Monday, July 24, 2017

Two Minutes with Gregg Williams of the Cleveland Browns

I had the chance to meet Coach Gregg Williams, Defensive Coordinator for the Cleveland Browns.   Maybe I picked up a pointer or two. 

   I wanted to meet Gregg Williams, Defensive Coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.  I was in town for the Berea High School All Class Reunion at Polish Village.   It turns out that the Grindstone in Berea hosted a charity event on Saturday, and Myles Garrett, rookie Defensive End, and Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams attended.  I really wanted to meet Gregg Williams especially.  Football, you see, is the hardest game in the world, and Coach Williams is one of the top experts in the world at designing plays and motivating people.  I've listened to him on TV and I really think he's a special person.  I think it's wise to follow successful people because maybe you might pick up on something.  So, I talked with Coach Williams for probably less than two minutes, but we covered a lot. I stood in line for about half an hour, which I didn't mind one bit because I was talking football with other Browns fans the whole time.   Almost everyone else wanted autographs, but I'm not an autograph hound.  I just wanted to meet Gregg Williams.  But what do you say to a guy like that?  If I were to try to talk about zone blitzes or cover two defenses, first of all I don't know anything, and second I wouldn't understand the answer.  So, when it was finally my turn, I said "Coach Williams, I just wanted to thank you for coming to Cleveland, and also for sponsoring the Gregg Williams Foundation."  
     Coach Williams looked me right in the eye, and asked, "What is your name?"  Lesson one:  I hadn't introduced myself, because I figured I was completely unimportant and unmemorable and the Coach would not be interested in me.  But Coach contradicted that assumption, and made me understand that no matter who you are, you're important and you should always introduce yourself.  Think of yourself as a person who is important enough that a famous coach wants to know who you are. .  
        "I'm Elliot Kennel from Beavercreek Ohio, near Dayton."
        Coach nodded.  "You know, I've never been happier than I am right now with the Browns," he said, and then repeated, "I've never been happier than now."
        Then he shifted gears and talked about his Foundation.  "I'm a sucker for anything that helps kids.  We've raised over a million dollars so far, and we can really make a difference in  kids lives.  You never know what might happen.   Look at me, I was never supposed to amount to anything.  I'm the son of a farmer.  I grew up in a house without electricity and indoor plumbing. But I've been given a chance, and people helped me along the way."   Lesson two:  Remember where you came from, even if you are one of the top experts in the world at what you do. There are still children today who grow up in extreme poverty, through no fault of their own, and face very difficult obstacles in order to become an adult.  
        I myself have never been poor except as an occasional experiment.  But I'm the son of Depression era kids.  My mom's family lived under a bridge for a while during World War II.   My Dad's family suffered greatly during the Great Depression.  So while I didn't experience that personally, I understand at least something about what it means to be poor.  
    We can complain about it, assign blame, or we can do something about it.   Coach Williams has invested a lot of his time and considerable energy doing things for the young people in little Excelsior Springs, Missouri.   My sense has been all along that he is not just talking the talk.  He really is walking the walk, and there are 1.2 million reasons to believe in that.  
      Coach is a very fast talker, very direct and incisive.  I learned a few things in a very short time.  
     When it was my turn to meet Myles Garrett, I remembered my mistake in not introducing myself to Coach Williams.  "Mr. Garrett, I'm Elliot Kennel from Beavercreek, near Dayton.  Welcome to Cleveland.   If you're ever down our way to see the Air Force Museum please stop by Tuty's Bar and Grill which is the home of the Beavercreek Browns Backers."  We exchanged pleasantries and shook hands.
      I kind hung around the autograph table for a while.  I was very impressed that Myles was the guy with Coach Williams helping out at a charity event. It's a little thing, but it's the kind of thing that the "face of the franchise" does. First impression is, maybe he "gets it."  

