Archive for October, 2008

Week 8 v. Jags, with comments on rumored trades

October 27, 2008

Game Recap:

Overall summary:

As said in week one of these posts, Shaun Rodgers is a beast.  He’s clearly the best player on the Browns defense (may not be saying too much), however, he’s also probably one of the top 10 defensive players in the league, and I can’t think of many DL that I’d rather have over him.  Certainly, this wasn’t a flawless win, as the Browns still have some issues to address, but I’ll take it.

Again, I watched the game at BW3, this time banished to a small TV in the corner, so this week’s assessment will be below average.

Offense

This wasn’t the 2007 Browns offense, but it was very effective against a good team with one major exception.  But first, the good news. . . very few offensive penalties.  For a team that shot itself in the foot against the Giants two weeks ago, this is a drastic improvement.  In addition, the line played exceptionally well except near the goal line.  As mentioned last week, the primary issue seems to be Fraley’s inability to get any push after snapping the ball.  He routinely gets pushed back a yard or two, which, I’m guessing is a result of 1 of 2 issues: 1) He’s not quick enough out of his stance (I don’t think this is it, otherwise it would be an issue in other areas of the field 2) He doesn’t have the bulk to hold his ground.  If it’s number 2, there really isn’t much the team can do to solve this problem this season.  I think the team needs to rely on play action fakes on early downs near the goal line, spread the field and run Lewis underneath, or split both Winslow and Braylon out and have them make plays.

QB

Anderson played about as well as he can.  Great pass to Edwards downfield, and the right read to Steptoe when the blitz was coming.  The fumble was clearly his fault, Thomas and the rest of the OL gave him about 5 second to throw, and he should have been able to get rid of it.  Also, he seems incredibly hesitant to run.  I understand we’re not talking about the best running QB in the league, but on a couple of bootlegs, he seemed to have enough room to pick up 5-6 yards, and instead, forced passes.

RB

Almost a perfect game by this group.  Jamal ran hard as always, and Wright and Vickers did their jobs in pass protection, running, and receiving.  Harrison still looks a little hesitant to lower his head when there isn’t a gaping hole for him to run through.

TE/WR

Stallworth seems to be providing the legitimate 3rd option the Browns were hoping for, and obviously not having Winslow on the field hurts (see ineffectiveness inside the red zone).  Edwards looked good on his deep catch, but again, dropped an easy ball.  Hieden seems to be an effective starting TE, especially because he’s a better blocker than Winslow, but it’s obvious his hands aren’t as good, nor is he as fast as Winslow.  As stated before, Rucker’s development will be the key to what the Browns do with Winslow in the offseason.

OL

 A very good game for this group again, except for near the goal line. Hadnot seems to be finding his place as the starter at RG.  Because I got to the game late and missed the introductions, I’m not sure if Tucker or Shaffer started.  Regardless, the group played well as a unit, and kept rushers out of Anderson’s face

DL:

Rodgers is incredible, the law firm of Thomas, Leonard and Rubin seemed to play reasonably well against a team the historically runs the ball well.  Keep in mind, the Jags are without both starting guards due to injury, so this doesn’t mean that the law firm has gotten better, but rather, the completion got worse.

Willie McGinnest sucks section

Willie is now the king of getting to the QB two steps late.  The Browns for some reason also believe that he’s the ideal defender to run a stunt (start at left DE, rush at right DT) with in obvious passing situations.  Further, he had an incredible ole’ move on Gerrard on Gerrard’s first long ruin of the day.  If you watch the replay, you can actually see Willie run right past him, making almost no effort to slow Gerrard down, let alone tackle him. 

As a result, Alex Hall should be the one playing in these situations.  He may not have the size to power rush a guard or tackle, but at least he applies more pressure than McGinnest’s patented pass rush move of:  take 2 steps  forward, put hands up.

LBs:

We have a Beau Bell sighting.  That was him stripping the ball on the kick return.  I’d like to see the Browns play him a lot more in the coming weeks as the team needs to make a decision whether or not they need to draft another ILB to replace Andra Davis.  (You can assume the Browns want 3 starters at that position, and they’re hoping Bell will be the 3rd).  Davis’ contract is up at the end of the season.  One surprising personnel decision has been keeping Davis in on passing situations and dropping him into coverage.  I know Leon is terrible in coverage, but I’d like to see what Jackson can do, since he’s quicker than Andra.

