April 23, 2014

Keeping Perspective on Browns Rookie Camp Storylines

Photo Credit: Eric Mull US PRESSWIREI was unable to make it to rookie camp this weekend to see and behold the skills of Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson. In some ways that’s probably a good thing. I learned last year in regular training camp that it is quite a vacuum to look at football. Without some serious perspective it is easy to think the team is far better or far worse than reality.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile to go see rookie camp or training camp. I am still happy that I saw the kind of potential that guys like Jordan Cameron and Armond Smith have. At the same time, what I missed last year when I started talking about those guys was just how much of a gap there was between their training camp performances as true rookies and the timing of them potentially contributing on the field. I think both can potentially contribute to a woeful Browns offense, but to expect them to do so as rookies was optimistic at best and naive at worst.

Of course a guy like Trent Richardson has all the potential in the world to be different. He’s a guy with such potentially elite talent that he should be able to step in and contribute at a high level right away. Past Richardson, everyone else is a bit of a longshot to be much more than a rookie. 

You’d like to think that Brandon Weeden would be an exception too, but even that is a bit of a longshot. I think it is possible that Weeden can come in and improve the overall quarterback play of the team since 1999, but it is a good bet that despite his age and physical abilities he will have some really rookie-type moments this season. This is also assuming that Weeden can take advantage of all the shortcuts that it is assumed the Browns will give him to the top of the depth chart.

So yes, I was interested in the goings on in Berea this weekend. Honestly though, other than important guys staying healthy, there’s not much more to talk about. Trent Richardson and Mitchell Schwartz better contribute this year. You have to hope that Brandon Weeden does, but he isn’t a lock. Travis Benjamin and the rest from defensive linemen to linebackers are all longshots to be meaningful contributors this upcoming season unless you count special teams.

I am an eternal optimist and I think that the Browns are taking a very healthy and methodical approach in the draft. But I’ve said time and again that there’s no such thing as an overnight turnaround in the NFL. Overnight success is an illusion created by a team finally going from four wins to say eight or more, but the turnaround in record usually dismisses a much longer building process.

The “overnight success” is a tipping point, but no team goes from, say, Mangini’s first year squad after it was necessarily gutted to ten game winners in a season’s time. That also means no matter how much you like rookies, it is not normal that more than one affects your team in a truly meaningful way. Which also means while it is important to take note of what rookies do in rookie camp, it is also important not to try and extrapolate it too much.

(Photo Credit: Eric Mull US PRESSWIRE)

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    now THAT is a scouting report.

  • DawgPile

    boo-hoo…

  • Henry Brown

    I can’t escape the feeling you are a fool. “Uncle Fritz’s Nephew, a Bob LaMonte client…” I should have stopped reading there.

  • Henry Brown

    Fans like you are the reason nobody wants to play or coach here. 

  • mgbode

    the one good thing about Randy is if he is that blind squirrel at least he keeps searching for that nut :)

  • Henry Brown

    Apparently Richardson is moving a decent amount of his family, including mom and brother up to Cleveland. That should help him.

  • mgbode

    that’s funny, I would have gone with Derek Anderson myself :)

  • mgbode

    mercifully, the Armond Smith era has come to an end.  Not sure what fans saw in him since he could only garner 3 carries on a RB desperate team last year, but Adonis Thomas is the guy we are giving the new shot too (Toledo)

    http://www.cleveland.com/sports/index.ssf/2012/05/cleveland_browns_cut_rb_armond.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

  • maxfnmloans

    Yup, I’m sure players not wanting to come here has nothing to do with our stellar record over the last 12 seasons, the fact that we are in the toughest division in the NFL, or the fact that we have been a revolving door for GM’s, coaches and philosophies.

    And I haven’t heard of a coach not wanting to come here

  • Derek

    forgot quarterbacks :)

  • ClevelandFrowns

     “He didn’t win enough… for the Browns to go ahead and justify running a
    team with a head coaching philosophy that diverged from that of the
    rest of the management.”

    Even if that’s what Holmgren had actually said, it would still come off as nonsense. Mangini was making obvious and substantial progress at an historically difficult job yet was fired for “philosophical differences.” Can you begin to explain what those differences are other than “West Coast Offense,” “4-3 defense” and “Uncle Fritz/Uncle Bob?” I guess good for you that you can be OK with that, but don’t pretend like it’s remotely evident that everyone should be.

    “At the end of the day, the Browns’ biggest mistake was probably keeping
    Mangini an extra year under impossible standards for him to achieve.
    Holmgren has basically said as much.”

    Again, I guess it’s nice that you can be so sanguine about a guy in Holmgren’s position having benefited from putting Mangini into such an impossible situation, but Holmgren has certainly never admitted or “said as much.” Actually, he couldn’t muster anything but vague doublespeak on the subject, even after doing Mangini the way he did. But I suppose that shouldn’t bother us either.

  • mgbode

    as if the WCO and 4-3 aren’t huge divergent shifts in philosophy from what Mangini was running? 

  • ClevelandFrowns

    The issue isn’t whether these were shifts, it’s whether the shifts were justified and why. “Cause this is the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t cut it.

  • mgbode

    having a FO built on people that know how to get 4-3 defensive personnel but are not as familiar with the exact needs of 3-4 personnel.   same on offense with the OL (more pass-blocking guys than run-blocking but specific guys that can pull for traps, etc.).

    I don’t know.  Maybe I just like the idea of having everyone on every level of the organization on the same page with everything.  That seems to me the best way to run a successful organization in any field.

    And, this is from someone who supported Mangini because I do think he is a good coach.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    “having a FO built on people that know how to get 4-3 defensive personnel but are not as familiar with the exact needs of 3-4 personnel. same on offense with the OL (more pass-blocking guys than run-blocking but specific guys that can pull for traps, etc.).”

    Really? How hard can it be? It’s football. You’re doing a fine job explaining it yourself.

    “I don’t know. Maybe I just like the idea of having everyone on every level of the organization on the same page with everything.” 

    Which gets back to the question, how hard did it have to be for these guys to get on the same page? Again, Mangini was making obvious and substantial progress at an historically difficult job. But so much for that, because, “West Coast Offense,” “4-3 defense,” “Uncle Fritz/Uncle Bob.”

    And even despite the historically terrible performance last season with everyone “on the same page,” I might still feel better about all of it if Holmgren would straightforwardly admit that Mangini never had a chance here, but again, he’s never done that.