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The Banner Plan.

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The floggings will continue until morale improves.

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I wrote a post Thursday/Friday that was triggered by the Trent Richardson trade.  It was emotional, hot, angry, pleading, salty.  But yet it seems its point was not made effectively.  I’ve read several responses to it where the reaction centers on the trading Trent Richardson (and what value the Browns got for him).  That not just misses the primary point it ignores a whole section with a boldface heading that says, “Richardson trade *is* good value.  But that’s not the problem here.”  So let me try again and do better this time.

Joe Banner’s plan is a figurative keelhauling of Browns fans.  You have been harnessed and thrown over the bow of the smokey oil slick of a 18th century whaling ship that is 2013 Berea.  You will be pulled up from the stern after a long salt-water immersion-waterboarding and scoured by the thousands of barnicles on the vessel’s hull under water level.  You will emerge in 2018 proven worthy and absolved of past misdeeds.  If you aren’t dismembered or drowned by the process.

Still too allegorical?  Ok.

Joe Banner is writing off the next three/four years on a 50-50 bet that the team will be better then; on the much smaller chance that the Browns-with-Joe-Banner’s-guys will show up in the playoffs in 2018.

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OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.

You think Trent Richardson is the start?  You think Teddy “My-God-Teddy-Bridgewater” Bridgewater is the end game?

Smarten up and grow up, you foolish child Browns fan.

Trent Richardson heralds the midpoint of the first step in the process:  be just good enough to be competitive but just bad enough to lose.  Bad enough to lose every game, that is.  The Trent Richardson trade is the part where the strategy is non-verbally, formally announced to Browns fans.  “Hey Browns fans, this is Vegas.  Yeah, you’re not gonna be favored in a game until December and even that Jets game is looking iffy.  Just thought you’d want to know.”

Fans are waking up to the reality of a tanked season and that is why they are pissed.

Fans are not pissed because (the possibly/probably overrated) Trent Richardson was traded for a first round pick in 2014.  They’re pissed this transaction crystallized several vague thoughts for them:

  1. We’re really not trying?  Damn Kanick was right:  we’re REALLY not trying.  TRich may not be all he’s hyped, but he is our best offensive weapon or so we’ve been programmed for the last two years and if he’s not our weapon then who the fuck is?

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    If you think Joe Banner holds on to Reggie Wayne after the Peyton Manning trade, you’re simply not paying attention.

  2. The Colts organization embodies all the Browns are not.  You say they got lucky with Andrew Luck.  No doubt.  But they’re supposed to be a crap team this year, just ask anyone at Grantland.  This is the team that brought “regress to mean” into the football fan’s lexicon.  In the face of the staggering analytical analyses of joyless stat nerds masquerading as football people, the Colts say:  “Eff that, we ain’t regressing, we would we?”  Colts have $3M in cap space which is also approximately their 2012 rollover amount.  The Colts just acquired the third pick in last year’s draft to go with their #1 pick.  The Colts are doing all they can to win.  And as to the trade itself, who’s to say TRich doesn’t turn into Steven Jackson playing for a playoff team… Marshawn Lynch seemed to improve after he left Buffalo.
    • Sidebar to all who believe Banner’s cap horseshit and think not competing and spending this year is sound financial planning and to do otherwise will condemn the Browns into a morass of cap hell:  Colts 2014 cap is 30th in the league, $82M
  3. And finally, they’re pissed because it’s dawning on them that this is just the start of the gutting.

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Just the start of the gutting.

It was Kolonich who got me thinking about the idea that this is just starting.

Richardson was probably only the beginning of this new reboot.  I can’t imagine Gordon, Little, Schwartz, Weeden (obvious), Lauvao, Pinkston, etc. survive into 2014 and beyond.  Not to mention Mack, Rubin, Ward and possibly even Haden.

For those who didn’t figure this out way back in January, we’re in the beginning stages of a total reset.  Just like Savage wiped out Davis and Mangini wiped out Savage and Heckert wiped out Mangini, and so on and so on. (more…)

Breaking faith with Browns fans.

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Speaking only for myself:  I found my Browns fan experience yesterday largely unchanged from past years.  How was yours?

The CSAT numbers can’t be good; perhaps a note to the VP of Fan Experience is in order.

Because, I kid you not, the Browns can afford such an executive although apparently they cannot afford a probowl, never-missed-a-start center.  (We’ll get to Alex Mack.)

After an off-season featuring the implementation of new office furniture and the adoption of analytics-to-improve-personnel talk (if not use); after healthier cafeterias and improved stadium cell service; after the junking of the dinosaur 4-3 defense in favor of the the current preferred turbo/hybrid attacking aggressive 3-4; after prudently eschewing free-agency use in favor of building through the draft (albeit next year’s draft); and dee-jays don’t forget dee-jays … it turns out that when you don’t significantly improve the roster of a 5-11 team, they continue to look like a 5-11 team.

And yet in yesterday’s #CheddarBay work, our generally savvy pickers threw down a collective 39 points on the Browns versus one point on the Dolphins.  It goes to show how the reportage on the Browns has been wanting for objective, sober analysis.

The question I have is who let you down more:  The Banner regime and its dedication to window dressing or the Cleveland sports media and its fawning over it?

