April 17, 2014

Expect Better of Browns, But Skip the Outrage

We all want better.  Not a single one of us Browns fans that I know wouldn’t say that.  Arm tackles that Ray Rice shrugged off all day + dropped touchdowns + horrible interceptions makes for an unacceptable math equation.  What I don’t understand is the sense of entitled outrage that seems to be bubbling up at every opportunity with this team. Outrage indicates some level of surprise to me, and I was disappointed, but not surprised.  Chuck Booms is the most public example of that outrage, but he is far from the only one even if his made-for-Youtube-rant was quickly and easily packaged in link form this morning immediately after completion.

Outrage is a familiar position for this fanbase.  In recent history…  Outrage shows up when it becomes apparent that Maurice Carthon can’t coach an offense.  Outrage shows up when Randy Lerner screws up his front office by hiring Mangini and Kokinis out of order.  Outrage shows up when Mangini’s first season is headed for debacle status.  Outrage shows up when Mike Holmgren does a Seattle radio show before talking to Cleveland media.  Outrage shows up when Peyton Hillis has strep throat.  And now outrage shows up when the Browns get out-classed and embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens.

We all want better.  I am disappointed too.  I just don’t understand where that translates to mouth-breathing, top-of-the-voice-screaming rage about how everyone is stupid and needs to be fired.  I have to wonder if it is even real.  Think about it.  How could anyone be that mad over a team that was clearly trying to see what they had on the roster?  I follow this team and care about what happens to an unhealthy level like the rest of you.  Most predictions were for the Browns to win somewhere between four and eight games this season.  I agree they’ve underperformed, but how much better would they look as a six win team?  Probably not much.

Mike Holmgren fired Eric Mangini because he didn’t win enough.  That is the one quote that continues to get bandied about as if it is the one and only reason that Holmgren and Mangini parted ways.  I can’t really blame everyone either.  The Browns have had P.R. issues pretty much since 1999 including Mike Holmgren’s mis-guided appearance on Seattle radio this year.  People need to listen to Eric Mangini himself, though.  Terry Pluto had the story on his Facebook page as he still talks to Mangini regularly.

Interesting story on Eric Mangini. We talk about once a month, and spoke as recently as last week. He has never said a bitter word about being fired. He would have loved to come back and coach, but knew that he and the Holmgren/Heckert combination simply wouldn’t work because they come from what Eric calls “two totally different football families.”

Reading between the lines, I think even Eric Mangini gets what Mike Holmgren was trying to do to some extent even if it left him on the outside looking in.  This is why I say that while I like Mangini, I don’t put his treatment in Cleveland as much on Mike Holmgren as I do on Randy Lerner.  None of this is to say that what is happening right now is good enough for me.

I am concerned about Pat Shurmur.  I think he has gotten better as the year has gone along with his play-calling, but it didn’t appear that what happened yesterday was the play of a prepared, motivated team that was fighting hard for their coach.  I think Shurmur has also gotten better using the players he has been given, but even still, the Browns appeared to abandon the run very quickly yesterday on a sloppy, rainy day.

I have concerns, but to go on a rage-filled rant calling for everyone to get fired?  Not that it really matters, but what do you think in his heart of hearts that Eric Mangini would think of that kind of idiocy?

That doesn’t mean I am not concerned about this team.  I am worried about a lot of what I see.  The Browns were intent on seeing what Colt McCoy could do as Browns QB and I have concerns that he can’t handle the job long-term.  As I said last week, McCoy’s interception rate isn’t a giant problem.  At the same time, his touchdown production and his recent penchant for the really bad interception is a major problem.  It certainly doesn’t help to have Evan Moore drop a touchdown that hit him in the hands about head high, but the point remains.

There’s another one.  The Browns were intent on seeing what these receivers could do in a new system.  They’ve already admitted they were wrong about Brian Robiskie.  They might soon be saying the same thing for Mohamed Massaquoi.  On the one hand that makes me disappointed partially in both the players and the front office.  It doesn’t give me rage though.

I expected the Browns to have some hits and misses.  I like Greg Little even though he’s dropped the ball a bit in the last two weeks.  I like Jordan Norwood as a piece of this team going forward.  I am skeptical that Mohamed Massaquoi is good enough to be a player for this team.  I am skeptical that Josh Cribbs can get any better than what he is today at age 28.  Even then, didn’t the Browns admit as much when they didn’t just fold to public pressure to break the bank for him?

I know this thing doesn’t scream like a runaway success train right now.  I know there are a lot of misses on this Browns roster and I know that Mike Holmgren said Mangini didn’t win enough as the Browns sit with four wins with four games to play.  I expected better this year too, but certainly not enough better to justify some spit-dripping-from-the-mouth rampage about how everyone needs to be fired.

Anyone who is spouting off like that today with regard to this Browns team must have had delusional expectations from the beginning.  Well either that or they’re a sociopath of some kind and you should probably just nod and smile at them.

 

  • jimkanicki

    thanks bode.