Myles Garrett was very friendly with the fans,  gracious with his time and well spoken.  And he helped to raise a pile of money for local charities.  Well done.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What I Actually Remember About Bill Nahorodny's Career

Over the years I've become facebook friends with Bill Nahorodny.  I'm an amateur sports blogger and fan, and I remembered Bill from his days as a major league player.   Eventually I found out we have common interests in music and many other things, so I consider him a friend.  

But one of my pet peeves is when people exaggerate the extent of their fandom.  So in the interests of full disclosure, I am going to detail exactly what I remember of his career.

In a general way, I remembered that he came up as one of the bright prospects of the White Sox in the circa 1978, and Indians broadcasters chatted him up on the radio a bit. At that time I was in college and in ROTC training camp in the summer and didn't follow sports quite as faithfully as in high school. Anyway, the White Sox at that time had been purchased by Bill Veeck, who had been the owner of the Indians in the 1940's and 50's.  They had some modest success by recycling veteran players like Eric Soderholm and player-manager Don Kessinger, and Bill Nahorodny was one of the few young players on the team.    I vaguely remember Indians radio broadcasters Herb Score and Joe Tait chatting him up a bit when he was at bat.  

Flash forward to July 3, 1982.  My Air Force friend, Vic Slaboszewicz and I drove up to Cleveland for the ball game, with fireworks after the game.  At that time Toby Harrah was playing at an MVP level, batting way over .300.  Toby did not disappoint, ripping  three hits including a triple, and getting a standing ovation while all of us fans chanted his name.    The Indians blew the game, however, getting outslugged by former Indians like Oscar Gamble and Graig Nettles. 

OK, so back to Bill Nahordny.   I was surprised to see him shagging balls in the outfield before the game.  I remember thinking "Hey! I remember that name.  He was considered to be a great prospect wasn't he?  Maybe he can help the team..."

That's it.  That's the only event I remember distinctly. Bill played nine years in the major leagues, and all I really remember from his entire career is that he shagged fly balls in the outfield on July 3, 1982.  I thought Bill was an outfielder.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

If LeBron Wanted to be the GOAT, he Would Go to Golden State

It's a completely idiotic thought, but if LeBron James wanted to be considered the Greatest of All Time, he would go play for the Golden State Warriors.   I do not believe for a minute that he would do it, but hear me out.  

All the idiot sportswriters say that MJ is better than LeBron because he won 6 NBA Championships, and LeBron had "only" 3.  First of all I hate these discussions because it's a team game, and we're trying to project team success onto a single individual.  That's nonsense.  Second, since the guys played in different eras, they can't play each other so the dispute can't be resolved.  But many of the sportswriters seem to cling to the notion that it's the number of championship rings that the player has collected (and if that is the case, I give you Mr. Bill Russell, with 11 rings as a player).   Nevertheless, if LeBron decided he was willing to take a giant pay cut, he could sign with Golden State, and probably get five more rings.   With Duran, James, Curry, Green and Thompson they would be unstoppable, and could probably win even if they lost two superstars.      

Not one, not two not three...but probably seven or eight rings.  I hope it never happens. 

The NBA would be a really boring league and no would like it. But if that's the way you want to define greatness, it's there for the taking.  I pray that LeBron doesn't care what the sportswriters think, and that he will continue to play for his hometown that loves him.  But it does cross my mind...

Saturday, April 29, 2017

NFL Bonkers Over First Round QBs--Again!

Once again teams traded up for quarterbacks in the first round, even thought most of the scouts felt that the 2017 qb class isn't that good.  It gives us an interesting opportunity to study what QBs are actually worth.

Trubisky went to Chicago for the 1st round 3rd overall pick, plus two third round picks, and a fourth round pick. Pat Mahomes cost Kansas city two number 1 picks, plus a number 3.  Deshaun Watson cost Texas  two first round picks. Jeepers peepers.  Adding up, its 5 number ones, 3 number threes and a number four.   