They both thought you were pretty dumb; they’re soon to find out you can be pretty pissed before lapsing into wholly apathetic.  It’s a longshot but:  the Browns and their sycophantic reporters are actually at risk of losing the best sports fan base in the country.

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I’ll work the media angle today.

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Stop me if this looks familiar.

I’m not going to dig into the problems we saw yesterday.  Thin offensive line?  Pass rush not a panacea?  Vulnerable secondary?  Nope, I’ve done some work on the problematic talent acquisition strategy of this off-season.  Just some.  Here’s a taste of what’s been written here at Kanick and you can dive into it at these links:

2013 Brown preview (Indifference); TRich, Dancing Bear; The Fallacy of Attacking 3-4 defensesHaving a short secondaryParsimonious Joe BannerAlex Mack, Y U NO SIGN HIMNo one cares about Berea’s makeoverJoe Banner’s window-dressing strategyNorv Turner, paid gun for hireGimmicky defenses reliant on personnel packages for specific down/distances are soon to be obsoleteShort d-back issue not tended to in draftThe lunacy and hypocrisy of trading out of the fourth and fifth rounds after eschewing free-agency with the ‘Build through the draft’ mantraShort d-backs (with math)Drafting redundant pass-rusherCommitment to non-ExcellenceHow did a front line with Taylor, Rubin, Sheard become a focal point for renewal? Short d-backs (Kerry Rhodes please)Explaining salary cap rollover and Banner’s hoarding of sameWhat a smart draft looks likeILB depth (draft Alec Ogletree)Defining the needs of the team and addressing them through free-agency and draftO-Guard depth (sign Andy Levitre)Short d-backs (sign Keenan Lewis); Why the 4-3 is inherently better.

No since I’ve done that already, today it’s worth looking at how people who are actually paid to cover the team are serving their readers.

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An ominous beginning.

The day started on a sour note with a La Canfora’s tweet.

If any paid media member so much as asked Joe Banner about Alex Mack in a salary cap context, let alone got a meaningful response, I surely missed it.  As it stands, I’m pretty sure that some guy with a blog in NH is the only one asking the obvious question:  what the hell are you doing with $30 million in unused cap while Alex Mack is about to become the best and pretty much only UFA Center to hit the market in six months? (more…)

The curious case of Alex Mack.

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Banner says: earn it.
Probable outcome: the Berkeley grad says eff-you, challenge accepted, and buh-bye.

The problems with the Mangini-era drafts have been well documented.  (Not even gonna link.)  But less widely acknowledged is that he won the Sanchez trade.

The actual trade was the Browns’ #5 pick in 2009 (Sanchez) for #21 (Mack), #52 (Veikune) plus Jets vets Coleman, Ratliff, and Elam, plus two trade-backs for late picks (Davis and Francies).  Never mind that the Seahawks saved Mangini from himself by taking Aaron Curry at #4.  Never mind that he traded #17 (Freeman) for the #19 (Maclin) before settling on #21.  Seems foolish to talk about Percy Harvin being taken with the pick after Mack… can you imagine Harvin in the Shurmur offense?  Hell, never mind that six of the seven players coming the Browns way are no longer factors in the league.

Alex Mack straight-up for Mark Sanchez is a win.

Since 2009 Alex Mack has started every game at center for the Browns.  That’s 48 in a row; rather a major accomplishment for an NFL player.  In so doing, Mack has gained a reputation as being one of the top five centers in the league.  We won’t cite the pro-bowl appearance since that was an injury-replacement on the third team.  But still pro-bowl appearance and effectively 4th team AFC center in his second year.  In short:  Mack has done all that could have been expected from him.  In fact, he’s exceeded reasonable expectations.  (Here’s one re-draft of the 2009 first round that rates only Brian Cushing ahead of Mack for best value.)

Mack is a UFA at the end of this year.

Why are the Browns’ dragging their feet in extending his contract?  Why are the Browns leaving the door open for him to leave as a free-agent?

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Rating Mack.

I’m not the guy who pours through the game tape looking at footwork, push, low center of gravity, knee bend, and explosive hands.  And don’t even start with the fluid hips talk, I have enough of an internal struggle with hand-size measurements.

No I prefer to find reputable evaluators and defer to them.  If that means the dreaded Pro-Football-Focus ratings, so be it.  Matt Miller is one such resource.  Here’s rating of centers Bleacher Report*:  Alex Mack #4.  It goes:

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All-pro and 2009 draft classmate Max Unger proved it *after* signing an extension. AFTER. Because if he had proved it *before* he’d have been more expensive and possibly playing for Mike Munchak.
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Is anyone listening?

1. Chris Myers, Texans
2. Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
3. Max Unger, Seahawks
4. ALEX MACK, Browns
5. Jonathan Goodwin, 49ers
6. John Sullivan, Vikings
7. Nick Mangold, Jets
23.  Matt Birk, Ravens, retired.  Well come back to this.

Not buying Miller?  Here’s what Pat Kirwin has to say in his o-line ratings:

1. Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers
2. Ryan Kalil, Panthers
3. Chris Myers, Texans
4. Max Unger, Seahawks
5. Mike Pouncey, Dolphins
Honorable mention:  Alex Mack

One more link and this one is to local DawgPoundDaily: (more…)