Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Good Are Rookie Quarterbacks?

Fans loved Dan Snyder for making the bold move and trading four draft picks for star quarterback Robert Griffin III, who will be challenging Colt McCoy for a starting job this year. 

Football fans all hope for a "Magic Quarterback" in the NFL draft who will make an enormous impact as a rookie.   Even GM's and owners get caught up.  For example, in 2012 the Redskins famously gave up three first round picks and a second round pick in order to nab Robert Griffin III. 

So how realistic is it to expect a rookie to perform at a high level?  To answer this question, I took a look at the rookie quarterbacks of the last 10 years, and evaluated their quarterback rankings among league qualifiers.  Note that many rookies (probably about half of the first round draft choices) didn't even qualify their first year.  For example, the Raiders blew a first round pick on Jamarcus Russell, who was so bad that he didn't get enough appearances to qualify on the leader board in 2007.  Similarly the Packers took Aaron Rodgers in 2005, but he had a guy named Favre ahead of him and had to sit.    

The results are rather depressing for the "Magic Quarterback" theory.  On the average, rookie quarterbacks were ranked about 22nd in the league, using the standard quarterback rating system as published on ESPN.  The high water mark was 2012, when Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson had outstanding years.  Three teams--the Redskins, Seahawks and Colts--had good years with their rookie quarterback.   However, since 2005, Griffin and Wilson were the only two rookies  to finish in the Top 10. Getting a top 10 performer happens only once every five years or so.  And there are a lot of 1st round draft picks that never make it at all. Not a pleasant prospect.

Last year, the best quarterback was Teddy Bridgewater, who ranked 22nd in the league.  Blake Bortles was the first quarterback taken, but ranked 33rd in the league.  
So is a rookie quarterback a quick fix for the Browns or any other team?  I don't think so.  Wait a year or two, and then you might have something.  

Teddy Bridgewater 22
Derek Carr 30
Blake Bortles 33

Mike Glennon 21
Geno Smith   37

Robert Griffin     3
Russell Wilson   4
Andrew Luck    26
Ryan Tannehill 27
Brandon Weeden 29

Cam Newton  15
Chistian Ponder 30
Blaine Gabbert 33

Sam Bradford  25
Jimmy Clausen 31

Mark Sanchez 28
Matthew Stafford 29
Josh Freeman   30

Matt Ryan 11
Joe Flacco  22

(no qualifiers)

Matt Leinart 23
Vince Young 30

Kyle Orton 34

Monday, March 23, 2015

Does Haslam Want to Own the Titans? Too Good to be True!

Let's think about this for a minute.  Would it be good to have the Browns owned by local business interests, perhaps with someone like Bernie Kosar fronting the ownership group?  Or are the Browns better off with Jimmy Haslam III running th show?  

     It's probably a crock, but Joseph LaCanfora of ESPN has reported that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III is interested in exploring the possibility of becoming the new owner of the Tennessee Titans, which is on the market due to the death of its longtime owner Bud Adams.  

     This is too good to be true.  LaCanfora's scenario, in which Haslam would take over the Tennessee Titans and then sell the Browns to Tennessee investors, doesn't make sense.  Why would a Tennessee ownership group want to take over a Cleveland Team instead of the Tennessee team?     
       If Haslam is interested in the Titans, it would make sense for the Cleveland area business people to come together to form an ownership group that could take over the team from Haslam.   And it wouldn't hurt at all to have someone with Browns connections, someone like Bernie Kosar, at the forefront of an ownership group.  

     That would be infinitely better than trusting the team to Tennessee oilman Jimmy Haslam.  Oddly, however, Browns fans have for the most part reacted with anger to the suggestion that Haslam might sell the team. In only a few years, Haslam has become totally beloved by most Cleveland fans.  It's like he is Ghandi or something.  I have no idea why.  

    Haslam has done some good things for the Browns, including getting a new deal done with the City of Cleveland that will help keep the franchise viable in Cleveland.  And he fired Joe Banner, which I feel had to be done.  

The Cleveland fan base is basically convinced that Jimmy Haslam is fiercely loyal to the city of Cleveland, and would never try to make money at their expense.   