If you use the Schamm point system (table below), the Trubisky trade was worth 2300 + 255 + 195 + 67 = 2817 points.  That's about halfway between second overall and first overall.  

The 2016 NFL draft also featured some amazingly high picks burned on players not really rated that high.  To review,Jared Goff and Carson Wentz went first and second overall, and  Pax Lynch was taken in the late first round.   We coud also add Sam Bradford to the list, since he accounts for a number 1 and conditional number 4  pick.   As shown in the table, teams traded a total of 15 picks including 6 number one picks to land these four quarterbacks guys.  It's absolutely insane how much teams are willing to pay for quarterbacks.

In all, for qbs in the first round, the teams traded the following:

Teams Spent:                       Teams Got:
11 number one picks            Jared Goff
3 number twos,                    Carson Wentz
8 number threes.                  Pax Lynch
2 number 4 (conditional)      Sam Bradford
                                             Mitchell Trubiskey
                                             Pat Mahones
                                             DeShaun Watson

Jiminy Christmas, that's 24 draft picks including some really pricey ones, and I'm not real sure that any of these guys are really that good.  Jared Goff was All-Nothing in his first year, and Carson Wentz struggled, and Pax Lynch didn't play for the Broncos.  Sam Bradford was the best.  

Now let's see what happened for the rest of the draft.  

Teams spent:             Teams got:  

2 number twos          Dak Prescott
4 number threes       Jacoby Brissett
4 number fours         Cody Kessler
2 number fives          Connor Cook
5 number sixes.        Cardake Jones
2 number seven        Kevin Hogan
                                  Hackenberg, Christian
                                  Allen, Brandon
                                  Rudock, Jake
                                  Sudfeld, Nate
                                  Driskel, Jeff
                                  Doughty, Brandon

                                  DeShone Kizer
                                  Davis Webb
                                  CJ Beathard

                                  Joshua Dobbs
                                  Nathan Peterman
                                  Brad Kaaya
                                  Chad Kelly

If you believe in the Brandt draft point system, the mid-first round iis worth roughly  1000 points, 2nd round is 400 points, 3rd round is 200 points 4th round 70, 5th round 35 6th round 20 and 7th round 10.  In rough terms the high group cost the teams some 13000 Brandt points, and the bottom group about 2000 points

So, obviously if the NFL knows as much about quaterbacks as they think, the first round guys should be worth SIX TIMES what the bottom guys were worth.  In particular, in theory Goff was worth SEVENTY FIVE (75) TIMES Dak Prescott.  Um, anyone notice a problem here?  

There were some standouts in 2016 from the later rounds. In addition to Dak Prescott, Jacoby Brissett and Cody Kessler clearly outperformed Goff, Wentz and Lynch, at least in year 1.  

I would bet against Trubisky, Mahomes and Watson ever being able to justify the enormous faith that their teams placed in them.  On the other hand, I like the chances of guys like Kizer, Webb, Kelly and Kaaya to exceed expectations.    

Brandt Point Value versus Overall Draft Pick Number

Round 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 5Round 6Round 7

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Schramm Point Analysis of the 2016 Quarterbacks


The 2016 NFL draft provides an interesting case study on when is the best time to draft a quarterback. From an analytics perspective, if you have very high confidence in NFL scouting, or more precisely, the abiity to evaluate quarterbacks,  then you take a franchise quarterback at the top of the first round.  Obviousy, the other teams are going to do the same thing, and there will be no franchise quarterbacks left after the early first round.  

On the other hand, if you believe that quarterbacks are hard to evaluate accurately (hint:  this is what the Browns believe), then you are willing to take a flier in a later round, and you're more reluctant to risk a high pick on a quarterback.  

This is just the concept of risk.  Do you believe drafting quarterbacks is a low risk  proposition, or is it high risk?  

