Stop the QB carousel, I want to get off

So, as you may know, Johnny Football is hurt and Hoyer got back in the game. He is doing reasonably well. Since this is happening in Cleveland, naturally, everybody says Johnny is a bust since we all know that 7 quarters of football is enough to tell you whether a QB is good or not. Mary Kay Cabot is ready to sell him down the river and go after Marcus Mariota. Here’s a better idea. Cleveland drafts zero QBs next season. If Hoyer won’t give us another year, find a veteran backup. Let Manziel play the full season unless he’s hurt. I don’t care if he throws eight picks a game and runs into the wrong end zone. Let him actually play himself out of the job.

The problem isn’t Manziel. The problem is rushing to judgment. We have very little idea of what he can do. We have a fairly good idea of what Hoyer can do. What he can do is manage a game. That’s fine if the rest of your team is awesome. The Browns are not.

I want Ray Farmer to come out and say that Manziel is starting next year, and if you don’t like it, too bad.

It was fun to be relevant for a while: the road to 7-7

Inspired by Kevin’s post, I’m writing one of my own about the Browns. Buffalo and Cleveland have both enjoyed a renaissance this season (screwing up both of our draft picks; thanks, Kevin). The comparison to Buffalo is particularly apt because, in my opinion, the causes of both team’s success stem from one person: Mike Pettine.

Pettine has put together a very fine defense that excels against the pass. The Browns lead the NFL in interceptions and the secondary has been amazing. I cannot say the same for their ability to stop the run, however, as Jermaine Hill proved last week. The offense has been the very definition of mediocre. The one outstanding strength of Cleveland’s team — the o-line — took a nosedive with the injury to Alex Mack. The team hasn’t been the same since.

Apart from Billy Cundiff’s traveling circus of suck, the special teams have been good, especially Spencer Lanning, who will probably make the Pro Bowl (and deservedly so).

The good news is that this performance could be sustainable. Manziel should be an upgrade over Hoyer in the long run. Mack will be healthy next season (hopefully), which should give our running game a shot in the arm. I do hope we also see some quality players in the draft to bolster the team. A stud DT has to be a priority after seeing how awful we’ve been against the run. Depth at linebacker would also be nice, but I honestly don’t think we need much on the defensive side of the ball. We need o-line depth and some receivers.

I think Buffalo’s in a better spot, but Cleveland should be able to make gains too, even if the AFC North will be a dogfight for years to come.


Buffalo’s 8-6…How?

This will be the first year that Buffalo has not had a losing record since 2004, and only their third non-losing season thus far in the millennium (2002 saw the team go 8-8, and 2004 9-7).  Here’s how:

Step 1:  Trick me into believing that this wouldn’t be the year that Buffalo has a chance to go 9-7.

Step 2:  Put together a top-notch defense.  As of week 14 (meaning that things will probably look even better after beating the Packers), Buffalo had the second-best defense in terms of DVOA.  This includes a top-ranked pass defense and a top-third rushing defense.  Most of their pass defense comes from an outstanding front four putting a lot of pressure on quarterbacks.  They’re also pretty good at shutting down #1 receivers (mostly the Gilmore effect), tight ends, and running backs.  But again, most of this falls on the line:  they’re atop the league in sacks and adjusted sack rate, 4th in adjusted line yards, and 3rd in run stuffing.  You can run around the defensive ends, but the Bills rank 5th (Left Tackle), 2nd (Mid/Guard), and 4th (Right Tackle) in rushes between the right end and left end.

Step 3:  Have special teams make up for a bad offense.  Dan Carpenter has a strong leg and is accurate enough to hit field goals in the crazy weather conditions Ralph Wilson Stadium provides.  The Bills are above-average in all special teams respects Football Outsiders collects (FG/XP, kicking, kick returns, punting, and punt returns), something that no other team can claim.

Step 4:  Get lucky.  Buffalo’s offense has been terrible this year, with the team completely misusing CJ Spiller (until his injury), a “run-focused” team struggling to run the ball, and an offensive line which is offensive, ranking 25th in run blocking and 20th in pass protection.  EJ Manuel was terrible and Kyle Orton really hasn’t been much better…but in the AFC East, that still makes Orton the third-best quarterback after Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill.  The Bills eeked out several wins this season, including a last-second miracle win against the Vikings.

