Monday, July 31, 2006

Time to move on

So Bentley is gone for the year. I personally identify with Gary Baxter:

"To a certain extent, I do believe in a jinx or curse. I'd never been hurt and then I come here and get hurt. Then LeCharles [Bentley] goes down. But I'm a superstitious guy."

After the kind of luck we've had, you'd be crazy not to think of jinx. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad that Savage and Crennel and the rest of the team aren't going around flailing their arms in the air. They are taking the attitude that this is business is usual, and its time to get things done, and thats what they should be doing to keep this from being a lost season. But since we're just fans, we have the luxury of not being mature about it.

However, I thought I would come up with a list of blessings to count:
  1. Savage came in to build this team through the draft. We all know that he still has a lot more work to do, so it was great to see him find us a guy in free agency to speed up the process a bit. But having or not having LeCharles Bentley for this season will have little, if any impact, on the fortunes of this team in the medium term and in the long term.
  2. Its all about the Defense. I'm hoping that Frye, Winslow, Edwards, Droughns, et al give us a fun show to watch, but this team's success is going to be dependent on the extent that the defense comes together. New linemen getting more work, Linebackers learning the system, safties getting up to speed. And last I saw, Bentley didn't line up on defense.
  3. Maybe we should interpret this sign as one last reminder by the football gods, before we finally start winning, that we are the Cleveland Browns. Our final piece or bad luck.
  4. Say that we would've gone 9-7 with Bentley. His absence might cost us a win or two. So we'll have a higher draft pick, with just as much potential coming back next season.
  5. Who really was expecting a Super Bowl this year? We still have one more season of growing before we should realistically hope for our Super Bowl push. Sure, it'd be more fun to see the team growing WITH Bentley on the field, but they'll still be able to grow on their own. And then, after they go 9-7 this year, imagine what a great position we'll be in for next year with Bentley coming back at full strength to make us even better.
  6. Cincinatti looks like they're getting worse and worse. They're challenging Baltimore as the NFL team with the most criminals. And it looks like its catching up with them. According to PFT, Odell Thurman could be missing more than just 4 games this season.
  7. Pittsburgh isn't content to let Cincinatti claim the classless-act title on their own, so they grab up Santonia Holmes and his multiple arrests since the draft. Holmes was pretty good for OSU, but without their discipline to keep him on track, it looks like his bad nature is coming out. It looks like he'll make a good pairing with Face-Plant Rothlisberger
  8. Baltimore has invested another first round pick in Defense, while they plow a ton of money into a dinosaur of a QB. They better hope that they win it this year, because that team is gonna blow up pretty soon. No offense, aging, expensive primadonnas on defense, and a coach who can't handle anything other than covering his butt.
  9. At least it was a proven player who got hurt. We know what to expect when he gets back. What has really hurt about the Winslow, Edwards, and Courtney Brown injuries was that not only were the guys off the field, but we didn't even know what we could expect of them once they finally returned. I'd rather lose Bentley and know that we can count on him for next year, than lose Wimbley and be in the position of not drafting another pass-rusher next year in the HOPE that Wimbley is the answer.
  10. Why do we need a center? We have Babatunde!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sunova. . .

Word is, Bentley is out for the year. There's Brown's luck for you. I will post more about this once I've recovered from the shock.

First word

Initial reports are starting to get filed.

The key right now is that there is no report of a "popping" noise. I remember from past ACL injuries that they knew what it was right away because of the popping. Of course, that doesn't mean we're in the clear (by any means), but the worst case scenario hasn't been confirmed yet. This lack of catastropic news is about all that we can hope for, right now.

Welcome to Cleveland, LeCharles

Bentley's hurt, looks serious. No news here.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Stuck Key

Same story, new names:
In another sign of decided competence, 4 more picks sign, leaving Travis Wilson as the only unsigned rookie. Wilson's deal could be tough to iron out, considering he is the best receiver of the draft, but still will only get third round money.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Lest ye declare victory prematurely, forget not the past

Following up the good news of the Kam Wimbley signing, Grossi gives us an indepth history of the expansion era's QB troubles. Kind of long, focuses alot on Couch, forgets Luke McCown, but a good reminder of how bad its been.

One passage that caught my attention:

Savage's sterling reputation as a talent evaluator with the Baltimore Ravens was built on pass rushers, linebackers, defensive backs and running backs - certainly not on quarterbacks.

The only quarterbacks the Ravens drafted while Savage was their chief talent evaluator turned out to be journeymen at best.

