Monday, December 31, 2007

Winning to lose

After a great season that was more successful than anybody's wildest dreams, I guess I shouldn't revert to the all too familiar "woe-is-me" post, but I'm a Browns fan so it is what comes naturally to me.

We won 10 games (and at least our 10 wins all came against teams that were trying to win . . .) and yet are sitting at home this January. Here is a list of the number of teams who finished either 10-6 or 9-7 and did not make the playoffs. This goes back to the 1990 season, when the 12 team playoffs were put into place.

Season 10-6 9-7
2007 1 -
2006 - 1
2005 1 4
2004 - 3
2003 1 1
2002 - 4
2001 - 1
2000 - 4
1999 - 1
1998 - -
1997 - 1
1996 - 2
1995 - 1
1994 - 2
1993 - 1
1992 - 2
1991 2 -
1990 - 2

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Offended by silliness

The 2007/8 ProBowl roster is out.

The good news: The Browns have ended their streak of shut-outs.
The bad news: There was some serious shafting going on.

I'll be the first to admit that ProBowl rosters tend to be popularity contests, and reflect past achievements and not current achievements. And furthermore, we all know how much of a team sport is, and how much of a disservice it is to pay homage to a couple guys and not the other guys who are allowing them to excel. But, it is what it is.

Braylon Edwards and Josh Cribbs will be representing the Browns. Thats fair. Cribbs by all means should be there, and its a rare example of the better player getting in over the higher-profile player (Wes Welker).

But how about Browns omissions? Kellen Winslow could beat out Gates or Gonzalez any day of the week. I would have liked to see Derek Anderson in over ben rothlisberger, not because I think he deserves it, just because it would have pissed off steelers fans so much. I also think that Lawrence Vickers probably deserves consideration, although I'll admit to not being the connoisseur of fullback play. Ditto on guard and tackle: I love what Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach have been doing for us, but I can't speak to their comparative value.

We can complain all we want, but at least we've got guys who are there, unlike the Jacksonville Jaguars. . .

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Best. Game. Ever.

Wow, what a game! This was probably the best I've ever watched. It makes me wish I was a purist.

This must be what fans who reminisce about the old days are talking about. From the first snow covered shot, I knew it was going to have the setting of an old school Browns game. I just didn't expect for it to BE an old school Browns game, but thats exactly what it was. That was power football, a game of field position and execution. I wasn't too surprised to see Jamal Lewis and the Browns Offensive Line do such a good job. But how about that defense? We looked pretty decent against the run.

So now we're tied with Pittsburgh, and the only way we miss the playoffs is if we lose out and Tennessee wins out.

And Baltimore descends to a new low in losing to Miami. What a day!

Lake Effect

The game has just started. Here in DC we've been spared any snow, but turning on the Browns game I see that not everyone has been so lucky.

THIS is a Browns - Bills game. Hellloo Cleveland!

It probably hurts our chances of winning, but its going to be a game to talk about for a long time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stop holding down the shift key

I present for your consideration Jerome Harrison.

In three games this year, he has 16 carries for 109 yards, yielding a 6.8 average. 11 of his runs have been successful*, giving him a 69% success rate. He also has one reception for 15 yards. 11 of his runs have come on first down, and he hasn't had any third-and-short runs, but thats more a result of his success (he keeps running for 10-15 yards on first down).

Beyond his successful stats, the kid's running has just been exciting to watch. His cutting and spinning have helped account for at least a chunk of those 109 yards.

Now, I'm not saying he's ready to be the feature back, but based on his production, I'd like to see him get more touches.

* Gaining 40% of the yards needed for a first, or 100% on third down

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Others call the Browns win over the Jets ugly. It was closer than I would have liked, but I always had faith that we would pull it out.

I think some are denigrating the Browns' performance based on the assumptions that the Jets are a terrible team, and we should have won by alot more. While the Jets certainly don't look like a good team, they probably aren't as bad as their 3-10 record suggests. And considering the number of talking heads who were falling all over themselves to praise Eric Mangini last year, I have a hard time writing them off entirely. They beat the Steelers, after all, and having to face the AFC East, AFC North, and NFC East in one season is a tough call for a young team with injury problems.

The defense was terrible as usual, particularly in the two minute drill. Clearly the Jets were getting desperate, which can help explain alot of their success. We were playing with fire by kicking to Leon Washington, but the Jets recovery of that first onside kick was a matter of luck.

It will be good to go home again next week. And if there is any justice in the world, the Browns Bills game should be on TV here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

My Name is Kellen

Yeah, we got a little bit robbed. But we won on a similar call against the Jets last year. The refs almost never call a force out.

I guess the ref's standard is, it has to be indisputable that he would have come down inbounds if not for the force out. Would Kellen have come down inbounds? Probably, he had the room. But its not like its that hard to picture him coming down with a foot out of bounds. We've seen him make the amazing catches, but I don't remember seeing him pull off any of the receiver-specialty tip-toeing the line catches like I've seen from Braylon.

Oh well, what are you gonna do? The answer is, you don't turn the ball over like that. Especially against a hurting Cardinals defense. As heartening as it is to see that our talent look like its genuinely better than the competition, it doesn't mean anything towards getting to the playoffs if it doesn't come together.


I didn't get to see the whole game, and I seemed to miss most of the big plays. So I was just purusing's offering.

A couple thoughts:
>> I haven't seen any frame-by-frame replays, but I can see how Bralyon wasn't down during his 62 yard catch-and-roll-and run. He was touched, then his foot hit the ground, and then he did his roll, and he may have been touched again after he bounced up, but I didn't see it clearly where he was touched while down.
>> In response to Josh Cribbs's punt fumble, the announcers proclaim you never run more than 10 yards for a fair catch. If the punt is headed straight into the back of one of your unwitting teammates, you do whatever you have to to try to get to that ball. If Josh hadn't muffed the punt, it would've been 50-50 whether it would have hit a Brown or Cardinal first. Course, it still would've been better if he had caught it.
>> The announcers during a part of the game that I saw yesterday were going crazy over a third down Warner completion to a diving receiver for an 18 yard pick-up. They seemed to miss the fact that it was actually 3rd and 22, so that reception meant absolutely NOTHING, unless you've got Warner for fantasy football.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Silver linings are cheap

I'm nothing if not irrationally optimistic. Thats why I keep this blog, and follow this team.

This loss was certainly better than the first loss of the season because we can at least point to things that they need to fix. Albeit, they're big fix jobs, but after that first loss, all I could do was throw my hands up and swear.

steelers suck

Watching the game without being able to hear it at the strip club I was at*, I had no idea that we burned two timeouts on the challenge of the Miller catch. Yeah, that was idiotic. Crennel has some 'splainin' to do. I'm not going to be defending him against the calls for his head.

But I can't get too hung up on our lack of time to tie it up at the end. I can't even get too hung up on our crappy defense letting rothlisberger look like a good quarterback. Because none of that would have mattered if our offense didn't totally roll over in the second half.

Watching all those three and outs (or the particularly demoralizing one-Jamal-Lewis-fumble and out) looked like the Browns we came to know and hate over the past few seasons. Even when they took a break from the poorly advised run plays, the passing game was full of miscommunications. Anderson's protection was adequate, but less than solid. So many passes went incomplete, and while some were due to poor throws, others were due to bad route running (and liberal interpretation of the five yard rule by the steeler secondary and their reliably-friendly officiating crew). It seemed like even when a third and long pass was clanging to the ground incomplete, even if the receiver had caught the ball he probably couldn't have made it to the first down marker.

So I lay this blame on the offense. Got a little too conservative, and a little sloppy, before the game was anywhere near done. If they would have shown some life in the second half, then the defense and poor clock management wouldn't have mattered. But they rolled over, and based on our play over that second half, we didn't deserve to win this game.

Hopefully this loss will make the players hungry. Their play during the first half, and even during the very last drives on offense and defense, should be enough to show these guys that this team can beat the steelers. If they play up to their talent, maybe they'll get their shot in the playoffs. If not, they won't get their shot until next year.

*Don't ask. Let me just say that a strip club with the lights on and no girls around looks like any other restaurant/sports bar.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Flight 80 into Midway

We are officially half-way through the regular season. In past year that "regular" qualifier would be unnecessary, but this year its still a very real possibility that we could have more than 8 games before closing down for the offseason.

So what is there to talk about? Normally, now would be a good time to start talking about which coaches should be scapegoated, which untested rookies should be given playing time in what is already a lost cause, and which positions will be most important for the draft next year.

Instead, I'm going to figure out how we got here, sitting at 5-3:

>> No major injuries. Have the football gods decided we've be retributed against enough? I don't know, and I'm knocking on wood while writing this, but so far we haven't had any major injuries, other than the carry-overs from last year, and the guys who are old enough for the injuries to be expected.
>> A stable offensive line. Hallelujah, Phil Savage!! After all the years talking about "what if", this is an amazing turn of events.
>> A competent, smart QB
>> A receiving corp that runs good routes, and makes things happen after the catch, allowing the QB to look competent and smart
>> A kick returning team that provides regular good field positions
>> A punting team that (rarely) gives up good field position.
>> An offensive coordinator who isn't afraid to play to the team's strength and throw the ball alot.
>> A defense that, while bad, still comes through with a game-saving stop or an opportunistic turnover just enough to let us win.