Wimbley and Hall didn’t do much.  This will obviously be the 1st area the Browns address this offseason. I did see a spin move by Wimbley, which it appears only took him 3 years to perfect.

DBs

If you read the previous posts before, you know I’m a huge fan of Pools, and again he played well.  However, do not discount Sean Jones ability to step up in the running game.  I’m certainly not putting him on the same level as Bob Sanders, but he routinely gets involved in stopping running plays close to the line of scrimmage.  I’m surprised the Jags didn’t notice this, and try expose Jones’ tendency by going over his head with a play action pass.

Wright and McDonald did about as good a job as they can do when they’re covering guys that are at least 6 inches taller and 40-60 lbs heavier than them.  Matt Jones presents a very tough match-up for any team, but an especially tough one for the Browns as both corners are undersized.  I do have to call out Reggie Williams (jags WR) for his ability to celebrate after just every catch.  I’m not sure how many catches he has this season, or in his career, but judging by his reaction after making plays, I’m guessing he’s never caught more than 3 in a game for over 15 yards.  

On another positive note, Terry Cousins only got burned once, due to the following factors:

1)      The browns had him matched up against Dennis Northcutt

2)      Dennis Northcutt isn’t good

3)      The Jags don’t have a better 3rd WR than Dennis Northcutt

It will be interesting to see as the season progresses how the Browns fare against teams with the following two strengths:

1)      Good running game

2)      Legit 3rd WR

 

As requested by a reader, here are my thoughts on the rumored Browns trades from last week:

First, my stance on any offseason moves comes down to a couple of words.  In Savage I trust.  He’s made some extremely savvy moves over the last couple of years that have put the Browns in a significantly better shape then he got them in, and for the 1st time in a while, the team actually has tradable assets (Droughns doesn’t count).  Further, he’s been an absolutely masterful in the draft, in that only two picks really stand out as busts (Travis Wilson and Charlie Frye).  Needless to say, one could look further north to Detroit and see what a bad talent evaluator does to a team’s chances.

Thus, I’m 100% behind both of his decisions to not make the trade in the below two rumored scenarios. Because of this, I will leave my commentary to what I think his decisions mean to his perspective on the team.

Scenario 1: Rumored trade of Quinn to Vikings for #1 in 2010, and #1 in 2009.

First, to put this trade into present value, it equates to a #1 and a #2 in 2009.  This means that the Browns would essentially be trading Quinn for exactly what they paid for him, except they paid him a bunch of money to sit on the bench.  I think this trade means one of four things: 1) Savage isn’t totally sold on Anderson as the starting QB 2) Savage doesn’t think that Dorsey is a real #2 QB, and doesn’t like the prospects of potentially having to bring someone like Culpepper to Cleveland 3) He likes Quinn a lot, and think if he plays this year he’ll be worth more than a #1 and a #2.   4) He thinks Quinn is the answer at QB long term, and believes he’s better off getting a #2 for Anderson this offseason.

Also keep in mind that if Quinn is very good, and the Vikings turn into a contender, he’d be getting a late round pick in both drafts.  On the flip side, there is ABSOLUTELY 0 value in getting a top 6 pick in the draft.  The guaranteed money is too big, so the picks have no way of helping the team more than paying a proven veteran the same amount (would you rather have Shaun Rodgers or a guy 4 years younger that may or may not pan out, but cost you the same amount of money. )  Thus, if Brady doesn’t pan out, the Browns are stuck with a very high draft pick.

Savage loses nothing by holding on to Quinn until the end of the season, where he can guarantee that he can get the same deal or better, without serious risk of the trade biting him in the ass.

 

Scenario 2: Rumored trade of Winlsow for a #2 in 2009

This is another interesting situation where I think Savage believes one of the following 3 things:

1)      K2 is worth more in the offseason after playing the season healthy.  The most valuable picks are the 1st 5 or 6 in the 2nd round (1st round talent at 2nd round price).

2)      He’s unsure if Rucker, Heiden, and Dinkins are a legitimate answer to the TE position.  Trading Winslow before you know what you have in Rucker is a scary thought

3)      Kellen won’t want a new deal at the end of this season (I don’t think this is the reason at all)

 

Please feel free to leave comments, and please forward this e-mail to friends/family that would be interested.