We’ll see if this holds through the Oakland game this weekend.  I doubt the Bills will be able to beat New England, and given how strong the AFC is this year, they might not even make the playoffs at 9-7.  Maybe Buffalo should apply for the NFC South, where they’d probably go 10-6 every year, getting 6 freebie wins…

What I’m Reading: Programming Hive

The problem with writing a book about a platform like Hadoop is that as soon as the book gets published, the material is already outdated.  Programming Hive is just two years old and already has that problem.  What it has going in its favor is a comprehensive look at how Hive works (for the most part, given how much has changed since its publication).  I enjoy how the authors show Hive as a lot more than a simple SQL interface to Hadoop.  Being able to create and maintain indexes, partition tables, and introduce Java user-defined functions give this language a lot of power.  Pair it with a Hadoop platform (my favorite is the Hortonworks sandbox, but go with your preference if you have one) and run with it.  Unfortunately, a lot of the examples won’t work exactly as written due to changes in the language, but when you run into those, you can either skip them or find out how to do it with a more recent version of Hadoop and Hive.


Tightening A Convertible Top

This probably won’t be a very useful post, but it is something I learned recently and figured I would share.

My 1999 Mazda Miata had a bit of a problem recently:  the top got loose on one side, up near the latch on the passenger’s side.


This bothered me for a few days but it was too cold to check out. Fortunately, Friday was a relatively warm day and I got home with some daylight to spare.  It turns out that fixing this problem is quite simple: there is a nut you can turn to tighten or loosen the top.


In this case, looking at the latch from the side, you can see what a loosened nut’s effect is. Looking directly at the nut, the mechanism becomes clearer:


The loosened nut elongated the latch mechanism, making it easier for me to put the top up, but leaving a gap for wind. You can tighten this nut by hand; no tools are required for the job.


Tightening the nut shortens the latch mechanism, leaving you with a tighter seal. Because my top is only about a year old and fits well, I have it tightened all the way. With a top which has shrunk slightly, you might need to loosen the nut a bit.  The end result is a top which forms a tight seal:


Is Buster Olney stupid or brilliant?

I have failed you, those who count on me for Hall of Fame coverage. I have missed that two writers have already claimed they are abstaining from the process. First up, Buster Olney:

To repeat: I think Mussina, Schilling and Raines and others are Hall of Famers, but it’s better for their candidacy if I don’t cast a ballot.

If that sounds backward, well, that’s how the Hall of Fame voting has evolved, squeezed between rules that badly need to be updated and the progression of the candidates linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The process needs to be pruned to allow voters to get back to answering a simple question about each candidate: Was his career worthy of the Hall of Fame?

He also slams the BBWAA for “retroactive morality”, which I love. I don’t know if his failure to vote actually mathematically makes it easier for people to win, but given that Buster Olney is about as radical as somebody named Buster could possibly be (hint: not very), maybe this will wake up the Hall of Fame.

Lynn Henning did the same thing, for much the same reason: the impossibility of only choosing ten names. Preach it, Lynn:

I choose to vote for players whose careers, apart from any relationship with performance-enhancing drugs, were, in my view, unambiguously Hall of Fame-grade. Clemens and Bonds, as odious as they were with their lies and with their apparent reliance on PEDs during an ugly and lawless era of big-league baseball, pass this excruciatingly distasteful challenge. Their numbers would have won them a trip to Cooperstown if they’d never once dabbled in the ugliness of PEDs.

In the end, she used her space to not only criticize stupid writers, but to poke another hole in the HOF process:

I was told by BBWAA officials this year that the Hall of Fame bosses want ballots to be private. And I can’t for the life of me figure out why that would be helpful or necessary. In fact, it’s a policy as easily remedied as doing away with the 10-man limit. But we know how that urgency was met in 2014 and there is no real hope that public disclosure of votes will happen any time soon.

In better (and more awesome news), via Tangotiger, I offer you the HOF Tracker.