August 15, 2014

Hurry Up, Wait and Be Patient with Browns

The predictions are coming faster and louder that the NFL lockout will be ending in the next couple of weeks.  That will mean that training camps will happen. The pre-season will happen. Free agency will happen.  Then the regular NFL season will happen.  What does it really mean for the Browns though with their development timeline?  The horror stories have already been written about how much further behind the Browns are from everyone else because they are a team in transition both on the roster and with the brand new coaching staff with new offensive and defensive schemes.  None of this guarantees that the Browns will have an awful year this year, but it probably means another year of patience.

I know patience is a tough thing to preach since there hasn’t been any real good fortune since 1999.  Logically though, it is only fair to restart the clock every time a giant change comes to pass in the Browns organization.  Obviously it would be nice to reduce the number of giant changes, but forcing Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur to pay for the sins of the past is part of a counter-productive, destructive attitude whirlpool that has dominated Cleveland for far too long.  As I said. Patience.

The Browns are seemingly intent on not being overly active in free agency.  Who are we to argue that this is the wrong thing?  We cheered loudly and mightily when the Browns brought in LeCharles Bentley, Joe Jurevicius, Dave Zastudil, Gary Baxter and more.  While there is some bad luck involved with injuries, especially to LeCharles Bentley, there is also a philosophical argument to be made that these are the risks associated with paying big bucks for players with mileage.  It not only increases the team’s risk factors for injury, but it raises the stakes from a salary-cap and flexibility standpoint if and when those injuries take place.

That is why I think Browns fans should hope for activity in the undrafted free agency market.  Hopefully the Browns can find some diamonds in the rough who escaped the watchful eyes of scouts and coaches at the combines.  It doesn’t happen a ton, but sometimes very good football players don’t test overly well in drills.  Sometimes a guy like Danny Woodhead lacks the kinds of measurables  that get him drafted.  Someone like Noel Devine comes to mind even though the Browns seem optimistic that Montario Hardesty will be ready to go along with Peyton Hillis and Owen Marecic.

While the doom and gloom surrounding the Browns’ prospects this season are probably pretty well founded, this should be a year of improvement if the Browns hired the right people.  Plus, we are still talking about a five win team even if all the progress from a year ago felt like they were slightly better than their record.  Considering that the Browns are supposed to have an easier schedule this year, their younger players like Colt McCoy, Joe Haden, Mohamed Massoquai and Brian Robiskie are all a year more mature, and hopefully the team will at least find a way to win as many games as they did a year ago if not showing improvement over last year.

Even still, that probably puts the absolute highest water mark of expectations around eight wins.  That would mean that almost everything goes right for this team in terms of adapting to new schemes and developing as players. As I said. Patience.

  • mgbode

    I don’t know if I believe them about not being players in FA.

    1. Most recent is the cap will be $120-125mil
    2. 90% cap floor hasn’t been denounced (that I have seen).
    3. Browns have top3 lowest cap numbers right now (alot of space opened up since last year when we were top5 in spending)

    I don’t see how the Browns are going to spend $40-60mil on our own players. Joe Thomas gets an extension and I’m sure a few others, but still it makes sense to go out and shore up some positions of need (depends on if it’s a pure cash floor or if any cap charge counts).

    I think when Heckert/Holmgren say they won’t be active, they are trying to downplay because they don’t plan on giving stupid money to an Edwards/Charles Johnson during the opening frenzy of signings. Maybe we go get an Avril for cheaper money instead, etc.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    I don’t disagree with your take. I would expect the Browns to sign a few guys to be sure. I just don’t expect them to sign any of the marquee corners or receivers or anything like that.

  • oribiasi

    Right, Lyndall. I see them being very conservative; sigining another DE/DT and perhaps another OL somewhere. Maybe an under the radar backup RB or an aging WR, but I doubt that one greatly.

  • mgbode

    looks like we are all on the same page.

    i’ll add in that outside of a mid-tier DE and FS, I’d really like the Browns to sign a mid-tier LB as well (I don’t trust any of our LBs outside of Fujita).

  • kevin

    And well, even though, the team improves a little bit this year, I hope it won’t be that much, so the team can have great draft picks and next year start to really hit it off!

