Clearing the Tweetdeck on the Browns.

Our new QB and I feel pretty good about it.

Our new QB and I feel pretty good about it.

Indeed Adam (aka AlvaroEspinoza in the Cheddar-verse).  Too much haze swirling around the Browns and zero hot takes.  Only bad takes.  So let’s open it up on a bunch of Browns-related topics.  I’m going to go back through my twitter timeline for cues.  Apologies in advance for an embed heavy post. 

1. Brian Hoyer had to go.

I mean right? Just to expand on this thought: Hoyer might be open to a backup role somewhere, but he doesn’t want to be a seat warmer for Johnny Football (or whoever this year’s flavor of month turns out to be). I like Hoyer better than most. I know he got jobbed last year. But that jobbing turned him into a Captain Queeg personality. This idea put forward by Grossi that you re-sign Hoyer because he had seven wins fails to consider these interpersonal dynamics. (It’s also laughably childish and/or lazy ‘analysis’ to use a team’s win-loss record as your go to metric in QB eval.)

2.  Josh McCown is fine.
2014 NFL teams sorted by PFF pass block grading.

2014 NFL teams sorted by PFF pass block grading.

In direct contrast to the prime-of-year career, 29-year-old Hoyer, 35-year-old veteran QB Josh McCown is perfectly suited to be a bridge. He knows his role and can accept it given where he is in his career. And not for nothing he’s prototype size (6-4/220) who performed great when playing for Marc Trestman as opposed to Lovie Smith.  Lovie couldn’t figure how to hire an OC in Chicago and he’s already fired his OC from his first year in Tampa.

The palace at Berkeley.

The palace at Berkeley.

Jesus Tap-dancing Christ do you McCown pouters understand that the Bucs had JEFF TEDFORD as their OC last year??  Guy’s been milking his Aaron Rodgers connection for over a decade.  Sonny Dykes was a major step forward for Cal football!  I mean it’s Berekeley first off and then they’ve thrown over $300MM at their stadium reno and they’re hiring C-USA coaches from northwest Louisiana?  That’s where the program is after ten plus years of Jeff Tedford?1

Anyway, if you want any level of sophistication when it comes to the McCown signing, do not tune into Cleveland sports radio.  Like check at Adam the Bull’s sputtering bluster when he tries to grapple with a freaking expert (Daniel Jeremiah, NFLN, MoveTheSticks) guest he has on his own show who is trying to explain that McCown is fine.

My take too is that McCown will be fine.  My corollary take is:  who the hell did you want them to take?  Did I miss the part where Philip Rivers was available?  More laughably childish/lazy analysis from Cleveland sports media holds that the Browns need to ‘solve their QB problem.’  Well no shit.  So don’t 25 other NFL teams.

3.  Are the Bills really crushing it Tony Grossi?

Grossi has been off the hook lately but I think his carping about what a great job the Bills are doing is beyond the pale.  They lost their head coach.  Their first round QB from 2013 is a bust.  They have no first round pick this year.  They are paying ~20% more to LeSean McCoy than was guaranteed to DeMarcus Murray and they gave up the 2013 DROY in order to so overpay.  Mind you, that’s 26MM for a RB.  Only Adrian Peterson got more.

But the Bills are the template for Grossi-ball.  Check this pretzel logic:

Derided nationwide for stupidly giving the Browns their 2015 first-round draft choice a year ago in the trade to move up and take Sammy Watkins, who turned out to be the fourth-best receiver in the epic rookie class ignored by Farmer...”

So the Bills gave up two #1s to get the fourth best WR at #4 overall and that’s good?  No you jack-ass, that’s bad.  Christ.

But hey Matt Cassell.

4.  But Grossi and Bull aren’t even close to the dumbest Cleveland sports personality.



5. Brian Hartline is a good signing.


Mike Wallace who?

The guy is a 6-2 WR who is fast and runs good routes and catches the ball with his hands. I am SO TIRED of this ‘stretch the field’ bullshit. Two words: Mike Wallace. OMG, what will the Steelers do after losing their deep threat?  (Answer at right.) Meanwhile the Dolphins look for ways to get out from under the 30M guaranteed to their field stretcher. I do indeed want Parker in the draft.  But WRs of his calibre are available through the draft in April, not in free agency now.

