Sunday, September 25, 2016

Excruciating Overtime Loss to the Dolphins, 30-24

    An excruciating loss to be sure, but I'm still drinking the Kool-Aid.  This team is improved from last week.  They played exciting football and should have beat Miami. 

    Terrelle Pryor was a superstar today.  He played wide receiver, quarterback and halfback all in the same game and starred at everything he did.  What a player!

Terrelle Pryor was a monster, catching the ball, throwing the ball and running the ball.   

    Very importantly, Cody Kessler looks like a quarterback.  I don't know that he is better than Colt McCoy, but he is okay to be on the team as a backup for now, and maybe next year or the year after he will challenge for the starter's job.  

    So yes it feels horrible that we blew the game.  We had to pick up a new kicker in Cody Parkey on Saturday, and he was not able to perform on Sunday. He missed three ordinary kicks today.   We'll either sign someone new or else this fellow will improve.  He played in the Pro Bowl a few years back, so he may not be terrible.  He needs some reps with the long snapper and the holder, and he will make more of those kicks.  Still, Browns fans have been accustomed to good Special Teams play dating back to the Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs era, but it may not be the same now.   

    Also on the downside, we still gave up way too many hits on the quarterback and too many sacks.  In the short run, it was excruciating, but I believe in Hue Jackson, and this team is definitely getting better.   

Cody Kessler wasn't great, but for a rookie third stringer, he played very well.  

Pythagorean Win Percentage Calculated from Spread and Over/Under

   I'm sure somebody has made this calculation before, but I couldn't find it on the web, so here is my version of calculating the predicted win percentage of a football game, based on the spread and over/under.   You get the spread and over/under from or most gambling sites and sports sites.  

   The idea of Pythagorean win percentage is that if you know how many points a team gives up and how many they score, you can estimate the win percentage.   as follows:

Win pct = (points scored)^2/ [(points scored)^2 + (points allowed)^2]

OK, so the football betting line gives you the Las Vegas estimate (about the best in the world) of  point differential = points scored-points allowed.

And the overunder is the best estimate of 
total points = points scored plus points allowed. 

So,  you can calculate an estimate for points scored =  1/2 *   (overunder  plus spread) . 

An estimate for points allowed is 1/2 (overunder - spread).  

As an example, on Sunday Sept 25, the Miami Dolphins are favered by 7.5  points, with the overunder at 42.5  

Predicted Miami points = 0.5*  (42.5 + 7.5) = 25

Predicted Cleveland points =0.5 * (42.5- 7.5)  = 17.5

Miami estimated win probability =  (25^2)/(25^2 + 17.5^2) = .671

If you could play like thatl all season, that's pretty good.  For example an 11-5 team is .688, 10-6 is  .625.  

By the way, I calculated this just for fun.  It's not intended to be a betting tool.  I'm not a bettor, because I believe that 10% fee takes pretty good care of the bookies, and they are better than us.   

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cleveland Browns: Bad Game, but Improved from Last Week.

  No doubt, this is a bad Cleveland Browns team right now. Mistakes abound, and there were bad plays on both sides of the ball.  It was agonizing to once again give up points to Baltimore, just like last year, while trying to kick an EXTRA POINT.   Wow, that was terrible!  And that three point swing really came back to haunt us at the end, where we were forced to score a touchdown instead of a field goal. 

    We were badly beaten up on the offensive line, which did not protect McCown all afternoon, and got him injured. It looked to me like the left side of our line stayed intact, but there were problems at center, right guard and right tackle. McCown is simply not going to make it through the season with such poor O-Line play.  And on defense, our secondary could not cope with the likes of ancient Steve Smith, who apparently found a fountain of youth against the Browns.  

    We've been used to exceptional special teams play, but that fell apart for us as we could not contain ancient Devin Hester, while we missed a field goal and gave up the huge play on the blocked extra point.  

     But if you step back a bit, you realize that the Browns were at least in this game for a while before blowing it at the end.   We gained yards on the ground, the defensive line had some good stops, McCown completed passes before getting hurt.  Chris Kirksey played well at ILB, Joe Haden and Tramon Williams showed that they would still fight, if not at the same level they played at during their peak.