 

Week 7, v. Redskins

October 20, 2008

Injuries:

WR: Jurevicous

OL: Tucker

DL: Smith and Smith

CB: Holly

LB: Peak

Review quality:  After being able to watch the game last week with laptop in hand, this synopsis will be much worse.  For that, I blame the fine people at BW-3 for making great wings, and filling up my water and diet coke every 45 seconds.

Overview

“Praise should be given based on decisions, not on results”.  My statistics Professor last year said this and provided the following example.  He was in Vegas, playing blackjack, and had determined that he had a 54% chance of winning based on the cards being dealt.  Thus, he increased his bet and lost.  The cards were dealt again, and now his chances were 56%.  Again, he doubled his previous bet, with an increase and lost.  The cards were dealt a  third time, now with a 58% chance of winning, doubled his previous bet and an increase and lost for a 3rd straight time.  The morale of the story, despite him losing 3 consecutive times, he was ok with the result, because he made the right decision, despite the result being bad.  On a side note, he’s banned from casinos in Nevada and New Jersey.

Crennel should be chided for his bad decision to go on 4th down, not once, but twice when down 11 with under 5 minutes to play from the Redskins 3 yard line.  There is absolutely no reason not to take the field goal in either situation.  To reiterate, the fact that the Browns missed on the first 4th down, and got the 2nd 4th down shouldn’t matter, his decision to go in either occasion was wrong.

 

QB

I’m certain I’ll get a lot of “Anderson must be benched” comments, but I honestly didn’t think this was a terrible game on his part.  Yes, he was an abhorrent 14/37, but if you count Edwards 5 drops, he’s just over 50%.  Granted, the target number should be 60%, but Edwards has to catch the ball.  Obviously, I’m not an Anderson supporter, (he telegraphs his passes and seems to make his decision before he looks at the coverage), but this wasn’t as terrible a game as the stats look.  Also, if Edwards reads the blitz at the end of the game better and cuts his slant short, it probably goes for a TD.

RB

Really not much new or interesting to say here.  Lewis is good, he runs over people, and the combination of Wright, Harrison, Vickers do a great job both catching passes and blocking.  Lewis is averaging 3.7 per carry on the season.  However, the Browns have faced murder’s row of rushing defenses this year (Baltimore #1, Pittsburgh #2, Giants #5, Washington #7, and Dallas #13).  I’ll be the 1st to admit, it’s a weird statistic (if you’re winning, teams are less likely to run against you), but it’s at least directionally correct.

WR

Easily Braylon’s worst game.  Five dropped balls and two bad routes on the last drive are the primary reason why the offense stalled. Again, Stallworth impressed me with his ability to block.  Winslow looked off his game (reported with a Staph infection), but offensively, this loss falls on Braylon’s head.

OL

Again, the unit looked good in run blocking, but Tucker was out (hopefully he’ll be back next week).  The big problem here, which I’ve discussed earlier, is that Fraley gets manhandled in short yardage situations.  On the 2 goal line runs by Lewis, he whiffed entirely once, and was pushed back 2 yards on the other play. That doesn’t help.

DL

Leonard and Thomas are really bad.  When they’re in the game together, it’s really, really bad.  The secondary impact is Rodgers needing to play more, which reduces his effectiveness.  Also, their bad play makes it almost impossible for the LBs to play well.  I lost count of how many times the play side DE wasn’t in the picture when the tackle was being made.  The last level impact on this is that the Browns need to blitz more often to generate pressure, thus forcing them to play man on the WRs.  Definitely want to call out Rodgers play again.  If you watch the fumble recovery again, Brodney Pool is going after the ball along with Rodgers.  Meaning Rodgers was still chasing Portis down, 20 from the line of scrimmage. 

LBs

Again, hard to judge when the DL are getting in your way.  Wimbley is getting blocked pretty easily on pass rushes, and I’m finally subscribing to the fact that he needs an inside move.