6.  Speaking of the Steelers (and Ravens) (and Bengals):


D’Angelo Williams possibly behind that o-line with Roethlisberger and Brown?  Prisco makes the case for the Ravens’ Justin Forsett signing as better than the Eagles/Murray.  Even the Bengals are doing right by re-signing Maualuga and Boling.  You might not love AJ Hawk but at $500,000 gtd for two years it fills a hole.

Don’t ever presume to think the AFCN will have a down year.

7.  Personally, here’s the free agent topping my wish list currently.

Per Lane, there is no news on this.

8. Ray Farmer, idiot. Really?

Net net, the picks that were Ray’s were good. My bet is that he gambled and lost last year hoping that Mike Evans might fall to #8/#9 and felt Gilbert was an acceptable need-filling prototype CB. But I do think Mike Evans was plan A and no I can’t back that up.

9.  But that doesn’t mean he’s above criticism.

10. A plausible scenario for you:

Let’s wrap this with a realistic upside outlook.

  1. This is an example of why this post has taken so long:  I start out with Josh McCown and wind up at LaTech. [back]
  2. Note: I could easily on board with a Kaepernick acquisition, but not at that price. [back]
  • Sam Gold

    This article and these comments are like oxygen to a drowning man. Thank you all.

  • Capitalgg

    I think that Browns fans have a right to be angry, but the Cleveland area “thought” leaders always choose the wrong targets/reasons for anger because they choose the easy (read: lazy) narrative.

    We should be angry because the organization (with a complicate and at times helpful media) undermined the best QB we’ve had since at least 1994. They poisoned the well and forced him out. At that point it makes no sense to be mad at the org or Hoyer or McCown because McCown is (unfortunately) our best option.

    The organization (with tons of media backing) wasted a 1st round pick (and some by trading-up) for a guy who had a nice highlight film of him being more athletic than fellow collegiate athletes, but consistently failed at making sane plays and absolutely failed in the football measurables department. And that’s before we get into the red flags from his hightlight reel of off-the-field adventures. But, by god, he sold a lot of t-shirts.

    The Browns decided to raise ticket prices this year by a significant amount the same week their 1st round pick QB goes into rehab (good for him) and their most talented player gets a year-long suspension announced. Not their fault, but he optics are bad. And why not make it incremental? “Yeah, we went 1-7 down the stretch, next year looks horrific on the surface, the national media is discussing what a joke we are, so here’s a 30% price increase to our most loyal fans. Thanks for sticking with us! And we’re coming out with incrementally, radical new uniforms, so get excited!”

    Seriously, is there some super power that takes generally smart people, puts them in Berea and suddenly they become tone deaf to any semblance of a world outside that building? 25 years, essentially since they build that building, since the org has been able to put out any kind of consistent message that anyone understands what it is they are trying to do. (It’s build a football team that can win football games, in case you couldn’t remember).

    Now, I think the team is handling free agency properly, but it did rub me the wrong was as all hell is breaking loose on the first day of the league year with blockbuster trade here, big signing there. Rather than float some, we’re pursuing this guy or that guy or simply shutting up, the organization manages to make themselves look stupid by announcing the “orange carpet gala for the new uniform unveiling”. I buy the argument that the Browns business side should be independent of the football side and they should be able to concurrently “make a better fan experience” while also making a better football team, but it’s been 16 years and there is still ZERO signs that this can or will actually happen.

    So there is room for frustration, but then they get on the airwaves, in the newpapers, and over the internets screaming about stupid stuff that the team is actually handling fairly correctly and it makes you wonder if it’s all too damned hopeless to really be angry about.

    Oh well, I renewed my tickets because that is what I do, I feel I’m pot committed at this point. Just frustrated by being frustrated and hearing frustration about all the wrong stuff. Just argh!

