Wednesday, April 30, 2008

AFC North headed South

Part of the worry of going into the draft with few picks was that the other teams may catch up to the Browns. Fortunately, the Ravens, Bengals, and steelers GMs did their best to set our minds at ease:

Baltimore Ravens:
Trading down to stockpile picks was worrisome at first. But then they went and traded up for Derek Anderson wannabe Joe Flacco. I still haven't seen anything that sets this guy apart from our own 6th-round-pick-turned-free-agent-pick-up. Other than the fact that he cost the Ratbirds a first round pick (and first round money). He can throw the ball 50 yards from his knees? Frisman Jackson could throw 70 yards. Thats not going to help much with a bad corp of receivers and an o-line thats ready to apply for Social Security. The Ravens QB carousel is going to spin faster than our old Holcomb/Couch problem with de-facto Head Coach Ray Lewis calling the shots. I'm sure the Wizard of Oz got a few choices right when he was allowed to make the later picks, but its not going to be enough to help that train-wreck waiting to happen.

Cincinnati Bengals:
They were stuck in a tough position in the first round, with the best available players being cornerbacks and offensive tackles. So they picked a linebacker based on need. Then they picked up a few wide receivers who will have fun trying to replace hold-out Chad Johnson and released multiple felon Chris Henry. And just as we all thought they were ready to turn the corner on their collection of criminals, they go and draft defensive tackle Jason Shirley, who comes with outstanding charges before he's even been in the Bengals' locker-room. He might have a chance to learn a bit from newly-reinstated linebacker Odell Thurman, if he can get into camp before Thurman gets busted again.

pittsburgh steelers:
They got high marks from draftniks for picking value running backs and wide receivers. It'll be fun to see what those guys can do behind an offensive line that makes the Ravens' line look like. . . . . . well look like the Browns' line. Out: Alan Faneca. In: Tony Hills. Their line had a tough time keeping Roethlisberger upright against the Browns' pitiable defensive line last year. Our defensive line has improved ten fold. Their line has gotten worse. If Roethlisberger survives the season, I'll be surprised.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Browns, Usury, and the Credit Crunch

I logged on to check the draft progress around the 18th pick in round 4. Little did I expect that by then we had already made two picks.

Some of the picks sound kind of interesting. But thats not my thing. I don't know squat about college players. But I do know a little bit about finance. So I think I am somewhat qualified to point out that Phil Savage is addicted to credit, and he needs an intervention.

Savage is addicted to borrowing from the future to meet the needs of today. How fitting that its going on while our country is going through a credit crunch because of overuse and abuse of credit in the recent past.

The thing is, taking out loans and borrowing isn't necessarily bad. Borrowing is a good thing when you expect the payoff to exceed your finance charges. So taking out a loan to buy a truck for your job that will make you more than the cost of the truck is a good idea. But financing isn't always good. Taking out a home equity loan to buy a big screen tv is probably always a bad idea.

Applying this comparison to football is a bit tricky because the difference isn't whether you're using your picks for a truck or a tv. At the end of the day, draft picks are only worth anything to the extent that they get you players. There is no clear line between a trade to get great value and gambling away the future for immediate needs.

Think of it this way: We trade next year's 3rd rounder to get a 4th rounder this year to use on a guy who should've gone in the 2nd round. So next year, what do we do when a 1st rounder falls into the 3rd round and we don't have a pick left?

The fact is, EVERY year good players drop to later rounds. So using a pick from next year to get value this year just means you won't be able to get (or will have to overpay for) value next year.

Its possible that Phil felt better about getting late-round value this year compared to next year because we've focused more attention on the later rounds (without having to be distracted by scouting 1st rounders). But how good can a sixth round wide receiver really be (Marques Colston excepted)?

The only thing that really matters is the quality of the players Phil brings in. If his picks this year result in starters at linebacker, tight end, and wide receiver, then his trades may be worth it. But lets hope that Phil gets over his addiction to using future picks.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Browns win the first round

How do you win the first round without having a pick? By the fact that 8 teams selected offensive linemen. That surely has a more than a little to do with the huge impact Joe Thomas has had on the Browns offensive line, and the huge impact the improved line has had on the entire offense.

Too bad none of them are going to be as good as quickly as Joe was/is.

Go Browns!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I think I hold up well to even intense scrutiny

Yadda-yadda-yadda. . . . . .schedule is out . . . . . . tough opponents. . . . . . 5 primetime games. . . . . .increased exposure brings increased scrutiny. . .

I don't see why having prime time games is necessarily a good thing. I know the players like the national spotlight, and as a dislocated fan I like that I can find any old neighborhood bar to see the game at, instead of having to squeeze into a Backers' location or struggle with SOPcast. But it also means alot of annoying hype and annoying announcers who know half as much as the local guys but talk as if they know twice as much.

I don't think its necessarily a sign that the NFL expects big things out of the Browns, which appears to be the conventional wisdom. Rather, I think its a sign that, even when the Browns play a bad game, they do so pretty excitingly.

As we've known for a while, on paper our line-up of opponents looks pretty tough. But every year a handful of teams crash and burn, while another handful come out of nowhere. Hopefully we have a couple of the former on our schedule.

The first four games are a pretty tough test. At home against Dallas and pittsburgh, then at Baltimore and Cincinnati, then the bye. I'm not going to say we should be happy if we're 2-2, because we should be able to beat any of our division rivals. But division games tend to put "should" on its head.

This is going to be a long off-season. . .

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

NFL: Yup, they got screwed

The NFL has announced rule changes for next year. Two of the changes are direct responses to plays that screwed, or almost screwed, the Browns:
>> Allow replay to review fieldgoals. Against Baltimore, the Phil Dawson game winning field goal was called no good until some discussion, and perhaps some refs unofficially seeing the replay.
>> Eliminate the force-out rule. Against the Cardinals, a game tying Kellen Winslow touchdown catch ended with his getting forced out of bounds. The refs didn't call the force out, an inherent judgement call, and the replays for the rest of the week led many viewers to believe that the Browns got robbed of a win.

There was another rule change that was proposed and not adopted that would have changed the seeding order in the playoffs, supposedly to keep teams from intentionally tanking late season games. This also was in direct response to the Browns getting screwed out the playoffs.

I've always held that the Browns get the short end of the stick over and over again. The fact that rule changes are happening because of it just confirms my suspicions. I don't think these rule changes represent that the Browns' shafting this season was any worse than past years. Its more just the fact that when we got screwed in the past, we were still terrible, so the common wisdom is "they would've lost anyways". Now that we're a good team, it makes a bigger impact on the powers that be.