My biggest concern is how much talk the Browns are getting from the national pin-heads. Its a sure sign that we have some disappointment ahead of us. But hopefully we can still pull out enough games to make the end of the season exciting.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A nice Bad Situation

Pft is speculating about what will happen with Derek Anderson after the season, saying either someone will give up their first and third round draft picks for him, or we'll have to pay him alot. It ignores the third option of trading Quinn. But at this point, its too early to start talking about it. Closer to the end of the season, we should know alot more about Derek Anderson, and if he's the real deal. Then we can worry about the choices. But so far, I fail to see how any of these are bad situations. Starting Charlie Frye, now THAT'S a bad situation.


The Colts/Pats game is already getting too much hype, and I hate to add to it. But I gotta say, I'm pretty excited. Its like a good Super Bowl, but without all the annoying fanfare, bad musical acts, and twittering about "the commercials". Its just football (and 1.5 hours of car commercials). And instead of pitting the best AFC team against the NFC's least-bad team, its really the two best teams in the league.

Being in Virginia, I'll be able to see that game. Hopefully I can get a streaming video of the Browns game on the 'puter, and I'll be set.

FYI, I have found a way to get a free video stream of Browns games online. Its not a 100% sure thing, the quality stinks, and its a couple minutes delayed, but its a million times better than nothing, and you can't beat the price. To avoid it being too widely publicized, I don't want to post the link, but if anyone wants it, just leave me a comment with your email address, or email

Insider Trading

20 days ago, we were a 2-3 team with an inconsistent quarterback, and a list of opponents that (at that point) ranked as the strongest schedule in the league (as ranked by Football Outsiders).

We have since beaten two winless teams and had a bye week. Our strength of schedule has dropped to 14th toughest. Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards are the talk of the league, and playoffs are a very real possibility.

Its a fun team to watch, certainly head and shoulders above past years, and thats one of the big things I want to get out of games. But I'm still not ready to call this a 180 degree turnaround just yet. We still have alot of football to play.

One of my own goals coming into the season wasn't necessarily wins or playoffs. It was draft picks. I didn't want to see the Cowboys end up with a really high draft pick from the Brady Quinn trade. Not because I have anything against the Cowboys, Its just I get annoyed just thinking about all the talking heads constantly pointing out how expensive the trade was, and how great the Cowboys did, and how much the Browns would need it, etc. So my hopes were pretty meager: At the least, end out of the top 10 in draft picks. We should be able to check that box off with two more wins. Preferably, our draft pick will be in the second half of the round. That might take another four wins, so it is certainly within reach.


I've read a few articles talking about how Charlie Frye will be providing the Seahawks with insider information about the Browns offense. Here is a sample of what he's telling them:

Double cover Kellen Winslow. Since the QB won't have his open target, your 4 men rushing will have at least ten seconds to break through, chase the QB around, and get a sack. If you rush 5 men, you'll be able to make him dance and fumble the ball. No, don't worry about covering Edwards or Jurevicius, the QB isn't supposed to look at those guys. Just worry about KWII, and maybe any backs that have broken off for a dump off. Anybody thats out more than 6 yards is just a decoy, he's not a real target, so don't worry about covering him.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why I love Cleveland

Yeah great, Browns are 3-3, good offense, bad defense. With the Indians providing all the excitement I'm capable of taking in, I'm going to break my self-imposed rule that all my posts be about the Browns.

Lets face it, Cleveland is not usually the destination of choice for the rich and the famous. When Cleveland is hosting a nationally televised series against the Yankees or the Red Sox, they could probably get any number of celebrities to come into town to toss an opening pitch. But for game one against the Yankees, the playoffs were opened by none other than tribe drummer and regular guy John Adams.

Its not just that the tribe would give the nod to Adams to toss the pitch. Its everything about Adams. Yeah, he gets a little press about his drum, but he could barely even qualify as a local celebrity. He just pays for his tickets, shows up at games, and bangs his drum.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Lest ye forget

If we haven't already, most of us have probably gotten into talking about the failings of the Browns recently (especially on Defense). While its something to look at, I just want to take a step back and double emphasize an important point:

We SPANKED the RatBirds, Baby!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hello Cleveland!

Boy did the Browns and Ravens prove me wrong today. I've never been so glad to be so wrong.

Going into the season, conventional wisdom was that, given our schedule, the Browns' best-case scenario going into the bye-week was two wins. Well, we will meet that goal even if we don't beat Miami in two weeks. Part of that is because Cincinnati and Baltimore are playing worse than most expected ,but I'll take it. After that opening bust against the Steelers, I couldn't in a million years predict that we'd be at 2-2.

That offense looked downright competent. They hit some big plays. They did a good job of grinding out some drives and converting third downs. The play calling might have got a little conservative towards the end, but I have no room to complain, it did the job.

Derek Anderson might have settled in. If he could learn to avoid more of the dumb mistakes, and to put more touch on the shorter passes, he could prove to be a respectable starting quarterback. At the very least, he's looking like a great long term back-up (if not trade bait if someone wants to start him).

Jamal Lewis was his normal boom-or-bust self. He is doing an OK job so far this season, but I still look forward to someday having a more steady running back.

But how about that offensive line? No sacks against the Ravens, can that happen?

The defense looked only a little better this week, but I have a feeling this is the best we can hope for this season. Its enough to slow down the other team and prevent the big plays. The turnovers were HUGE. So was keeping the Ravens out of the endzone on a couple of redzone opportunities. But until the young secondary and linebackers show some improvement, giving up 400 yards is more likely than not par for the course.

After we were up 14-0, I popped a video in the VCR and started taping for review. Hopefully I will be able to make some insightful comments (or something) after reviewing. But for now, I'm just going to bask in a defeat of the Ravens. And the steelers lost too!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oooh Nelly

I haven't been posting because I don't know what to say about this team. I did not get to see last Sunday's game, but from the sounds of it we should be ashamed we didn't find a way to beat Oakland. Coaches and players deserve blame. When Ace Davis starts taking (spot on) shots at the coach, you know his tenure is tenuous.

This week I will get to see the game since its on in my area. Let me provide a preview of what I expect to see:

>> Savvy quarterback and receivers finding holes in the coverage and mistakes by inexperienced players.
>> Power running plowing through as bad a run defense as we've seen since the rebirth
>> A disciplined run defense keeping our boom-or-bust running back from breaking anything big, leading to 50 - 60 yards on 20 attempts.
>> An aggressive pass rush that hurries a young QB and keeps him from establishing a rhythm, leading to sacks and interceptions.

Needless to say, I'm not optimistic.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Two weeks of offense for the price of one

I have nothing to say. That offensive performance was as awesome as it was surprising. I'll let the video do the talking:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So how about them Indians?

I should have expected that Sunday would end up like it did when I was in the Emergency Room by 9AM*. Little did I know at the time, but the day would hold much bigger injuries.

I don't have much to say that other people haven't already said. The Browns stunk, the Steelers looked good. Terry Pluto sums it up pretty well: The truth of the matter is, we were bad everywhere, and it was just particularly pronounced at quarterback.

Since the negative aspects of this team are all too apparent, I thought I would grasp at straws for one reason to have hope:

In the 2007 Profootball Prospectus chapter on the Browns is an article titled "How Important is Offensive Line Continuity?" Looking at seven seasons worth of data, they came up with a metric to determine how much continuity each team has in their line from week-to-week.

Of course, the Browns had the worst continuity in the league over that seven year period. Not only have we had alot of bad guys on our line, but they've been getting hurt pretty regularly.

They then took this continuity statistic and compared it to various measures of offensive line success (eg wins, sack rates, false starts, etc). The unsurprising answer was that there was a very measurable correlation between continuity and success. That doesn't mean its enough to field 5 hacks on the line as long as its the same 5 hacks all season, because continuity doesn't cause success. Its probably much more the case that lack of continuity prevents success.

I bring this all up, because in that travesty that we call "Week 1", Eric Steinbach and Kevin Schaffer were both playing for the first time in weeks. Not only would you expect them to be a little rusty, but this is also the first time in a while that the line has played together.

As the season goes on, if we can avoid injuries, the line should improve, even if none of the individual players get any better.

*Not to fear, they saved the finger and I'll be good as new in a couple weeks.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Charlie Frye's gone? I haven't even gotten to finish my post about Sunday's game yet!

Not that I'm upset with Frye being gone, after what I saw last Sunday. But management has some SERIOUS 'splainin' to do. A guy going from erstwhile starting QB to cast-off afterthought after less than a half of play, no matter how horrible that less than a half was, suggests total incompetence is pulling the strings.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Go Browns!

I'm out for the weekend. Headed to West Virginia (defacto steelers country, but what are you gonna do?) for some camping and watching some football. As in real, actual football.

I've been working for something like a month on a sweeping review of Cleveland Browns blogs, and I think I'm almost done. I've collected my data, I'm just working on figuring out HTML coding. Unfortunately, all my coding experience from my TI-81 in high school doesn't translate, but I think I have it just about there.

So no posts from me until after we pound the steelers. Until then, go Browns!


Just as you think we should have a healthy, intact defense (sans McGinest and Baxter) for at least the first game of the season, reports are that Leigh Bodden goes and gets himself arrested at the airport.

When I first saw the headline I was expecting something bad. But it was for disorderly conduct. He was trying to pick up his girlfriend who was travelling alone with their 2 year old and their baby during rush hour. He probably thought he was being chivalrous by doing whatever he needed to find her as soon as possible. So he parked his car against the cop's orders and mouthed off when the cop stopped him. Not exactly in the same league as running an underage child prostitution ring. . .