So look at the draft capital burned for the first round guys last year.  I think the trend is easier to understand if you look at the entire group of first rounders, rather than just one particular guy (who might inspire hallucinations of greatness). In 2016 Jared Goff and Carson Wentz went first and second overall, and  Pax Lynch was taken in the late first round.   We coud also add Sam Bradford to the list, since he accounts for a number 1 and conditional number 4  pick.   As shown in the table, teams traded a total of 15 picks including 6 number one picks to land these four quarterbacks guys.  It's absolutely insane how much teams are willing to pay for quarterbacks.

In all, for qbs in the first round, the 4 treams traded the following:

Teams Spent:                       Teams Got:
6 number one picks             Jared Goff
3 number twos,                    Carson Wentz
5 number threes.                  Pax Lynch
1 number 4 (conditional)      Sam Bradford

Jiminy Christmas, that's 13 draft picks including some really pricey ones, and I'm not real sure that they are really that good.  Jared Goff was All-Nothing in his first year, and Carson Wentz struggled, and Pax Lynch didn't play for the Broncos. 

Now let's see what happened for the rest of the draft.  

Teams spent:             Teams got:  

1 number two            Dak Prescott
2 number threes       Jacoby Brissett
3 number fours         Cody Kessler
1 number five            Connor Cook
4 number sixes.        Cardake Jones
1 number seven        Kevin Hogan
                                  Hackenberg, Christian
                                  Allen, Brandon
                                  Rudock, Jake
                                  Sudfeld, Nate
                                  Driskel, Jeff
                                  Doughty, Brandon

If you believe in the Brandt draft point system, the mid-first round iis worth roughly  1000 points, 2nd round is 400 poinnts, 3rd round is 200 points 4th round 70, 5th round 35 6th round 20 and 7th round 10.  In rough terms the top 3 guys were worth about between 6000 and 7000 points, and the bottom 12 guys totalled under 1500 points.   

So, obviously if the NFL knows as much about quaterbacks as they think, the first round guys should be worth FOUR times what the bottom guys were worth.  

But that is not the case.  Although there are a number of guys who are never going to make it, there were some standouts in 2016 from the later rounds.  Dak Prescott, Jacoby Brissett and Cody Kessler clearly outperfromed Goff, Wentz and Lynch.   In particular, in theory Goff was worth SEVENTY FIVE (75) TIMES Dak Prescott.  

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the top quarterbacks were way overvalued.  The scouting was NOT super accurate.  If anything it was super inaccurate.

Goff, Wentz and Lynch may develop and make a better accounting for themselves but even so they are not vastly superior to Dak Prescott. Goff is never ever going to be judged to be seventy five times more valuable than Dak Prescott.    Those who think that the NFL can accurately predictt quarterback performance are wrong.  

The obvious conclusion is that NFL scouts can not accurately predict quarterback performance, or you would never get guys like Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson and others in the mid to late rounds.   That's why it makes sense to draft somebody else with your first round pick, and usually not a quarterback unless he is truly a no-doubter like Andrew Luck.  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Village Elliot's Predictions for the 2017 NFL Draft


Nobody believes that Emmanuel Ogbah is as good a prospect as Myles Garrett.  Does that mean the Browns will pull the plug on him as a Right Defensive End, in order to play Garrett? 

The Village Elliot knows nothing about NFL Football, but nevertheless I feel compelled every year to make predictions about how the draft will play out, especially for our Cleveland Browns.  Here goes: 

 1.  I think the Browns have been interested to trade out of the Number One position, though it appears that there are no takers willing to pay the price for Myles Garrett.  There are several reasons why they tried. First of all, r
emember that the draft is being run by analytical statisticians rather than old jocks.  The stat guys seem to believe that the NFL over-values early picks, (and I tend to agree based on my more primitive but still analytics-based study).  They traded out last year even though there was a pretty good quarterback available in Carson Wentz. I think the same though processs is at work this year.  Another reason is that from last year's draft the best results were achieved at defensive end and quarterback.  Despite having a 3-4 defense last year, the Browns took two 4-3 defensive ends in  Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib.  Neither of them are anywhere near Myles Garrett, but nevertheless they presumably believe in their 2016 draftees to a certain extent. They don't really want to move Ogbah to the left side, and they don't really want to bench Nassib.   If they can get huge value from a team like Chicago, Jacksonville or New York, I think they might still do it.    But if it hasn't happened yet, it's doubtful that it will happen at the last minute.    If they can't get that kind of a deal,  they will be delighted to draft Myles Garrett.  Nobody is perfect or zero risk, but Garrett is the closest we have to a sure-fire starter. 

