Analysis of Joe Banner’s first season.

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For a team that’s won one game since early October, I read a lot of positive pieces and comments about Joe Banner’s work to date.  And while I appreciate some of the play on the field and believe Chud will be a good coach and note that the players are still working hard… the sanguine mood toward Banner seems curious.

Now let me be clear:  I’m not saying this won’t work out.  I’ve seen good things from this team same as you.  I agree with those who say healthy Brian Hoyer and we’re in the playoffs.  Other notable good things:

  1. I think Chud has been a good head coach; I like his manner.  I’m more confident in him than I have been in a coach since… since the reboot anyway;
  2. Quentin Groves was a terrific signing and it’s too bad he got injured;
  3. Ditto that on Hoyer;
  4. Cutting bait on T-Rich was fine by me1;
  5. I’m so-so on Norv Turner and Ray Horton2 but they’ve been pretty good, particularly when you look back at the Maurice Carthon era.
7796652

$6M guaranteed to possession receiver lapping field in dropped passes.

But the fact remains that Joe Banner was very selective with where and how he committed resources to building this year’s team.  The T-Rich trade (good value) and the Hoyer injury should not preclude a critical analysis of how the Banner decisions in the off-season contributed to yet another four win season.

I have yet to see one.

In fact, it seems to me he is not being held accountable for this year and on the contrary, folks are feeling good about him.  This in spite of Banner’s own tough minded executive speak pre-season:

We are not asking for a free pass this year or any year.  They should expect the team to be better.  They should expect the team to play hard.  They should expect it to be obvious that things are different.  I’m happy being held to that standard, and I’m happy having everybody held to that standard.  Listen, we were one of the most active teams in free agency this year in the league.  That’s not a long-term three-to-five-year plan.  Now we did it with players who were 26-and-27-years old, so in two or three years when we’re hoping to be really good they’re still going to be good players.

He didn’t ask for a free pass, but he’s kinda gotten one.  The team is not better by the metric that matters.  Things are not different judging from the orange seats at the stadium in December.

So even though his proclamation of “being happy to be held to that standard” is completely hollow3,  I’ll take a swing at reviewing his work critically and holding him accountable.  Whatever accountable means.

_____
Players brought in.

1.  Paul Kruger

Free agent, 5yrs/40.5M$; 20M$ guaranteed.  Now I’m no cap savant like Joe Banner, I’m just a dum fan so I probably am missing something and really dum.  But how come Kruger is getting $700K this year when we’re swimming in unused cap space and then is drawing $7M/year the next four years when we’re, you know, competing and shit?  Banner is so freaking smart that I must be missing something here.

[I DID miss something here which was the bonus buried in this year's cap hit.  In other words, if you look at the cap hit each year for Kruger, it does NOT escalate.  Thank you @ClevTA for pointing this out.]

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 1.39.21 PM

Anyhoos, how’s Kruger playing?  He looks the part and seems pretty competent.  Lots of energy and hurrying the QB consistently even if his sack numbers are down.  But down they are:

4.5 sacks this year against 9.0 last year;
17+19 tackles + assists this year against 30+12 last year.

So his production is down which is one thing.  But problem is that Kruger is the 6th highest paid OLB behind Hali, Suggs, Mathis, Woodley, Greenway, Kruger, Will Smith, Briggs, Thomas Davis, Matthews.  He doesn’t quite fit into that company.  But this is the guy Banner wanted to bring in.  Questionable move, that’s all.  Here’s the PFF data.  (Note Jabaal Sheard at #12.)

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 2.04.30 PM

Kruger #22. Hey there Jabaal Sheard at #12!

Note:  in the QB Hurries stat, Kruger is sixth tied with Elvis Dumervil.  So that’s good.  On the other hand, Kruger leads all 3-4 OLBs in Missed Tackles with twelve.  So that’s bad.

.

2.  Desmond Bryant

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 2.07.07 PMFree agent, 5yrs/34M$; 12M$ guaranteed.  Another strangely back-loaded contract.  Again:  if the plan is to position oneself for a competitive run in a couple years, why are we stacking salary up in 2015?  Shouldn’t we be using the cap that Heckert left us?  For something?

Bryant seems like a good player.  But the fact is that he plays a position that was the strength of the Browns coming into the season.  In fact, the core of Sheard, Taylor, Rubin figured to be the core of a formidable front four for years to come, especially considering that Hughes and Winn were standing by to rotate in and keep all fresh.  We covered this in the context of ‘why scrap the 4-3 defense.’  We didn’t get and still don’t get why another defensive lineman was a priority signing for Banner other than a fixation on having ‘his guys.’  Banner is no Bill Walsh.4

Welp, on top of the apparent hubris-ish motivation for signing Bryant, there’s the heart thing.

