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Just stop it, Marvin Lewis.


We’re guessing Mom picked out the adorable outfit for Pacman’s daughter but we can’t rule that maybe Adam hit Gap Kids the day before.

What in the fey-ook is going on in Cincy?  They are killing me by staying on my radar in ways that have me saying, “Damn, wish that were my team.”  You know it’s beyond the beyond when I’m tapping Pacman Jones for cutest father-daughter picture (from of a field of 18).  Every day there’s a new story with the Bengals doing something smart.

We’ve covered the Bengals running at 4-3 and also how they’re building a great front four and a particularly tall and pass deflecting/altering one.  I’m on record as being a Mike Zimmer fan; Jay Gruden knows his business.  But the hits keep coming and it’s time to catalogue everything the Bengals are doing right.


Drafted Margus Hunt.
Look at the measurables (6′ 8″, 4.60 40, 38 bench reps) and Margus Hunt just oozes 5-tech DE in a 3-4.  Bengals already have Dunlap (6′ 6″) and Johnson (6′ 7″) at DE.  Bengals didn’t have a need there really (although M. Johnson’s franchise tag might signal his departure next year), they simply decided to take the single most unique athlete in the draft.  Now then, thus far in camp the Bengals have not been using Hunt with the #1s and indications are that the learning curve will be steep.  But as we knew or are learning, that’s true for all rookie DEs, even top 10 picks.

Going big in the secondary.
George Iloka (6′ 4″) is now showing as a starter on the Bengal’s depth chart.  No need to bang the tall d-backfield gong here again, you all know where I am on that.  Though he played FS at Boise, Iloka is playing strong safety for the Bengals.  They signed Taylor Mays last year; drafted Dre Kirkpatrick last year; plus Iloka… these are big d-backs.  If the Bengals wanted, they could roll out the second longest d-backfield in the league:  Kirkpatrick (6′ 2″), Mays (6′ 3″), Iloka (6′ 4″), Leon Hall (5′ 11″).
Looks like a Bengals fifth round pick is starting along with Bengals fourth rounders Peko and Atkins and Boling.  That’s how you build through the draft.  Or not.

Forgotten Orson Charles, now starting FB.
I was pretty big on Orson Charles when he came out of UGA last year.  I expected he’d challenge the incumbent Jermaine Gresham (first rd, 22nd overall, 2010) and he did have four starts last year.  Not bad for a fourth round rookie.  But for this camp, the Bengals went ahead and drafted the top-rated TE in the draft.  Like the Hunt pick, it wasn’t a need selection; it was a ‘how can we not accept the riches bestowed upon us by the draft gods’ pick.  So where does that leave Charles?  Starting at fullback and reportedly looking great.
Looks like another fourth round pick starting for the Bengals along with Peko and Atkins and Boling and fifth rounder Iloka.  That’s how you build through the draft.

You can talk about being aggressive or you can actually be aggressive.  You can practice the mindset.  Marvin Lewis has chosen option “B” by running the Oklahoma drill.

While flag-football enthusiasts decry the “dangerous and archaic” drill, there are still some coaches who have had success with it and still run it or modified versions of it.

Not shown, Browns on stationary bikes.

Injury risks?  Cripes.  Hey.  Pollyanna.  Injuries happen.  So while the Browns spew buzzwords of attacking aggressive play while dressing their players in bubble-wrap; the Bengals (and Buckeyes) are actually doing it in practice.  My money is with Urban (and Lewis) on this:  you are what you practice.

Three deep at TE. (more…)

Bizarro Browns defenses: Cincy and Tampa.

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Atkins (97) and Dunlap (96) attacking aggressively.


I’ve been critical of the Browns’ off-season strategies this year.  But the area that I most misunderstand is the imperative for a whole new defense.  Putting a finer point on it, I think the Browns have needlessly junked a promising defensive scheme (with the best+deepest+youngest d-line rotation in league) and passed on quality FAs to improve the d-backfield while simultaneously and breathlessly hyping how smart they are for discovering this Attacking Aggressive Horton 3-4 Defense (AAH34D).

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3-4 defenses highlighted in yellow.  Seven out of ten top defenses ran 4-3. Imagine how much better they’d be with the AAH34D.

The corollary to the Browns stridency in their adoption of the AAH43D is that if you’re running a 4-3, you’re.. well you’re old-fashioned at best but really borderline dull.