2.  The Browns will draft playmakers at strong safety and defensive tackle, and they also will look for help early at right tackle on offense.    

3.  The Browns will continue to build their stash of draft picks. They will trade a few 2017 picks to move up in the 2018 draft. They may also deal away Brock Osweiler as part of this process. 
4.  The Browns are not going to go nuts for a quarterback.  I believe they have done the risk benefit analysis, and my amateur guess is that they believe that the rest of the league over-values first round quarterbacks, and undervalues them in Rounds 2-4.  That is the primary place to find a quarterback. The full rationale is contained elsewhere in this blog, but basically the idea is that the investment cost is lower in the middle rounds, but the quarterback level of success doesn't drop off that much in the middle rounds. So I think the analytics probably say to take one every year, until such time as they are three deep in winning quarterbacks. But the best strategy is usually not to take them early in the first round.  Cody Kessler was very good last year on a bad team, and is at least the quarterback of the present. Who knows, he may improve in his second and third year.  I can't imagine pulling the plug on him after one year, which wasn't a bad one.  

Paul DePodesta and Sashi Brown understand  how to trade up and trade down better than anyone else, in my opinion.  However, the Browns scouting has been below average. 

5.  I think MItchell Trubisky will be gone by 6th overall if not sooner, and Pat Mahomes will be right behind him.  The Browns will get a guy like Joshua Dobbs or Jerod Evans in the second or third round. Yeah, Mitchell is a little better, but not enough of an upgrade to justify (say) fifth overall versus second or third round.   The Browns may also take a serious look at  Chad Kelly if he survives till Round 6, on the grounds that they can probably hide him on the Reserve Squad without another team plucking him away.  Teams will shy away from him due to his possibly still-healing knee injury and growth issues off the field.   Kelly has a cannon but needs to mature as a player and also learn to avoid the temper flare-ups that have cost him as a college player. That's a big risk, and it's also the reason he is not a first round pick.  

6.  Deshaun Watson is going to slide all the way out of the first round. He was a great quarterback in college, but he had the best receiving corps in the nation last year, and still lead major qbs in interceptions. Not good. Then at the combine, he threw only 49 mph, which is horrifically slow.  No NFL quarterback has ever been successful with a 49 mph unless you want to count Mike Glennon or Matt Flynn.  I compare Watson to Tim Tebow who was a star college player who was a good runner but not good enough in the pocket.   I think Deshaun might win if he is in a running oriented offense, such that he can make plays a la Tyrod Taylor.  In fact I think Buffalo is the best place for him, or maybe Seattle or Carolina.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

How did the Browns do in the 2016 Draft? 1 year later...

Emmanuel Ogbah had a few Sacks in 2016, including this one of Joe Flacco.  

  The Browns famously drafted 14 players in 2016. One question is, were any of them any good? 

First of all, it's still very early.  Many times players emerge two or three years later.   But let's check on their progress so far: 

No. 15. Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor.  Corey had two good games, broke his ankle and never gained more than 40 receiving yards again. He got an F grade from Pro Football Focus.  Coach Jackson criticized his conditioning last year, and he had a minor offseason incident this offseason.  You can see that he has the speed and the moves to be a successful wide receiver, but he is an underachiever.  