       But he has also done some terrible things.  From a football point of view, it's rumored that he squashed front office attempts to get rid of Josh Gordon, and he instigated for the signing of Johnny Football as the team's first round draft pick in 2014, overruling Ray Farmer.   It's an established fact that several coaching candidates turned down the opportunity to come to Cleveland, not being willing to deal with Haslam or former General Manager and all-around genius, Joe Banner.   

    Haslam has also allowed his company Pilot Flying J to become embroiled in a multimillion dollar scandal involving fraudulent discounts for diesel fuel.  This is not the kind of publicity that the team needs.  
     Meantime no one seemed to notice that Haslam originally promised that he was going to move to Cleveland and become a full time resident owner for the team and reneged on both promises.  Instead, he has become a PART time NON-resident owner, maintaining his residence in Tennessee after un-retiring as CEO of Pilot Flying J.  Few people seemed to realize that it happened, and fewer still cared.  Local ownership is far more likely to fight to keep the franchise in Cleveland.  

     Most fans remain cheerfully ignorant, believing that they are so loved by the NFL that they would never be abandoned by Commissioner Goodell and the other good-hearted NFL owners. Moreover, the Browns have a strong lease agreement!  Why, isn't it impossible to break such an agreement?  

     Yeah, sure, kids.   Jimmy Haslam is so honest, he would NEVER hire a lawyer to exploit the loopholes in the Browns current lease agreement.     THAT CAN'T HAPPEN.   What am I thinking? 

    My favorite argument is that Jimmy Haslam is so wealthy that he is no longer motivated by money, and the increase in value (something like 500 million dollars) that would be created by moving the Browns to London or Los Angeles would not interest him.   Right, kids.   
     Let's consider that seriously for a moment. 

      Hahahahahahaha!   No, let's not.   

     Although there is adequate precedent for owners changing teams (for example the Ram's Robert Irsay swapped his team for Carroll Rosenbloom's Baltimore Colts, with BOTH franchises ultimately moving), a botched attempt to swap teams would be a public relations nightmare.  For that reason, I seriously doubt whether Haslam would consider it unless he were sure that he could get the deal done in advance.  I don't think Haslam can take that kind of risk given his fragile position with Pilot Flying J, not to mention the Browns.     

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Village Elliot's QB Rankings for the 2015 NFL Draft

    Last year, the Village Elliot suggested that Derek Carr and Joey Garoppolo were the best qbs in the draft, and that Johnny Manziel was the fifth best qb in the draft, with Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater in between.

     This year, the Village Elliot again says that there is no superstar Andrew Luck prospect in the draft, but there are some guys who are good enough to start in the NFL.  This year I think there are six guys that will get a decent shot at a starting job eventually.  I predict Winston and Mariota will go 1-2 this year, but I believe both are overrated, and not really "franchise quarterbacks."   I rate Mariota as a mid-first round pick, and Winston somewhat behind Mariota.

    But even if the Browns trade up for either quarterback, I would not expect for him to be very good in 2015, and Josh McCown is a better option to start the season with.   I predict that no rookie qb will break into the top 25 of NFL quarterbacks this year.    

Without further ado, my predictions and analysis follow:

1. Marcus Mariota*, QB, Oregon, Height: 6-4. Weight: 219. 40 Time:  4.52 sec.

     I have Mariota as the best quarterback in a weak qb draft, mainly based on his reputation as a workaholic student of the game, plus his demonstrated ability to avoid interceptions. Arm strength is not as good as Famous Jameis Winston, but the accuracy is there. I think the business about not being under center in college is overrated.  Historically, first round quarterbacks have always been hard to predict. It's just a big adjustment from college to the NFL regardless of whether the kid has run a pro style offense or not.   If the kid is really a top athlete, he will eventually figure out the footwork associated with a pro style offense.  

     On the other hand,  it is particularly rare for a quarterback to perform well as a rookie, so in general I'm against taking quarterbacks too high. Nevertheless, fans and even pro teams consistently pin their hopes on a rookie quarterback to lead a quick turnaround, but it hardly ever happens.  Even if you look at the 2012 draft in which Luck, RG3 and Russell Wilson all excelled as rookies, they actually did not rank exceptionally high in their first year.  So if I were a GM I would probably consider Mariota as about the tenth best player in the draft, and I don't think he will be a great pro until 2016 or 2017.  But I think he will go number two overall.  

