April 24, 2014

While We’re Waiting… A Banner weekend for Cleveland sports

“While We’re Waiting” serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“Pitching has carried the Indians in a 14-6 September. The team ERA this month is 2.83, but the starters’ mark is better — 2.69. The pitching has been sound for longer than this month though; the Indians have an overall ERA of 3.38 in August and September, and since the All-Star Break the ERA is 3.14, which ranks fourth in baseball and second in the American League.

The sum remains greater than the parts. The Indians used eight pitchers to win on Sunday, and the staff has just three pitchers with 10 or more wins on a team that has won 86 games. Francona has managed a large group of relievers that includes several September callups, and he’s doing it to the team’s benefit.” [McManamon/FSO]

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“The game against the Minnesota Vikings worked to prove two things with the Browns offense: Josh Gordon is an impact player defenses are forced to counter and that even average quarterback play made a huge difference.” [Smith/Dawg Pound Daily]

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“The 2013 punting, unwatchable as it is for us, doesn’t represent the low point. If we Browns fans know anything, we know the conventional wisdom on the developmental timeline for rookie QBs. God do we know. So let’s say we wind up with Teddy OMG Bridgewater in 2014. He is granted a three year bogey until you can start deciding whether he’s the guy. Sanchez/Jets anyone? Freeman/Bucs ring a bell?

Joe Banner has got 2018 circled on his calendar. Who knows who will be the defensive coordinator or whether the new guy will need his own system with his own personnel set. Who knows what offense the new HC will run in 2016 after Banner fires Chud for going 6-26* this year and next?” [Kanicki]

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“J.D. Martinez swung and missed against a changeup from Indians lefty Scott Kazmir on Saturday night, heading back to the visitors’ dugout without his bat. He flailed, lost his grip and flung the strip of lumber beyond the camera well down the third-base line. It was an emphatic strikeout that ended the seventh inning and helped Cleveland extend a franchise record.

Entering Sunday’s game against Houston, the Indians’ pitching staff had piled up 1,291 strikeouts, marking the most in a single season in franchise history. Kazmir’s 10 punchouts Saturday against the Astros also gave the Tribe three pitchers with at least 150 strikeouts, tying a club record. [Bastian/MLB.com]

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Finally, a new mascot in Oakland. That’s awful. [@FoxSportsFowler]

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Can we please stop the ridiculous “tanking” talk now? . Teams that are
    “tanking” don’t drive for game winning TD’s, run trick plays to score, and sack the QB on the last play of the game. Just stop with the tanking nonsense.

    Also…I know it’s heresy for some around here to give the Browns front office any kind of credit whatsoever for anything good that happens. I also know it’s only one game and things can (and likely will) change. But, might we possibly consider the idea that just maybe the coaches and front office got it right when they decided to bring in Hoyer this offseason, and that they might have made the right move in deciding that Richardson isn’t great and wasn’t a good fit on this team or in this offense. And that getting a first rounder for him was a great deal.

    Not stating this as fact…just trying to be fair. I know that doesn’t fly for a lot guys who decided that they hated the front office 2 seconds after they were hired, but maybe, just maybe, they were…right?

    Oh, and ROLL TRIBE!!

  • mgbode

    Richardson + Gordon trade talk is sort of just the last straw. There were obvious flaws in the team that were not addressed and those obvious flaws are showing up in the real games (surprise).

    It is quite possible that trading Richardson for a 1st round draft pick was prudent. However, it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t have had more value this past April (if our FO didn’t want him) and we didn’t have ANY plan at replacing him (which couples with those obvious flaws that were not addressed).

    Hard to say that we are not tanking when we had obvious flaws, sat on assets, traded away a starter, and are supposedly contemplating trading away more starters.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I think the front office would prefer to tank, but knows that you need to create a winner’s atmosphere in the locker room as well. So I see it as Banner/Lombardi doing their best to add future assets to rebuild while telling Chud and his coaches to do their best to win every week so as not to propagate this losing mentality that the team has had with past regimes. Although I’m partly expecting a Moneyball moment where Banner trades away Carlos Pena (Gordon) to make sure the coach plays Hatteberg (Bess?).