    • having experienced your tailgate scene, there’s no way you could ever bag the season tix.
      spot on with the hoyer observation.
      zac and andre need to trademark ‘majoring in the minor’ which perfectly sums up berea office renovations, new scoreboards, logo color changes and god us help us on the uniforms.

    • zarathustra

      Amen! You nailed it. I forgot that they raised ticket prices. LOL. You couldn’t make this shit up. These assholes just beg the gods to go 5-11 (not 2-14 mind you. Wouldn’t want that number pick and a chance at finally finding a franchise qb or anything.)

    • AlvaroEspinoza10

      You hit this right on the head, especially about Hoyer. I was not happny when we drafted Manziel because it was clear Hoyer could play, and there was no possible good end result for Hoyer or for the team, unless Manziel came in and totally balled out in ’14 training camp. And then yea..

      How’s this for a “what if?”: Hoyer doesn’t tear his ACL against Buffalo in 2013. Does Chud survive that season? Probably. Would Lombardi and Banner still be around without the coaching search disaster? Probably. And I’d guess Hoyer would be entering the 2nd year of a long-term deal with no Manziel anywhere in sight. Are the Browns better off now or under that scenario? Been chewing on it and can’t decide: Pettine v Chud, Farmer v LomBanner, Hoyer v. ManCown, etc.

      • Capitalgg

        In your hypothetical, I’m going to say worse off simply because I think had Lombanner stayed, Mack was for sure not resigning. The rest is a real toss up with so many variables, I can barely wrap my head around the totality of the problem.

  • zarathustra

    Since the end of the season I’ve firmly planted my feet on pessimistic ground regarding this franchise. I remain so, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be impressed when they do the right thing and they have been spot fucking on in free agency in my opinion. Rather than blow your load early on bad contracts it is more prudent to look for value (hartline!) and there isn’t much value in march. The best strategy in my mind (and most definitely Ozzie and Bill Belichick ‘s minds) is to pick your spots early and wait until later in the spring when the remaining available players have little leverage. Moreover, the Browns have at best a huge question mark at quarterback and you aren’t going anywhere in such a situation so it is imperative to maintain cap flexibility as your window doesn’t open until then and that’s when you most need the cap flexibility to build around him and push forward in to perennial contention. Just because it is hard to foresee when the qb position will be resolved doesn’t make this any less true and in my experience arguing with reality is never a good strategy.
    And this leads to the only thing that I disagree with in this post: no parker. no wr at 12 and probably not one at 19 either–though I do kind of like strong there but that’s it. This team needs to solidify the front seven. If you don’t have a qb a wr is pointless and very easily plugged in when you get the qb. Moreover, without a qb you better have a good defense. I actually think the secondary still has promise even though skrine was a loss–still smart for the browns to let him go, but still a loss–but it all starts up front. You have a coach who excells at developing such players and should take advantage of it.

    One postscript re: drafting a wr. I have no idea where he is projected(I’m guessing 3rd rd) but go get Jamison Crowder. He is not a “#1 wr” but I’ve watched him the last couple years and he going to have a long productive career.

    • zarathustra

      Oh, and on McCown….I don’t have much confidence, but at least it makes sense from the browns perspective. As you stated Hoyer doesn’t want to be a bridge (to what exactly is still quite terrifying ) and the front office alienated him anyway. McCown is willing to be a bridge and is similar to manziel in that he’s mobile so you can build the offense around that and not have a two different offenses for two different quarterbacks. Also, while the sample size on McCown is plenty sufficient to know with confidence what he is, you still are probably buying low on him as tampa didn’t have an oc all season and prior to it was tedford.
      So if you are going to double -down on last year’s first round pick (likely a fatal mistake, but that’s irrelevant from this perspective) McCown was probably the best the could do on the veteran front.

    • im always good investing in the trenches. but.. (see 13:40 mark). there’s lots of back shoulder hands catching and good yards after catching running (including smart use of blockers). parker might be worth a second look,,, but i also dont think he lasts to 12.

      • zarathustra

        No doubt that he is good. I just don’t think he would be a good fit for this team at this time. Even a wr as good as Larry Fitzgerald didn’t move the needle much for the Cardinals when his quarterbacks were max hall, john skelton, matt leinart, and….Josh McCown. So I’m not doubting his talent by any means just his utility to the browns over the next few years.

