I know I owe you guys some HOF coverage — it is my shtick, after all — but it may have to wait until I find some spare time to write. In the meantime, I feel the need to post about the Browns because Kevin is whining about the Bills “only” being 7-9. Whiner.
The Browns are, at present, 3-11. Our last two games are at Kansas City and home vs. the Steelers. I do not expect either of those to be wins.
— The offense, especially the passing game, has worked fairly well given a lack of playmakers and tiny receivers.
— The offensive line continues to be a strength, except for Cameron Erving (see below.)
— I’m pleasantly surprised by Duke Johnson; I don’t know why he doesn’t get more carries, but he’s a nice receiving threat. I think his upside is Brian Westbrook.
— Johnny Manziel has played well when he’s been on the field. He doesn’t look overwhelmed, even in bad situations. I wish they’d let him run a little more, because that’s his strength, but I’m no longer convinced his size is an issue.
— Gary. Fuckin’. Barnidge.
— Travis Coons is an accurate kicker when he isn’t getting blocked.
— Andy Lee is a great punter.
— Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner are pretty much the only reason the defense isn’t dead last. Nate Orchard is a nifty little pass rusher. Paul Kruger tries really hard; sometimes he is successful, sometimes he is not. The defensive line needs a lot of work, but there’s some talent there, especially Shelton. Shelton was a first round pick; because he’s a defensive tackle in a 3-4 defense, his stats will almost never be impressive. Watching him, I rarely notice him. That’s both good and bad.
— Pretty much everything else about the defense. The secondary is godawful. Pettine refused to play Gilbert because reasons, then Gilbert got hurt. There’s no depth. Tramon Williams is a waste of a roster spot at this point. Tashaun Gipson hasn’t looked great all year. Our linebackers get hurt. Etc.
— Isaiah Crowell couldn’t break a tackle to save his life. He usually gets positive yardage, but unless the offensive line makes a big hole for him, he won’t get more than four yards or so.
— Cameron Erving is young, but gets bowled over consistently by opposing defensive linemen. Every time Coons has been blocked (three times this season), he’s been knocked on his ass.
— Jim O’Neil seems strangely reluctant to blitz. The Browns don’t have a lot of speed on defense, but you can’t keep rushing three or four and get to most QBs in the NFL. I highly doubt he keeps his job; either he and Pettine will be fired, or Pettine throws O’Neil under the bus.
— Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine need to end this bullshit power struggle, or both of them should be fired. Pettine is benching random players (Dwayne Bowe) and punishing others (Johnny Manziel, Justin Gilbert) for reasons only apparent to him. Farmer has made some serious mistakes in the first round, true, but burying Gilbert for no reason doesn’t help. They either need to get on the same page or one or both needs to go.
Cleveland is going to get a top five pick, maybe better. Here are the positions we should not draft:
QB, K, P
If Alex Mack opts out, we’ll need a new center. Either we shift over Erving or pick up somebody new. Mitchell Schwartz is probably also gone. That makes offensive line an easy target. We also need wide receivers and defensive backs. And linebackers. And defensive linemen. And probably safeties (if we don’t re-sign Gipson and Whitner ages). Maybe another running back if Crowell is unfixable and/or Duke can’t pick up the slack.
I do not want Cleveland to draft a QB. Not in the first round, not in the seventh round. Unless Manziel totally shits the bed over the next two weeks (and I thought he did okay against Seattle), he’ll start next season, especially if Pettine gets fired. None of the QB prospects in this draft intrigue me. Paxton Lynch has some upside, especially since he’s huge with a good arm. Jared Goff isn’t very exciting. Connor Cook doesn’t complete enough passes.
If Manziel does shit the bed, I could see Cleveland taking Lynch. Maybe.
I would vastly prefer we go either defensive or offensive line. Wide receiver is a position of need, but I’m not convinced that it’s worth a spending top five pick on one. I like Michael Thomas from OSU, who is large but still fast (which Cleveland desperately needs). Again, though, is he top five worthy?
We’ll have to see where we’re at once the draft rolls around.