It’s a pretty scary feeling.”  Bryant spent the night at the Cleveland Clinic, where he was treated with medication. He’s expected to play Sunday against the Lions. He experienced the same thing one other time last year in Oakland and was also hospitalized, but he’s not concerned it will happen again.

One imagines Bryant’s agent during negotiations with Banner explaining the neither he nor Desmond are concerned it will happen again.

Not surprisingly, it happened again and so Bryant’s season is over; not surprisingly the corrective heart surgery required to treat it has been called a success.  And not surprisingly, I’ve read nothing questioning Banner’s wisdom for giving $12M guaranteed to a redundant defensive lineman with a known heart condition.

Anyways… how’d Bryant grade out prior to his heart surgery?

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Yep, the Frostee Rucker zone. Hey wait, didn’t we….? Oh never mind.

By the way, John Hughes?  The #13 rated 3-4 DE?  He’s signed for 4years/2.7$M.  That Heckert.. such was a doofus and without long-term planning capability.5

3.  Barkevious Mingo

Sixth player taken overall.  Three starts.  Five sacks.  Specifically plays a rush OLB position that was already occupied by Jabaal Sheard.  (See the graphic in the Kruger section?  Sheard is #12.  You have to scroll down to #40 to find Barkevious.

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Heckert’s.

Rookies need time to grow and Mingo looks really good from time to time.  Definitely fast.  Gets burned going to deep in his rush and losing contain.  That’s a good problem that he can be coached out of.

No the problem with Mingo is that he’s guaranteed $12M.  Meanwhile the #12 3-4 OLB is a UFA next year.  Again, I’m no genius capologist but won’t a 25-year-old top-10-ish rush OLB be expensive especially when you’ve already tied up your dough in your #6 overall pick?

4.  Leon McFadden

This was the second Browns draft pick (notably taken in front of Tyrann Mathieu; scroll down to the Brent Grimes’ section jpg and check out who the #2 rated CB is in the NFL).  Obviously he’s a rookie and, like Mingo, could develop into something.  The problem here is that … there seem to have been much better options.  Mathieu, Logan Ryan, Kayvon Webster, ,,, one would think he might have seen some nickel duty.  I don’t even hear McFadden’s name called on special teams which is odd because he was presented as a hard-hitting (albeit 5’9″) player.  Here’s an amusing ball-washing regarding McFadden from Rob Rang last May:6

Given the significant drop-off in talent between Joe Haden and presumptive No. 2 cornerback Buster Skrine, the Cleveland Browns entered the 2013 draft with pass defender among their chief areas of concern. Rather than blast new general manager Michael Lombardi and head coach Rob Chudzinski for waiting to address their biggest need, the Browns’ brain trust could earn kudos for their patience should McFadden’s unique athleticism translate into early success.

While lacking the bulk so en vogue in today’s NFL at cornerback, the former San Diego State star possesses the fluidity to stand out in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s aggressive scheme, especially considering the fact that he will largely be operating against opponents’ No. 2 or No. 3 pass-catchers.

The 5-foot-10, 193-pound McFadden impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl with his coverage skills. Given Cleveland’s attention to the pass rush over the offseason, McFadden’s recognition, agility and burst could result in big plays early as a rookie, helping the Browns establish themselves as a playmaking unit capable of surprising some of their competitors in the AFC North.

5. Davone Bess

Brought in as a fairly expensive “possession receiver.”  ~$6M guaranteed.

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This is sorted by dropped passes.

Nuf ced.7

.

So those are the key players that Banner brought in.  I like Quentin Groves (a lot).  The Gary Barnidge signing only indicates that they were as surprised as the rest of us that Jordan Cameron would emerge.  Who else was brought in?  Armonty Bryant?  Garrett Gilkey?  Very good picks.  Dion Lewis looked legit.  Jamoris Slaughter?  Who knows.  It’s not a disaster.

_____
Players passed on.

Bringing in players is only part of the story.  There are infinite opportunities to bring in players to build your team.  Here are a couple players that Banner seems to have passed over.