Marcus Mariota got beat up by OSU last year, but he might be the best guy out there.  Not sure that I agree with those who want to trade away three or four first rounders for him. 

2.  Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State, Height 6-6 Weight: 229 40 time:  5.14.

   There are glaciers that move faster than Sean Mannion, which is why many observers rank him as sixth or seventh round pick. In the NFL draft, evaluators hate slow quarterbacks.  However, in his junior year he threw for 4600 yards at Oregon State.   The career passing leader in the Pac-12 is not Marcus Mariota, but Sean Mannion.   Plus he has the reputation of being a very good student of the game, very diligent in his preparation.  I think he is the third or even second best quarterback in the draft, slightly ahead of Brett Hundley and Bryce Petty. I might be crazy, but Joel Klatt of Foxsports is saying the same thing.  I think he could possibly start in his rookie year, but would not be very good.  He might rank 30th in the league, say.  I would take him in the second  round, but I think he will go much later than that because of his lack of speed and scrambling ability.  I could also see drafting him ahead of Winston, based on lower risk.  

The Village Elliot will draft the 6 foot 6 kid to play qb if we need someone in the second round.  

3.   Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State, Height: 6-4. Weight: 231.  40 Time: 4.97. 

     Winston is the best passer in the draft, no question.  I don't mind him being slow, but I'm worried about his habit of finding trouble off the field.  It's not that he's a bad guy.  But to me the best quarterbacks are the guys that are totally immersed in football, fanatics about preparation in all phases of their lives, and never make missteps.  You can cite counterexamples, like Favre and Roethlisberger who were able to be great players, but I prefer the guy who lives and breathes football like Brady, Manning or Brees.   So I would want to learn more about his personality and work habits before falling in love with his arm.  Personally, I would send him all the way to the second round because of his off the field adventures,  but I believe he will go first overall because of his upside.  He is the best passer but has the most risk.   If I had to go with a sure thing, I would much rather have Mariota or even Sean Mannion. He will have a terrible first year quarterbacking Tampa Bay, much like Blake Bortles up the road in Jacksonsville.  

Browns fans, we are not trading half the team to get a quarterback who shoplifts crab legs.   We've had enough eccentric behavior from Johnny Football, thank you.   

4.  Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA, Height: 6-3. Weight: 227. 40 Time: 4.63. 

I have Hundley very close to Mannion, though most observers think that he is way better, ranking Hundley in the first round, with Mannion way back in the pack.  Hundley throws well, runs well and basically does everything well but does not have the gawdy stats in college that you would expect from a star performer.  Part of that was due to playing with a weak team with poor blocking from his offensive line. He did better in the combine than on the field, but I'm one that tends to judge the quarterback by his on-field performance more so than combine stats.  If you look at his results, he was definitely not as good as Mannion in college. So, I rank him as a second round pick, but he could go even in round 1, especially because of his excellent speed, which NFL scouts love.  

5.  Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor,  Height: 6-2. Weight: 230. 40 Time: 4.87. 

Bryce Petty is another guy who has been dinged for being a "system quarterback" (i.e., plays most of the time in a spread formation rather than under center), but this is not an overwhelming objection, in my opinion.  Petty can throw the ball, but his best year was actually his junior year when he threw for 32 TDs and only 3 INTs versus a 29/7 ratio this year.   Still, the Big 12 absolutely does not play pass defense and so take it for what it is worth.   Petty is a few ticks slower than  Hundley, and an inch shorter but probably very close in ability.   I think he may be drafted in the late second round, although some observers project him in the fourth round.  

6.  Garrett Grayson, QB, Colorado State, Height: 6-2. Weight: 215.  40 Time: 4.63. 

NFL scouts say Grayson is a decent prospect  with a strong arm that can make all the throws.  He has good speed and size and threw for 4000 yards with 32 TDs and only 7 INTs.  I would rather not start him in Year 1, but perhaps he could be developed into a good quarterback if there is a team willing to be patient with him (not the Browns!!).  