DB

Holy crap, Cousins is horrible.  I’ll update with the actual numbers if Football Outsider’s posts them, but I think 3 of Moss’s 4 catches came against Cousins, for 2 first downs and a TD.  Further, I know that at least 1 of Randle El’s came against Cousins.  Meaning that 50% of the WR catches came against our nickel back.  That’s bad.  The bright side, is that McDonald and Wright have both shown that their above average CBs.  McDonald is good in coverage, and is great tackler, and the same can be said about Wright.  I also think his play forcing the fumble on Portis was incredible. 

A quick look at players not under contract in 2009

Jason Wright

McGinnest (will retire)

Andra Davis (will be let go – replaced by Beau Bell)

Mike Adams

Peak (likely not playing due to injury)

Sean Jones (either him or Pool must be resigned, great if we can keep both)

Brodney Pool (either him or Jones must be resigned, great if we can keep both) – his contract is voidable in 2009

Also, Braylon (due 4.5 in ’09, FA in ’10) and Kellen (due $4.5 in ’09, and 4.75 in ’10) will be looking for new contracts.

My guess is we sign one of the safeties, Braylon, and hopefully don’t need to touch Winslow’s deal.  With a #1, #2, and #4, the team likely addresses the new vacancy at S, OLB (in either order), and goes after either a RB or RT in round 4.  Look for free agent signings at nickel, back-up safety and OLB. A lot of contracts come in ’10, and obviously the Brady/Anderson situation could net us an early #2 and #3.   Figure one of those picks goes to get a QB, the other fills one of the aforementioned holes

Browns v. Giants Week 6

October 14, 2008

Injuries

TE/WR:  Jurevicious, Winslow

OL: Shaffer

LB: Peak

DB: Holly, Jones

DL: R. Smith, S. Smith

I think Beau Bell is back, but didn’t see him on the field at all.

 

Overall recap:

It’s amazing what getting close to the starting offensive line, and your #2 WR does for an offense.  Tucker was incredible in pass protection, and he and Hadnot made running to the right side as effective as running left.  Heiden was very effective in Winslow’s role, especially in blocking on running plays.  Stallworth drew the attention of the defense.  Despite an obscene amount of penalties, the offense looked very good.  In addition, Cribbs was finally healthy, which allowed the offense to be a little more adventurous.

On the defensive side, the DB’s looked great in tackling WRs and made some very good reads.  However, the team has a huge issue in guarding #3 receivers (Cousins can’t stay with anyone) which is why the Holly injury was enormous.  In addition, the Browns better pray that Shaun Smith comes back, because his back-ups Lenard, Thomas, and Rubin (not a bad law firm name), were atrocious.

Also keep in mind that Eli is nowhere near the QB that Peyton is, despite what the announcers says.  He’s an above average QB who has a tendency to throw off target passes, and not look off coverage (see Pools’, and Wright’s INTs.

QB

This was a great game for Anderson, and an ideal opponent.  The Giants like blitzing, and playing man to man behind it.  Anderson has a good arm, and can read whether or not a guy is open in man coverage pretty well.  I’m shocked that the Giants continued to blitz and play man coverage despite little or no success in doing it. 

RB

Lewis gets and deserves a lot of press for his running, but the real key to the passing game on Monday was Wright’s ability to pick up blitzes and Harrison’s hands out of the backfield.

WR/TE

Braylon played like he’s able.  He dominated smaller DBs, and made the catches that he’s supposed to.  Stallworth provided a decent 2nd threat, but more importantly, he’s actually a very good blocker.  As mentioned above, Heiden blocked well, but isn’t the receiving threat that Winlsow is.  Dinkins needs to be cut as soon as Rucker gets back.  Yes he caught at TD, but he also dropped two catchable balls and isn’t a great blocker

OL

This was a coming out party for the OL.  They won this game hands down.  They manhandled the Giants on running plays, and stopped just about every blitz in its tracks.  It will be interesting to see what happens when Shaffer returns from injury (they obviously can’t replace Tucker, but I’m not sure if Shaffer is better than Hadnot).  On Monday, Hadnot looked great.  One other comment, Fraley is exceptional in getting downfield and making blocks.  One knock on the team’s best lineman, Joe Thomas, is that if he hustled more on Harrison’s reverse, it would have been a TD.  That’s nitpicking, but there weren’t a lot of flaws with this group.