They are Chris Redman, a third-round pick (like Frye) in 2000, and Kyle Boller, a first-round pick in 2003. Redman is currently teamless and Boller will begin this season on the bench.

That was something that had stuck in the back of my mind as Savage was coming into town with nothing but praises, but this is the first time I've seen someone else mention it.

But picking a QB is a crapshoot, and nobody has proven to be a consistent winner at it. And, in Savage's defense, Baltimore wanted Byron Leftwich (a respectable young passer), and their negotiations with the Vikings was the reason Minnesota didn't get their pick in on time. In the end, the deal took too long to work out, and Jacksonville got Leftwich, and Phil Savage and company were left with Boller.


While Grossi focused on the past, McManamon focuses on the future. Key point:

The Browns will be led by Frye, but it will not be Frye at the epicenter of everything that takes place.

Frye's selection signaled the start of a not-so-subtle shift in emphasis, as the Browns tried to erase years of frustration and losing.

Instead of taking the star quarterback and making him the center of the team -- a move done with Tim Couch -- the Browns made the decision to strengthen the team around their third-round choice.

If you focus on a star QB who will make the team good, you're screwed if that QB is anything short of great. If you focus on a good team that might make the QB good, you more easily cut your losses and overpay for a new QB to pull all the pieces together.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

That's what I'm Talkin about

Kam Wimbley has signed.

Awesome news. And based on PFT's analysis, it doesn't look like we overpayed at all. And he's the first first-rounder to sign other than Mario Williams.

When was the last time the Browns signed a first rounder was signed before camp? If I remember correctly, it was Courtney Brown in 2000. So, good riddance to John Collins.

Good Len Pasquarelli analysis. I particularly like this line: '"It shows the fans and the team I'm ready to be a Brown," Wimbley said.' Thanks Kam, the gesture is appreciated.

Lerner sticks it to 19

I'm interested by this issue between Browns' owner Randy Lerner (and the Browns) and channel 19.

Quick recap: Channel 19 decided to play the 911 tapes of Randy's sister calling for help after her 6 year old daughter drowned, while all the other stations chose not to play it (or at least not play the graphic portions). So Randy has decided that he no longer needs to do business with Channel 19 and he is pulling out of the agreement to show the Brown's games on 19.

My thoughts:
  • I'm not sure that I like seeing Randy make Browns business decisions based on personal issues. This situation is understandable, but I wouldn't want to see it be a regular thing. But, as long as the Browns games do get aired on some station, I don't really care what his reasons are for his decisions.
  • Randy has to be incredibly ticked at 19. Losing a little girl like that is a tragedy that is hard enough to deal with. Having a news station hyping it to make a buck off your name and your tragedy is too much. I do respect him for standing up for his sister and his niece, and putting honor above business.
  • I always had problems with 19 Action news. I don't like the sensationalistic journalism (thanks to MoL for the tip). It always seemed like they would do whatever trashy, sleazy thing they needed to, as long as it got viewers. It gives me some satisfaction to see them paying for their sleaze.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wherefore art thou, Babatunde?

Hot off the presses, two more draft picks are signed:
CB Demario Minter and
NT Babatunde Oshinowa

To paraphrase (actually, to directly quote) Mistake by the Lake: All hail Babatunde!

Get to know Babatunde Oluwasegun Temitope Oluwakorede Adisa Oshinowo Jr. a little closer, and I'm sure you'll be as excited as the rest of us. To give you reasons why to love Baba:
  • His full name is Babatunde Oluwasegun Temitope Oluwakorede Adisa Oshinowo Jr. which is by FAR one of the best names, ever.
  • Son of Nigerian Immigrants, he belongs in Cleveland, a town of immigrants.
  • Probably one of the steals of the draft. Alot of teams had him slotted as a first day pick, but because of his position (3-4 Nose Tackle) and luck, he fell to the Browns in the sixth.
  • He's a big guy who doesn't do a whole lot other than sit in the middle of an offensive line and clog it up. What else are we looking for?
  • He's decended from Nigerian royalty (is a chief royalty?).
  • He's a closet nerd. A Stanford Electrical Engineering major, he's no big dumb jock.
  • And last, and by no means least, he comes to Cleveland by way of the sixth round pick that Phil Savage was able to BLEED out of Baltimore. So we get Kam Wibley + A starting Nose Tackle, in exchange for them getting a lazy tackle who we were going to pass on anyways. That, my friends, is a deal.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

First 06 Picks sign

In a sign that Browns news will be starting to pick up again, we get word that the Browns have signed two of their draft picks. Good start. With all the other teams' signings I've been hearing about, I've been wondering what was happening in Berea.