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Everyone is harping on what they didn’t do this offseason, and to a certain degree, that is justified. In their defense, there is no way for the FO to have predicted we would be on our 3rd string guard or that McFadden would be such a non-entity. A 3rd rounder should contribute…or at least be better than Buster Skrine. (who actually played OK yesterday, to his credit) You can say that we could have brought in more depth at guard and CB, and I wouldn’t argue too hard. You know what they say about hindsight, though…

    But what about what they DID do? Would a team that is trying to lose games go out and sign Kruger, Bryant, Groves, and Bess? Would they have brought in reputable coaches like Turner and Horton?

    Sorry, still not buying it*. Many of us (myself included) got caught up in the emotion of the TRich trade and thought the worst which is understandable given our recent history. The team we saw yesterday was the team I was expecting to see the first two weeks.

    *(Now, if they actually DO trade Gordon after what he did yesterday, i will recant everything and gladly eat my heaping pile of crow. That guy is a beast. He changes everything…and should be off the table if we care at all about winning)

  • BenRM

    I don’t often like what Peter King has to say (It’s usually very saccharine IMO) but I thought this was worth reading:

    “In 2011, the Heckert/Holmgren group traded the sixth pick in a very strong top of the first round (Von Miller, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, Patrick Peterson, J.J. Watt) to Atlanta for two first-rounders, a second-rounder and two fourths. What they got in return…”

    “Essentially, the bounty of picks the Browns received for the one the Falcons on Julio Jones resulted in one player likely to be an average to above-average starter: Phil Taylor, who plays about 60 percent of the defensive snaps. And it cost Cleveland the equivalent of Justin Houston to move up to get Taylor.”

    H&H only got Phil Taylor out of that deal, and they didn’t even acquire him correctly. I have no great love for Lombardi or Banner, but the scale of the mess they inherited is becoming increasingly apparent.

  • Garry_Owen

    To salve your concerns over trading Gordon, though, I do think that the FO is faced with the very strong possibility that the guy is going to fail another drug test. If so, that would be a huge loss – potentially bigger than if they were to trade him. If the odds are that he’s going to screw up again, I can understand the desire to trade him now for something in the future, even if it means that this something would be “less” than Gordon. I’m generally on the FO’s side in all of this (though I loved what Gordon did yesterday), and I think they understand that the deck of cards they have to play with (apart from the still-bewildering cap space) is very small and very volatile.

  • mgbode

    relying on a 3rd round CB to start is not smart nor is Skrine. that is an issue.

    yes, losing 2 OGs was unexpected, but Pinkston was coming back as an unknown and we all wanted to upgrade on Lauvao as it was.

    also, TE depth, ILB, FS, etc.

    And, not hindsight. Harped on it all offseason.

    ———————

    I agree that the moves they made are panning out more than they are not. That is promising. Groves has not done anything really, but he’s a depth guy anyway. Add Mingo to your list.

    And, finally, I am willing to give the FO a chance because we can see when they actually make a move to add players, that those players fit. But, I am seriously worried they are going to let Mack and Ward walk (no extensions yet). And, worried that the rumors they are considering trading Gordon/Little are true (well, not really worried about Little but just that they are still considering gutting the team).

  • mgbode

    I consider the possible yearlong suspension in the same way that I would an oft-injured WR. Possible he goes down and we lose him for a year at the worst time, but, that also means we’re not getting full value for him in a trade and we should just enjoy his production and hope it doesn’t happen.

  • mgbode

    I get what you are saying and Heckert certainly had some big misses, but I also think that the organization as a whole takes the blame for if a guy is a “hit” or a “miss” Once you have things established, then you can use guys in their roles where they will succeed. We haven’t had that in our time (hopefully, this pain is Banner establishing it).

    For instance, take out Miller, AJ & Peterson (they were gone) and likely Watt (not considered that high from a vast majority of the people).

    now, look at the 2 names that are left: Julio & Aldon.

    Julio – ankle issues have plagued him but he has been super-productive in an offense where he started as “just the deep guy” and has progressed into the guy who gets the focus to help Roddy, Gonzo, S-Jax, H.Douglass. If he was here, then would he be better than Josh Gordon? He’d be a better citizen, but “on the field?”

    Aldon – SF used him like we have been using Mingo early. He’s a “go get the QB guy” We needed an everydown DE at the time. Not sure he wouldn’t have struggled a ton with that if we took him. Also, he has his own demons he’s fighting:
    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000248867/article/aldon-smith-will-take-indefinite-leave-of-absence

    Just examples of guys who wouldn’t be nearly as highly-thought of if they ended up here. We need to get this thing right from the top-down. Having a quarterback helps everything (obviously), but so does having an established identity. Cincinnati finally ended their debacles once Mike Brown stopped being impatient and just allowed a struggling (but decent) coach to make his mark on the team. Houston followed a similar route.