Too bad nobody ever told Leigh that airport cops are by rule Nazis (admittedly for good reasons).

Will this result in a suspension? It very well could, although I think any more than a slap on the wrist is pretty out of proportion. If he is suspended, would it start this week? Only if Crennel decides to impose it in lieu of the league, which I wouldn't expect.

So hopefully we'll see Leigh out there.

I like the idea of the bruce arians-directed spread offense against the Browns defense. Remember bruce arians, the O-coordinator who thought the best chance for a team playing in Cleveland was to implement a pass-based spread offense utilizing the talents of such Hall-of-Famers as Kevin Johnson, Quincy Morgan, Dennis Northcutt, and Andre Davis? Seems like the same guy is trying to do the same thing in pittsburgh.

The steelers spreading the ball actually worked against us pretty well last year. Albeit most of (and I literally mean MOST of) our secondary was hurt. But we should expect Bodden to shut down hines ward, and Eric Wright probably has what it takes to shut down santonio holmes. That means roethlisberger will be stuck trying to find his alternate receivers and tight ends. So expect a fun day for ball-hawks Sean Jones and Daven Holly.

I think we even have a decent shot at slowing down fast willie on his outside sweeps. Lets just hope no one tells arians that running strait up the center of our defense should provide all the offense that they need.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Roster cuts

The list of roster cuts has a couple surprises. The biggest surprise for me is that we cut three of this year's draft picks (Syndric Steptoe, Chase Pittman, and Melila Purcell) and three of last year's picks (Babatunde Oshinowo, DeMario Minter, Justin Hamilton). In their place we kept such players as Jereme Perry and Mike Adams.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It would be great if we could keep guys around, but on a 53 man roster we don't have room for a bunch of risky long term projects any more than we have room for mentors.

>> Mason Unck is on the injury reserve. Kris Griffin should be a good fill in on special teams. But it will be strange not seeing that name on the Special Teams plays.

>> They kept Charles Ali around as a back-up fullback. Thats not much of a vote of confidence in Lawrence Vickers.

>> David McMillan is still around. Once McGinest is back, I won't be surprised to see him cut for an extra D-lineman.

>> Nat Dorsey has stuck. With Tucker suspended for the first four games and Shaffer still recovering from his concussion, I guess its necessary.

>> Once Tucker, Baxter, and McGinest stop eating up roster spots, I won't be surprised to eventually see Chase Pittman, Babatunde Oshinowo, or Chris Barclay resigned.

>> I was sorry to see Justin Hamilton cut. He has a lot of character. I am sure he will land on his feet.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Did Alexander keep Aristotle on his 53 man roster?

Over numerous articles, the Plain Dealer has decided that, unless the Browns carry four quarterbacks on the final roster, the loser of the Derek Anderson / Charlie Frye QB competition will be cut or traded and Ken Dorsey will be retained. This all stems from the PD writers' weird fetish for the Browns to have "an experienced veteran" who can "mentor the young quarterback".

If the Browns do want to keep Dorsey around, here is my suggestion:
1) Cut Dorsey
2) Offer him the value of his current contract to stay around as a "special QB" coach

Heck, they can even let him play dress up and wear the uniform on the sidelines, and work out in practice. But it makes absolutely no sense to me to keep him around as a Big Brother for the little orphan Brady Quinn. If he does stay around he will be taking up a roster spot. And if he is taking up a roster spot, who is getting cut in his place? Chris Barclay? Steve Sanders? Chase Pittman? Willie McGinest?

The 53-man roster is a challenge for the teams to strike the balance between developing young guys and fielding a decent team. Unless Dorsey provides us a better back-up QB option than Derek Anderson, he should not take up one of those valuable spots.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ye Gods!

I've been getting into the stuff they post over at, as well as reading the 2007 Pro Football Prospectus.

In the 2007 Pro Football Prospectus, the Patriots' section has an article about how the Patriots secondary is always hurt, and last year was particularly bad, and how we should feel bad for them. So they analyzed the number of injuries (looking at how much time players missed). The results confirmed their suspicion that the Patriots far and away have had the most injuries to their secondary over the past five years. However, the Browns were number two on that list.

And when they broke the list down to most secondary injuries in a single season? The 2006 Browns had the single worst secondary injury situation in the NFL over the past 5 years. In fact, 2006 accounted for nearly half of our total secondary injuries out of the past 5 years.

The authors throw out some hypothesis to explain why both Crennel's former and current team have lead the league in secondary injuries. They think that Crennel views defensive backs as eminently replaceable so he does not mind taking a gamble on an injury prone back. I find that one kind of hard to believe. Last year's Browns secondary had injuries to Bodden and McCutcheon who both predate Crennel, and Gary Baxter whose freak injury is just rotten luck. Injury-prone guys get turf-toe and high ankle sprains and knee problems. They do not tear their patellar tendons.

Then just yesterday I was reading this over/under on the Football Outsiders website, and I caught this interesting note:

The other somewhat hidden factor that should bounce back for the Browns this season? Injuries, particularly on the defensive side. The Browns, as a whole, were more hurt in 2006 than any team has been in the six years we’ve tracked injuries. A likely regression to the mean on those injuries would result in a healthy, deep team. There’s a serious success story brewing here, and a real chance to make money.

As much as I bitch-and-moan about injuries, I am glad to finally see some statistical backing that the Browns truly are getting the short end of the stick. Although, I do not buy into their point that we will regress to the mean. Sure, in theory the injuries should let up, but this is the Browns. We don't regress to the mean, we skew the entire distribution.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Oh no, he's playing well

Even when a Brown has a great performance, it is bad news.

Quinn's 13 for 17 performance against the Lions' soon-to-be-cut defense probably does not tell us anything we did not already know about him. But it does make him look more NFL-ready than either of the erstwhile starters.

It is going to be a long season if Frye and Anderson can't keep the "Brady" chants to a minimum.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Under Maintainence

I'm trying to figure out this Blogger thing. So over the next few days the format might change a few times.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Scratch yesterday's post

I am recalling yesterday's post:

After posting yesterday, I emailed to call him out for claiming credit for an idea I had already emailed to him. Pft responded to my email to say that he had never read my original email explaining the holdout theory. He even included a screen shot of his inbox listing it as unread. I'll take his word at it. So he didn't intentionally rip off anyone's idea.

Also, Ryan Tucker sat down with Patrick McManamon to explain his steroid issue. He says the steroids were part of his mental health regimen, and had nothing to do with gaining an advantage. I'll take his word at it. Sounds like he was in a tough position.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Then we changed our name to "The New Originals" has a blurb with this headline:

It goes on to talk about how a holdout is a good tool to guarantee the guy won't play too early. The only problem? The editor goes out of the way to point out that it is his "original" idea. Dude, WTF??

Both Bitterfans and I have both pushed such an idea, and I have seen it referenced other places, too. And what's worse, last week when pft asked Browns fans to write in their thoughts about the Quinn holdout, I emailed him and spelled it out for him, in case he's not a regular of the Browns blogosphere. His report was that all Browns fans were ticked off by the holdout, which seems in direct contradiction to most of what I've read.

I still frequent pft just because it is free and to the point, unlike most other NFL "news" sources. But man, my opinion of this guy keeps getting worse and worse. He's a Pittsburgh fan, and the worst kind of Browns-hater: the kind who pretends he doesn't hate the Browns, like a political idealogue who claimes that they're really just a moderate independent. He has had numerous offenses against the Browns that I usually don't bother commenting on because his opinion isn't worth wasting my time on. But this one got to me because it's personal.

So Ryan Tucker is all juiced up with no place to go? I don't care too much because we have alot of depth, but, man, this is how catastrophes start: A strong position has one or two guys go out, and all of a sudden its a position with problems. Don't get me wrong, I still think that even with one or two backups playing this year, our line could be better than last year's line. But it is almost surely weaker without Tucker.

The thing that annoys me is that Tucker doesn't seem sorry about it. He says that he did what he needed to do to come back. Well I hope for his sake that the 'roids gave him more than four week's training would do, because now he is just going to be using his bigger bulk for holding the bench down. Idiot.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Some depth? reports that the Colts are going to cut Corey Simon. He would fit right in with the Browns over-the-hill, injury-waiting-to-happen defensive line.

He would be a risk, and an expensive risk, but after three years of drafting d-linemen no higher than the 6th round, we need to start making such moves just to stop the bleeding.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sounds about right

You know you're a Browns fan when an injury announcement comes as a relief:

OBR reports that Orpheus Roye is going to have knee surgery. The surgery is to clean out some cartilage, and the hope is that he will be back in time for the season opener.

Of course, if I remember correctly, that was the EXACT same story that was used for Daylon McCutcheon last August, and not only did he not come back for the opener, but he never came back at all, and was cut this spring.

Not that we should expect the same thing for Roye. Clearly management had been preparing to cut Cutch, so maybe the surgery/injury was just a cover to free up the roster spot without creating a PR issue. Assuming that management isn't ready to cut Roye, this should be a different situation.

I say that this comes as a relief, because I'm expecting the injuries to mount, especially at some of our older positions without alot of depth. The fact that its finally here and not a season ending injury is kind of a relief. Although, maybe this is just a preview of what the football gods have cooked up for us.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Another new blog?