1.  Alex Mack.

In spite of having a more cap space than any other team, in spite of ~$12M of rollover cap bequeathed to him by Tom Heckert which will evaporate if not used, Banner did not sign Mack in the off-season.  Nor did he try.  Berea felt Mack wasn’t physical enough and wanted him to prove himself (in spite of 48 consecutive starts since entering league).  I know this because Lane Adkins and Brent Sobieski both informed me of this in July when I asked what was going on with Mack.  If you don’t find Adkins/Sobo reliable, that’s your call.

So anyway, here’s is the current PFF Center rating.

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Notable: the Cowboys’ widely panned first rounder Travis Frederick is doing well.

Max Unger was drafted same year as Mack and the Seahawks saw fit to lock him in two years ago.  I guess it’s possible the Browns are smarter than the Seahawks.8

2.  TJ Ward

Same as Mack above except that Ward was not historically rated as highly as Mack.  But he was a reliable long-time Brown and a buy-low opportunity was available.  Lol… that opportunity for the smartest guys in the room appears to be gone now, note Ward’s PFF rating (among ALL safeties, not just strong safeties).

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Note at #3, Donte Whitner.  He is 28 and a UFA this year.  If we’re letting Ward walk and replacing him with a Tarblooder… well then hey, all is forgiven.

.

3.  Brent Grimes

Remember when Brent Grimes came in and there was a big fuss about it since he used to be a pro-bowler and plugged a hole at CB?  But then capologist Banner apparently balked at giving him two years?  Because..?  Because he knew Buster Skrine was awesome or something?  (It wasn’t because they wanted to get bigger because see Leon McFadden above.)

Please see this note on the Grimes back-and-forth courtesy of Tom-RR88.9  I had it backward above but I doubt that I’m wrong in the basic point which is that Banner was playing chicken with Grimes and he lost.

I thought I’d check on Grimes’ year because I saw him against the Pats last week and he was making a difference for the Dolphins.  Sure enough, our smartest guy in the room missed again.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 1.18.39 PM

Haden is #21, Skrine is #102.

 

4.  Alec Ogletree

What the hell, Ogletree was my pick for the Browns at #6 so how is he working out?  He would’ve been there with the Rams’ pick at #18 and of course the Browns would’ve gained a second round pick too.  So how is Ogletree doing?  He’s 27th in the conventional PFF ratings for 4-3 OLBs,,, not great but he his a rookie and he has started every game for the Rams.  Quite a contrast to our #6 overall pick.  927 snaps for Ogletree versus 594 for Mingo.  But if you sort his stats on coverage –which is nothing short of essential for linebackers in the evolving NFL PassBall League– he rates 8th.  But he’s been was thrown at the most of all linebackers (three of the guys in front of him were thrown at under 20 times, Ogletree has had 81 covers).  In other words, he’s #5 among linebackers who have been thrown at over 50 times.

_____
My take.

Lookit.  As I said at the top, this could all work out.  I’ve seen good things.  Competent coaching is refreshing.  A competent QB (who NEED NOT be taken in the first round) will jump the offense.  Unfortunately there are new holes10 and based on Berea’s non-fixing of last year’s holes, I fail to see why we should expect a different track this year.

But.

I don’t want to hear about cafeteria changing or wall murals or publicly-funded stadium scoreboards or focus-groups for changing the uniforms that the freaking city had to take the NFL to court in order to keep.

Dude.  Just.  Stop.  Stop with the window dressing.  Stop with the spin.

You want to be accountable?  Explain what the 2012 cap rollover is earmarked for.  You want to talk about the goodness of improved IT?  Explain how analytics were used in this years draft room or in this year’s game planning.

Because from here, you seem like you don’t get it.

Because Joe:  I guarantee you that every Browns fan who bought ticket this year would have traded their improved cell service for a January playoff game in Cleveland.

