Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 Free Agent Quarterbacks

How would RG3 look playing for your team?

So, any of you amateur GMs out there want a slightly used quarterback for your team? 

These guys will probably get starter's money, say more than $5 M per year, if they are not re-signed by their current teams:

Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets
Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos

These guys will work for less: 

Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins*
Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins
Mike Vick, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jimmy Clausen, Baltimore Ravens
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Brandon Weeden, Houston Texans
Matt Cassel, Dallas Cowboys
Matt Schaub, Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Clemens, San Diego Chargers
Chase Daniel, Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Hasselbeck, Indianapolis Colts
Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks
Josh Johnson, Buffalo Bills
Thad Lewis, Philadelphia Eagles
Luke McCown, New Orleans Saints
Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
Dan Orlovsky, Detroit Lions
Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals
Scott Tolzien, Green Bay Packers
Joe Webb, Carolina Panthers
Matt Flynn, New Orleans Saints
Charlie Whitehurst, Indianapolis Colts
T.J. Yates, Houston Texans

RG3 is not officially a free agent, but everyone knows his contract structure will force the Redskins to cut him if they do not renegotiate.  Much maligned in Washington, RG3 has been fair when given a chance to play if not great.   Kirk Cousins has played better and will likely be re-signed.  

There is also some chance that Johnny Manziel might find himself unemployed, although I think it is more likely that the Browns keep him and banish him to third string while waiting for him to mature a bit more.  In my opinion, Manziel's antics--namely, lying to the Coach, skipping meetings and failing to curb his drinking problem--are serious enough that the team cannot trust him to be the number one guy, but nowhere near serious enough to warrant uncompensated dismissal from the team.  I think in a few years there is a good chance Johnny will get things figured out and prove to be an acceptable performer.  Heck, if I worked for Mike Pettine, I would probably lie a lot also.  

Johnny Manziel has had his ups and downs, but the Village Elliot thinks it is better to keep him and see if he can work out his difficulties, rather than give him to Jerry Jones immediately. 

Browns fans are enamored with the idea that they need a "franchise quarterback" who should be taken in the first round.  And yeah, definitely if there is a guy like Cam Newton available, the Browns should take him.   But most analysts believe that the 2016 crop of quarterbacks falls into the "good but not great category." 

Most Browns fans figure they can not stand another year of Josh McCown, who was the 15th ranked quarterback in the NFL, while playing for a terrible team. Gee, that's not bad. But what they really want is a rookie to come in and throw for 4000 plus yards, and that just is very unlikely.   Nevertheless, I think that Coach Jackson will want to go for a quarterback and work with him.   It should be mentioned that second round pick Andy Dalton did pretty well for him, even without a rocket arm or the ability to run like Cam.  

Even if the Browns go with Josh McCown again this year, I tend to doubt whether they will go the free agent route. I think Cousins, Ostweiller and Fitzpatrick will re-sign with their current team, while Bradford has just been injured too much. I don't think we are going to try to overbid for one of these guys.  

As a backup, I don't think there is a guy out there who will be better in his first year than Austin Davis in his second year with the Browns.  I might take a shot at Colt McCoy, who was not bad for the Browns as their starter, and who has looked very good for the Redskins when given a chance.  But I would not pay him starter money.   By the same token, Jimmy Clausen was a bit improved while substituting for Joe Flacco in Baltimore.  A few other guys on the list can play well enough to manage the game and bring home a "W" for the right team.   But I don't see any superstars on the list, and for that reason I think we may see a few teams including the Browns willing to draft a quarterback in the first round in 2016.   

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Browns' Horrible 2014 NFL Draft

Ray Farmer should have gone into the 2014 draft with his eyes open, but he did not.

        One of the reasons Ray Farmer was a failure was that he completely fouled up the 2014 NFL draft.   The 2014 draft was the deepest in NFL history because there was a record number of underclassmen in that draft (headlined by Sophomore Johnny Manziel).  By the same token, there would be fewer upperclassmen in the 2015 draft.   As a consequence, the 2014 7th round had guys in who would probably be the equivalent of fourth or fifth rounders  in 2015.
         So what did Ray Farmer do?  He wound up with only six guys from the 2014 draft, and took twelve in 2015.     
       The metric should have been to accumulate as many draft picks as possible for 2014!  This is what Joe Banner did, as he traded Trent Richardson for a number one pick in 2014.  This and other moves set up the Browns with 10 draft picks going into the draft. 
     But on his first Draft Day, Ray Farmer got hustled. As a result, instead of 10 good players, he wound up with only six. He foolishly traded extra picks to move up for both Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel in the first round.  Both players have talent, but off-the-field instabilities threaten their NFL careers.  Evidently the Browns did not bother to compile personality profiles on their top guys.   

