Saturday, January 20, 2007

And the new Offensive Coordinator is:

Rob Chudzinski?

Well, if former fullback Mo Carthon was going to feature fullbacks in his offense, we might be a little better off with former tight end (and tight end coach) featuring our tight end formations.

I'm glad to see they went outside the organization. I think the whole Davidson/Scherer idea seemed tainted by proximity to Mo Carthon, and what they've "accomplished" with the Browns over the past couple years. However, Chud is also of the Butch Davis coaching tree, which is more than a little scary. But he did OK in San Diego, so that can't be a bad sign.

He was Offensive Coordinator for Miami U during the 03 Fiesta bowl. He had his best seasons as a coach with Ken Dorsey throwing to Kellen Winslow. Lets hope he doesn't get some crazy sentimentality about giving Ken Dorsey another shot.

I look forward to finding out more about him, and what he plans on doing with this offense.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A couple draft thoughts

I'm not upto speed on the draft yet. Even when I am, I will just be repeating what I read elsewhere, since I don't know squat about college football. But, based on the little bit I've seen/thought about so far, here are a couple thoughts:

> Raiders draft first. They're the real wild card. Logic says that they could use help at QB or LT, but last year they passed on Matt Leinart to take a safety. So I think there is a good chance they defy logic and steer clear of QBs again this year. They also probably wouldn't take Joe Thomas (LT) considering their fiasco with bust Robert Gallery a couple years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if Oakland went after Calvin Johnson (WR). They lika dem playmakers, even if the position isn't exactly a need. But, again, they're a wild card.
> Lions go next. Last year, they also passed on Leinart in favor of a LB. I think last year might have been more of a stabilization, putting Kitna at QB. I could see them deciding that now might be a good time to draft a high QB to sit under Kitna for a year, ala the Bengals and Carson Palmer. They probably wouldn't go with Joe Thomas, with Jeff Backus getting a huge contract last year.
> That brings us to the Browns (or the Bucs, depending on the coin flip). My thoughts:
- We will NOT take a QB. Too many other needs, and they want Frye to get another year.
- We SHOULD NOT take a WR, even if Calvin Johnson is a demi-god. I think with Edwards, Jurivicis, and Travis Wilson, we would be loath to take a WR even if they get the best grade.
- Linebacker is not a need. While we could certainly use another impact OLB to start filling in for the aging McGinest, its a very low need right now. If we take any linebackers, it shouldn't be in round one.
- Safety probably isn't a need. If we resign Brian Russell, that will be a safe sign that no safety will be drafted. Unless they've given up on Pool.
- Tight end is set.
- Other than that, we could use players at any of OL, DL, CB, RB. Alot of people have been tossing the name Adrian Peterson (RB) as a Browns pick. It certainly seems like a possibility, but I would prefer to stick it out with the guys we have already, and work on fixing the line. I think I could be happy if we drafted nothing but OL and DL.

Alot of this is premature, since free agency will have a huge impact on our perceived needs (eg, if we sign one or two OL starters, it will drop on the priority list).

However, now is probably a good place to point out one of my draft pet-peeves:
There is no need to suggest "We should try to trade down". That is a given. If a team approaches you and offers you fair value (ie multiple 1st rounders, or even a 1st + 2nd + more) for your first round pick, you should ALWAYS take it. But the fact of the matter is, it that doesn't happen all that often.

Teams who draft later on are drafting later on because they have better teams, and so fewer needs. They aren't about to gamble their future on a single pick no matter HOW good he looks. Now, of course there are the occasional teams that DO target a particular player (Denver going for Cutler, Giants going for Manning, Saints going for Williams) that result in monster deals. But those deals are NEVER started because a team wants to trade down. They're started because a team wants to trade up, and the team that trades down just happens to be lucky to get the windfall.

Hopefully we'll get lucky and someone will want to trade up to get our pick. Seeing Brady Quinn or Jemarcus Russell fall to us certainly could help.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

So does that mean we should have kept Jeff Faine?