Yet it turns out the seven out of the top ten defenses (points allowed) run a 4-3.  (See right.)

The biggest issue with the AAH34D is this:  we mainly don’t like to have our back pissed on and be told it’s raining.  That’s been that pattern and it continued with Joe Banner’s interview with Terry Pluto over the weekend.  Word search of Pluto’s piece reveals five ‘attacks’ and two ‘aggressives.’  Banner also made a point of telling us obfuscating about spending $90m on free agency.  It’s actually $22.7 this year when measuring by average salary:

  • Kruger, 8.1m
  • Bryant, 6.8
  • Everyone else, 7.8 (Campbell, 1.9; Barnidge, 1.2; Groves, 1.1; Graham, 1.0; Hoyer, 1.0; Owens, 1.0; Nelson, 0.6).

So, of $22.7m in average salary in this year’s FA spend, 70.4% was on the defensive front.  4% on the defensive backfield.  Implied message:  we don’t need to worry about finding a cornerback or free safety because attacking defensive front five in an aggressive 3-4.


It didn’t escape my notice that the Bengals extended Carlos Dunlap last week.  In addition to that, Michael Johnson got the franchise tag from the Bengals this year and there are some indicators that the Bengals are trying to keep him.*  In addition to that, they drafted Margus Hunt in the second round.  That’s a hell of investment in the conventional DE-DT-DT-DE front four.


Sheard, Rubin, Taylor with Hughes/Winn rotating in…  was shaping up as special.

The other part of the Browns defensive personnel strategy is, or seems to be, d-backs aren’t a worthy investment and, of course, height doesn’t matter.


Couldn’t help but notice that Tampa signed Dashon Goldson, traded their first rounder for Darrell Revis, and drafted Johnathan Banks in the second round.  Those three will pair up with last year’s seventh overall, Mark Barron.  That’s a hell of an investment in the secondary.

This morning I want to take a look at these two defenses and challenge the wisdom of the new Browns’ gutting of the old Browns’ defensive scheme.

The Bengals are building a beast front four in their 4-3.

We love a great front four on a 4-3 defense and the Bengals are building one.  According to the latest depth chart: (more…)

Clearing the decks.

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With the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select…

NBA Draft items.

Very cool to win the NBA Draft lottery.

NBA Draft picks? Truly.

Alex Lin Len.  7’1″ 255 19 years old from the Ukraine.  We haven’t had a real “5” since Brad Daugherty.  Sign me up.

It’d be one of the more Cleveland things ever for the Cavs to sign Lebron, win 65 games in the 2015 season, blow through the East … and then lose 4-1 to the Warriors who somehow acquired Dwight Howard and employ an offense of Howard abusing Nerlins Noel down low and kicking out Steph Curry/Klay Thompson drilling threes on the perimeter as a baffled Mike Brown looks on.

(That’s a reference to the 2009 playoffs vs. Orlando.) 

But you don’t want to know from me.  In 2011, I’d have taken Derrick Williams and then hoped for Enes Kanter.  (And I still really like Kanter.)  (And I just clicked this link and learned Kanter started two games for Utah last season.)  (See dog at right.)

I’m content to ride with Chris Grant’s call.  In my opinion, he’s been stellar with every transaction he’s made.  Seriously… I can’t think of a move he’s made that looks bad.  And he left himself open for second guessing with the TT and Waiters picks.  He’s got a courage of convictions which, it appears, is derived from doing lots of homework.  We in good hands.

Final draft thought:  gotta give an assist to Byron Scott.  It would have been easy to win three more games and draft in the New Orleans, Sacto range.  But Scott stayed true to the mission:

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Scott did his job and did it heroically.

Only partly tongue-in-cheek here.  We’re not pro tanking.  No not at all. And yet …

The good citizen.

Good on Chris Perez for dropping twitter.

I know some like the ability to interact with the athlete via twitter but it’s such a double-edged sword, especially for the thin-skinned.  Once you show a chink in the armor, there’s always someone out there to tweak it, just for sport.  (Didn’t anyone have little brothers?)

If you’re an athlete with twitter, it’s pretty good policy NOT to interact.  Take a tip from Alex Mack:  he still hasn’t responded to my request for updates on his contract extension and whether he’ll go into free agency if it’s not done by end of camp.  Wise man that Cal grad.

As you may know I’ve been hard on Perez.  But let the record show that I’ve noted a more focused Perez this year and duly sent the props.