    ..do not think it is fair to judge a first time HC..

    *sigh*
    now judging an nfl head coach is unfair.
    did someone dump quaaludes in the NEO water supply?
    what is going on out there?

    to my ‘how it is that shurmur is competent in any three categories (as OC, as HC, and as a leader)’ question, i’ll put you down for ‘i got nothing.’

  • jimkanicki

    as for why shurmur gets his ‘first time HC’ break with the browns.. that is a mystery and a question yet to be asked of mike holmgren.

    here’s his resume:
    1990–1997 Michigan State (tight ends coach)
    1998 Stanford (offensive line coach)
    1999–2008 Philadelphia Eagles (Quarterbacks coach)
    2009–2010 St. Louis Rams (Offensive Coordinator)
    2011–current Cleveland Browns (Head Coach)

    he’s at his alma mater for 8 years without being promoted? eight years of telling TEs how to run a slant pattern? for 8 years? what kind of DYNAMIC LEADER is a tight end coach for 8 years. there’s also TEN years of QB coach for the eagle. 10 years of ‘go out and run childress’ or mohrninweg’s offense donovan.’

    do you think sitting on your ass for 8 years in east lansing with sparty tight ends or for 10 years in philly with mcnabb demonstrate an ‘eye of the tiger’ energy level important to be a successful nfl coach? try to find a successful head coach who did eight+ years as a position coach at the same place.

    what a ridiculous hire.

    and if you dont mind, point of personal privilege: your old friend kanicki was a lonely voice sounding the alarm at the time:

    January 20, 2011
    while we all hope for the best for shurmur, let’s not attempt to re-cast him as an effective OC victimized by lack of talent.

    * rams ranked 5th in pass attempts in spite of the ‘horrible’ WRs and in spite of having stephen jackson in the backfield.
    * their 3rd down conversion rate was 33%; 27th in the league. this relates to the ‘net yds per pass attempt’ stat where the rams were 30th. ‘captain checkdown’ or ‘savvy developer of rookie qb?’ you decide.
    * that was the 27th worst defense that held the rams to nine punts and zero TDs in their playoff game vs seattle.
    * the league ranking of 26th for rams’ offense took place against the weakest schedule in the league.

    rams’ offense suck, suck, sucked this year and it aint just because danny amendola was the primary receiving target.

  • mgbode

    haha. nice. well, there was the rest of that statement “on his first season alone”

    yes, he needs to be evaluated, it’s just the self-evaluation that I think means the most and we are not privy to it (holmgren better demand to see one and go over it with him).

    digging deeper into what I have seen, here is what I have:

    HC

    1. Either he misjudged the importance of ST (not enough practice time, focus, or starters) or Holmgren hired the wrong guy for the job (ST coach). I think it is fair to share that blame. We have not had the same level of ST blunders that we saw earlier in the season, but we are still seeing too many ST plays affect games in a negative way.

    2. What is our team image?
    On offense: Are we a WCO-power style team (like the 49ers), or are we a pass-happy WCO team (like the Eagles). It seems to be that we are the latter. Which, would be great except we don’t have the passing game to make it fully successful. More on this in the next bullet.

    On defense: We seem geared to stop the pass first, which is fine as long as we are competent at stopping the rush too. We have been getting worse and worse at that though. We are definitely setup to be a bend-but-dont-break defense (we do not gamble for sacks & TOs but sit back and try to limit the other team). Honestly, I think given the holes on defense switching to the 4-3, this was a smart move, but is it the direction moving forward or not? And, does Shurmur have any real input on the defense?

    3. If we are to be shaped in the Paul Brown / Bill Walsh / Mike Holmgren coaching tree style of team, then one of the HC’s main jobs is to ensure that he is putting players in a position to succeed. This means that he needs to find his players strengths and cater their role to those strengths.

    Cribbs should be used in the Reggie/Sproles role in NO with some deep routes worked in (he’s good at fighting for the ball on those).
    Little needs to work more over the middle of the field.
    MoMass needs to work more with deeper routes.
    What happened to our TEs?
    Why not let McCoy run out of the hurry-up shotgun more (not as full-offense, just as a change-up every now and then)?
    Hard to gauge the RB situation this season, but Hardesty seemed to run more up the middle and Hillis more to the outside. Despite that Hardesty has better wheels and Hillis is the stronger runner.

    Could mention defense too. Having Fujita cover TEs is painful for one (hard to avoid that though as the starting SOLB)

    4. Team organization and discipline

    Our penalties are up (though just 1 penalty and ~10yds per game). But, the main concern is the brain farts that are still occurring. We start the year with our defense napping, we’ve had trick plays with 2 forward passes, we can mention the STs again, McCoy and the WRs are not on the same page (passes that go to noone), etc.

    _____

    Yes, he has alot of work to do. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean he needs to be fired.

  • http://waitingfornextyear aaron

    Booms sounds like the complete steryotypical radio guy–as if he has a clothespin on his nose — he is an idiot and is the reason I dont listen to them in the morning