I just found this link for Dawgbeat on OBR. I don't know if this site has been around, but its new to me. Seems to have some formatting issues, but man, do I like that 2007 Game-by-game projection.

I've also added a few more links (on the right) to more blogs that I've come accross. I always think I've seen all the Browns blogs, and I always seem to find new ones that I've been missing.

One of these days I mean to do full review of the Browns Blogosphere, as a sort of directory, but also to take a snapshot of who is currently out there. See, I figure once the Browns start winning big and consistently alot of Fair weather fans will roll out new blogs, and at that time it may be useful to know who was there during the lean years.

You haven't got a bit of rope?

As much as I was looking forward to this time of year, it really sucks now that its here. So much waiting, so many open-ended questions. I am used to brushing off the training camp stars like Frisman Jackson, but with all our unsettled positions this year (QB, cornerback, D-Line. . .) its like ANY player review is nothing more than August fluff (and its still July!).

Eric Wright looks like a solid coverage guy? Oh, thats nice.

Jamal Lewis looks like he's back to his Browns-busting form? Great, hope it holds up.

Charlie Frye is making quicker throws, and learning the scrambling basics from Donovan McNabb? Super, can't wait to see it in action.

Chud is opening up the offense with end-arounds and Josh Cribb passes? Neat, I hope it works against somebody other than our reserve defenders.

I can come up with scenarios where we will see huge improvements:
>>A healthy Leigh Bodden, Eric Wright living up to the hype, and Sean Jones and Brodney Pool playing a pair of deadly snipers in the secondary could propel us to a top ten pass defense.
>>All the new guys on O-line means it could be one of the best in the league.
>>I was just reading a Football Outsiders reminiscence about Jerry Rice's rookie year when he was known for his drops. Maybe Braylon will turn it around like Jerry did.

But then I rememer all the reasons for doubt:
>> Bodden has never stayed healthy, so Holly will probably start a couple games. Wright is a complete unknown. Our CBs could be as bad as last year.
>> Weren't Cosey Coleman and Joe Andruzzi supposed patch up our line's last holes? Why should we expect Steinbach to keep performing now that he has gotten paid?
>> Are reports of the running backs/o-line doing a good power-rush impression for real, or is it just a sign of how bad our run defense is going to be this year?

I think the answer is, no matter how many reviews and training camp reports I read, nothing is going to settle anything. None of this is going to be settled until we see them on the field against the Steelers. Until then, its just a waiting game. So I'll probably just keep looking for rays of hope and reading Doerschuck's great training camp reports, and posting random thoughts, because at least that will help pass the time.

VLADIMIR: That passed the time.
ESTRAGON: It would have passed in any case.
VLADIMIR: Yes, but not so rapidly.
ESTRAGON: What do we do now?
VLADIMIR: I don't know.
ESTRAGON: Let's go.
VLADIMIR: We can't.
ESTRAGON: Why not?
VLADIMIR: We're waiting for the season to start.

Monday, July 30, 2007

King High on Lewis

Peter King had a report from Browns training camp. I don't give a whole lot of weight to King's opinion, but he was very high on Jamal Lewis. He also added some background to the Quinn contract talks. King goes out of his way to be nice to everyone, so if he's calling Quinn's holdout silly, then it must have a measure of truth to it.

It looks like alot of the national beat writers are starting off at Cleveland. I guess they want to save the better teams for later in the preseason. With the Browns, they don't need to see how anything shapes up to figure out what the Browns' issues are.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And then there was one

So much for holdouts. The Browns got Joe Thomas and Eric Wright signed in time for camp. I'm happy, since I hope to see those guys playing early this season.

They can take their good-ol' time signing Brady Quinn. Maybe right around the second preseason game would be a good time for him to come in. That way he'll still be able to get some practice time, but he will definitely be out of the running for the first half of the season.

Although I'll also be happy if Quinn signs early, so that all those Quinn haters can eat their words.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Accurate, but accurately what?

Football Outsiders has had some statistical analysis recently of the best and worst quarterback completion percentages from 2006, controlling for some variables.

What they found was that Charlie Frye was one of the ten most accurate passers in the league. That held when they controlled for dropped passes, and when they adjusted completion percentages based on how many short (and typically more accurate) passes a QB threw.

The end conclusion was that Frye was extremely accurate with his short passes (nearly 90%), so they decided to remove short passes from the analysis all together, at which point Frye dropped out of the top ten.

What does this all mean? Not a lot. We all saw how well Frye was doing at hooking up with Winslow on the 2-4 yard pickups.

What does make me optimistic is that reports are that new Offensive Coordinator Chud is implementing an offense with alot more shorter, timed passes. Combined with Frye's skills on the short passes, this could be a good thing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Look, waaaay down there. Is there a light down there?

I didn't get my hopes up about any of the previous LeCharles Bentley reports, because prior to today his most recent doctor's visit never said he would be able to play football again.

But today, that doctor has cleared Bentley for practise. This IS a big step forward. While he still needs to go through team doctors, the fact is that Bentley has just gotten a go-ahead from the same doctor who told him to give up because he would never play again.

This Friday marks the one year anniversary of Bentley's injury. That was back when this blog was less than two weeks old. My, how I have grown in my bitterness since then.

I still stick to my statement that I'm not declaring victory until I see Bentley playing for real. But this is a piece of concrete good news that I'm going to take a little solace in.

This past week or so alot of people have been pointing to National columnists ranking the Browns last in pre-season Power Rankings. It means nothing to me. I haven't read a single intelligent quote from those rankings about why the Browns will be bad. I'll admit the Browns sure have a hell of alot of unanswered questions, and the answers could turn out so that this will be a bad season. But I can still make a case that we could be vastly improved this year. Until I see good reasons as to why the Browns will be bad, I'm going to assume that these rankings are nothing but knee-jerk hogwash.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The ball is rolling

We might not have our quarterback or left tackle of the future under contract, but we've got Chase Pittman signed and ready for training camp. This kid is a d-lineman project who seems like he might have some character issues. But with our d-line situation, we can't really be ignoring guys. Maybe he'll be another Simon Fraser. . .

The only guy I'm really antsy about seeing signed is Eric Wright, 2nd round cornerback. From the sound of things, he might be on track to start for opening day, and he will definitely be needed.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I know those words, but the sentence doesn't make any sense to me.

From CBS Sportsline:

The offensive line, one of the worst in the NFL for years, has the potential to be one of the best in the league this season if LeCharles Bentley can accomplish his goal of making a comeback from a severe patellar tendon injury.

Never thought I'd read that about the Browns. Hope it comes to fruition.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Asleep at the switch?

OBR has a useful listing of which draft picks have been signed, and which haven't. You will note that the Browns are one of just five teams that doesn't have anyone signed yet.

T-minus 16 days and counting until training camp opens. Whats the hold-up?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Since every other Browns preview will be realistic. . .

Its time to expose myself as the blindly loyal, kool-aid drinking homer that I am. I decided to come up with a list of reasons of why we could be hopeful for the upcoming season* :

1) The Offensive Line: Explaining away poor play by quarterbacks and running backs because of sub-par offensive lines has become a tradition in Cleveland Browns football. This looks like the year to kill that tradition. The signings of Eric Steinbach and Seth McKinney to play guards, and Ryan Tucker returning to his spot at right tackle should be enough to show noticeable improvement. The drafting of Joe Thomas could improve the dynamics just as much as those signings both because of the skills he brings to the left tackle position, as well as the flexibility and competition he brings to the rest of the line. With Thomas in there, now Eric Steinbach is probably the only lineman who can feel sure of his starting position. To add some icing to the cake, LeCharles Bentley could be back this season.

Its hard to stress how big of a turn around this is compared to last season. Our backups this season may end up being equal to or better than our starters last season. We may get to see the power rushing attack that we always talk about, as well as an upright quarterback. And, even if we suck this year, we can feel comfortable throwing the skill players under the truck next year, because there won't be that eternal fall back, "Well, if the line had blocked for them. . ."

2) The injury bug: I hate to pull out this excuse, but with the Browns' recent history it cannot be avoided. We have been plagued by obscene injuries the past couple years. Even if we get a little relief, it should go a long ways towards fielding a better team this year than last. Just to remind you, here is what we dealt with last season:

>> Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow were coming off knee injuries. While Winslow probably won't be in much better shape this season due to off-season surgery, Edwards should be back to top form (or what passes for top form for him).

>> LeCharles Bentley, the highest ranked free agent during the 2006 offseason, doesn't even survive one practice with the Browns. Our best offensive lineman (behind Bentley), Ryan Tucker, was out for half the season, and even when he did play probably was seeing effects from his undisclosed mental illness

>> Gary Baxter played in 3 games before going down with a horrific injury. Daylon McCutcheon missed the entire season. Leigh Bodden missed 7 games with injuries.

>> Our best Defensive lineman, Orpheus Roye, was out 4 games and was limited for even more.

>> Other guys who missed noticeable chunks of time: Joe Jurevicius, Brian Russell, Joe Andruzzi, Andra Davis, Willie McGinest, Dennis Northcutt, Charlie Frye.

3) Defensive Secondary: What I called a strength going into last season ended up being a huge liability, with the aforementioned injuries keeping us from fielding a consistent, competent secondary core. Those injuries hurt alot, and not only kept us from shutting down passing games but also hurt ability to generate a pass rush. Bodden is a sure thing if he can stay healthy. Eric Wright sounds like he can be starting material. Kenny Wright is even an upgrade over Ralph Brown. This unit should be stronger, and have a little more depth than last year. And if Gary Baxter can return from his injury, and if he can return to his previous caliber of play (two big Ifs) he could turn this unit into a genuine team strength.