I'm curious how the offseason tasks are working right now with Lerner filling in for John Collins' role. Is Lerner out there working on these deals? Doesn't sound like an ideal situation. Fortunately, at least these latter round picks have their deals essentially decided already. Its not until the first few rounds that they really have to be on top of the negotiating-ball to get good deals done in a timely manner.

Believe you me, if the pace doesn't start picking up, and if there are any guys who don't make it in to the start of training camp, there's going to be hell to pay. Lerner will hear about it every day once the Browns Press gets back in the action.


So we have a new fullback. This guy got some good reviews. Sounds like he can actually catch and carry the ball, instead of being a slightly-more-mobile-guard ala Terrell Smith.

Are we really going to carry multiple fullbacks on the roster? I guess that I can see it happen for Vicker's first year, but I have to assume that by this time next year either Smith will get the boot or Vickers will be demoted to the practice squad. I'd say we should put him on the practice squad now, but then he'd be fair game for other teams to sign.

Ace Davis has a very useful projected roster up. He invites people to propose changes (although his comments section is a pain to use). I tried to come up with some changes, because I doubt that Nick Speegle or Lee Suggs will get cut, but I just can't open up any holes on the roster.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Why Dwayne Rudd?

Time to splain the site's name. . .

Most Browns' fans should be able to identify my reference immediately (for those who don't). What started as a promising season turned downhill quickly. That game represents, for me, what it means to be a Browns fan.

Like 2003 (two promising QB's, a developing Defense, and the ultimate spread offense), 2004 (the chosen one in KWII, a second-year developing defense, and promising RBs in Suggs and Green), or 2005 (a solid QB in Dilfer, an exemplary WR corps in Edwards, Bryant, and Northcutt, a tandem of RBs, and a make lemonade-from-lemon Defensive coach in Crennel), we were all set up to see the progress from the prior season to build into something bigger and better.

But things happened.
QBs failed to live up to even meager expecations.
A revamped O-line couldn't gell before they got hurt.
Defensive players proved that they only fulfilled roles while leaving gaps in other areas.
Super-stars-in-the-making went down with freak injuries before the could show squat.

In short, the football gods conspired against us.

Now, I'm not one to dwell on injuries. Every team should expect some injuries. But how the Browns have lost too many guys to too many injuries (Verba with a pectoral tear, Winslow with a broken leg and a case of "I'm an idiot on a crotch-rocket", Edwards with a pop in the knee, Jamir Miller with a torn Achilles, Lee Suggs with chronic-high-ankle-sprains, Courtney Brown with chronic-everything). No one can compete with so many injuries.

And everyone should expect some players to not live up to expectations (Jeff Faine turning into a tight-end-wannabe on the Atkins diet, Verbs deciding he's more into chicks and gambling, Robert Griffith forgetting how to tackle, or Trent Dilfer deciding he's Peyton Manning being held back by a Norm Turner offense).

But do we really have to have the refs working against us? I've never seen ref's step infront of passes, except with the Browns when I've seen it twice on third downs. I've never seen refs stop a play after it's started to review the prior play except in Bottlegate. I've never seen a ref put a player on the Injured Reserve except with Orlando Brown being decommisioned with flag to the eye. And most egregiously, I've NEVER seen a ref decide to give the opponent one more try on a trivial play except when Dwayne Rudd's premature celebration gave the ref impetus to give Kansas City one more try to win the game.

So, thats what I've come to expect: The Browns (in particular) and Cleveland (in general) don't catch breaks. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and even the sure things that can't go wrong still end up finding a way to go wrong.

While its always a huge, painful disappointment, it has its plusses. It makes us strong. It builds character. There is nothing in this world quite like a Browns fan. We are the heart of the entire league. We are what other teams fans wish they could be. We pour our hearts into the team, we stick with them through thick and thin. We enjoy December games in blizzards and temps closer to -32 than to +32. We believe in every new QB, and we support every new coach until he more than proves his incompetence.

Right now I work in consulting, which isn't a bad gig if you can get it. But back in the day I worked as a garbage man. Let me tell you, I took more satisfaction in my work as a garbage man than I ever will as a consultant, even if the pay was alot less, because I knew that I EARNED that paycheck. In the same manner, I'm sure it'd be fun to have a team that was constantly in the top ten and was an annual contender. But would it be good for my soul?