_____

  1. But also evidence that their commitment to win this year was wanting.  After all Edwin Baker. [back]
  2. Was Norv ever spectacularly great when he didn’t have Troy Aikman and three all-pro linemen; Horton’s transparent use of this as a stepping stone to a HC gig is bothersome. [back]
  3. If he were really worried about winning and being really held accountable, I doubt that non-contributing draft picks, non-consumption of salary cap, and bailing out of two rounds in this draft would be the cornerstones of his plan as they were for his 2013 Browns. [back]
  4. The famous Bum Phillips’ famous quote –”He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.”– was about Bill Walsh. [back]
  5. Don’t forget Banner’s dick-ish words about the prior regime:  “Everybody talked about a long-term plan, but when’s the last time the team traded for a future draft pick? When’s the last time the team said, ‘We may not have position ‘X’ with the best player this year because there’s nobody in the marketplace who’s that good, and we don’t want to waste all the future cap money just so we win six games instead of five?’ So there’s been a lot of cheap talk about long-term plans here….”  We will come back to this interview at a future date. [back]
  6. See it’s jive like this that has me convinced that I/you/everyone know as much as “experts” PLUS we have the advantage of not needing to maintain access so we can/should be objective in our analyses. [back]
  7. Not quite nuf ced:  I’m fascinated by his “20 yards” longest reception.  If you sort on that column, Bess ranks 107th out of the 112 WRs in the list. [back]
  8. Unger has been battling injuries this year and that is why he doesn’t show in the center rankings coming off his 2012 All-Pro year. [back]
  9. I went back through my notes on Grimes and it is actually reversed – Banner wanted to sign him for two years, hoping to leverage Grimes’ injury to get him on the cheap for the second year if he returned to health. Grimes wanted to bet on himself with a one-year deal, which is why he is in Miami and not in Cleveland.  And while it cost the Dolphins $5.5 million for Grimes, while the Browns went with Chris Owens for $1 million, as you say it’s not as if the Browns don’t have the money. [back]
  10. Up to nine holes from the six last year:  RB, WR2, OG -again-, ILB -again-, C?, SS?, CB2 -again-, FS -again-. and QB. [back]

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  • Peter Markos

    RAMS -5.5 OVER TB
    DEN -10.5
    DET-9.5 OVER NYG
    SD -9.5 OVER OAK
    SF-11.5 OVER ATL
    IM GOING BIG SPREADS TODAY AGAINST LOUSY TEAMS. TEA TIMES AND TRAVEL PLANS WILL LEAD TO BIG WINS TODAY. I HOPE. SIMPLE AS THAT. THIS DUCK DYNASTY CONVERSATION HAS MADE BY BRAIN MUSH. SORRY FOR THE SHORT ESSAY. YOU CAN JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.

  • bupalos

    Just wanted to stop by every board I visit and shout “DEREK CARR IS HORRIBLE PLEASE GOD NO NO NO.”

    • Petefranklin

      WEN-NING, WEN-NING!

  • actovegin1armstrong
  • Petefranklin

    I have been enjoying the last year of our best player…Rubin. Unless he got signed to a new deal that I didn’t hear about I will surely miss him the most next year. The rest of the D line will get exposed after Rubin leaves. When I do bother to actually watch the Browns, I notice that Rubin does all the dirty work by getting double and triple teamed. The MLB’s will really look like crap next year without him. Banner could have signed him with the 12 mill he’s taking to hell with him, and a couple extra mill over the next few years. What gets me is that practically everyone in the league knows how good Rubin is except “our guy”.

    • bupalos

      Sorry, PFF has him rated as 30th or something. So he must not be good.

      This is Haden-Grimes snark. Rubin is rock solid. That said, so is ‘I Stop the Run, Man’ man.

      • Petefranklin

        He looked kind of ordinary today. He would be super overpriced next year but he’s another hole to fill.

  • Bluedog93

    I’m really not sure there’s much merit to any analysis of a season other than to note whether the total number of wins went up or down, by how much, and whether or not the team made the playoffs. But I will say this: when 2012 ended, I had a pretty good idea of what the team needed. When the 2013 season began, I went back to that list and saw that a lot lf what I thought was needed hadn’t been adressed, and a lot of what I thought didn’t needed to be changed had been changed. In retrospect, while I’ll agree that the season has proven me wrong about some things, I still think it would have gone better if the front seven had been unmolested and the money and draft picks spent there had gone to a second corner, another guard, an outside receiver, and a true fullback. Your mileage may vary, but I do wish that people defending the Browns front office would forthrightly admit that Banner et al didn’t do what they had thought they would do, and why they think it’s better. (Apologies for the poorly chosen pronouns). “Because he’s Joe F—ing Banner” is not synonymous with “his judgment must be better than mine.” What did you think the Browns should do, and what did you expect the result to be, and now what do you think the result would have been had your advice been followed? Kanicki, I think you laid out your plan in the offseason and have don’t a good job of assessing its strengths and weaknesses in light of this season. Can Banner’s defenders do the same?

    • Petefranklin

      90% of the dummies, errr fans, that support Banner don’t even know that not all of the cap space will roll over.

      • Bluedog93

        And count me as someone who doesn’t care. I just want the front office to lay down a single, tangible measure of success of failure to be achieved within a specified amount of time. I think a winning record in the second season is perfectly reasonable; you’re welcome to differ if you like. But a goal of “we want to achieve sustained success” or “our goal is to win the Super Bowl eventually” is unmeasurable. They could go 0-16 for the next five years and still claim that the plan was working, they just didn’t have enough time.