On top of that, Brodney Pool replacing Brian Russell could be a noticeable improvement at safety. Pool's spot duty at safety, as well as his starts at corner (covering Keyshawn Johnson, no less) showed that he has alot of potential. If he proves Phil Savage's projections correct, he will be a monster. Pairing him up next to Sean Jones could be dynamite.

4) Maturity: Its easy to forget, but Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel started this rebuilding project just two years ago. We are going into year three of the 3-4 defense. Our roster has been almost totally made-over, including alot of rookies playing big roles. Another year of maturity should show some dividends for Kamerion Wimbley, D'Qwell Jackson, Leon Williams, Sean Jones, Brodney Pool, Charle Frye or Derek Anderson, Lawrence Vickers, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, and all our other low draft/undrafted guys who have shown some potential.

5) Offensive Co-ordinator: Given the reports coming out of practices of the offense being totally out of kilter, some may think I am crazy to call Chud's new offense a sign of hope. But compare it to last year: Mo Carthon and his fullback-based offense looked so pathetic through the beginning of the season that he was tossed mid-season and Jeff Davidson was given a chance to use Carthon's playbook, to similarly poor results. Not that Chud has proven himself as a coordinator, but he has the pedigree to succeed. Even if he's only mediocre, he will be a step up from Carthon. If he can successfully bring in the Norv Turner/Cam Cameron offensive success that San Diego has had for the past few years, well thats probably too much to hope for.

6) Jamal Lewis at 80% strength is at least no worse than Reuben Droughns at full strength. Jamal Lewis at full strength could be a sight to behold.

* Hopeful for WHAT is another post

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Some answers

Today's PD had an interesting catch-up on LeCharles Bentley. Its good news. No, not that I really believe that he's going to make it back. But at least he should be able to answers some questions this season, instead of stringing this thing out another year or two.

Ideally he'll come back and play even close to the level he did before his freak injury. But if he can't make it, at least we'll know next season whether or not we need a long term solution.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What, Lumberjacks don't count?

My baby-mama put me onto this:

Some New York Times blog is claiming that Philadelphia is the most unlucky city for sports. I guess by their criteria (must have teams in each of MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL) Cleveland isn't in the running. But Cleveland is hands down unluckiest, no questions, end of debate, and any ranking that doesn't end with that conclusion is flawed.

He does follow up with a post trying to justify his pick of Philly over Cleveland, but its pretty weak if you ask me. Maybe if Lebron James brings home the championship (pretty big if) I will reconsider. MAYBE. But until that point, this is ridiculous to even discuss.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sophmore preview

On a weekend when the Akron Beacon Journal has NO Browns news, and the PD had essentially no Browns news (even if Grossi did manage to fill multiple pages not answering questions), Steve Doerschuk comes through again. In a nutshell: Savage says that he's looking for Isaac Sowells, Travis Wilson, and Jerome Harrison to step it up and win important roles for this season.

While that isn't anything new (although it is iteresting that he picked out those three, more on that below), I did find this blurb interesting:

"Jason Wright really is a backup who can play special teams. He's a great locker room guy, an A-plus in a lot of ways, but probably an average football player, which as a backup is OK.

Nothing too surprising, other than that the GM will be so blunt. I guess that means that Jason Wright's spot on the roster could be lost if Harrison comes on.

So why did Savage pick out those three? I doubt that he's going to cut too many of his 06 draft picks. He gaves his 05 picks two seasons, and the 06 crop in general was better, so they will probably get at least two. But these are proabably the guys closest to competing for a spot (as opposed to Leon Williams, D'Qwell Jackson, and Lawrence Vickers who already have spots), so that a little fire under them might get them putting forth that extra effort.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

They're probably both made in sweatshops, but. . .

If you buy a Steelers jersey, your money will go towards supporting child prostitution.

If you buy a Browns jersey, it will go towards giving kids college scholarships.

The choice is yours.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Does a spaghetti sauce stain show on an orange jersey?

Browns draft review, in Italian.

In case you are curious, Joe Thomas is:

La caratteristica migliore di Thomas è sicuramente la pass protection. Dotato di un hand punch micidiale, è capace di terrorizzare i Defensive Linemen sin dallo snap. Velocissimo nel prendere posizione nei giochi di passaggio. Buon bloccatore sui giochi di corsa. Futuro Probowler.

Huh. Go figure. Guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I prefer their take on Brady Quinn:

Muscolato, dotato di un braccio bionico, riesce a mettere la palla in spazi strettissimi con estrema accuratezza, anche sul profondo. Ottimo gioco di piedi, che gli permette di prendere tempo e di eludere i blitz. Estremamente competitivo e capace di attuare rimonte insperate anche in situazioni difficili (vedi quest’anno contro Michigan State, sotto la pioggia...). Ha bisogno di buona protezione della linea per realizzare il suo potenziale, ma ha questo ha già provveduto Phil Savage con gli acquisti di Steinbach e Thomas. Ha tutte le caratteristiche per ripercorrere le gesta di Bernie Kosar o Brian Sipe.

If only we could get Zampano to play on the Offensive line. Then we could have Quinn lining up behind Quinn.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Do you think the ladies would believe that I'm Ted Washington?

Hehe. . . Steelers fans are smrt. I mean, smart.

I a nutshell: This guy has convinced Pittsburgh women that he's Ben Roethlisberger, Brian St. Pierre, and Jermane Tuman, and then got them to buy him things.

I'm with the Steelers
By Justin Heckert
ESPN The Magazine

She could tell. But she couldn't bring herself to believe it, even though the pictures she examined led to very simple observations: that the man in the photo had a head that wasn't as square, for instance, and a nose that was longer and not bowed slightly to the right. And that his neck was stout but his jaw too strong. And she noticed that the face wasn't framed by an almost horizontal hairline, like the one on the man she knew, the hair thinning and brown instead of a black flattop, thick and gelled back.

This is what she thought, at first, that something was off, until he explained that pictures lie. Until he said the photographs of Steelers tight end Jerame Tuman that she found online were taken several years ago, when he arrived at training camp as a rookie with the features of a young man.

Weathering those seasons had changed him, he said, and he was insulted, even a bit embarrassed, that she doubted him.

Kristin* didn't have much to go on but the pictures. The Jerame Tuman she knew had a rounded stomach that fell below his waist, and arms and legs that weren't trim. But he was tall, so she slowly convinced herself that if he said he was an NFL tight end, then this is what an NFL tight end must look like. He had shown her a cell phone full of numbers, after all -- Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, Ike Taylor -- and bragged about "his boys."

In the beginning, Kristin actually got a thrill from hanging out with him in the leather passenger seat of his white Denali, looking out the tinted windows as he navigated the nighttime traffic on the south side of the city, feeling the rap thrum from his extravagant speakers as he bounced in the driver's seat while speeding through red lights, saying, "Nobody in Pittsburgh is gonna arrest me, I'm a Steeler" -- because, well, she was with a Steeler.

And when he began to phone her twice a day to wish her good morning or to talk about the upcoming divorce from his wife, Molly, or the custody battle over his son, or to recount the sad story about his mother and his sickly uncle who raised him, she believed. And when he explained that he was changing his cell number every couple of weeks because he was "tired of dating this other girl on the side who only likes me for what I am, not who I am," she believed then, too.

Because she thought he was confiding in her, because he was one of her best friends, and because he was sweet. He once called a seven-year-old family friend to wish him a happy birthday; "How's my little buddy doing?" he asked. He couldn't wait to show her his Super Bowl ring, and promised her season tickets, neither of which he followed through on. And she trusted him because while he was at times vapid, he wasn't above revealing weakness. He once rang her at 4 a.m. to say, "I'm not married anymore. I'm 30. What am I doing with myself?"

Kristin was a good and interested friend; she often bought him lunch and made him dinner, though he always canceled and gave her excuses about being held up by appointments. She overlooked it when he invited her and her girlfriends out on the town, saying he and Hines would take care of the bill, but never showed. She gave him keys to her apartment, though he didn't let her see his.

When he told her he didn't have time to go to the mall to buy a new pair of shoes, she went for him and picked out a pair with a metallic silver swoosh on the side. And when he told her he lost his wallet, she lent him money. In fact, when he needed help paying rent for his "place on the waterfront," she obliged, believing him when he said his bank accounts had been frozen in the divorce.

When he needed quick cash to go on a trip with some teammates, she asked no questions. And when he told her he wanted rims for his SUV but couldn't use his credit card because he was about to start paying alimony, she covered him then, too. Over four months in 2006, she loaned him $3,200. And with each loan, he told her not to ask if he was good for the money, reminding her that he could get anyone else to help him if he wanted.

It is because of her generosity that Kristin has been blamed for being gullible, stupid, an outright imbecile even, in a very public way, in a town where you're not part of the conversation if you don't love the Steelers.

And though it is easy to stare at the same photos and wonder what she was thinking, it's also impossible to blame her -- he was that good. It wasn't until after he had, in Kristin's words, "fallen off the face of the earth" for a month and a half that she got pissed and sent a Hallmark card to the Steelers' training facility, addressed to Tuman, asking for her money back as soon as possible; she'd given him her savings and was living paycheck to paycheck.