     Farmer  then picked  Joel Bitonio, a starting guard, in the second round; Chris Kirksey (an occasional starter at linebacker) in the third round.  Then he took Terrance West who had a good rookie year but showed up out of shape to summer camp in 2015 and was cut; plus reserve cornerback Pierre Desir in the fourth round. That was it.  One starter, one occasional starter, two question marks, and a reserve from 10 draft picks in the richest draft in NFL history. 
   Browns fans, as well as owner Jimmy Haslam III, rejoiced in the pick of sophomore Johnny Manziel in the first round, though this reviewer saw Johnny as the fifth most talented quarterback in the draft.
   Many fans were upset that Farmer did not take a wide receiver.   On this point, however, I'll side with Farmer.  He did sign free agents Mile Austin, Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson. Though Burleson wound up being hurt and got cut, Farmer did have two new wide receivers, plus holdover Josh Gordon, who had made the Pro Bowl despite a nasty weed habit.  They also wound up with an undrafted free agent in Taylor Gabriel. So just how many wide receivers do the Cleveland Browns actually have to have?
     Farmer's 2015 draft was much better though still not great.  They wound up with one full-time starting player in  Danny Shelton starting at nose tackle, though struggling much of the time.  Fellow first rounder Cameron Erving, who thinks he can play all five O-Line positions, got blasted at guard.     But they had some decent performances from 2nd Round (#51): OLB Nate Orchard; 3rd Round (#77): RB Duke Johnson, 3rd Round (#96): DT Xavier Cooper; 4th Round (#115): S Ibraheim Campbell.   But 4th Round (#123): WR Vince Mayle was cut. 
     The Browns got significant playing time from 6th Round (#189): CB Charles Gaines and 6th Round (#195): FB Malcolm Johnson and 7th Round (#219): ILB Hayes Pullard.
   However 6th Round (#198) TE Randall Telfer was injured, and the Browns drafted 7th Round (#241): CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu AFTER he suffered a likely career-ending knee  joint location. This is NOT the same as a dislocated kneecap, and indeed to my knowledge no one has ever recovered enough from that injury to play in the NFL. In all, nine players contributed, though none really starred in his first year. Moreover, it should be pointed out that with the Browns at the bottom of most categories on both Offense and Defense, starting for the Browns is not all that difficult of a task.  
     It's possible that some of the new Browns will emerge in 2016 and if so the 2015 draft could eventually be recognized as a good one.   Still, 2014 was blown so badly that it might be very difficult to recover from it.  

Duke Johnson was the Browns'  best rookie though he did not make nfl dot com's All-Rookie team.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Dear Browns Coaching Prospect

Dear  Chip Kelly, Matt Patricia, Sean McDermott, Hue Jackson, Paul Guenther, Teryl Austin, Adam Gase. Doug Marrone and other prospective applicants to be the next Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns:

We like all of you guys a lot and earnestly hope one of you will choose to make Cleveland your next home.  So, you must be asking, why choose Cleveland instead of New York or New Orleans or San Francisco or Philadelphia or Miami?   

Well, for one thing, we're the team that has (trumpet sound) JOHNNY MANZIEL!   Yee Hah!  You'll be thrilled to work with him, he's very reliable and hardly ever causes any problems. Everybody knows you need a great quarterback to succeed in the NFL.   We know you'll be salivating at the chance to have this guy to create job security for you!

Coaching Candidates are going to flock to the Browns in order to have a shot at working with our stud quarterback Johnny F. Football.   Why, he was a first round draft choice!  What could be better? 

The other factor we have is the HASLAM CHARM!   Yes, wait till he tells you about his vision for the team.  We are sure you will fall under his awesome spell.  I'll bet you can't wait to come to Cleveland already.  

To know Browns charismatic owner Jimmy Haslam III is to love him.  It'll be great, and that's a promise.

Plus, don't forget our organization.  You'll have the opportunity to work with a great GM.  We don't know who it will be, but trust us, he'll be great.  We had Ray Farmer last year and he was a joy to work with, so we're sure the Browns will find someone equally pleasant in the next few weeks.  Or months, or years.  Whatever.  

We are Cleveland Browns fans.  Deal with it!
But all kidding aside, the greatest thing about Cleveland is its fans.  We are not pretty fans.  We are hard core people, mainly working stiffs, guys and gals with a blue collar mentality who love sports.  If you coach our team you're going to get yelled at and cussed at sometimes, but you will be surrounded by people who absolutely care about what you do.  And we aren't shy about telling you about it.

And if you win, you will become a hero of unimaginable proportions.   

Good luck!