        A goal isn’t really a goal unless there’s a way to fail. I suspect that Banner knows this perfectly well, given the efforts he takes to avoid setting measurable goals.

        • Petefranklin

          I call bullshit on that one. With a few improvements that were attainable and subsequently ignored, this team could have gotten that winning thing under their belt this year. Maybe not 8-8 winning but winning some damn ballgames that actually mean something. At this time next year everyone will suck up any improvement, if there is any, and say one more year is needed to learn how to win the big games. Well that learning curve should have been gotten out of the way THIS YEAR. Sucks that the culture of losing continues under the new management when it didn’t have to.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      I don’t disagree on some of this, but pure wins/losses is not really a valuable metric. This is team that ran through three, almost four QBs (and one of them is named Weeden). You’re not going to get success when that happens.

      Look at the Packers. They’re 7-6-1. They lost four and tied once after Rodgers went down. Are they a worse team than the 11 win team of last year? No. They lost their QB and had to deal with Seneca Wallace and Matt Flynn. Going through QB turmoil doesn’t matter if you’re a good team or a bad team, it’s going to screw you up.

      Even if we had a starter that wasn’t Weeden this year, if you end up digging in your back pocket for a third-stringer QB, you’re not going to have a good season.

      • Bluedog93

        Well, I would argue that wins/losses is the only meaningful metric, but at a very minimum I think you would have to agree that it is an objective measurement. And by its very nature of being both objective and measurable, it has two qualities that make wins/losses a superior method of evaluation to what the front office has offered, which appears to be “nobody could have done better than us, we pinky-swear!”

        In response to your point about quarterbacks, there’s only been two games, I believe, where the third-best quarterback the Browns had (Brandon Weeden) was the best quarterback available for the Browns to start. That the coaching staff chose to start the season with him, and then return to him after Hoyer was injured, was a self-inflicted wound.

        Finally, I didn’t go into this season asking for a “good season.” Our host was asking for that, if I recall correctly, but I wasn’t as optimistic. I merely thought that it would have been an attainable goal to do better than last year, by an objective measure of progress, given that (a) the obviously overmatched and unqualified head coach of the previous year had been replaced, (b) the schedule was easier, and (c) there seemed to have been several players carried over from the previous year who would benefit from the additional year of experience, and conversely no major losses or players moving past their prime.

        • NeedsFoodBadly

          Context matters.

          Do you think the Packers front office did a poor job this season? They’re going to have less wins than last year. If wins and losses are the only meaningful metric, that’s what you are arguing.

          • Bluedog93

            Actually, I don’t think the Green Bay front office has handled this season particularly well, but regardless, they also have several past season of success (on a W/L measurement) to point to to substantiate a claim that this season is an aberration. Whereas with the Browns, we only have this season to judge them by. But of course, I’m certainly willing to entertain the argument that there is a better objective measurement of success in the NFL other than wins and losses, just as soon as someone proposes one….

  • Dave Kolonich

    I don’t agree with the whole “give the Browns a QB and they’re in the playoffs” argument. That argument doesn’t fly given how the defense doesn’t create pressure and crumbles in the fourth quarter of games. Throw in no running game and nothing beyond Gordon and Cameron in the pass game and I can’t see some probable playoff run.

    My take is that the Browns enter 2014 with the exact same holes as they entered 2013 – with the addition of likely losing Mack and Ward.

    Obviously, QB is a huge need – regardless of what anyone thinks of Hoyer. RB’s are needed along with a 2nd WR and a “possession WR” (whatever that even means anymore). But for the 50th year in a row, the O-Line needs major repair. Schwartz is a bust at RT, Greco is a backup and Pinkston and Lauvao are about as non-athletic as O-linemen can get.

    After all that, we can finally talk about LB’s and the secondary – yet again.

    • bupalos

      I think you underrate how QB underperformance has played into the late collapses. Yes, they happen on the D, and there have been some spectacularly bad plays (and calls) there. But in each game we’ve lost that way, there has also been ample opportunity for the O to keep the ball away and they haven’t done it. When I see a D that plays at a #1 level for 3 quarters, but crumbles in the 4th, and then I see an offense that forces them to play in their own end and play more snaps than the opposition, I think it’s reasonable to think the QB has a lot to do with that.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      ‘playoffs’ meaning top of the AFCN. i don’t think that’s a stretch and it’s not to say the browns are solid positionally; it owes a lot to the state of the AFCN.