Then, one day last August, Kristin, a tall, pretty woman with long, blond hair who majored in communications and anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, was riding the bus home from work when she got a call from Steelers security director Jack Kearney. "I hate to break it to you," Kearney told her flatly. "But you've never met Jerame Tuman in your life."

Consider her surprise. Or humiliation. Consider her anger, if nothing else. If you don't live in Pittsburgh, the city at the confluence of steel-black rivers, a town that embodies its football team, you might empathize with Kristin. If you don't live where flags fly black and gold and the awnings of half the buildings bear the same industrial colors, where gift shops are stocked with candy and soda and Steelers commemorative hats, banners, shirts, baby clothes and not much else, you can probably understand, even as you find it hard to fathom.

But if you're from Pittsburgh, there's a good chance you're aware that Kristin was one of three women over two years who were fooled by a man named Brian Jackson, a 32-year-old former car salesman who moonlighted as Steelers tight end Jerame Tuman, third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre, and most curiously, Ben Roethlisberger. And you might deride Kristin, and have a good laugh over a cold Iron City at her expense.

Even if you didn't know what Tuman looked like, you'd at least have been able to see that Jackson looked nothing like a football player. Pretty much, you'd have been smarter than she was.

"The Steelers are next to God here, so I don't see how someone impersonating one of them got away with it," says Anne Madarasz, director of the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum.

"Oh god, the women were that gullible?" says a woman browsing Steelers towels at Mike Feinberg Co. store, "The Official Home of Steeler Nation."

"Everyone thinks it's funny," says Mike Katic, a bartender at the Buckhead Saloon at Station Square. "I guess as long as the guy had the build of a football player ..."

It wasn't so funny for Tara*, a 24-year-old part-time model who thought she'd met Ben Roethlisberger at a local pizza shop. Two years ago, a big guy wearing a backward Steelers hat and khaki shorts had strolled up to the table where she and a friend were sitting and announced confidently that he thought she "was hot," before explaining how famous he was and which famous friends he wanted her to meet.

Tara and her friend ogled him over their slices, considering whether he was big or athletic enough to be a quarterback.

Though she didn't know it that day in July 2005, the guy she was staring at was really a middle-class man born and raised in Pittsburgh; a man who, Allegheny County courthouse records reveal, has a litany of traffic incidents, including one involving vehicular homicide, and who now has a July court date to face felony charges of identity theft and theft by deception for impersonating Tuman, and for stealing money from Kristin in the process.

Two days after Tara met him, she spent a few very awkward, if memorable, hours on a date with "Big Ben"; hours she'd like to undo. Their activities included traveling to the Steelers' training facility, where the security guard who never stops anyone waved at the faux quarterback, letting him through to attend to "some business" while Tara sat in the car; signing a Steelers jersey for Tara's giddy neighbor and posing for a photo; telling her about his dog, Zeus, over a dinner she ended up paying for because he left his wallet somewhere; and an uncomfortable encounter in which he tried to touch her hand and lean in for a kiss, which freaked her out, because she wasn't attracted to him anyway.

Brian Jackson's incredible story finally caught up with him.

Whispering recently from her bedroom because she's afraid her fiancé might hear, Tara says Jackson talked so much about himself as Roethlisberger that she barely got a word in. "He said he just got back from Miami, talked about his cars, about other players," she says. "He should be in prison, or in a mental hospital. I was leery, but hell, I didn't know. I didn't think he was telling the truth, but my friend thought I should give him a chance."

The day after the date, Tara's neighbor showed her a newspaper photo of Roethlisberger, and she quickly alerted the police and told Jackson never to call her again. But he persisted, demanding she return his calls and insisting on more dates. He had his friends call her, pretending to be Roethlisberger's friend or sister, to say Tara was breaking his heart. He sent her a signed football, which she has since destroyed.

Soon the story was out and she was the laughingstock of talk radio. "It was one of the worst parts of my life, and it wasn't even a full day," she says.

"Being portrayed as an idiot, it was awful." Her neighbor asked the team for a replacement Roethlisberger jersey. He never got it.

"When I heard about it, I laughed," says the real Big Ben. "It was kind of flattering. Then again, feelings were hurt and that isn't funny. But I hear all the time that 'someone at a bar is trying to be you.' It's because all people talk about in Pittsburgh is the Steelers. Me, I don't really care. But it made Jerame uneasy. He's happily married with a family."

It is fair to say Brian Jackson thrived on the attention; that his escapades were born not only of malicious conjuring, but of his fantasy. He was Jerame Tuman when he wore his black-and-gold hat askew, sometimes pulled down to mask his eyes, and he was Ben Roethlisberger in his T-shirts and thick-legged sweats, and the official pair of football gloves he wore, sometimes while he drove, as though he'd just come from a long and successful practice.

It is not supposition to say he felt comfortable when he dressed and acted the way he did, because his clothes and actions weren't part of a costume. His dreams had become his waking life. He was part of the team. It's what made him so convincing. He believed it was all real.

"He put almost incomprehensible thought into what he was doing," says prosecuting attorney Debra Barnisin-Lange. "He had an answer for any question that may have come up from the women. This type of scam is very embarrassing for the victims; several other women he did this to haven't come forward. It's the way all cons run. He said he was a Steeler, but in another instance someone might say, 'I won the lottery,' but they don't have a bank account to cash their check. Once you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound."

According to courthouse officials, he knew more than enough about the Steelers to work a room with tales of the team. Those familiar with the case say he had an encyclopedic, nearly obsessive knowledge of the men he said he was: he knew where they were born, where they went to school, what they drove, the names of parents and wives and children and pets. And he could recall a player's TV highlights as if living inside the moments of another man's life.

He regarded a woman he was trying to impress the same way an athlete might regard a trophy. According to the women, he was funny, at times charming and caring. He trolled the Strip downtown near the practice facility on weekends in his Denali or black Impala or blue Mustang, and ate lunch at Nakama, the sushi place frequented by Steelers during the season.

Jackson put himself amid the passing drunks in Steelers jerseys and among the women who packed the sidewalks by Primanti Bros. and Cottage Jewelry and Sunny's Fashions, with the clothing racks out front and the black-and-gold Pittsburgh City Paper boxes at their waists.

There were always more than enough fans around eager to celebrate in his presence. In the murk of a rowdy night, his sort-of-familiar face and confident stories -- Yeah, I'm waiting for Hines, he should be here any minute -- were truth enough.

"This city lives, eats, breathes Steelers," says detective Frances LaQuatra, a season ticket-holder. "They are always the news. The radio people get sick of talking about them all day, 12 months of the year. Working this case, I realized that when people hear something about the Steelers, they think, Why would someone lie about them?"

He was Brian St. Pierre. And he wooed Annie* with stories about teammates and autographed footballs for kids in her neighborhood. When he suggested she look for him on the sideline, during a game, on TV, she took him up on the offer. But when the camera showed the real St. Pierre, their relationship took a sudden turn.

After the game, she called him out as a liar and he called her "crazy" and, according to court documents, said she'd "be sorry" if she pressed charges. He even impersonated Roethlisberger in a phone call not long after, in which he vouched for himself as St. Pierre.

Then he followed her home in different cars and materialized wherever she went, which, frankly, scared her to death. That was at the end of 2004, and she still won't speak of him.

"She's moved on. I don't want her to relive it," says Annie's boyfriend. "She doesn't want to either."

Jackson didn't harass Kristin the way he did Annie or bother her the way he did Tara. No, one day he just went away. He stopped calling Kristin to say good morning or to ask for advice. He stopped picking her up at work so she could buy him fish sandwiches. When he changed cell phones, his old number was the last trace of a man who never existed.

She saved that number, and now it reminds her of that night in March 2006 when she was partying like everyone else on the south side and, after a few cocktails, had picked up her girlfriend's cell. She was interested and curious and -- football fan's curse -- attracted even though she'd never seen him.

Like it would be with a lot of people, she says, her desire to talk to him took control. She wanted to find out what he might say, because, "Who doesn't want to talk to a Steeler?" She left him a message that went something like, "So, what's up? My girl tells me you're a Steeler, so ..."

But Kristin isn't stupid. Maybe just a little naive.

Is it him? Well, yes, of course it's him, in a baggy gray hoodie and jeans that fall off his behind. He's been watching out the window of his redbrick house, the one with the unattached trailer in the front yard. He grudgingly opens the glass screen of his front door to greet the unwelcome company, and nearly slips when he steps on the porch.

He doesn't look so threatening as he clings awkwardly to the door frame. He looks like he hasn't slept, though, just as he looked when he turned himself in to Detective LaQuatra last year after Kristin came forward and his gig was up.

He groveled to LaQuatra that day: "I can't help myself, I really can't." And he doesn't sound so cocksure now, as he didn't when he called Kristin right before she pressed charges, to offer this rambling admission: "I just idolize these guys and what they do, and the attention they get from women, and I just want that for myself, and I don't think I can do it on my own and I just want to be them."

On this February morning, Brian Jackson just looks angry or nervous or both, like a man about to face felony charges who doesn't want to be bothered. As the sun hits his face, he stares off to the side, eyes bloodshot-red like kindling.

Are you Brian Jackson?

"No. I'm his brother," he says.

Well, is your brother home, then?


Do you think he'd want to talk about ...

"No, he wouldn't."