Regarding last weekend, I think I’m willing to chalk up it to a sore shoulder.  And even as I write that, I don’t really believe it.  Perez has always had a lot of loud outs.  With Perez’ commitment to first pitch strikes, it was a matter of time before batters would get the scouting report and starting opening up on him early.  Home runs are to be expected.

To be honest, I’d rather have him giving up homers than walks (if that makes any sense).  You’re the closer:  close.  Attack.  Challenge.  Closers have to have that kind of attitude and sometimes it bites you in the ass. Perez ain’t Gossage and never will be.  He’s not overpowering.  His strength is, ironically, that god damn attitude that I haven’t liked but could grow to as it matures. (more…)

Clearing the decks.

Sorry to be dark the last couple days.  It was not from writer’s block.  It was worse..

What do you do when your research does not fit your narrative?

I’ve got two posts on the shelf that I can’t get 100% behind after writing them.

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Dustin Keller: too pretty.










Excerpt from ‘Dustin Keller, FA target #4.’

Morin: all the glam you want.

“… First round pick from Purdue, 28, he’s got the athletic chops to be a top five tight end. 6-2/240, 4.53 40, 41in vertical, 26 225 bench reps. His numbers are good when you factor in the Jets lethargic offensive system. He led the team in receptions in 2010 and 2011. Even in his injury marred 2012, he put up the 2nd best DVOA, behind only Gronkowski.”

But I the more I dug, the more I see the Jets franchising him.  The tight end tag is the cheapest, under $6MM.  Keller is their most popular player and not that that should be a factor… but with the Jets… it’s a factor.

The other thing that bugged me was the number of glam shots when I was looking for a primary picture for the post.  In the screencap above, that’s 13 photos, one helmet:  NOT a ratio for a Browns tight end.

I still think Keller would be a nice pick-up, but I think it’s unrealistic.


Excerpt from ‘What to make of Margus Hunt?’ (more…)

About that 2009 draft…

Jason Smith, OT, Baylor. 2nd overall, 2009. 5yr/62MM. .. Traded for Wayne Hunter.  Then cut.

So.  Jason Smith is available.  Jets released him yesterday.

Jason who?

Jason ‘second pick in the 2009 draft‘ Smith, that’s who.  Consensus top-three pick.  Rams’ next Orlando Pace.  Anchor on the line for next decade.   Busting holes for Stephen Jackson; protecting Sam Bradford’s back.

Three years later he’s being traded straight-up for journeyman OT Wayne Hunter.  Four years later he’s being cut from the 6-10 Jets.

Smith has had more than his share of injuries.  Three concussions.  Two seasons finished on the DL.  But even before that, Rams fans had concerns.

I knew we were in trouble during the 2009 training camp when aged Leonard Little was routinely beating the shit out Smith.

A lot of people were distressed when the Rams picked the former TE Smith to play one of the most important positions on the team.

Smith’s contract, signed before the new CBA, was crippling for the Rams.  So it was pretty much a train wreck of a pick.  Especially when you consider that they passed on:

That’s weird.  Of the first five picks in 2009, only Matt Stafford seems to be a significant contributor to an NFL team four years later.

If we keep going:

  • Andre Smith, rounding into form now, but it was uncertain for the first two years;
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey .. meh;
  • Eugene Monroe — solid;
  • BJ Raji — hit;
  • Michael Crabtree .. looking good;
  • Aaron Maybin, bust;
  • Knowshon Moreno .. err;

And then Orakpo, Jenkins, Cushing.

Massaging the numbers as I’m wont to do:  of the first twelve picks in 2009, only four (Stafford, Monroe, Crabtree, Raji) are slam-dunk ‘We’d take them again’ choices.  Out of those twelve, three are disasters (Smith, Maybin, Curry), three are disappointments (Jackson, Sanchez, Moreno).

When you consider thousands of hours of research by hundreds of paid league sources
33% hit rate on the top 12 is weak… and…
A whiff rate of 38% in the top 12 is a damning indictment of all the NFL personnel experts who are smarter than you.


Prototype 5-tech JJ Watt is lined up on Ravens’ RT’s right shoulder.

Where are you going with this, Kanick?

So let’s have fun with this drafty-picky game!

I mixed it up with minor twitter and Cleveland sports-radio celebrity Hiram Boyd tonight.  Hiram’s a Ziggy Ansah fan.  So am I.  I’m also a Margus Hunt fan.