The Disappointment Zone

Musings from a Cleveland sports fan

Archive for the ‘Cleveland Browns’ Category

LZ Granderson on Brady Quinn

Posted by disappointmentzone on 18 February 2008

LZ Granderson has a thoughtful and passionate take on the recent Brady Quinn gay bashing incident that has not received as much attention as probably should be warranted. Quinn has denied being involved in the New Years Eve incident — even though police officers put him at the scene, as did the man who called 911.

Here is a key section of the column:

I understand commissioner Roger Goodell’s plate is a little full right now with Spygate and all, but if he’s serious about cleaning up his league, the topic of homophobia in the NFL needs to be included in that conversation. It doesn’t matter if he or I or any of you believe homosexuality is a choice or not. There’s a little something called respect for human life that should supersede the rules commonly found on the playground.

Since we’re on the topic of Goodell, there is something wildly inconsistent about his stance regarding player behavior as it affects the NFL’s image and his stance regarding his office’s actions as it affects the NFL’s image. Arlan Specter ought to focus his attention on more pressing issues, but he’s right when he draws attention to the curious response from the Goodell’s office regarding Spygate. Spygate goes straight to the integrity of the games. Integrity is best ensured by transparency. Destroying evidence does the opposite. This is certainly more damning than the misguided and potentially criminal behavior of some NFL athletes as far as the league’s standing is concerned.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 4 Comments »

Browns Extending Anderson?

Posted by disappointmentzone on 9 January 2008

According to ESPN the Browns have entered into talks with Derek Anderson about signing him to a long-term contract. Is this a wise move?

Consider:

* The Browns could sign Anderson to a 1-year deal for $2.4M that would require any other team interested in signing him to compensate the Browns with their first and third round draft picks. The Browns would also have the option of matching the offer.

* With Brady Quinn’s contract being heavily incentive-based — and with those incentives being impossible to reach without actually playing — extending Anderson to a long-term deal does not preclude the Browns from also keeping Quinn.

* The biggest incentive clause in Quinn’s contract is based on the percentage of snaps he takes in his first three seasons. If he rides the pine for two years he’ll lose out on making a ton of money, which would suck for him, but it would be great for the Browns. Since he’s signed to a five-year contract the Browns could get and additional two inexpensive years out of him.

* Since contracts in the NFL are not guaranteed any extension for Anderson should be judged primarily on the amount of guaranteed money. If Anderson agrees to a long term deal that only affects the team’s cap over the next couple of seasons it is possible that the Browns could trade or cut him a couple of years into the deal to give Quinn the starting job.

* Would Quinn be willing to ride the pine for more than another season? What if he turns into a malcontent?

* Is it in the Browns’ best interest to keep an asset like Quinn on the bench? If they extend Anderson should they try to flip Quinn for either draft picks or another player, say a defensive lineman like Jason Taylor?

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 9 Comments »

Browns Playoff Odds Report: 93%

Posted by disappointmentzone on 19 December 2007

Don’t look now but the Browns are on the brink of the verge of the other metaphor of making the playoffs. With Sunday’s victory over the Bills the Browns are now at 93% to play a meaningful football game in January, which is the highest mark this season. If the Browns beat the Bengals next Sunday they’ll clinch of playoff berth and next week’s Playoff Odds Report will be unnecessary (then again, this blog is unnecessary and that doesn’t stop me from writing it, so I’d anticipate another Playoff Odds Report next week even if the Browns win). If the Browns lose to the Bengals then things get a little trickier.

Let’s assume the Browns lose next week.

If the Browns lose to the Bengals then Tennessee controls its playoff destiny. If the Titans win out they’ll make the playoffs, possibly at the expense of the Browns. Tennessee would have to beat the Jets at home and Indianapolis on the road. Tennessee winning both of those games seems pretty unlikely. If they drop one of those games then the ball swings back into the Browns’ court. With a Tennessee loss the Browns-San Francisco game will decide the Browns’ fate. Win, they’re in. Lose, they’re out.

That’s the wild card berth.

But the Browns still have a shot at the division!

In fact, Football Outsiders gives them a 39.5% chance of stealing the division crown from Pittsburgh, also a season high. As Pittsburgh owns the tie breaker the Browns need the Steelers to lose at least once more in order to have a shot at the division (and the Browns need to win at least one more as well). Pittsburgh plays this Thursday at St. Louis. The Rams stink but on a short week and with a healthy Stephen Jackson they certainly have a puncher’s chance to upset Pittsburgh. The following week the Steelers play on the road against Baltimore. Baltimore just lost to freaking Miami so who knows what to make of them (other than that they suck), but it’s a division game and maybe Troy Smith will use some of the BCS OSU magic to rain all over the ugly town of Pittsburgh. That’s assuming he plays. With Kyle Boller at the helm…

Anyway, the important point is that the Browns have many ways to get into the playoffs. Time to get excited.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 7 Comments »

Edwards, Cribbs Go Pro Bowling

Posted by disappointmentzone on 18 December 2007

Braylon Edwards (#17) and Josh Cribbs (#16) were both selected to the Pro Bowl this afternoon. They’re so outstanding they don’t even need the rest of the regular season to prove that they’re the best at their respective positions.