  • We’ve kicked this around on Twitter but I would have preferred Hoyer to McCown simply because Hoyer is six years younger and is more familiar with the Browns personnel. But arguing Hoyer vs. McCown is the same as arguing McDonald’s vs. Burger King: no matter which you choose, you’re going to get a shitty meal. This is the first time in a long time I haven’t been able to talk myself into the latest QB signing.

    The Hartline signing is a solid one. He’s durable (only missed 4 games in his career), doesn’t cough up the ball (3 fumbles in his career) and, for now, becomes the Browns second-best receiver. If they can get a true quality receiver in the draft, then suddenly having a guy who has averaged 50 receptions for 700 yards in his career as your No. 3 receiver doesn’t look too bad.

    As for the rest of free agency, while I never expected the Browns to go after Ndamukong Suh or give unneeded big-money contract extensions to LeSean McCoy, nor should they, I was hoping for signings akin to last year’s deals for Whitner and Dansby. But they haven’t even approached those levels yet, which leaves me starting to wonder just what the plan is.

    As for the Bills and Grossi, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has his finger less on the pulse of what is happening in Berea and the NFL than him.

    • so here’s silva’s FA Tracker.


      this prevailing attitude of ‘Sign someone, anyone!’ is just soo silly.

      bring back miles austin, take a run at joe barksdale and steph wieniewski, sniff around michael johnson, avoid the tommy kelly urge, hang onto gipson-robertson, get your draft board in order, and dont let jimmy or alec hang out in the war room this year. there. that’s your plan.

      • Have never been an advocate of signing someone for the sake of signing someone. But Browns are also not a point where they can forego free agency completely, which is pretty much what they are currently doing.

        Of course free agency is only one part of the puzzle, so we’ll see how all the pieces fit together once we get through draft weekend.

        • i didnt mean to imply you were making the ‘sign anyone’ case.

          BUT i would say, it looks to me like they signed a starting QB and WR in their FA period while only losing last year’s starting CB2 for whom they have at-least pencilled in backfill.

          the prevailing idea that the rest of league is passing them by while they are standing still is the premise that i’m out to shoot down.

  • AlvaroEspinoza10

    Agreed on all counts above and thanks MB– got lots to get off my chest:

    The local hyperventilating over free agency is insane. People want the team to sign someone ANYONE just BECAUSE. Today I turned on Kiley and Booms for the first time in my life and they were complaining that the Browns didn’t sign Ted Ginn Jr., saying the Browns “lost out” on him, without any discussion of what he’d bring to the table or if the Browns even made him an offer. I turned it off after about 30 seconds. And the national media… well…

    As for the Browns own FAs– Cameron: can’t block, can’t stay on the field, can’t block, and can’t block. Goodbye at 7 mil a year, wish you luck and honestly hope you retire soon for the sake of your brain. Sheard: doesn’t fit Pettine’s scheme, so I’m tentatively okay to lose him as long as Pettine will be here for a few years and can keep his system in place (a big IF), which is what winning teams should do. Is it crazy to think Mingo will have a big year with a functioning arm? Wish he played more mean, but Pettine must be positive on Mingo to let Sheard walk. Gipson: need him back. Skrine: Can do without his penalties every game. Desir looked good, Williams should only improve, and it’s stupid to write off Gilbert after 1 year. Everybody had him ranked highly, that INT return showed what freak talent he has– only needs to get the mental right. And with Haden and Hitner working on him (and Dansby), can we be optimistic about him improving his mental? And no Josh Gordon lurking around the facility can only help Gilbert, Manziel, and younger guys (go find an island, Josh). I don’t think any of this is too rose-colored glasses is it? Only “hole” created maybe possibly is TE, but I think Barnidge balled hard last year when given a shot.. and he can actally block.

