Welcome to Cleveland, Dwayne Bowe

Dwayne Bowe has signed with Cleveland on a two year deal. I wrote about Bowe a few days ago, when I said:

In his entire career, Bowe has had one outstanding season (2010), two good ones (2011 and 2008), and the rest have been mediocre to decent. Bowe isn’t a number one guy and hasn’t been for three years. He’d be a nice depth signing, but he’s not the playmaker everyone makes him out to be.

My opinion on that hasn’t changed, but I do think the Browns are better off having him on the team. They could still use a clear #1, with Josh Gordon being suspended, and I’d love to see a first rounder go to one, but I feel a little better about our offense now.

Pluralsight Review: Communications

About a month ago, I listened to Paul Randal’s Pluralsight course entitled Communications:  How to Talk, Write, Present, and Get Ahead!  I consider Randal a top-notch communicator, and so I was definitely interested in hearing what he has to say.  This is a short series at just 2 1/2 hours, but definitely worthwhile.

My biggest take-aways from this were:

  1. Keep e-mails short and succinct.  Have one or two questions and make it clear if you expect an answer.  I used to be terrible about writing novellas to co-workers, but I eventually realized (before this course reinforced the habit) that I need to write concisely.
  2. Do not have a meeting without an agenda, and stick to your agenda.  Don’t waste time in meetings, and don’t be afraid to move a topic to its own meeting if necessary.
  3. Practice for presentations and expect anything to happen.  I’ve had my PC reboot in the middle of a presentation.  This is a talk that I’d given a couple of times, so I was able to continue with my “lecture” portion, and by the time the machine was back up (thank goodness for solid state drives!) I could pick right back up where I’d left off.  Whatever happens, don’t panic.

A strategy? From Cleveland?

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported a strategy I had not considered in letting all of these free agents walk. The Browns, namely, are trying to get compensatory draft picks for losing free agents, and only targeting players who were cut (and thus cost no pick). Tramon Williams might cost Cleveland a pick, but they’d still be at +3 in terms of bonus picks.

I actually feel a little better about Cleveland’s inactivity now. I think Farmer’s been a very solid drafter. Most of his first draft has already made an impact on the roster. Just because Justin Gilbert isn’t immediately Joe Haden 2.0 or because Cleveland fans want to string up Johnny Manziel for seven freakin’ quarters doesn’t mean those picks won’t turn out too.


Bills Might Sign Clay

Buffalo has offered a small country to Charles Clay, setting him up a 5-year, $38 million offer with $20 million guaranteed.  Clay signed the offer, and now the Dolphins have 5 days to match.

Buffalo’s strategy looks to be overpaying for a good pass-catching tight end.  If they didn’t offer a lot, the Dolphins could keep him around, but with this offer, there’s almost no way Miami can match, especially after signing Jordan Cameron.

I’m generally in favor of this deal.  Buffalo has needed a receiving tight end for years, and this now gives whichever quarterback gets the reins a number of short- and intermediate-range options in Shady McCoy, Clay (if the Dolphins do not match), Percy Harvin, Sammy Watkins, and Bryce Brown.  If the offensive line can hold long enough for a quarterback to get the ball out, somebody should be open.  Last year, the team didn’t have many offensive options outside of Watkins, as CJ Spiller was completely mishandled, Scott Chandler’s talents as a tight end begin and end with “is really tall,” and the rest of the wide receivers were somewhere between “meh” (Chris Hogan, Robert Woods) and awful (Mike Williams).

Earning The Right To Say “No”

I’m a little late to the party here, but Grant Fritchey had an interesting post about DBAs being auto-naysayers.  Let me preface this by saying that I agree with Fritchey and I believe he would agree with me.  Our difference here is more in tone than content.

I believe that protecting the data is a data professional’s most important job.  These are people who have specialized in methods of data storage and access which most developers want to ignore, and I like developers who freely admit that they don’t want to deal with this stuff; it lets them specialize in other techniques and technologies and work with me to figure out the best way to collect and retrieve what they need when they need it.

There are three important words in the paragraph above:  “work with me.”  In other words, data professionals need to work with UI professionals and web service professionals and guts-programming professionals and all other kinds of professionals to build products for which customers are willing to pay.  Protecting the data is vital within the constraint that the company needs to be able to deliver features and functionality that customers want.

Putting this in monetary terms, good ideas debit your psychic account, and saying “No” to people credits your account.  If you run out of cash in your psychic account, people stop listening to you and start trying to go around you.  What this means is not that you need to be a doormat.  Instead, I draw three conclusions from this:

  1. Build up your psychic account.  You do this by making processes faster, getting difficult reports out, and generally getting off your lazy butt and doing work.  Show that you’re improving your code base, delivering products, and not just acting like an anchor.  Show that you can work with developers, with operations, with management.
  2. Say “No” when you really mean it.  People who are not data professionals (should) look to you for advice and understanding.  They will often have naive or incorrect understandings of how things work.  Sometimes, these ideas are terrible.  Shoot them down.
  3. Try to have an alternative when you say “No” to someone.  That psychic credit isn’t nearly as steep when you say “No, we can’t do X because of reasons A, B, and C.  Instead, we can do Y, which will get you the same result, but will reduce database load by 40% and prevent this from blocking ETL process Z.”  You don’t always need an alternative, but it certainly helps.

It’s easy to fall back on “No” as the automatic answer, and that’s generally the wrong answer.

Meaningful moves! Meaningful moves!

Finally, Cleveland signed two quality free agents today: DT Randy Starks and CB Tramon Williams.

Starks is a very solid defensive end, possible DT (although he’d be smaller than I’d like for a nose tackle). He’s provided consistent production throughout his career, and best of all, has been very healthy. A good choice with good value.

Williams is an even better pickup. He’s had double digit passes defensed every single season except his rookie season, has been very durable, and gets quite a few tackles for a DB. He would be an excellent #2, provided they don’t trust Gilbert, or a stellar nickelback, if they do.

Now, about that offense… Jeremy Fowler makes some good points and pushes for Cleveland to sign Dwayne Bowe. I look at Bowe’s stats and ask myself the following question: What does he have that Brian Hartline doesn’t?

In his entire career, Bowe has had one outstanding season (2010), two good ones (2011 and 2008), and the rest have been mediocre to decent. Bowe isn’t a number one guy and hasn’t been for three years. He’d be a nice depth signing, but he’s not the playmaker everyone makes him out to be. I have the feeling Cleveland will target receiver and/or tight end in the draft. I would be very okay with that.