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.