    Going forward, in free agency, the Browns still have a shot at Clay and several other TEs (no Gresham please, I want TEs who can catch), as well as some DE and DT and WR talent floating around out there. Nothing world-beating, but build some depth and competition at all 4 positions with some modest signings. Then draft: DT/NT with top pick(s), then OL, DE, TE, WR, in some order. Then draft some projects/late-round at QB, RB, S, CB, ILB, WR.

    McCown: people rightfully rag on the Browns (including Kosar and AtoZ), for how the Browns will never develop a QB without having the right system in place, having support around the guy, etc. Yet we’re going to put the 1-10 Bucs entirely on McCown last year? He lost two close games to start the season, then broke his thumb early in 3rd start. So he comes back with a healing broken thumb to a dumpster fire team, fired the O-Coordinator, a team deliberately tanking, and goes 1-7 (McCown managed a decent game here and there). He’s no pro bowler, but not sure he’s worse than Hoyer, and could possibly be better. Hoyer’s early positives were his smarts, leadership, taking care of the ball. As the season wore on, his accuracy continued to be poor, and then he started started playing for his contract and started slinging it and throwing picks. McCown is more accurate, reportedly just as good mentally/leadership, and hopefully will keep a lid on the picks, since Pettine will only ask him to be a game manager, and he will listen.

    But what if McCown doesn’t even start? Manziel’s rookie year was a disaster 100%. And by all reports it started and ended with his mentality. In that case, rehab = best case scenario this off-season for him. Who knows if he has the physical traits to be successful, but we know for sure: he did himself 0 favors/ did the opposite of trying his hardest/ did the opposite of whatever reaching one’s potential is. Lame analogy: Johnny is like the person who never worked out and eats whatever he wants his entire teenage/young-adult life and stayed perfectly fit/skinny just based on metabolism/genes (JF: didn’t work at it, but had crazy success in college). Then at the age of 30, without realizing it, he just gets fat because his metabolism slows and he doesn’t bother to change his habits at all (rookie year). Then one day he looks in the mirror and is like: sheeeet, I’m fat and need to get this shit together (rehab). So, according to all mouth-breathers, now that he’s fat, he’s gonna be fat for the rest of his life. No. Not saying it’s out of the question that Manziel will suck, but crazy to think his career is over based on 5 quarters of play for which he hadn’t done any prep at all. But who knows, maybe he’ll be fat and happy for the rest of his life, reliving the glory days in his head, but I think he’s more competitive than that.

    And as a biased fan, we still have that drive against Buffalo AND the fact that he looked a little better v Carolina before his injury (and the defense shit the bed in his debut– down 10 by the time of his second drive). But still, draft a QB in mid rounds.

    Thanks if you’ve read this far. Looking forward to Dave Kolonich succinctfully destroying all my positive takes

    • browns were better when cameron and gordon were not playing. gordon was a disaster; barnidge/dray KNEW THEIR ROLES and did their jobs with pride.

      good point on mingo who i’d forgotten. i thought he improved a lot last year and will not be surprised if he breaks out next year.

      kinda worried about gilbert and i wonder if farmer might not have had fuller higher as a player but was mesmerized by gilbert’s speed and arm length and status as draft wonk favorite. if so, even this is a good thing in that it teaches farmer to trust his takes.

      is it time to pull the rip cord on phil taylor? man i hope not.

      didn’t even know about mccown’s thumb. “Significant Thumb Sprain, Could Miss Weeks”

      i got no realistic hopes for johnny so if anything happens there, it’s icing. unfortunately it’s such a circus with him that even having him sit the bench creates the drama of endless in-game sideline shots.

    • zarathustra


  • maxfnmloans

    this is why I dont have a blog. I just wait for Kanick to put up 90% of what Im thinking.

    You have made me happy I am not within earshot of local radio though. Jeebus. I used to listen to them on a stream after work at night while in the garage “working on that project, Honey” but I just listen to replays of SVP or Simmons. I can’t handle the local honks anymore.

    McCown = Hoyer except he knows his role. Hoyer thinks he deserves to be a starter. Therefore, he’s got to go. To Hoyer, Id say “Whether you think he’s worth it or not, Brian, the organization spent a #1 on JFF, and he’s going to get a shot. It might even seem “unfair”. Guess what? So what? Life isnt fair” (please dont get me started on kids who grew up in the security of upper-middle class and private school and then want to talk about “unfair”. Go dig a well in Somalia and tell me about “fair”).