  • Pingback: Cleveland Browns: Hindsight is fun but problematic and misleading - Dawg Pound Daily - A Cleveland Browns Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and more.

  • RGB

    He’s not Mike Holmgren.
    That, in and of itself is a win.

    • Bluedog93

      And yet, here we are. Just because Mike Holmgren turned out not to be a good team president doesn’t mean that the guy who replaces him will be any better.

      • NeedsFoodBadly

        It doesn’t mean he’ll make the same mistakes either. I go back and forth on how effective I think this regime is so far, but it seems clear that lots of folks are crucifying them for the sins of the past few groups running the Browns. They weren’t successful in installing a long-term plan over 2-3 years. It does not logically follow that this group won’t either. It’s a new group of people.

  • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

    Hard to argue, 14 games into the season, with much of what you say here.

    The two moves that stick out the most are Kruger and Grimes.

    Kruger isn’t a bad player, but there is a high likelihood that what we see this year is as good as it gets. Kruger has turned into the Browns version of Nick Swisher – a player who is paid like a difference maker, but who isn’t one.

    I went back through my notes on Grimes and it is actually reversed – Banner wanted to sign him for two years, hoping to leverage Grimes’ injury to get him on the cheap for the second year if he returned to health. Grimes wanted to bet on himself with a one-year deal, which is why he is in Miami and not in Cleveland.

    And while it cost the Dolphins $5.5 million for Grimes, while the Browns went with Chris Owens for $1 million, as you say it’s not as if the Browns don’t have the money.

    As for Mingo … we better hope he works out because, after selecting him do high in their first draft and giving so much money to Kruger, it’s not hard to see the Browns letting Sheard – only their best linebacker – walk in free agency when his time comes.

    Overall it has been a strange year. While it will be refreshing to not spend an off-season reading about Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden, the season has taken on the feel of a holding pattern. If it works out, we can all look back on this season and laugh. If it doesn’t … well, let’s save that for another day.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      fixing the grimes mistake, thank you. my memory was simply that they had him in town; low-balled him; in spite of the obvious need at CB2; and he signed with miami.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      the swisher-kruger analogy is nuts on.

  • zarathustra

    “That Heckert..was such a doofus and without long-term planning capability. ”
    I’m so glad you added the that thow away line as it gets the very heart of what is wrong with so much of your criticism of the front office. In three years as gm heckert gave us colt mccoy, senneca wallace, and brandon weeden at quarterback. He frittered away draft picks to trade up for trent richardson. Were there some nice draft picks? Of course. There were also two first round busts and at minimum two second round busts in three years. Yet this is the man you believe deserved a fourth year. He meets the kannicki standard.
    But this front office after one offseason has failed to meet your standard. Please point to any of the moves in the above post that are as bad as drafting richardson, acquiescing in the hire of long time eagles crony pat shurmur, and leaving the franchise with the above quarterbacks after three years?
    Hell, the hoyer signing (much criticized at the time let us not forget) was better than anything that heckert did for the qb situation in three years.
    But, heckert needed more time and the current regime has been given too much time lets march on berea and accept nothing less than banner’s head on a spike and for lombardi to publicly pledge fealty to king joffrey.

    • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

      Yes, Heckert (with help from Mike Holmgren) missed on the quarterbacks.

      But he also gave us TJ Ward, Joe Haden, Sheard, Phil Taylor, Billy Winn, Jordan Cameron, Travis Benjamin and, oh yeah, Josh Gordon.

      And, as noted, Heckert left the cap space to sign Kruger, Desmond Bryant and Davonne Bess.

      Such horrible, horrible GM.

      • zarathustra

        Actually, no. Not a horrible gm. But, as you know, I stated no such thing. Am I to take it that you find the kruger, bryant, and bess signings to be as bad the hecket mistakes I listed above?

        • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

          I think Heckert is unfaily tainted by Holmgren and Shurmur. He did far more good than bad during his time here and I would actually feel better if he was still in town.

          • zarathustra

            Very much understood. Perhaps this bias has colored your opinions of the current front office. For instance you snarky tweet about lombardi re: hoyer after the first series of his first start in minnesota.

          • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

            In-game Tweets are different; they are meant to be in the moment, rather than big-picture analysis.

            While I’m not opposed to Hoyer being on the roster next season, I’m also not ready the keys over to him based on 8 quarters of play.

          • Petefranklin

            He’ll be very average after the film on him gets around.

          • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

            That’s the thing right there.