There are a number of other quarterbacks available in the draft, but in my view at least they are longshots.   These six are the ones that have the best chance of helping their teams as rookies, though it might be better to wait a year or two to let them develop.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

Free Agency: How are the Browns Doing, Really? As of March 16 2015

So how are we doing so far in free agency?  The Browns have spent more than I thought they would.  The one guy that has not been replaced is TE Jordan Cameron.  Looking at the major players:  

We get                                                    We lose
qb Josh McCown                              qb     Brian Hoyer
wr  Brian Hartline                              wr     Miles Austin  
NT  Randy Starks                             OLB  Jabaal Sheard
CB  Tramon Williams                        CB    Buster Skrine
                                                          TE    Jordan Cameron 
                                                          NT    Ahtyba Rubin

WR/KR Marlon Moore
DE  John Hughes
S Tayshaun Gipson (probably)
ILB Craig Robertson (probably)
S  Jonathan Bademosi (Probably)
DE Ismailyi Kitchen (Probably)

Jordan Cameron is the greatest talent but presents the greatest risk. 

To date Hoyer, Sheard, Skrine and Cameron have signed with other teams, and are costing their new teams about $24 Million.   The Browns free agents are costing about $20 Million.  On the whole, I prefer the players we are getting.

Thus, if you agree with this simple minded analysis, GM Ray Farmer may be doing a good job.   On the other hand, the expectation of the fans is to simply load up on a pricey quarterback and wide receivers.  So right now he is getting killed in the internet chat rooms.  Jordan is the big difference maker, but how healthy is he?  It's not a disaster that he left, despite his tremendous ability.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Browns Salary Cap Demystified

     Browns fans have totally gotten their hopes up by the oft quoted number that they have $41 M of salary cap room, figuring they can add $41 M of free agent salaries in 2015. THAT IS NOT TRUE. It's more like $7 M now, NOT $41 M.

Mr. Tashaun Gipson would like some of the $41 Million in Salary Cap Room that the sportswriters are talking about.  

     Let's review what goes into the "cap space."    First of all there is "carryover" money of $18 M because they underspent the past two years. They have permission to overspend $18 M (temporarily raising the total salaries to $162 Million instead of the NFL limit of $143 M), but they would then have to cut payroll by $18 M in 2016. That would not make sense, and is not going to happen.
     Teams that use their carryover are teams like the Dolphins who had an enormous free agent signing with Ndamukong Suh, not to mention former Brown Jordan Cameron.   But they will have to shrink the payroll in future years, so if they don't win this year it will be harder for them to improve.  As it is, they are cutting a number of veterans to try to shrink their payroll.  

    Also they are going to have the NFL Draft again this year, and that costs money,  like 8 million dollars worth, so all NFL teams including the Browns have to set aside money for that.   

   Plus the Browns have issued tenders (that is, formal offers) to  to Restricted Free Agents Gipson, Kitchen, Robertson and Bademosi. Basically that means that they are allowed to match offers that these players receive from other teams. The Browns would also be able to receive draft choices if they don't match the offers, but most of the time Restricted Free agents do indeed re-sign with their old team.   That will cost another $6 or $8 million or so. 

Ok, so ADD THE NUMBERS. Carryover plus draft money plus restricted agents totals $32 to $34 M by my estimate. As of today, the Browns have about $7 M to spend for additional free agent salary in 2015, not $41 M.  They could go a little higher if they dip into their carryover salary cap, as explained above.  But basically there is enough for one or two quality players, but not an army of All-Pro's.

     It also bears mention that the Browns are losing some good athletes including Cameron, Hoyer, Sheard and Skrine.  That's about $18 Million in 2015 cap charges right there.  Likely the Browns signings--notably McCown, Hartline and others to be determined, will be slightly below that level.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How many wins is a high priced QB worth?

     Does getting a high priced quarterback correlate to extra wins in the NFL?   Yes, it does, sort of, but perhaps not as much as you might think.   I made a graph of the salary of the highest paid qb on the team in 2014 and compared that to the team win totals.  The results show that the teams with pricey quarterbacks usually do a little better than the teams with bargain basement quarterbacks, but still there are losing teams with very high priced qbs, and winning teams with low priced quarterbacks.  

       The main conclusion is that it depends on the team. You can't just spend money on a quarterback and create a winning team.  As the Chicago Bears about that one.  Or the New York Giants or Atlanta Falcons, both of whom weighed in with only six wins last year.     

   On the other hand some teams with low priced quarterbacks still excel.  Seattle is one such team that succeeded with Russell Wilson at quarterback.  The Eagles won 10 games with Nick Foles as their highest paid qb (and actually backup Mark Sanchez played a lot after Foles was injured). The Browns had a very low priced quarterback in Johnny Manziel (yes he was actually higher priced than Brian Hoyer), but the Browns were quasi-respectable with seven wins last year.   