DL
This is an enormous problem.  Williams and Rodgers played well, but the aforementioned law firm of Lenard, Thomas and Rubin were horrible.  Routinely they were getting blocked at least 5 yards down field.  Granted were talking about 3 guys that shouldn’t be playing more than a combined 10 snaps a game.  This is the teams 5th, 6th, and 7th DL.  Normally, 3-4 teams only carry 6 guys.  Their background, if you’re not aware is: a guy that was cut from the Rams (Lenard), a 7th round draft pick this year (Rubin), and I don’t know anything about Thomas.  Basically, these guys need to learn how to get on the ground when they’re being blocked this well, because it cuts off LB pursuit.

LBs

Measuring the LBs success when the DL lineman are in your face is tough. . . More of what was said before can be said again.  They appear to be good tacklers, although D’Qwell needs to bulk up a little more to take on guards and people like Brandon Jacobs.  Pass rush from this group was non-existant.  McGinnest made his one good play of the day (kind of, he didn’t wrap up), but as usual, was more of a detriment than a benefit.  Hall looked good in pass rush, but needs to put on weight this offseason to replace Willie full time in pass rush situations

DBs

Can’t say enough about how well these guys tackled.  McDonald was a steal in the 5th round, and somehow plays better against bigger guys than he does against small ones.  Wright looked good in coverage, and made a great move on Eli to take the INT for a TD.  Pool is definitely the safety to keep this offseason (letting Jones go).  As mentioned before, he’s great in coverage, and good enough against the run.   Not having a 3rd CB is an issue.  Teams that can put a good 3rd WR on the field will kill the browns, and there’s really no immediate solution to this.

Coaching:

All in all a good game by the staff.  No major clock management issues by Crennel, but the offensive penalties need to stop.  Chud called a great offensive game, and I’m sure he was the happiest person in the stadium to have Tucker and Stallworth back.  The defense was aggressive, and learned how to time their blitzes better in the 2nd half than in the 1st half (and most of the season)

 

Drive by drive recaps below:

 

First offensive drive

                Braylon looked good – with a great stiff arm.  You can tell not all of his speed is back.  Tucker is blocking much better than Shaffer both on runs and passes.  Anderson can’t read a zone near the goal line, which isn’t new.  Lewis is running hard, again, not surprising.  Got to stop jumping offside

First defensive drive

                Why McGinnest was on a stunt shocks me.  It’s moving a liability on the end to the middle.  Not surprisingly it did nothing.  Next play he waves at a ball in coverage.  Not sure why he’s dropping in coverage, he sucks at doing that.   Pool made a great read on the INT, and an even better play on the ball.

 

2nd offensive Drive

                Great block by Thomas freed Cribbs on the wildcat formation.  Lewis is relatively nimble on his catch in open space.  It looked like Giants knew what was coming on the first unbalanced line, they were ready for the run.  Steinbach did a great job on a trap block, but that’s expected from him. Got to stop jumping offside.  I think the giants saw the WR screen coming, and Heiden was slow coming out on the block (winslow probably would have gotten there).  Again, a healthy Cribbs makes a lot of difference.  I also don’t get why the giants are staying in man coverage, as opposed to playing zone. Tucker is much better than Shaffer in pass blocking

2nd defensive drive

                Very good coverage by Adams on a tough to guy to guard, TE Boss.  Giants just realized that the browns are starting their #5 defensive lineman, and got a pancake.   Great route by S. Smith, beat McDonald, he seems to struggle with quicker guys.  Again, giants going at LDE, who was blocked 8 yards down field.

3rd offensive drive

                Great slant go route by Braylon.  Then the Browns don’t get the bext play off, maybe they were in shock.  Not new, but Anderson doesn’t look, he just assumes people are open (jump pass near end zone).  Lewis touchdown – thank god Tucker is back, Hadnot looks better with him

3rd defensive

                Great play by Wright in coverage breaking up pass to Plax.  Rodgers only guy who gets pressure, and the team needs to time blitzes better – it’s been an issue all year.  The Giants can make line calls when they see this, and Eli’s smart enough to make adjustments.  Again Rodgers is a beast (always been a great pass rusher)

4th offensive

                Vickers is not good at reading holes, but that’s not new.  Joe Thomas is great at run blocking, he doesn’t get enough credit for this.  Great catch by braylon on the slant.  Tucker’s pancake leads to 4 yard gain.  Interesting to see how much value Winslow is losing in this game.  He’s a huge asset in the red zone, but they seem to be replacing his game breaking threat with Stallworth, and Hieden takes the underneath stuff (switch from last year with Joe going underneath and Winslow going deep).  I know the Giants like to blitz on 3rd down, but they should just play zone against Anderson.