Corey Coleman hauled in a touchdown pass versus Baltimore.

     As an amateur General Manager, I was interested to see that several Browns castaways did well, with Karlos Dansby starting for the Bengals, and Craig Robertson leading the Saints in tackles.  Teammate Paul Kruger recovered a fumble for the Saints as well.  Travis Benjamin scored for the Chargers, and Willie Snead scored another for the Saints. Fozzy Whitaker could not make the Browns 53-man roster, but there he was gaining 100 yards for the Carolina Panthers.  Amazing.  Tashaun Gipson is starting for Jacksonville; and Mitchell Schwartz is getting it done for the Kansas City Chiefs, and Barkevious Mingo is playing for New England, and Johnson Bademosi is playing special teams in Detroit and Justin Gilbert is in Pittsburgh.  I'm not sure that we have done a good job at evaluating veteran talent, as a lot of guys we didn't want are playing well elsewhere.  

     I think if McCown is banged up, the Browns need to promote Kevin Hogan to the 53 man roster, to prevent some other team from picking him up.  Either that or we need to sign a veteran.  It's very forseeable that Josh's injuries, plus our relectance to passblock, is going to limit Josh's longevity as the Browns' starter.   Looks like the Patriots are going to have to start a third string quarterback, and the Browns may be not far behind.   

Is Cody Kessler ready to start?  We may soon find out. 


Friday, September 16, 2016

Pump the Brakes on RG3 and the Browns

     Last week was a very bad game for Sashi Brown and Browns management.  After going on record on their belief that Carson Wentz would never become a top 20 NFL quarterback, Wentz and the Eagles beat up on the Browns.  Worse, Robert Griffin III had a terrible game and seriously injured his shoulder, making a bad decision and landing awkwardly on his left elbow (never try to break your fall by sticking your elbow out, you Pop Warner quarterbacks).  

After a rough week, Josh McCown tries to right the ship.  

      ESPN commentators are falling all over themselves predicting that RG3 is through, after one game.  
      Oh, come on!  Who could imagine that a quarterback would peak in his first game with a new team? 
     Usually it takes a veteran qb several games to make the adjustments needed to excel with a new team.  Quarterbacks are almost always better in their second year with the same coach and same team, and especially if the guy is a rookie.   
     In that sense, RG3 was an exception, having his best year as a rookie.   But normally we would expect a quarterback to improve over the course of his first year, and by the second year perhaps RG3 might be in the top 20.   
    It's unlikely that the Browns will be in contention when RG3 comes back in late November or December, either with Josh McCown or Cody Kessler.   Thus more than likely it will behoove the Browns to find out if RG3 can play effectively.      
     In the off-season, the Browns will have the opportunity to draft someone, and that would probably be a good idea even if McCown and RG3 both have good years.   Both McCown and RG3 are injury-prone, and thus there is no reason not to have a young talented quarterback on the team if one is available in the NFL draft next year.  It wouldn't be a disaster if one of the veterans starts the 2017 season as first string.   
Is Cody Kessler going to be a starting quarterback?

     On the other hand, the Browns already have a developmental quarterback in Cody Kessler, taken in the third round.  Normally a third round pick would not start in his first year, but maybe by year two or three he would be expected to challenge for a starting job.  Hence, my thought is that if the Browns don't draft a guy in the first round, they will probably continue to groom Cody Kessler.  That would surprise many Browns Backers, as we have pretty much got our heart set on a first round draft pick as the only viable quarterback option.  On the other hand Coach Hue Jackson believes in Kessler.   Would he let Kessler battle for a first string job next preseason? If so, they may not really want a first round quarterback.   That's hard to believe based on one bad game, but a lot can happen in the course of a year.   Let's watch and see. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Browns Crushed by Sure Fire Hall of Famer Carson Wentz and the Eagles.

Carson Wentz was a superstar in his frist NFL game, throwing for 278 yards and a quarterback rating of 101.0.   Sashi Brown, please explain again why he was considered not good enough for our team?

Another NFL opening day, and another crushing defeat by the Browns, 29-10, this time at the hands of their longtime nemesis, the  Philadelphia Eagles. 