    I dont know why so many are just losing their gourds right now. You dont want to be in on the initial rush of free agency, where its a sellers (players) market and people are lining up to pay $200 for a Cabbage Patch doll…the few misses they’ve had lately have been unsettling, but the script isn’t written yet, so let’s see what happens. And the thing I always want to see them bolster (the trenches) is always the last thing to get filled in FA (except for a few “marquee” linemen, which how’d Levitre work out for Tenessee? How about LCB for us in 06?) Being parsimonious with Free agents is ok with me. And there’s a TON of quality backup linemen out there.

    If they lose out on Gipson, I’m going to be miffed. But then again, I don’t think anyone saw McCourty getting 9 mil a year from the Pats. But I agree that playing Restricted free agent roulette with key contributors probably will not prove to be a wise strategy over the long haul.

    And finally I agree with you and GRR. GRR is right that 9 wins might keep you in the convo for the division next year, but that doesnt mean the division is down. Its going to be just like last year where all 4 teams are within 3 games of each other, and everyone beats up everyone else.

    3-3 in the division
    3-2 home record in non-division games
    2-1 home record division games
    1-2 away record division games
    3-2 road record non-division games

    Also, sad to say Devante Parker is going to be lone gone by 12. Good news is there’s a ton of quality WR’s in the draft this year. And not for nothing but if they dont draft Green-Beckham thats fine by me, but Ive heard so many people say we cant do it because of Josh Gordon, and that is just horrible horrible logic in my opinion. If they pass him by because their research dictates they should pass him by, then thats fine by me. BUT they shouldn’t let the Gordon mistake (if you want to call it that) continue to impact the organization in other ways. THAT is dysfunctional

    • i only listen to the podcasts that the stations post as well as the occasional stream. i cannot tell you how many times i’ve started a listen and opted to turn it off. the monolithic ignorance transcends stations and shows. just when i thought adam the bull was hopelessly both clueless and loud, i discovered rizzo who is equal to or worse than bull except (apparently) he has higher ratings and a corresponding higher .. not so much arrogance but self assurance. these guys get ratings and actually think people tune to hear them when people actually tune in to hear any old sportstalk. (see also mike and mike or cowherd.) as for goldhammer it’s simply a mystery both why he has a daytime show and why he calls Goldenboyz with a Z. like are there graffitti artists using that tag in moreland hills? sorry hillz.

      but yeah these guys would be ECSTATIC if browns dressed their windows with percy harvin for a year. and they think theyre on solid ground because of grossi. there is a fellow track record wouldnt stand up to close scrutiny.

      yeah i doubt parker or white will be around. in fact, i bet cooper goes third out of that bunch. but then comes jstrong, dgb, perriman, coates, smith, funchess and what do you know but it’s another EPIC WR DRAFT! like: HEY GROSSI THEY PASS A LOT IN CFB NOW THUS THERE ARE MORE WR PROSPECTS. likewise, we can be sure there are more QB prospects than only two spoken of on cleveland radio. cant say i have any strong opinions on the QBs as yet except to say, i don’t get bo wallace’s undrafted projection.

      one more thought on the WRs: i am done with athletic specimens who cant learn their routes. D-O-N-E. that’s why hartline over harvin all day long but dont try to tell that to kiley or booms.

      • maxfnmloans

        I went to Orange, please for the love of God do not associate Goldhammer with Moreland Hills (I grew up a poor sharecroppers son in Hunting Valley. My Parents WERE “The Help”)

        I am amazed how often “route running” is overlooked. Seems the WR being where the QB expects him to be is kinda important, but what do I know?

        And I hope they give Mannion a long look. Seems he turned some heads yesterday. Negative: played in a shotgun spread, but thats on NFL scouts to project. Cant hold is against guys coming out because thats whats prevalent.

      • nj0

        Are there any non-insane media types in Cleveland? Sounds horrible. Houston has a surprising amount of rational radio hosts.

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