4th defensive

                No pressure from the line.  Jackson good taclker, needs to get stronger – as he tends to get dragged.  Why is Willie in coverage? To get holding penalties and still give up a completion.  That’s awesome.  Good blitz call, but I’m not sure why is Davis in on passing situations.  Should be Williams or  Jackson.  3rd receiver (Smith) should be covered by Holly, we don’t have anyone that can stay close.  Wright was beat (on break-up of pass near end zone), but made a great play.  Line gets no push when against no huddle – Rodgers gets tired.   Hall should be in on all pass situations actually got push, and doubled, which left Williams 1 on 1 (when Williams got sack).  Again, great tackling in secondary.  Why is Cousins guarding Plax on his TD catch?  I’d rather have him guard Toomer

2nd Half

1st defensive

                On Manning INT, Manning just said to Plaxico “thought you were doing one of these” (hand motion to post corner, not post) – from Necessary Roughness.  I’d give the ball back to have Pool not injured

1st offensive

                More success to the right than left, which is new.  Again great reverse play to Harrison, it’s nice to have a healthy Cribbs, this would have been a TD if Thomas didn’t let up towards the end, his guy made the tackle.  Lewis is big, angry, man who doesn’t like being tackled, and doesn’t cut that well (he should have followed Vickers). The goal line is where you miss Winslow/Joe – Stallworth isn’t the same type of threat in that situation. 

2nd defensive

                Lenard needs to learn how make a pile instead of getting pushed back 8 yards.  McDonald reads WR eyes incredibly well, he always puts his hands up at the right time.   Sorenson timed blitz well (if he’s in, 90% chance he blitzes).  Adams timed blitz well on run almost got Jacobs from the back.  Willie made his one play for the day – he’s done.  Rodgers out and the Giants run @ Williams, I don’t get this.  Hall needs in on all pass situations, he draws chip blocks from RBs.

2nd offensive

                Keeping up with quota of 1 procedure penalty per series.  Stallworth is a much better blocker than Steptoe.  Lewis is a big, angry man. There’s a reason why Dinkins will get cut when Rucker’s back (He can’t catch or block that well).  Chud is confident they can run, going run left on 3rd and 3.  That takes balls. Anderson better against blitz, still not sure why the Giants are coming at him.  The run blocking a lot better with Tucker.  These penalties are obscene – I can’t even put this into words .  Harrison is great out of the backfield, will be complete 3rd back when he learns how to block (Wright does a great job of this).  Giants bite hard on play fakes, great play by Anderson

3rd defensive

                Great blitz timing by Pool, Browns are doing a much better job than they’ve done all season on this.  Hard to stop Steve Smith, Adams can’t guard him – Daven Holly anyone? Browns secondary makes great tackles (Wright on Jacobs) (giving up 90 pounds.     Why is Travis Daniels guarding Plax on 3rd down?  And who is Travis Daniels.  Per Kornheiser (sp?) comment: the difference between Thomas (DL) and Rodgers is way more than just 60 pounds. That’s like saying the only difference between me and Alex Hall playing in the NFL is that he’s 60 lbs heavier than.   Great play again by Wright breaking on the ball, and a nice move on Manning to take it to the endzone.

4th defensive

                As bill simmons would say. . . we just saw “Eli Manning” face. Look for “completed in front of Sorenson” when he’s not blitzing. Brandon McDonald is the best corner on the team, Rodgers trade was a great move.  Bodden will be missed, but if Holly wasn’t hurt, this is an incredible secondary.  I’m surprised that Giants don’t go hurry up more often, since there’s such a huge gap of talent between Rodgers/Williams and the next DL.  They get tired quick, but probably much slower than most 300 and 360 lb people. 

4th offensive

                Lewis and the line are playing exceptional.  Starters should come out.

See this link as well: http://footballoutsiders.com/extra-points/one-man-audible-monday-night-football