       This year the Browns have moved up to the 27th highest paid quarterback in the person of Josh McCown, pending the probable addition of at least one other serious contender for starting quarterback position.  Many fans assume that that dooms the team to another season of mediocrity.  Maybe so, but there is more than one way to win a football game.  By not signing a high priced quarterback, there is more salary available, say for two Pro-Bowl calibre players at other positions.  Which is better to have?    A serious case can be made that it may not be worth spending eighteen million dollars for a single player, no matter how good he is.   

    Still the small data set for 2014 is consistent with the view that there is a payoff in having a top quarterback,and that he might be worth an extra win or two compared to a team with a below average quarterback.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Why Hoyer Had to Leave the Browns

Many Browns fans are upset that Brian Hoyer, the winningest Browns quarterback since 1999, is headed to free agency.  

     Like many fans, I did not want to see Brian Hoyer leave the Cleveland Browns.   Many conspiracy theories have been aired in the press, charging that upper management hates him for whatever reason.  

    While not totally discounting the possibility that there may be bad feelings between Brian and the front office, I think that the situation is actually very simple.  Free agency provides the best chance for Brian Hoyer to continue to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.   

     The Browns offense looked great for the first month of the season, with the opposing defenses daring Hoyer to throw the deep ball by playing eight man fronts, and Hoyer responding and lighting it up.  

      However, as the season went on, other teams learned to use a more conservative approach.  Especially after All-Pro center Alex Mack went out with an injury, Hoyer lost his magic.  

      If you believe Bill Parcel's dictum, "You are what your record says you are,"  then Brian Hoyer is the 31st ranked quarterback in the NFL, with a paltry 12 TD passes and 13 INT's over 13 starts.  He wasn't the only reason, of course, but nevertheless it is very understandable if the Browns are unwilling to contractually commit to him as their first string quarterback.   But it is equally understandable if Brian Hoyer believe in himself and wants to be an NFL starting quarterback.   Hence, Hoyer must turn down offers from the Browns to be a second string quarterback, and enter free agency to see if anyone will offer him a first string job.   

      But even if he does not get an offer for a first string job, the Browns could not afford to wait to see if he might eventually consent to be a backup quarterback for the Browns.  The Browns had to sign a known quantity, especially since Manziel is in rehab and the team is losing confidence in his ability to be an NFL quarterback.  

        As mentioned in my previous blog I anticipate the Browns starting the season with McCown, with a high draft choice qb as the second string and Manziel as third string.  

      I tend to doubt whether Hoyer will get a contract with another team that is worthy of a starting quarterback. The teams looking for a first string quarterback include the Bills, who wanted McCown and eventually settled for Matt Cassel; the Jets (who have Geno Smith), Philadelphia (Nick Foles and Matt Barkley), Titans (Zach Mettenberger), Tampa (Mike Glennon, and the ability to draft Jameis Winston), Houston (even with Ryan Fitzpatrick ranked 9th in the NFL, and Ryan Mallett on the same team), Redskins (who blame RG3 for all their problems, with Kirk Cousins backing up).  I don't think it is likely that Hoyer can walk into any of these situations and be penciled in at the top of the depth chart, especially when there are other free agents available including Mark Sanchez, Mike Vick and Colt McCoy also ready to compete.   But Hoyer has to take that chance, no question.  
     So I tend to not buy into the conspiracies about not liking Hoyer.   It's really more simple than that.  With the NFL's free agency system, Hoyer has to try to sign with the team that gives him the best chance of realizing his dream of being a starting quarterback.  Even if that opportunity never materializes, he has to at least try.   I wish him nothing but good luck and great success--except against the Browns.



Friday, March 6, 2015

Josh McCown is Not Overpaid!

Is Josh McCown way overpaid at $3.9 M in 2015?   Not really, once you realize that quarterbacks in the NFL make a lot of money.  

    Much of Browns Nation is up in arms over the signing of Josh McCown, a career backup who had a hot stretch of games two years ago at age 33, and now at age 35 he is being rewarded with a contact of about $3.9 million bucks per year.   How horrible!  