Round 2 – No. 32. Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State.  This was a bit of a head-scratcher for me, since the Browns were planning to use a 34 defense, so they drafted a guy who is perfect for the 43 defense.  Ogbah is a defensive end in the 43.   He is not a linebacker, and he is significantly undersized to play DE in the 34.  Face it, 34 DEs are 300 pound guys, and Ogbah was giving away 25 pounds.    Ogbah was impressive getting to the passer, but on running plays he was beyond awful.  I think he can be a very good player for Greg Williams, but we kind of shafted Ray Horton by giving him a player who did fit the defensive scheme. 

Round 3 No. 65. Carl Nassib, DE, Penn State.  Just to prove they were unfazed with drafting a 43 DE for a 34 defense,  they did the same thing with Carl Nassib, another 275 pound guy who played out of position his first year.  Like Ogbah, he is a much better fit to Greg Williams' defense rather than Ray Horton's.  Sorry Ray.

No. 76. Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn,  Injuries set back Coleman, but he got some playing time in the last game and definitely outplayed Cam Erving.  He may have a shot to become a regular, but took very few snaps in 2016.

No. 93. Cody Kessler, QB, USC.  I like Cody Kessler for putting up decent numbers as a rookie in a horrible offense.  Once we lost OLs Joel Bitonio and John Greco, we were toast, and accumulated more quarterback sacks and hits than the terrible 1999 expansion team.  Cody is rated as the number 22 QB by Pro Football Focus, ahead of Marcus Mariota but the media seems to hate him and can't wait to run him out of town replace him with a hotshot rookie.  I don't get it.  

Round 4

No. 99. Joe Schobert, LB, Wisconsin.  Joe did not impress as a 3-4 outside linebacker, where he was thirty pounds underweight.  He will be better off as a backup 43 outside linebacker.  

No. 114. Ricardo Louis, WR, Auburn  Ricardo did well at the Combine, though the buzz was that he wasn't that good.  But in fact he got the second most yards than of  rookie wide receivers behind Coleman  and performed well on special teams.  He was good enough to be a number 3 or 4 wide receiver.  

No. 129. Derrick Kindred, S, TCU.   Wound up on IR but showed some talent as a rookie free safety.  Good enough to get playing time as an extra safety 

No. 138* Seth DeValve, TE/WR, Princeton.  I didn't like the idea of taking a tight end who didn't have to block at Harvard, but DeValve made some sensational catches down the stretch.  I think he's a number two tight end and could improve.  further

Round 5

No. 154. Jordan Payton, WR, UCLA.  Had some drug issues and didn't do very much. F-

No. 168. Spencer Drango, OL, Baylor.  Got some playing time when injuries hit, and jumped  ahead of Shon Coleman. He was totally outclassed as a rookie and needs to improve. As a rookie he was totally an F. 

No. 172* Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State.  Showed some ability as a blocking receiver and got a start when Corey Coleman got hurt.  Another guy who was terrible but might still improve. 

No. 173* Trey Caldwell, CB, ULM.   Caldwell did okay as an extra corner.  I think he will make the team, but doesn't have much support to be awarded a starting job.  

Round 7

No. 250. Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona.  Scooby got cut and signed by the Cardinals.  Whiff.  

In summary, the Browns didn't have any rookied that actually looked good.  They have some borderline  starters in  Ogbah, Kessler, Nassib, and Corey Coleman.  Other guys who might develop into starting caliber players are Kindred, DeValve, Shon Coleman and Louis.  Guys that really need to improve are Schobert, Caldwell, Higgins, Drango and Jordan.

I think the Browns really want to give young players a shot to develop, and avoid one-and-done.  Rookie years are usually rather bad for most players, so it will be interesting to see how it works for them as second year players. I am sure they will be better, but how much better?  Will they as a group show improvement over the 3-13 2015 team of Ray Farmer?     
Considering that they lost several veterans last year, they need to have about six guys evolve into starters.  It's possible.   They got good value up and down the draft, with maybe the biggest concern at this point being the failure of Corey Coleman to play like a Pro.