            Many fans were so excited to have someone, anyone, not named Brandon Weeden be the quarterback that it became impossible for many to make any kind of assessment on Hoyer.

            The Browns beat Minnesota in large part because Christian Ponder was quarterbacking the Vikings, and then beat the Bengals because the defense held them to six points.

            Hoyer contributed to the win, but he is not the reason the Browns won those games. That’s where his injury really set things back because we still don’t know if the Browns have anything in Hoyer or not.

            If he had been able to play out the season, the Browns would have a much better read on him and that would help set the direction for the next draft.

            It’s not too difficult to see a scenario where the Browns don’t pick a QB (at least not in the first round) and roll the dice with Hoyer next season as the starter. If it pays off, then they may have something going. If it doesn’t, where having this same conversation next year.

          • bupalos

            I don’t disagree that we didn’t fully find out what we have with Hoyer. I do think the way he played shows that he is very likely to be at least average overall. On the one hand, he did definitely show he can make quick and correct reads and get the ball out early and accurate. On the other hand, he plays so fast and read-heavy that he’s going to be susceptible to teams baiting him and doing aberrant or seemingly irrational things within their coverage that shouldn’t really be happening by the book. I keep going back to the Greenway int because it is the textbook case there. Hoyer plays a very particular type of game that is pretty well the inverse of both Weeden and JC.

          • http://www.redright88.com/ Tom_RedRight88

            The things Hoyer may not be able to currently do can hopefully be eradicated by coaching and/or experience.

            Hoyer threw three interceptions in the first three quarters of the Minnesota game, but then didn’t get picked off over his next six quarters of play, so that could be a good sign that he can learn from his mistakes, something Weeden, for example, was never able to do.

          • bupalos

            Very average would be awesome.

          • bupalos

            Meh. There is good, there is bad. But it is hard to overlook drafting two players at 3 and 22 that simply don’t belong in the league.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      i added that line in the context of joe banner’s remarkable trashing of tom heckert (not to mention the jlc piece that didnt appear without some help).

      but ok, we can do your ground-shift.

      i studied and hammered heckert’s work at the time. here’s every transaction and what his frittered picks turned into. knock yourself out.

      but if you want to kill him for trading up for trich and hardesty (and pinkston) and reaching on weeden then i guess you want to give back the trade-up for phil taylor and the reach for josh gordon? dont like owen marecic; do like travis benjamin. it’s a mixed bag as it is for all GMs and all drafts.

      but the key difference is that at least heckert drafted need. mingo was an extravagant development boom-or-bust pick not designed to help the team this year.

      bringing the subject back to relevance, joe banner said: “Everybody talked about a long-term plan…” and then acted like there wasn’t one. the fact is that there were fixable holes and plenty of cap space here in year three of presumably a three year plan. joe banner junked that plan, we get a four win team, and you’re praising the guy. i dont get it.

      ps: mccoy and wallace were holmgren and you know it.
      pps: you think lombardi trumped banner on hiring chud? of course holmgren’s vote on shurmur was the only one that mattered. cmon.

      • zarathustra

        “it’s a mixed bag as it is for all GMs and all drafts.” Amen. Do you think this viewpoint has been well-reflected in your ongoing critique of this front office?

        Call it ground shifting if you like, but it seems awfully relevant to establish what your standard of a good gm actually is as we evaluate your critique of any front office.

        Quick counterfactual for you: heckert is retained as gm and follows the fool proof kanicki plan and signs andy levitre, keenan lewis, grimes, whomever. Assuming he retains the qb he spent a first round draft pick on last, how many more wins do they have today?

        “pps: you think lombardi trumped banner on hiring chud? of course holmgren’s vote on shurmur was the only one that mattered. cmon.”
        No. I do not think that lombardi trumped banner in the coaching. But if lombardi spent 10 years with chud previously and he proved to be woefully incompetent, then hell yes I would say he shares some culpibility in the hire.

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          i think the critique has been accurate. it is a mixed bag for all GMs but in banner’s case, in year one, it is not. it’s an empty bag. name an impact player that banner has brought in? it’s zero in the draft and zero in free agency. wouldn’t you think there would be one? just one?

          btw if weeden was so clearly incompetent why didn’t banner dump his sorry ass?

          if the browns implemented the kanick plan and the qb situation stayed the same they’d be like the packers or rams: quality teams that lost their most important player. fringe playoff team.

          but i’m not taking your point. would we be better or worse if andy levitre were at guard in lieu of sean lauvao? will we be better or worse without alex mack and breaking in a rookie a retread from the tony pashos pile in the ‘bargain-free-agent-o-linemen’ bin? would we be better or worse with keenan lewis instead of buster skrine? gee. you tell me.

          it sounds like you’re saying that unless they can produce a 12 win team (impossible with weeden) that they should not try to improve? punt draft picks, let cap rollover evaporate; let the other guys’ players go in FA. i dont get that thinking and dont agree with it.