Grossi keeps pointing to the Saints and Jets as examples of organizations that turned it around in one season while the Browns continue to fail. Here is a quick history of their records:

. W L
2001 7 9
2002 9 7
2003 8 8
2004 8 8
2005 3 13
2006 10 6

. W L
2001 10 6
2002 9 7
2003 6 10
2004 10 6
2005 4 12
2006 10 6

Both those teams, if you throw out 2005, have been very successful in the short/mid term. They both experienced extenuating circumstances in 2005 (Saints with Katrina, Jets with Pennington going down) and ending up dweilling in the cellar for a year. But its not like they lost their core players from their good seasons.

I don't want to make excuses for the Browns. They should be better than they are by now. But pointing to the Jets and Saints as examples of why a one year turn-around is possible is just intellectually dishonest.

And what's with Grossi spreading rumors that Savage asked Crennel to resign? He admits its nothing but a rumor, but if thats the case, it doesn't belong in print in a newspaper, at least without some substantiation.

Now, I don't think that its impossible. But highly unlikely. Who knows, though? Not me.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rewinding to the backup QB debate

After our failed experiment at QB, alot of people are recalling their preseason calls for the signing of a veteran backup QB as a sort of "I told you so". I still don't buy it.

I'm glad that we got a chance to see Frye and Anderson in action. Not that they have convinced me (or anyone) that they are genuine starting QB material, but we have a better idea than we did going into the season.

As I understand it, the argument for the veteran backup QB went something like this:
i) He can take over if the youngun isn't ready
ii) He can mentor the younguns

My responses to each:
i) Who is this veteran? Who are the available QBs who are of starting caliber, whose veteran saavy is enough to justify putting him in over a supposed "QB of the future"? The fact is, you've gotta choose a direction at QB. Do you want to try out a young guy? Or do you want to rely on known mediocrity? Personally, I prefer our current situation, where we now know that Frye has limits and questionable potential. The alternative is that we could have put Kerry Collins out there to get us to 3-9, only to throw in the towel in on him, and then watched Frye go 1-3 with "promising signs" and "great poise under pressure" so that we would now still be under the mistaken belief that Frye may be the next Brett Favre.

ii) This is the more common argument, thrown in when people realize that the veteran backup probably won't be expected to play. To which I say "God, if you're going to hire someone who can be Charlie's friend and hold his clipboard and give him advice, why does that guy have to wear a uniform and count against the salary cap? Why not find a recently retired QB who you can put on the payroll to do the same thing? You can even give him some sort of title. Like QB coach or something."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Phil Speaks

Just watched Phil Savage's State of the Browns address.

I didn't get much out of it. He's good at candidly talking in a professional manner. Whenever questions come up about why guys were fired, or why guys were kept, he stuck to his line that "We make all our decisions as a team." He talks about it so naturally, I kind of believe him.

One point I did find interesting was when he was talking about Crennel's relationship with his coordinators. He made the point that Crennel really liked giving his coordinators alot of personal space, and that he was hands-off in alot of ways. He also said that that would change next year, and Crennel would be alot more into what was going on inside the meeting rooms. I read Savage's comments as saying that Crennel was giving his coordinators TOO much room, and that is in part why he was ineffective this year.

Steve Doerschuck asked a good question about the D-Line and not stopping the run. Phil certainly sounded concerned, much more so than when he was talking about the O-line. I fear that we might see the O-line fixed before the D-line ever gets there. That might turn us into a Bengals like team.

He explained the logic in bringing in Kevin Schaeffer, but he sounded like he has seen the light, and that maybe Schaeffer isn't elite left tackle material, and that he might get moved around if we can get in a new prospect.

Mary Kay Cabot threw Savage a softball of "Is it fair to say that Jeff Davidson had his hands tied in that he was stuck with Maurice Carthon's playbook", and Savage didn't take a swing. That certainly doesn't put much in Davidson's stock as next Offensive Coordinator. Phil's answer was essentially "Jeff did alot of good things from an operations stand point of making sure we got plays in on time and making sure guys knew what was coming. But, his play calling would not be alot different than Maurice Carthon's, it would just have some new tweaks". Phil, if you're of that mindset, and you will speak it to the Cleveland press, you would be a fool to bring Davidson back as coordinator.