He's tall, all right, his head is square, his body sturdy. His voice is as heavy as lead, and standing in front of him, it is not only conceivable he could pass for a Steeler, but understandable, especially in a town that sanctifies the men who wear that uniform but are often unrecognizable without it.

This morning, the Denali with tinted windows is docked in the drive, without the rims. Taking a step back, Jackson shuts the screen door. He's not wearing his Steelers hat. But he does have on a nice pair of sneakers, with a metallic swoosh on the side.

* The victims names have been changed to protect their identities.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Now where do we put them?

I am a big fan of Ace Davis' blog. A couple times a year he throws together a comprehensive roster listing to project who will be around and who will be cut. I don't mean to rip him off, but I am a little anxious to be able to look at who we could expect to see suiting up come September, so I have gone through the exercise on my own:

Starter: Charlie Frye
Backups: Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson
Practice squad: None
Cut: Ken Dorsey

Starters: Jamal Lewis, Lawrence Vickers
Backups: Jerome Harrison, Jason Wright, Alan Ricard
Practice squad: Tyrone Moss
Cut: Charles Ali, Chris Barclay

Starter: Kellen Winslow
Backups: Steve Heiden, Darnell Dinkens
Cut: Ryan Krause, Buck Ortega

Starters: Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Hank Fraley, Seth McKinney, Kevin Shaffer
Backups: Ryan Tucker, Isaac Sowells, Kelly Butler, Rob Smith
Practice squad: Rick Drushal
Injured Reserve: LeCharles Bentley
Cut: Andrew Hoffman, Pete Lougheed, Fred Matua, Brent Pousson, Scott Stephenson,Nat Dorsey, Lennie Friedman

Starters: Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicius
Backups: Travis Wilson, Josh Cribbs, Tim Carter
Practice squad:Syndric Steptoe
Cut: Kendrick Mosley, Steve Sanders, Mike Mason

Starters: Orpheus Roye, Ted Washington, Robaire Smith
Backups: Simon Fraser, Ethan Kelley, Babatunde Oshinowo, Shaun Smith
Practice squad:Melila Purcell
Cut: Orien Harris, J'vonne Parker, Alvin Smith, Chase Pittman

Starters: Willie McGinest, Kamerion Wimbley
Backups: Matt Stewart, Antwaan Peek
Practice squad: Mike Alston
Cut: Jason Short, David McMillan

Starters: Andra Davis, D'Qwell Jackson
Backups: Chaun Thompson, Leon Williams, Mason Unck
Cut: Clifton Smith, Funtaine Hunter

Starters: Daven Holly, Leigh Bodden
Backups: Eric Wright, DeMario Minter, Kenny Wright, Jereme Perry
IR: Gary Baxter
Practice squad: Brandon McDonald
Cut: Antonio Perkins, Therrian Fontenot

Starters: Brodney Pool, Sean Jones
Backups: Mike Adams
Practice squad: Justin Hamilton
Cut: Ben Emanuel, Jeremy Lesueur, Justin Sandy

K Phil Dawson
P Dave Zastudil
LSE Ryan Pontbriand
Cut: Kyle Basler, Jesse Ainsworth

The game is: Tell me where I'm wrong. But remember, we can only have 53 guys on the roster, plus 7 on the practice squad, plus whoever ends up on injured reserve/physically unable to perform.

I know that this list has holes. For instance, punt returner is one of the outstanding open spots. If Eric Wright or Sean Jones can handle that, then the roster can stand as is. But if instead it is won by Brandon McDonald or Syndric Steptoe, then who gets bumped for their spot? DeMario Minter, or Jereme Perry? Could also be Tim Carter, but I'd be worried about our 4th and 5th receivers both being guys who won spots because of their special teams skills

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Draft

I have had a chance to think over what happened last weekend. Here are my thoughts

I don't like trading up. You give up multiple picks to get a guy who the brain trust expects to be worth it. But we Clevelanders are only too aware that no GM or scout is omniscient. Guys who we expect to be good often end up as dogs. Since the GM or scout can't pick a guaranteed winner, the only way to improve your chances of getting lucky with a pick is by having alot of picks, so that even if half of them turn out to be duds, you are still left with some good players.

Savage's trades have the chance of paying off very well. If both Quinn and Wright end up as good as expected, the trades will prove to be worth it. Trading up for them was a risk, though, and if either do end up as failures, it will hurt alot because they both represent multiple picks. I am pretty risk-averse so I don't love the trades. But hopefully the "fortune favors the bold" mantra will hold up in this case.

The Picks
The first three picks were great examples of picking guys who are best available players who ALSO match a particular area of need (although our 2nd rounder Wright needs an asterisk*).

There isn't much more to say about Quinn and Thomas as picks. They are great picks that fill holes without reaching for talent.

The same can be said about cornerback Eric Wright, but not without going into more details. This is the kid who was listed by many as the top cornerback in the draft, which fits well with our huge need at CB. However, he fell through the second round because of character issues. I've searched through news stories, and I can't find anything to suggest that Wright was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But alot of people are vouching for his character, saying he's a choir boy who made one very bad choice that was out of character. I hope they are right, for the sake of the Browns and for the sake of Wright's future.

The last 4 picks were definite need picks, unless Savage got UNBELIEVABLY lucky the entire way down the draft board with best available player also being at our areas of need (cornerback, defensive line, and punt returner). Drafting based on need is particularly risky in the later rounds, since the talent is pretty marginal anyways. In 2006 Savage had gotten away from the lower round need picks, taking a running back, a full back, a safety, a linebacker, and a cornerback as the best available guys on his board, and not necessarily the most important position.

If we are lucky, Melila Purcell and Chase Pittman might end up being solid defensive linemen. But odds are, they are going to be warm bodies filling obvious holes until those holes can be addressed more convincingly with future draft picks and free agent signings. Similarly, Syndric Steptoe and Brandon McDonald might replace Northcutt at punt returner, and McDonald could be a cornerback project who would be nice to see on the field if the secondary is ravaged by injuries again. But it seems like all four were drafted just to add names to a hurting roster, and not because they were the best available players.

As many have pointed out, this draft COULD be a franchise defining moment. But it could also be a serious drain on our ability fill future holes, since we have put all our eggs in the Quinn and Wright baskets.

We are still a few months off from any of these guys getting signed, but I am starting to hope that the Brady Quinn contract does lead to a bit of a hold out. I want Quinn to sit for a while behind Frye. If he holds out, it would provide a great excuse for Crennel to avoid calls to throw him in before he is ready. And it can also help us save a few bucks since we won't be paying more than we should just to avoid the PR issue.

Linemen on the loose

I still haven't gotten to finish my draft post, and already the aftershocks are coming out:

>> Kevin Shaffer asks for a trade

>> Joe Andruzzi to be released

I'm not too surprised by the Andruzzi move. His play has been pretty unspectacular. Browns management (OK, Crennel) has been championing him as one of the cornerstones of the franchise, I assume for personal reasons and because they like his work ethic and professional attitude (which are nothing to sneer at, but also don't outweigh bad play). In theory we would keep him around a while longer into preseason since it costs us nothing, but I guess Crennel wants to do a favor for his buddy and speed up the inevitable. So it goes. We still have some depth at guard, although this loss kind of eliminates our margin for error.

But whats this about Shaffer wanting out? Whats with these big linemen like Shaffer and Ross Verba turning into whiny primadonnas the moment they don't feel fully appreciated?

Shaffer was payed VERY well to come in and play an important role. Alot of others have called him a failure after his first year, but I wouldn't be upset to see him get another year with a better guard lining up next to him. But in any case, we found a better option than him going forward, and now he may need to adapt to a new role. He should shut up and do his job. If he wanted the freedom to play where and when he desired, he should've worked that into his contract instead of signing a binding contract and collecting a huge signing bonus.

Anybody see the PFT article discussing the Kevin Shaffer "mistake"?

They assume that Savage didn't realize that Shaffer was playing in a different blocking system in Atlanta, and that is why Shaffer didn't perform to expectations. Apparently they think Phil Savage's entire experience with football is as an occasional viewer of ESPN.

This is ridiculous. Of COURSE Savage knew that Shaffer was being pulled into a new position in a new scheme, and that his experience would not directly translate. Not realizing that it would be pretty incompetent for a football writer, let alone for a GM. But part of being GM is projecting how guys will fit in different schemes.

I would also like to make sure we remember the context surrounding the Shaffer signing:
1) Summer of 2005, Ross Verba turns into a headcase and buys out of his contract.

2) New GM and headcoach Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel, already in the midst of dramatic lineup changes on offense and defense, sign LJ Shelton to a one year contract as a stop-gap, since Verba did his crazy-routine well after free agency and the draft had come and gone.

3) Come spring 2006 Shelton is gone, and we need a new LT with no expected chance of drafting one.

4) Shaffer was probably the best available option short of doing another one-year stop-gap measure. He wasn't a franchise left tackle, but those guys are never available in free agency, and he was expensive, but he filled a need. In hindsight a one year stop-gap could have been a better option, but with 20-20 hindsight we could have taken Marcus McNeill in the second round. Might as well have grabbed Marquis Colston in the 6th round, if you're going to start the second guessing.

Shaffer might not be our long-term left tackle, but I would hardly call his signing a mistake.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ummmm. . . .

I'm speechless.

This morning the talk was that we were chosing between Quinn and Thomas. Now we have BOTH?!