   But okay.  Let's step back from this a bit and ask what horrible things the Browns actually have done.   They made Josh McCown the 27th highest paid quarterback in the NFL, ahead of such guys as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drew Stanton, Chad Henne, Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst. How crazy is that?  Well Fitzpatrick had a good year last year and probably deserves a pay raise, but the other guys are probably comparable in ability or maybe not as good.  

     How good should the 27th highest paid quarterback be? Well, if you believe in value, you would say he should be the 27th best quarterback, right?   That would place him with Nick Foles (27), Drew Stanton (28) and Geno Smith (29). These guys are all good but not great quarterbacks.  In case you are wondering, McCown and Brian Hoyer were both rated at about the same level, 32nd and 31st, respectively.   Down below, I've posted a list of the quarterback salaries in the NFL as of March 2015, along with their statistical ranking. The ones highlighted in red are still on their rookie contract, which basically amounts to a lower wage scale than the veterans.  

    If Browns fans think that we should have gotten someone like Jay Cutler, who might be available in a trade, okay, but understand he makes $16.5 Million, not the $3.9 Million bucks that McCown will make. 

    So basically, the crying is based the Browns making a guy who is he 32nd best quarterback into 27th highest paid quarterback.  This is a wash, as far as I'm concerned.  The guy is simply not being overpaid.  It's not a lot of money for a quarterback.  All quarterbacks with similar ability get that kind of money or much higher.  

   So perhaps the issue is not whether McCown was over-valued, but whether the Browns should have gotten someone else.  I believe that this will be the case and that they will be active in free agency and will go into the draft with the intention of either moving up for Marcus Mariota, or drafting someone like Brett Hundley, Garret Grayson or Bryce Petty, and developing them.  There is no urgency in starting the rookie from Day One with McCown in place, much like the duo of Hoyer and Manziel in 2014.   The Browns still have Manziel (and frankly are stuck with him).  Manziel's poor performances at the end of the season as well as pre-season inspire little confidence that he can actually play, but since they have guaranteed money tied up in him for three more years they are just going to have to play their entire hand. Remember that under the old system Manziel would be having his senior year at Texas A&M in 2015.  It may take until after the 2016 season before the Browns will be sure whether they have a player or. 

    As for Connor Shaw, he proved himself to be a competent field general and has good speed and toughness.  He is definitely undersized and has a weak arm (the only combine quarterback to not break 50 mph with his passes in 2014).  It might be possible to continue to keep him on the training squad for one more year, though there is some risk of him being claimed by another team.  Alternatively, there may be some other free agent quarterback who will challenge Shaw for the training squad slot.

    Many fans seem ready to hate McCown for being a "game manager" and "career backup,"  but I believe that the Browns will be well served if they complement him with another young quarterback with solid credentials.  He's not getting a lot of money, not for a quarterback.   

   So this year, I anticipate the Browns starting the season with McCown, with a high draft choice qb as the second string and Manziel as third string. Shaw will likely be on the training squad as the effective fourth string quarterback.  
Player Team Cap Value     Ttl QBR
1   Tony Romo Cowboys $27,773,000     1
2   Drew Brees Saints $26,400,000     6
3   Eli Manning Giants $19,750,000   15
4   Matt Ryan Falcons $19,500,000   11
5   Ben Roethlisberger Steelers $18,395,000     3
6   Aaron Rodgers Packers $18,250,000     2
7   Matt Stafford Lions $17,721,250   21
8   Peyton Manning Broncos $17,500,000     4
9   Philip Rivers Chargers $17,416,668   12
10   Sam Bradford Rams $16,580,000   --
11   Jay Cutler Bears $16,500,000   21
12   Alex Smith Chiefs $15,600,000   23
13   Colin Kaepernick 49ers $15,265,753   17
14   Cam Newton Panthers $14,666,000   16
15   Joe Flacco Ravens $14,550,000   16
16   Carson Palmer Cardinals $14,500,000     8
17   Tom Brady Patriots $14,000,000     5
18   Andy Dalton Bengals $9,600,000     25
19   Kyle Orton Bills $7,500,000     19
20   Andrew Luck Colts $7,034,363     11
21   Robert Griffin III Redskins $6,719,713     19*
22   Matt Schaub Raiders $5,500,000     --
23   Chase Daniel Chiefs $4,800,000     --   
24   Matt Cassel Vikings $4,750,000     --
25   Blake Bortles Jaguars $4,694,273     33
26   Ryan Tannehill Dolphins $4,030,887     14
27   Josh McCown Browns $3,916,666     32
28   Ryan Fitzpatrick Texans $3,875,000       9
29   Drew Stanton Cardinals $3,866,668     --
30   Chad Henne Jaguars $3,500,000     --
31   Matt Hasselbeck Colts $3,000,000     --
32   Charlie Whitehurst Titans $2,750,000     --
33   EJ Manuel Bills $2,423,264     --
34   Johnny Manziel Browns $1,874,681     --
35   Bruce Gradkowski Steelers $1,833,334     --
36   Kellen Clemens Chargers $1,822,500     --
37   Russell Wilson Seahawks $1,696,868    10
38   Nick Foles Eagles $1,677,880    27
39   Teddy Bridgewater Vikings $1,556,705    22