          • MadreHillSuperstar

            >name an impact player that banner has brought in?

            Hoyer.

            >btw if weeden was so clearly incompetent why didn’t banner dump his sorry ass?

            Officially, ‘they weren’t really sure what they had in him.’ Unofficially, I suspect Hoyer wasn’t up to speed enough to beat Weeden in TC.

            >if the browns implemented the kanick plan and the qb situation stayed
            >the same they’d be like the packers or rams: quality teams that lost
            >their most important player. fringe playoff team.

            The poor man’s Lions. A defense struggling to keep up because our offensive skill players consisted of an All-World receiver, a bunch of schmucks, and no Matt Stafford to be found.

            And Heckert doesn’t get any passes because ‘it was a Holmgren decision.’ He said he had final say on the final 53, its his job to tell Mike up front ‘hey this kid ain’t gonna make it,’ and he folded like a cheap tent. Every time. You wanted final say on the 53, you get to own McCoy, Little, TRich, and Weeden. Full stop.

          • zarathustra

            Kruger might not have the impact that was expected, but both he and bryant have definitely had an impact on the run defense and pass rush. I choose to not make definitive judgements on rookies 12 games into the career, but I have seen enough that to say he has the potential to also be an impact player.
            And heaven forbidvif they had dumped weeden before the season and feed the “only our guys” narrative you have been working with since january. The fact of the matter is they don’t have a crystal ball and maybe they thought that as a first round pick maybe they should take a look at him in the new offense.
            Nether the rams or packers –sans rodgers– are quality teams/fringe playoffs. The current browns are in the same tier with a far far better cap outlook.
            Totally agree the browns would be better with levitre at guard. I’m skeptical that he produces even one more win (how many extra wins did he produce for the titans this year? ) Alex Mack is still on the team and if he leaves we have no idea who his replacement will be. The fact that you are already angry about hypothetical future moves belies my point that you are not being objective in your critique and have had an axe to grind since before they made a single move.
            Thisn browns office have treated their first year on the job no differently than any other first regime in league has done–fill some perceived holes for positions they see as needs for the system they plan run, evaluate current players on the roster in the new system, maintain future flexibility.
            You have yet to cite one example of a first year front office that has implemented anything half as radical as the kanicki off season plan.
            Draft picks were not punted, as you know they were exchanged for future picks appear will be of more value than the ones they traded. Your rollover cap space critique is a canard. Unless free agents are signing one year deals every free agent you sign has a profound effect on the cap in future years and certainly restricts future flexibility.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            :-)
            I love my loyal opposition, thanks for all this (and you too Bup).

            ^^^
            [to be clear: no sarc whatever intended above.]

          • bupalos

            Well I just ask that you keep in mind with all this carping on too many “redundant” D linemen that for the first time in forever we have a stone cold run defense and are one of the better pressure teams too. Just because PFF doesn’t necessarily rate this or that player where his salary sits doesn’t mean they haven’t put together a hell of an effective front. And if you look at the big picture– as in, they’re spending X on the line and getting Y production, with Z flexibility for the future — I just think you’re off base picking that apart.

          • zarathustra

            Right back at you. I very much appreciate what you do here. Merry Christmas!

          • bupalos

            I have a lot to quibble with but maybe at the top is running down the Dez Bryant signing. The heart thing yeah, what are you going to do, but for a good stretch he’s looked like guys that earn half again as much. I put that on the plus side of the ledger. Kruger, ok, that’s a meh. And obviously Bess is as big a 1M bust as there could ever be. But, you know, read that sentence.

            Second is taking PFF as gospel because I guarantee you beyond anything you can name there are not 20 or 19 or 18 or 17 or 16 or 15 or……Let’s say 8 corners better than Haden. Absolutely not. No. Period. No. When you see a list like that you don’t say “see, this proves my point.” You need to say “hmmm, maybe PFF has some odd formula that results in clearly worse players getting listed higher, and now am I so sure Grimes is exhibit A?”

    • Petefranklin

      PPPs, Wasn’t Weeden pushed on the team by Holmgrum? Didn’t Heckart distance himself from Weeden almost immediately after the draft?

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