Reboot’s 2015 reboot.
Old friend Dave Kolonich gave me a piece to post last week and here it is. Sorry for the delay!
It’s been a while since I last checked in with Mike. Understandably, this 2015 Browns’ season has sucked the life out of me and/or I emotionally checked out around the time Josh McCown went for a helicopter ride back in September.
Anyway, solely for the purpose of going on the record – and to satisfy whatever 2011 Browns’ pseudo media guy cred I have remaining – let’s go to the scorecard and examine my last two offerings here on 603.
First, from what I consider my eponymous Browns’ Expansion Era Guide to Browns Drafting:
On Jabaal Sheard:
While Sheard’s numbers were disappointing, he still allowed Paul Kruger to have a career season. Unfortunately, scheme trumps talent and in Cleveland, a talented defender endures three coaching changes before he lands his first free agent deal.
Sheard is a professional player who has found a professional team to utilize his skills. The distinction couldn’t be clearer – Bill Belichick is confident and finds a place for talented players,1 while someone like Mike Pettine is inadequate and thusly unnecessarily rigid in his. Unfortunately, this is just one example of how Pettine and Ray Farmer’s respective egos and petulance eventually cost them their jobs. To think that somehow Sheard couldn’t help one of the league’s most impotent defenses is baffling.
Figure Out Your Team Strength, Then Do Something About It:
Currently, the team’s strongest area is the secondary, featuring three Pro Bowlers and some promising young cornerbacks. According to perfect Browns’ expansion era logic, this means that opposing QB’s will routinely put up 400 yards a game. Let’s draft another corner and a safety. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Here’s the rule: if both Mary Kay and Browns Twitter are gushing about a team strength, RUN the other way.
And now a few months later, Haden is wrecked, Desir was exposed and we’ll likely never hear from Gilbert again. At this point, Whitner is stealing money and Gipson cost himself a bunch coming back to this mess. The wreckage of Pettine and Jim O’Neil’s gratuitous coverage scheme will have a lasting effect – especially come next April.2
And some more Nostradamus-lite – from the August 2015 Season Preview:
But again – compared to his rock bottom (for now), Manziel not urinating on himself is a huge positive. He just hurdled that bar! Seriously, if you watch nothing else – just pay attention to Manziel’s feet during his throws.
Ignore the obvious for a moment and pretend Manziel isn’t a spoiled rich, oft-noxious frat boy whose only NFL trajectory is to literally wreck a franchise. Simply put, Manziel is a fundamental football mess. And if that still doesn’t clinch reality for those few remaining Johnny faithful, just understand that Manziel’s off his back foot throws led to just one total TD against the Bengals and Steelers combined.
And in a weird way, I feel the free agent adds of Bowe and Hartline will actually cause some regression. Hartline is just a guy and Bowe hasn’t been a threat in a few years. I would much rather see their snaps given to young guys like Taylor Gabriel and my third favorite Brown, Travis Benjamin. As for tight end – QUICK, name the Browns’ starting tight end!!!
It shouldn’t have been that hard to see the Bowe fall coming. Any Chiefs blogger saw that decline way back in 2013 – and of course, Farmer is probably still oblivious. As for Benjamin, I always wondered what could be if he were handed a bigger offensive role. Unfortunately, his success will be hard to repeat unless the Browns add some WR talent around (assuming he re-signs and of course, I’m not referring to Gabriel).
QUICK – Gary Barnidge!!! Didn’t see that one coming. Let’s hope his numbers translate for the analytics crowd.
On Another “Receiver”:
Wasn’t the whole Manziel-ian idea behind bringing Pryor in just to sell Columbus scrimmage tickets? Am I way off here? Is he still a thing come September?
About That Legendary Defense:
Look, I’ll believe the Browns feature a strong run defense when I actually see it. And over the last 15 years, it just hasn’t happened. I really like a lot of the talent on this defense, but I’ve also seen WAY TOO MANY expansion era Browns’ games where the defense hangs for three quarters only to get wore out because an inept offense forces them to play 42 minutes a game.
Be it talent, situation or most likely, a needlessly complicated schematic approach, the 2015 Browns’ defense featured the worst fundamentals of any expansion era unit. You probably have to travel back to Wali Rainer and John Jurkovic to find a defense less effective at tackling, covering and generally recognizing the most obvious of plays.
And finally, “We’re Not Going to Blow Things Up, OK”:
And of course, I would love to believe him. But this is Jimmy Haslam we’re talking about.
As for the new Sloan analytics super panel of smartest guys in the room that JIMMY is assembling, let’s consider two very important points:
- Remember that million dollar analytical study of the 2014 QB draft prospects – the one where Teddy Bridgewater came out on top? Let’s not forget that Haslam’s dumb ass was the one who impulsively wrecked any semblance of science and even common sense when he wrapped his lips around Johnny’s mystique (and merchandise potential). Haslam can dig up Einstein and Steve Jobs too, but the new front office is still structured so the guy making the final call is the one who knows the least about football.
- And here’s the greatest football truth ever: It doesn’t matter how brilliant Sashi and the Moneyball guy are, the Browns still need to find a GM to draft players for a coach who knows how to do something with them. And as always, successful NFL teams need at least three consecutive solid drafts3 AND need to find a franchise QB. All the brain power and advanced statistics can do little to overcome this truth.
See you in 2017!
- Had Sheard stayed in Cleveland, you know Pettine would have pulled him for Bloodbath Solomon. [back]
- Worth noting – the decline of the O-Line falls under this same banner. Alex Mack peaked about the time Brian Hoyer did, Greco is just a guy and the scary thing it – College OL are so bad now, Mitch Schwartz is about to make Joe Thomas money. [back]
- Let’s not forget, Pat Shurmur beat Pete Carroll before Carroll and the Seahawks were geniuses. [back]