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The Banner Plan.

140821_05_keelhauling

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…)

Quick halftime Colts/Browns observations.

Just had a few notes and they’re a little too big to tweet.  Nothing happy, I’m afraid.

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1.  TRich still stops.
This was something we noticed from watching him at Alabama and last year too (mute before click).  I’m moving past benefit of doubt, e.g., “he’s setting up his blockers.”  T-Rich doesn’t attack holes.  There is zero Marshawn Lynch in his game.  No beast mode.

In this clip you’ll see him hesitate before a d-back attempts to tackle him.  HE HIMSELF STOPS HIS MOMENTUM.  This makes it 1000x easier for a smaller man to bring him down.

When you’re Trent’s size, your size/inertia/momenta/strength are why you were drafted third overall; not your elusiveness.  Is there no coach in Berea to speak with him about this?

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2.  Attacking aggressive 3-4 defense not scary to good QB.

We’ve covered how good QBs exploit the cheats inheriting in a blitz-based defense.

What separates … elite quarterbacks from the pack?… It’s their reads, both defenses and progressions.  They’ll recognize a blitz and punish it. You give them time to go through their progression, they’ll find the open guy.  The thinking of ‘we can disguise where the rush is coming from with a 3-4′ is questionable.  Most teams play a 3-4; all QBs have seen it, good QBs can read it.

While Luck felt some heat from the Browns’ pressure, I wouldn’t say it stopped Luck from getting the ball where he wanted it.  (Eleven targets to Reggie Wayne in first half.)

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3.  Defense doesnt get to pick CB matchups:  TY Hilton drew Joe Haden while Buster Skine got Reggie Wayne.
I’ve seen a lot comments about how Haden is CB1 and so CB2 doesn’t matter that much.  Or how Skrine can just cover slot guys.  The fallacy here is that OCs are just going to go along with that.  Here’s the deal:  OCs watch hours of film looking exactly for an ah-ha moment and then go to town.  The Browns’ corps of 5-9 CB2s is a major ah-hah moment for opposing OCs.  (Eleven targets to Reggie Wayne in first half.)

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4.  Alec Ogletree having great game for Rams in Denver.
Every time I look up he’s breaking up a pass or returning a fumble for a TD.  His first half line (against the Broncos/Manning mind you):  6 Tackles, 4 Solos, 2 TFL, 2 PD, 1 FF, 1 INT, and 1 TD.

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Too much to ask?

Keenan Lewis.

Ziggy Ansah.

Andy Levitre.

Bacarri Rambo.

Dannell Ellerbe.

Dustin Keller.

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Someone’s been reading Kanick. Well-done Mr. Grossi.

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You know where I’m at on this year’s free agent season:

Free-agency is where it’s at this year.  Browns have the cap space to go after someone and, in my opinion, they’re close enough to being playoff caliber where such outlays make sense. … FA done right lets you transform positions of weakness into strength literally over night.  FA done right can move an ‘ok’ team into playoff range.  That’s where I think the Browns are; that’s why I think this FA season is crucial.”
–Kanick, 2/13/2013.

Are we getting fired up yet?

This weekend, next week, is this year’s version of last year’s three-picks-in-the-top-37 draft weekend.  Next week will either turn the Browns into a playoff team or leave us looking at another top-10 draft pick in 2014.

Given that the Browns enjoy more cap room than most other teams and given only one draft pick in the first 67 and given the number of teams struggling with cap space… the Browns are in great shape to address several holes with top notch talent.

I’m as big a ‘build-through-the-draft’ guy as you’ll find and this year’s draft offers a good deal of hope in that at #6 overall, elite talent will be available.

But this is a unique year in free-agency and here’s hoping the Banner-Lombardi team recognize it as such.  This is the year where three top-end starters in positions of need should be the goal for free agency.

Blah, blah, blah, enough… here’s my take on all this.

Here’s how I’d use FA and draft to plug the Browns holes.

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[editor’s note:  reduce your audio volume before clicking on the video clips.  there’s no way on my side to adjust the sound and they seem to come out blaring.]

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The needs (in order):

1.  Cornerback.

23 passes-defended. No missed tackles.
Bigger, faster than Haden.
Accept no substitute.

This seems so clearly to be the number one need that I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it.

Buster Skrine is currently the #2 CB.  I thought his coverage was energetic and actually decent.  His problem in coverage centered on his being under 5’10”.  When I made the Usama vs Giants clip below, I noticed a lot of Skrine being there, but Victor Cruz just getting the ball… like Cruz would just effortlessly reach out over Skrine’s flailing little arms.. ah well.  His other problem is that he’s not known as a tackler as was noted in his combine profile.  In fact, pretty much everything in Skrine’s draft profile has been on target:

Undersized and will be out-muscled by stronger receivers at the next level. Tight hips limit his ability to chance direction quickly. Over aggressive at times and can be fooled by play action. Boxed out by bigger receivers in jump ball situations. Does not have the strength to shed blocks and is a poor tackler.

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The move:  Keenan Lewis in FA.  We had him as our pick three weeks ago.  We liked his no missed tackles.  That no WRs got over 100 yds on him.  That he did well against other teams’ #1 when Ike Taylor was out.  But we keep finding more and more things to like.  For example, his 23 pass defended last year was second only to Richard Sherman.  And it quite a bit more than Haden’s best year (19).  The video we’ve watched has done nothing but make us more jazzed to get him.

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Alternate move:  None.  Even though the free agent CB crop looks deep — Cox, S. Smth, Toler, Grimes, Williams, Talib, DRC — I don’t see anyone in the draft or FA who is in Lewis’ class.  This is the must-have signing.

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