It wasn't just losing, it was the way they lost.  They traded away signing rights for Carson Wentz, the kid from South Dakota State who didn't even play in NCAA Division 1.  After only 1 game in a preseason shortened by injury, he comes out and looks like Joe Montana.  Honestly, the kid was amazingly accurate.  

The Browns front office reportedly did not regard Wentz as a top tier prospect, and accordingly traded him away  (see for example cle 247 sports ). And then, being totally unprofessional, they bragged about it to ESPN, saying that Wentz will never be a top 20 quarterback.  Well guys, he's top 20 now, after one game.  The right answer would have been to say that we think the world of Carson, but you have to give up something good to get something good, blah blah blah.  Now you look like idiots.  Well, get used to it.  

So if Wentz is a really good quarterback, what does that say about management?  If he stinks, what does it say about our defense?   No doubt we vaulted him to the top echelon of NFL quarterbacks for one game.  

Were there some good things from the Browns point of view? Sure there were.  For one thing, they were better against the run, holding Philadelphia to 3.9 yards per  carry.  Cam Erving was horrific, hiking the ball over RG3's head and out of the end zone, resulting in a safety.  But on other plays he was not overmatched like he had been in preseason.  

The Browns gained 5.7 yards per carry on the ground, which is outstanding.  We were not terrible on offense.   We were terrible at pass defense, and also gave up acres of land on special teams.  We are going to miss special teams veterans like Justin Gilbert, Marlon Moore, and Barkevious Mingo.  

Why do we have Tramon Williams returning punts?  After drafting all those kids, is he really the best there as at punt returns?  He may not longer be a top cornerback, but on this team he is a key veteran.  Do we really want to risk a veteran defensive back on punt returns?  Hopefully we'll start to work in a young player back there in the near future.      


Friday, September 9, 2016

The Browns Look Like a Four Win Team

     Man, I feel great about football season coming up.  I love football, I follow college, high school, semipro and pro football and my favorite team is the Cleveland Browns.   I will go to a football game anytime, anywhere.   I just think it's the hardest and most complex game in the world, and these NFL guys are the most amazing athletes in the world.  

     Now one of our traditions is that we try to guess how many games the Browns will win.  If I knew the answer I would be setting the odds in Las Vegas, but here goes.  

Gary Barnidge is one of the few guys we have left who has been to the Pro Bowl.  

    I feel like the Browns have a great Coach in Hue Jackson, a great Defensive Coordinator in Ray Horton (who I wanted to be the Head Coach, figuring Hue would not be available), and a front office that is Harvard trained in economics rather than flying by the seat of their pants.  

     But we really gouged the team this year, getting rid of an absurd number of talented players.   A partial list  is at the end of the article. 

     Not all of the players are good, but most of them can actually play and contribute to a winning team.  They will be replaced by young guys, many of whom are late round draft picks.   And yeah we added a few guys in free agency, such as Robert Griffin III.  But the talent we lost probably exceeds the talent level of the incoming rookie class.  

       So even if we have a better coached team, losing this many players is impossible to overcome.  We're just going to get hammered this year.  We are not likely to be much better than last year's team which went 3-13.   But our offense last year was respectable through the air with over 4000 yards passing, believe it or not.  I think the offense may hold its own again this year, with RG3 having a comeback year but running for his life with a weak offensive line blocking for him.  
     On defense, we just lost too many good players on the line, linebackers and in the secondary.  I think we will be one of the lowest ranked defenses, and four that reason we will have to struggle to reach four wins for the year.
Pro Bowler Alex Mack
Pro Bowler Tashaun Gipson
Former Pro Bowler Andy Lee
Former Pro Bowler Karlos Dansby
Former Pro Bowler Randy Starks
Former Pro Bowler Donte Whitner
Pro Bowl Alternate Travis Benjamin
Pro Bowl Alternate Johnson Bademosi
Starter Mitchell Schwartz
Starter Paul Kruger
Starter Brian Hartline
Starter Desmond Bryant (injured)
Starter (9 games) Craig Robertson
Starter (10 games) Jim Dray
First Round Pick Barkevious Mingo
First Round Pick John Manziel
First Round Pick Justin Gilbert