  • Natedawg

    Need to pick up Dane Sanzenbacker. Guy can be our over the middle guy. Tough and can catch and has the huevos to catch one in traffic.

  • MrCleaveland

    Is that the enticing aroma of July Kool-Aid that I smell? I’ll have some please. Make it a double. In fact, leave the pitcher.

  • mgbode

    since this is the Browns we are talking about, the kool-aid is spiked with everclear.

    you feel great while drinking it and are inordinantly happy. but, dang that hangover is gonna be brutal :)

  • MrCleaveland

    Can’t help it, mgbode, I’m an Orange Kool-Aidaholic. I have no power against its hold on me. I’m startin’ to Jones.

  • mgbode

    I wasn’t belittling, just level-setting. heck, i’m on my second pitcher now (this one is grape flavored).

  • Ghost To Most

    Where can I pre-order my Andrew Luck jersey?

  • mgbode

    @Ghost – perhaps pre-order it with the #13

    (if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all :) )

  • Shamrock

    Get outta neutral already Holmgren! This last draft was very frustrating. Instead of paying off ex-coaches it would be great to see an impactful FA signed.

  • Matt

    So this is off-topic, and mostly irrelevant, but the USA Women’s Soccer Team had a pretty great comeback against Brazil. I feel like the best female athletes we have might be funneled towards soccer (maybe WNBA too?), whereas the male athletes are “diluted” across all of our major sports. If the best male athletes in the United States played soccer, would we dominate the “World’s” sport?

    Or do our superstars not translate well to that game? Kevin Durant or Aaron Rodgers as soccer players?

    (DISCLAIMER: I only care about soccer once every 4 years during World Cup, for purely jingoistic reasons. This Women’s World Cup knowledge is a fluke, because I am admittedly awful.)

  • 5KMD

    Matt, no one in this country cares about men’s soccer so it’s a moot point asking what would happen if our best athletes played that sport.

    As for the Browns, I will be patient, but I would realy like to start seeing some actual success within the AFC North. No matter how good the Browns become, there will be no playoffs unless they start beating Baltimore and pittsburgh. Especially at home. I see no reason why the Browns can’t finish 3-3 in the division this year.

  • LaundroMat

    5KMD: No, Matt’s point is not moot. It’s relevant precisely because “no one in this country” cares about men’s soccer. The question is whether they would have reason to, on account of our best athletes being great at that sport, were they to play that sport.

  • mgbode

    @Matt – I don’t know about that. Alot of female athletes are geared towards volleyball and cheerleading along with soccer. Basketball and softball also grab quite a few athletes.

    It’s just that with men’s sports we see the college/pro’s on TV more and in more sports so it seems more diluted (technically, because of Title IX and football having 85 scholarships, there are more women sports at most colleges than men’s sports).

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com BAJ22

    I agree that patience is key. With major changes in coaching and offensive and defensive philosophies, and limited time to install the changes, it could be a tough year in terms of wins for the Browns.

    The Browns will be hard-pressed to beat Pittsburg/Baltimore/Cinci w/o excellent play at QB. I’m not sure the Browns management are sold on McCoy, so it may be the year to go after Luck in the draft – which would mean they’d need to lose a lot of games. Although it would be rough this year, it would be great long term to land a great QB.

  • http://blog.clevelandsportstorture.com/ CleSporTorture Doug

    I’m patient but hoping for eight wins as the high water mark got old about five-six years ago. Hopefully the treadmill of sucks stops w/ this regime.

  • Nicky Z

    C’mon guys, 8 wins?

    New (1st time) head coach who didn’t hire an offensive coordinator and hopes to install a west coast offense; 2nd year QB coming off 2 injuries in 2 years; 3rd year WR’s who have shown little to no potential thus far in their careers; Josh Cribbs coming off a bad injury; new, highly scrutinized defensive coordinator and new defensive coaches; transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense without the luxury of currently having the necessary personnel to fit the scheme due to the lack of free agency; probably letting Lawrence Vickers go; Play the Steelers twice and the Ravens twice.

    If the Browns get 8 wins this season I’ll eat my own shoe.