was about as bad as it could be.

    I think the key questions for the Browns this year are much different than last year. They aren’t:
    – the running game. Both the scheme and the personnel are significant upgrades.
    – MLB pass coverage. Competition seems to have been good for Robertson and it is only a matter of time before Kirksey is there full time.
    – Who is throwing the ball. Still not a big JFF fan, but would rather have him in there than Weeden.
    – The kicker, Cundiff is a stud.

    The ones that remain:
    – Who catches the ball? Hawkins, Gordon and Cameron would look great on the field together, but that may not happen until December. Austin, Benjamin and (insert your favorite rookie UFDA) aren’t exactly going to strike fear in the hearts of DC’s around the league.
    – The secondary is incredibly thin. One key injury could be disastrous for the season. I think Gilbert will be fine, but needs time. I think it took Haden 10 games to start.

    Coaching staff with the benefit of the Steelers game:
    – Fake punt was the difference in that game. Changed field position at a critical point at the end of the game. Special teams cost them the game.
    – Three man rush – Forced Rothlisjerk to go through read progressions and our three beat their five every time. The blitz will kill this team against the expereinced QB’s like Ben, Brees etc…
    – Let Hoyer audible. The no huddle forced this and his decisions were great. Those big runs were audibled into at the line. He went to the weel a couple of times and got stuffed, the big plays were huge. Ditch the complicated play calls. multiple shift formations. fake handoff then fake reverse then play action pass nonsense. Play our 11 against their 11 and let Hoyer exploit the weaknesses on the field. That’s what great QB’s do.

  • mgbode

    I am with you Kanick. This despite that 1st half against Pitt. New coaching staffs usually take a bit to get their feet set (even guys like Chip start slow), so let’s just move forward. I think we’ll be 0-2 after this week before starting our march towards 10 wins.

    • nah. the browns +230 on this week’s moneyline is stealing money. the steelers game was their bogey for the bad pre-season and the QB comp. from here on out they’re following the script to ten wins.
      that means wins vs saints and ravens coming up in the next ten days.

      • mgbode

        If I were to script it out, then here is how I would have it:

        @Pit – loss
        NO – loss
        Bal – win
        bye
        @TEn – win
        Pit – win
        @Jax – loss (gotta have the random one in there, it happens)
        Oak – win
        TB – win
        @Cin – loss
        Hou – win
        @ATL – loss (tough place to play and they are for reals)
        @BUF – win
        Indy – win
        Cin – win
        @Car – win
        @Bal – loss (and that one hurts to type – prefer to switch here and Car but that’d be overly optimistic)

        That puts us at 6-5 after the Atlanta game. Enough time for the coaches to have figured things out and go on that 4 game winning streak to get into the playoffs before laying an egg the last week. I also don’t think we win a playoff game, but we’ll see.

  • technivore

    I definitely feel better today after watching the 2nd half of the game this morning… I was in a really bad mood after turning the game off at halftime yesterday. Kudos to whoever pointed out over at WFNY that Cameron’s absence may have been the key in turning the offense around. Dray and Barnidge and the O-line were the real story of the 2nd half and here’s hoping Cameron takes his time coming back. On the other hand the Steelers defense was clearly not prepared for the no-huddle and that won’t be the case against the Saints now that there’s plenty of film on it.

    Also I love, love, love our D-line, especially A. Bryant and Sheard. Mingo appears to have acquired a clue somewhere along the way as well. Kirksey is a baller.

    I’m not willing to predict 10 wins but 8-8 sure looks realistic from here.

  • FTCMikeD

    I am really hoping that the team from the second half shows up for the rest of the season. That is the key to 10 wins.

  • Petefranklin

    NO ONE believed you when you said that Haslem had some kind of money problems soon after he bought the Browns.

  • Dave Borcas

    Great article I’ll take 10 wins! Hawaii 4Q offense saved my but and I take back my first week essay on Ohio State

    Goooooooooooooooo BROWNS

  • I think there is much truth here, especially in regard to the roster improvements and in the head coach. But I think we’re a year ahead of ourselves on the 10 wins.

    This team should be better, but it will take time and while we’ll see improvement later in the season, not sure it will translate to actual wins until next year.

    Oh, and after yesterday someone is going to have to work overtime to talk me out of the Browns drafting Marcus Mariota with one of the No. 1 picks next spring.

    • we’re going to smash the steelers today and it will be glorious.

      • Petefranklin

        I’m getting a strange tingly feeling…smash em!

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