Its not because we're gluttons for punishment. Losing is never acceptable. Dwayne Rudd was an idiot. But its good to know that, despite Rudd's helmet toss, and despite every other form of incompence, bad luck, and getting cheated, we still have our Browns, and we WILL make it someday. And when that day comes. . .

. . .well, frankly, I don't know how I would handle that. I've never been in that situation. But I look forward to finding out.

A new outlet in the Browns Universe

Welcome to my blog.

I have high hopes for this site. I'm just a fan, and have no inside connections. But I love the Browns, and I need an outlet.

In future posts, I hope to 'splain:
-Why I named this blog what I did
-What I hope to do with this blog
-What you can expect from me, and what I expect from you
-What I think it means to be a Brown's fan
But since this is my first post, I plan to jump right into the thick of the action. . .

The Backup QB
Fortunately for all us Brown's fans, the biggest debate right now (am I right?) is about the QB position, and more importantly, who our backup QB is (or isn't). So lets try to tackle this issue with some ground rules in play.

First, what role does a backup QB play on a football team? My assertion: a backup QB doesn't matter, unless you're a Super Bowl contender or a bottom-feeding team in rebuilding mode. We must first and foremost realize that only one QB is on the field at any given time. When a QB is out there on a passing play, it doesn't matter WHO is sitting on the bench behind him.

Before we decide whether or not we have an adequate QB, its good to realize what an adequate QB is not. A backup QB does not improve the play of the starting QB. Period. This is pretty unique in football. For instance, some positions see the a guy prosper because of another player's Pro-Bowl-caliber level. For instance, when Ray Lewis has bohemoth Defensive Tackles in front of him he's the next Ray Nitschke, but when he's left all alone to prove his own worth, he's just a glorified Andre Davis (tackling machine who does his job and gets to the ball carrier). Also consider Peerless Price who looked like a 1st rounder next to Eric Moulds, but looked like any other fast-guy-who-can-occasionally-catch when he didn't have someone getting double teamed accross the field from him. These instance are what leads us fans to the mentality to judge player in a team-context, and not in a single-performer-context.

But that mentality isn't the right way to approach a QB debate. My point is that QBs are different. They have to perform or fail on their own, without anyone to take the heat off of them. So if we can agree (can't we?) that a QB only passes or fails the smell test on his own merits, we can move onto the next step and consider what a backup QB IS.

Now, a backup QB serves two purposes:
-To perform when the starter goes down with injury
-To work his way into the the starter's role
Does Ken Dorsey serve these purposes?

Lets consider this in steps:
  • Charlie Frye is not being asked to win it on his own, he is being asked to win it like any system QB (Trent Dilfer, Ben Rothlisberger, or Brad Johnson). Our goal should be to show an improved O-line, a powerful running game, and reliable ballcatchers. If we are expecting a QB to win win games, then we are expecting too much. We gotta take this in steps, and the first step is to create a solid offense that can make a QB look good.

    If we succeed in that goal, any semi-competent QB should be vaugely successful. I think Dorsey qualifies as semi-competent, so if he ends up playing because of a Football-Gods-delvivered penance we will still be able to judge Carthon/Crennel/Savage's ability to create a balanced offense. We will still have to hope/pray for the day (2007?) that a competent QB can pull all the pieces together, but in the meantime we can still determine whether or not we are making progress.
  • Second, on whether or not the backup QB can work his way into the starter's role.

    No, Ken Dorsey probably isn't our QB of the future.

    Charlie Frye is the future of this organization. Love it or leave it, he is our QB of the future. Teams rarely get to have two young QBs duel it out for number one, and we are no exception. QB prospects come along too rarely to have another prospect on the bench. We aren't so fortunate to have Moon playing and McNair on the bench (because of the Davis/Palmer debacle) so we gotta take whatever the Lord hath provided. Maybe we will be blessed and Derek Anderson will turn into the next Tom Brady, but this is Cleveland and we don't expect such blessings.

    We only have so many picks in the draft, and we have decided to concentrate on low-risk/medium yield positions (Wimbley, Pool, DQwell Jackson, Edwards). We can't go griping about not getting the top QB too, cause we've just got too many holes to fill.

    Soooo, no use complaining about not having QB prospects A and B on the bench cause we got other concerns.
So, if you'll agree that 1) We need to be able to make progress on offense with-or-without a franchise level QB, and 2) we don't have the option of having a next-generation-starting-QB waiting in the wings, I hope that you will agree that we have an adequate backup QB situation.

We still have plenty of other questions to answer. My point is that the backup QB is probably one of the least of our concerns right now.