Savage also had an interesting line about Edwards and Winslow: "The Face of the Browns' offense in the future is clearly Number 17 and Number 80". Phil really sounds sold on Edwards, and did alot of apologizing for him. He pointed out that Braylon's strengths are:
-Jump balls
-Catching a shorter pass in some traffic and breaking a big gain
I assume on that second point, he was referring to Edwards ability to break something IF he caches the ball.

Savage also made a comment about how the scouts all spend most of the season not even looking at the elite players, because they assume that they will be picking mid-round, and that the elite players will be gone by then. I wonder if that's why so many top-ten picks end up being busts. Everyone assumes that they're great, and they don't spend the time picking out their blemishes until its too late.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

QB controversy

After last nights game, I might be convinced that Troy Smith might fit in with the Browns, after all. I mean, we have to discount that genuine Heisman trophy worthy regular season. But I'm sure Crennel and the new O-Coordinator could coach him to the Browns level.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

QB of the future?

Looks like Tony Romo is trying out for the Browns.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Let the real Browns season begins


Yup, that was alot worse than alot of us expected.

I'm not going to do a full "Season in review". I just don't have the time to waste on such a fruitless exercise. What's the point in reviewing if alot of the names and faces are going to be different next year? And they WILL be different.

So instead, I'm ready to jump right into the offseason. And for Browns fan, the offseason is our REAL football season. The 17 weeks that the Browns are playing games just serves to drive home how bad our team is. So the offseason comes as a nice respite from the cruel realities of incompetence.

During the offseason, we can talk about our young players who are turning the corner. We can talk about our injured players who will be back, stronger than ever, ready to return us to our glory days of 2005's 6 wins. We can talk about our draft picks, who will surely all contribute immediately. And we can talk about our free agent signings, the cream of the crop who have never been injured and who have never failed to live up to their billing.

Some might say that we're just setting ourselves up for disappointment, since those corners are never turned, new injuries come faster than old injuries heal, draft picks are busts, and free agents are content hauling in their big paychecks. And they'd be right. But really, even with low expectations the Browns still would be a 4-12 team, so its not like we're missing out on that much.

Grossi mentioned something in a chat along the lines of "I thought the Browns would win at least 7 games. Of course, I was being optimistic, because thats what the fans want". You know what Tony, you're right. That is what I want. If we're going to watch crap for the 17 weeks out of the year that the season is going on, I'm OK playing a little game of self-deception the other 35 weeks of the year. Thanks, Tony. Time to haul out a little optimism.

So I'm ready to talk about free agency and the draft. I'll leave end of season analysis to those more qualified than myself.

Various end of season notes:
> Sean Jones really stopped looking like a ball hawk towards the end of the season. No interceptions past game 9, only a handful of passes defensed in the last few games. He probably had to play alot more conservatively with the CB crew being down with the plague, so I'm not saying cut him. But he sure didn't look like anything special.
> Last game of the season. We are short one guard. We have two options: Isaac Sowells, our 4th round pick and potential guard of the future, and Rob Smith, undrafted rookie who couldn't hang on as center because he was too sweaty to hold onto the ball. So who plays? Rob Smith of course. So, is Sowells such a bust that he can't beat out an undrafted player? Or does Crennel just have some talent management issues? I think its a little bit of both.
> I think alot of the offensive coaching staff shakeup is justified. Especially "offensive quality control coach Carl Crennel". There was quite obviously no quality on this offense.
> Word is that the Browns will interview Jason Garrett, Miami Dolphins QB coach, for offensive coordinator. Does anybody share my sentiment of WTF!?! Our offense is a shambles with a lack of personel, our head coach doesn't know play calling from linear algebra, and we're going to bring in a guy with no direct experience calling plays, and very little indirect experience? What exactly are his credentials? That he coached Daute Culpepper and Joey Harrington to greatness in Miami?