Not only do we get Quinn, but we also prevent Baltimore from getting him (rumors were it was Cleveland, Baltimore, and KC trying to get him).

It pains me a bit that we gave up next year's first round pick plus our second. I think I read that draft value chart says that we should have only needed to give up this year's 2nd and 3rd to get to that spot. I guess the real question is: Would we have used next year's first round pick on somebody better than Brady Quinn? Probably not.

So does this mean that all the mock drafts who predicted the Browns would take Brady Quinn can claim they were right?

Let the line reshuffling begin

Needless to say, I'm happy with the pick of Joe Thomas. Its not a sexy pick, but its a good move to improve things incrementally.

The question is where is he going to fit in on the line? While we drafted him to be a left tackle, it seems like more often than not the elite left tackles take a year or two before they slide over to the pivotal blind side spot.

I'm guessing that Schaeffer holds down LT for this upcoming season. Steinbach at left guard, Fraley at center, Joe Thomas at right guard, and Ryan Tucker at right tackle. And when Tucker goes down hurt, Thomas slides over to right tackle with Seth McKinney, Joe Andruzzi, and Isaac Sowells fighting out for right guard. I also wouldn't be surprised to see one of those three fighting for Fraley's spot at center.

Longer term, Thomas at LT, Schaeffer at RT, Steinbach at LG, Tucker, McKinney, or Sowells at RG, and, dare we hope, LeCharles Bentley at Center? Its a long shot, but DAMN, that would be a line. The beautiful thing about this line: Other than Tucker, Andruzzi, and Fraley, we have alot of years ahead of us for these guys. So not only will they be an immediate upgrade, but they have the potential to be together for a while, and get better each year as a unit, even as each guy individually gets better.

I don't think there are going to be any excuses for the offensive skill positions this year.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

High Character Players

I'm really surprised that none of the Cleveland area papers have this story. I had to get it from a link at

Justin Hamilton, Browns 7th round pick in 2006 and Virginia Tech alum, is working with other players to set up memorial scholarships in the names of each of the shooting victims from last week, and has pledged $50,000 of his own money to get it started.

Now THAT is impressive. The kid was a 7th rounder, and earned $275,000 last year. He probably only saw $185,000 of that after taxes. And although it sounds like he's being counted on as a backup safety and special teamer for next season, he is by no means assured of staying around in the league for long. He is making a very real sacrifice of financial security, if not necessarily the money needed to maintain his lifestyle.

Phil Savage has made the point that he looks for high character players. I just figured that meant we wouldn't see their names in pft's Turd Watch. I never guessed that it would mean he'd be bringing in some real humanitarians. I hope that Hamilton sticks around for a while. The cap space that he takes up will probably continue going to good causes.

Maybe his largesse will convince Michael Vick to pony up more than the $10,000 that he got a press release for.

Peterson injured before Browns even draft him

In an interesting twist, its being reported that Adrian Peterson reinjured his collarbone in January, and that the lingering injury COULD require another surgery. Sounds like best case is that he misses offseason workouts and makes it back in time for preseason, and in a less rosy scenario he misses some of preseason too.

In my eyes, this should take him off the table. Beyond the fact that this is one more blow against his health report, the fact that he would miss so much of training camp would automatically mean that he's missing out. I don't understand why rookies missing one or two weeks of training camp is a big deal, but Crennel insists that it puts a damper on their entire rookie season.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Russian Roulette

In my draft board, and in Dawghouse Blog's draft board, we advocated drafting Calvin Johnson (if he's still there) and then trading him.

While it sounds nice and easy, it has some pratfalls. Which would explain why its not a standard practice.

Every year, teams "threaten" to take players who are not their number one choices so that they can induce a trade with a lower team, and it rarely works. Which makes sense: If the team one spot ahead of you is threatening to take your player, you can call their bluff. If they really do take that player, there is no reason that you can't work out the trade while you are on the clock (ala Chargers/Giants swap of Eli Manning for Phillip Rivers).*

So the next logical step for the team that wants to trade down is to draft that player to force the lower team to do the trade. But there are a couple things that can now happen:
>> The lower team DOESN'T really want that player, at any price. You would only get into this situation if the lower team was doing an incredible bluffing job. I don't believe that Tampa or Washington would really pass on Calvin Johnson no matter what.
>> The lower team DOES want the player, but is only willing to pay below-market price. This is a likely scenario. But it still doesn't seem to be that much of an issue. So we take Johnson and can only get a 5th rounder out of Tampa. I could live with that.
>> The lower team DOES want the player, and will pay through the nose for him. That is the ideal scenario.

So, it is a bit of Russian Roulette, but the downside risks seem to be pretty minimal. Worst comes to worst, you still end up with a great player, just the wrong great player.

*Unfortunately, no one ever explained this manuever to Butch Davis, who gave Detroit a 2nd round pick so that we could take Kellen Winslow Jr.

Clark Judge on CBS Sportsline has an article saying why the Browns "have" to take Peterson. But he fails to rebut one of the most important knocks against Peterson: his explosiveness and dynamicism means nothing when he's on the bench:
>> His injury history is troubling. Both the number of injuries and the types of injuries. Sure, they may all be "fluke" injuries, but so were most of Courtney Brown's injuries. It doesn't mean anything in the end. Some guys are just injury prone.
>> Even if he stays healthy, he's still only going to be helping us on first and second downs.
>> Time after time teams have proven that you can win with a less than stellar back, or with a tandem of backs. Quarterback by committee, NO! Running Back by committe, SI!
Peterson sounds exciting, and I wouldn't mind being proven wrong if we take him and he stays healthy and productive. But I'm not going to hold back from saying "I told you so" when he gets hurt.

Dawg Pound South has a great post making the argument for drafting an offensive tackle.

Since he layed out alot of the numbers, I would like to add to that my own qualitative opinion:
The roles of quarterback, running back, and wide receiver can change drastically from scheme to scheme within the NFL, and espescially from college to the NFL:
>> Running backs need to follow more defined blocking patterns, since they can no longer rely on outrunning and overpowering NFL caliber linebackers and safeties. They also need to be able to pick up more complicated blizting schemes.
>> Quarterbacks have to contend with more frequent blitzing, and also have guys checking their reads to pick off passes to their primary targets
>> Wide Receivers have bigger, more physical CBs who keep them from running their routes and showing off their speed

Obviously tackles have new schemes to contend with and bigger, faster blitzers to worry about. But their job doesn't change neary as much: Keep your quarterback safe, and knock opposing defenders away from the run.

I think thats why its easier for personel guys to project college linemen than other positions. It makes the tackle a much safer pick. You may be losing the "upside" of getting a game-changing skill player, but you eliminate alot of the downside too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gone fishin

My estimation of Joe Thomas (Tackle, Wisconsin, potential Browns draft pick) went up after reading this on Profootball Talk:

Adam Schefter of NFL Network reports that the NFL can't persuade tackle Joe Thomas, a presumed top-five draft pick, to travel to New York for the NFL Draft.

Instead, Thomas will be salmon fishing on Lake Michigan with his father.

The draft seems to be full of fanfare, fancy parties, and "bling". Instead of going for that, this guy will be fishing with his dad. Kind of like the anti-Bralyon Edwards. That sounds like the kind of guy who belongs in Cleveland.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Draft Board

The official Dwayne Rudd's Helmet Draft Board

We are down to two weeks until the draft. We are still waiting to see which way Oakland will go, but I think I've seen/read enough to have a picture of how I think Phil Savage's draft board should read:

1) Trade Down: I feel that trading down should be a given, in almost any circumstance, since no matter how good a player appears it will almost never make up for the fact that multiple picks gives you a better chance of getting one right.

2) Joe Thomas: I personally do not know ANYTHING about the players in the draft, all I know is what the talking heads tell me, since I by and large ignore college football. But they are saying that Joe Thomas is a "sure thing" left tackle. Given our historical problems on the o-line, as well as the decent track record of tackles taken high in the draft, and this one seems like a no-brainer to me.

Taking Joe Thomas out of the mix, our remaining options (per Phil Savage) are:
>> Jemarcus Russell
>> Adrian Peterson
>> Calvin Johnson
>> Brady Quinn

3) Calvin Johnson: Let me 'splain. I do not want to add another wide receiver to this team, with all our other pressing needs. BUT, our other options are not exactly "pressing needs" either, in my opinion. I would rather we take the best player available. But:

3a) After drafting Calvin Johnson, we should continue trying to trade him for a first round pick plus later picks in the draft. We might not be able to get many trade offers while on the clock if other teams don't believe that we will take Johnson. But if we do take Johnson, and then Tampa is confronted with the choice of a drafting a QB or RB, or giving us their 1st and 3rd (or even 4th) round picks for Johnson, I think they may pull the trigger and make the trade. And if Tampa doesn't make the trade, there is a good chance another team will.

4) Jemarcus Russell or Brady Quinn. I am pretty ambivalent amongst these guys. Both guys have alot of superlatives in their biographies. A QB is not my top choice, but if either of these guys could be another Phillip Rivers or Carson Palmer, it may be worth the risk (at least compared to our other options).

5) Adrian Peterson. I have made my case against him in previous posts. Suffice it to say, he is too injury prone, and decent-to-good running backs are just too easy to find beyond first round picks.

I guess my best case scenario would be us trading down to get two picks later in the first round, at which point we would have more wiggle room to draft need guys, at defensive line, offensive line, or cornerback. But what are the chances?