*Robert Griffin III didn't have enough games to be ranked, but his Quarterback Rating would have been about the same as Kyle Orton's.  Bryan Hoyer was ranked #31.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ex-Browns QBs Still in the NFL

The Browns are trying to spread their ex-quarterbacks throughout the NFL, thereby weakening the rest of the league.  They are doing a great job of it.  By my count, there were eight ex Browns still slinging the pigskin in the NFL last year.  This does not include Brady Quinn who is contemplating un-retiring, nor ex-Wildcat qbs Joshua Cribbs and Marqueis Gray.  The Browns history shows that they have an intense hatred for the backup quarterback, and can not wait to get rid of him.  Last year's backups, Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw,  didn't seem to be better than, say, Derek Anderson or Colt McCoy.  Maybe that will change in 2015.

The Browns are unusual because most years they start three quarterbacks during the season.  Partly this is due to their lack of interest in pass protection, and perhaps a subliminal desire to see their nominal starter get killed.   Last year they started Hoyer, Manziel and Shaw, and the year before they used Hoyer, Campbell and Weeden.  Prior to that they used Weeden, McCoy and Thad Lewis.   They seem to greatly fear a "quarterback controversy" and so their way of handling the problem is to get rid of the backup quarterback.  

Colt McCoy was definitely the star of the group, having a short run with the lousy Washington team.  I refuse to use their nickname because it is insulting to Native Americans, while the team is insulting to football fans.  But McCoy got four starts and passed for over 1000 yards, enraging Dan Snyder who is a big fan of RG3.   

Colt McCoy played well for a weak Washington team in 2014.

Quickly now, which NFL quarterback was undefeated as a starter in 2014?  If you answered Derek Anderson with a 2-0 record for Carolina, you would be right.   DA was a Pro Bowler for the Browns, but was run out of town after a bad season. Believe it or not, Derek threw for over 700 yards last year and had a rating of 105.2.  

Ex Browns Pro Bowler Derek Anderson had a good year for Carolina in 2014. 

Jason Campbell got into parts of four games for Cincinnati last year but did not see extensive playing time.  My thinking is that if Andy Dalton ever goes down, they will not lose much by turning to the verteran Campbell.  He's never had much to work with but is probably a very good quarterback.  

Brandon Weeden backed up Tony Romo in Dallas last year and played fairly well.  He had one game in which he came in for Romo and had a good game, but he lost a start against Arizona.   

Thad Lewis was on the roster for Houston last year after several injuries to quarterbacks.  He played well for the Browns against Pittsburgh in 2012, and also played a few games for Buffalo in 2013, where many observers thought he was better than E. J. Manuel.  

Josh Johnson is the backup for San Francisco and Colin Kaepernick.  

Bruce Gradkowski is the backup for Ben Roethlisberger and saw some playoff action in 2014.  

Luke McCown, brother of Browns current first string qb Josh McCown, is a backup qb for the New Orleans Saints.

That's it for true quarterbacks.  But in addition to these eight there are two others who were Wildcat quarterbacks for the Browns in certain situations.  Josh Cribbs was a Wildcat quarterback at times for the Browns, but did not play qb for the Colts, who have a guy named Luck at that role.  Similarly, Marqueis Gray was the Wildcat qb in 2013, but last year played for Minnesota and Buffalo, finding time to have a big game against the Browns as a tight end.