  • Garry_Owen

    What happens after the 1-year suspension, though?
    I guess I look at it this way: With any player, you obviously start from the basis that “he could get hurt and lose a year.” Conversely, with Gordon, it’s almost as if we can predict the equivalent of an ACL injury, with the liklihood that he’ll not fully recover or re-injure in the following year. When you have that kind of probabilities to work with, the analysis changes. This is why I give the FO some slack. If he didn’t have any of these drug issues, I’d be incredulous that they would even consider it. With these factors, there’s plenty of credulity.

  • Garry_Owen

    Your last point is, for me, the whole difference. With maybe the exception of Romeo (and I guess Shurmur, though I was still willing to extend more hanging rope), my single biggest frustration with the Browns over the last 11 years at least has been their unwillingness to let the Head Coach establish his identity, system, and methods. Marvin Lewis survived some truly terrible years, with some truly terrible characters, and now the Bengals are reaping the reward for their patience with him. Meanwhile, we continue to pay a bunch of guys for failing in situations where nobody could have succeeded.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I saw something similar somewhere else, and it made me chuckle…but maybe it’s worth a shot.

    Haslam and Banner need to go get $50 million in cash, set it on a table, and have a closed door meeting with Gordon. Banner needs to say “You see this Josh? This is what $50 million looks like. This can all be yours. All you have to do is keep working hard on the field and give up the pot and purple drank. If you do that stuff again, this is all gone. We expect you will do whatever it takes to make sure we get the chance to give this to you. Any questions?”

    Some people are visual learners.

  • porckchop

    See, maybe I’m missing something, wait, I know I missing something, a lot of things in fact, but I just don’t get the idea that Richardson had more trade value right before draft time last April.
    To me value is driven by demand, and if there is an all time low for demand it has to be draft time. No team spent a first round pick on a running back last April, so why does it stand to reason that somebody would have ponied one up for a player who already had put up a year of stats that weren’t first round worthy?
    I think they wanted to dump Richardson and probably would have taken less later in the year, they simply got lucky and found a team in need with an owner who has battled Jimmy Dolanitis his whole life.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    First it was an errant football throw that tried to take out sideline reporter Pam Oliver and now it’s The Ohio State Marching Band:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/video/pam-olivers-ohio-state-marching-074130321.html

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Are the Browns allowed to hire a security detail to protect him from himself?

    Also, mandatory taxis for all players.

  • mgbode

    Dallas has done nearly the equivalent with Dez Bryant actually.

  • mgbode

    It being considered a bad draft for RBs plays into the matter even more. many people were willing to give Richardson a pass (and even credit) for playing through pain throughout the 2012 season. FootballOutsiders graded our OL out poorly in run-blocking (and among the best in pass blocking) and was not nearly as harsh on Richardson as many as well.

    I still believe if we would have asked for a 2014 1st round pick + more in April 2013, then we would have gotten it.

    Also, I still question that if we were thinking about trading Richardson, then why was Bobby Rainey the only backup RB on our roster?

    Finally, good to see a post from you.

  • eldaveablo

    I think it’s easy to look at all the weaknesses and the cap space and assume everything could have been fixed. In reality, maybe they didn’t think the people available were worth the money. So, they are waiting. Do we really think they are a CB and a RG away from the super bowl? Why overspend for players they will ultimately regret.

    Makes me think of Shaffer way back in the day before Joe Thomas. Maybe a better comparison is the Cavs with the offseason spending spree that brought us Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and Amon Ones. Just because you have cap space and there are players available in your need areas, it doesn’t mean you should rush to get them.

    However, the players they DID get have been as good as you could expect – and they are young. And I like what Groves has brought. The team did name him the Special Teams captain.

  • eldaveablo

    My biggest issue with Heckert/Holms (ignoring talent evaluation, as that can be a bit of a crapshoot) is the price they would pay to move up spots for questionable players. It’s one thing to take T-Rich/Hardesty/Taylor (to a lesser degree) when they did, but they gave up additional picks to move up and get them.

    I like that the new regime likes to keep/accumulate/improve picks. Sometimes it feels a little too easy to give up picks in later rounds to move up a couple spots in the first, but because of these moves there are a lot of quality players the Browns never had a chance to draft.