After hearing the announcement punter Dave Zastudil (#15) was seen walking around Berea wondering why he didn’t make the Pro Bowl. Told it was “a numbers game” he looked off in the distance incredulously, his brow furled in confusion.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 2 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 15

Posted by disappointmentzone on 16 December 2007

It’s hard to throw a football with cold hands. It’s hard to throw a football in precipitation. It’s hard to throw a football in wind. So with 40 mph winds, heavy snow, and freezing temperatures the only way Sunday’s game would have been less suitable for quarterback evaluation would be if the receivers were forced to wear boxing gloves and there were sharks floating through the air.

Still, let’s give it a shot.

To put it in NFL terms, Anderson needed to manage the game in order for the Browns to win. On Sunday, he did just that.

This was just the second time in the last seven weeks — and the first in the last five — that Anderson didn’t throw an interception. Whether this is due to dumb luck or skill is a matter for debate, but any Browns fan who remembers what Charlie Frye’s arm looked like throwing in that nasty lake effect wind knows that we should all be thankful to finally have a quarterback with a rocket arm. Sure, that rocket arm went 9-23 but this was one of those games where his completion percentage to the other team was going to be far more crucial to the outcome of the game than his completion percentage to his own teammates. Four of the nine completions came on third down and went for first downs, and two of those four completions came on the two scoring drives of the game. On the whole the nine completions meant more than any of the 14 incompletions. That might be the definition of managing a game.

Not that you can knock Anderson for all those incomplete passes. After all, the day’s biggest pass play came when a pass ricocheted off Braylon Edwards’s chest and, rather than falling incomplete, fell into the hands of Joe Jurevicius, who promptly scampered 25 yards before tumbling over into a pile of snow. (1) This was one of a number of passes thrown by Anderson and Trent Edwards that hit their receivers but were not caught (at least by the intended receiver). In those conditions seeing receivers drop passes is not surprising. What is surprising in those conditions is seeing receivers actually get hit by passes. It was like watching someone hit a bumble bee with a grain of rice in the middle of a hurricane.

An element of luck was undeniably a part of Anderson’s success on Sunday, but that should not diminish the amount of skill that went into his performance. He never put the Browns in jeopardy by taking big risks on long throws down the field or by throwing into double or triple coverage — which have both been ignoble hallmarks of Anderson’s worst tendencies. Against the Bills he made a lot of smart decisions and relied upon his strong arm to do the rest (i.e., overcome the conditions). Perhaps his most glaring lapse in judgment came late in the first quarter when on third down he took a seven yard sack. Prior to this week Anderson has been insanely good at throwing the ball away and avoiding negative plays. The sack against the Bills was the result of holding the ball for too long.

Which brings me about to the play off the offensive line. They allowed one sack (and even then I’d put the fault more on Anderson than the line) and blocked for 174 yards rushing. Jamal Lewis is getting a lot of credit for his performance — and rightfully so — but in the biggest game of the season the Browns won thanks in large part to decisions made last spring, when they shored up the line through free agency and the draft. Can anyone name the last time the Browns won a game due to decisions made by the front office in the spring?

On any list of reasons why the Browns beat the Bills one final name needs mentioning: Phil Dawson. Without Dawson the Browns don’t win. It was great to see the only remaining member of the 1999 Browns team have yet another day in the sun (or overcast sky). Though it came on a smaller stage, Dawon’s 49-yard field goal in the second quarter was ever bit as impressive as Adam Vinatieri’s field goal against the Raiders a few years ago. Amazing. And the reaction of both the crowd and the team — Anderson rushing the field with an oven mitt on his hand was priceless — served as a powerful emotional punch to the extraordinary physical display Dawson put on with his field goal kicking. In a game where small things made big differences it was fitting that Dawson’s leg prove to be the ultimate difference in the game.

And so the Browns playoff juggernaut keeps rolling. Even the Associate Press has hopped aboard, as evidenced by this little ditty from their post-game wrap up:

Cleveland needed a win and a loss by Tennessee to secure at least a wild-card berth. Only half of that scenario happened, but the Browns will clinch their first playoff appearance since 2002 with a win at Cincinnati next week.

The operative word is will. It’s not “the Browns could clinch” it’s “the Browns will clinch”. (2) Even the supposedly impartial gaze of the AP has been moved to Browns homerism thanks to a grizzly, snowy, altogether Clevelandy win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Awesome.

QB Score: 52
QB Score per play: 2.00

fn 1: Is there a receiver in the NFL with a more baffling set of hands than Edwards? The guy drops the easiest passes and then bails his quarterback out with catches on throws that should otherwise be incomplete. On the whole this all probably evens out in the end, but just think of the things he could do if he didn’t let the ball fly off his chest.

fn 2: I realize that this line in the AP story does not necessarily read how I’m implying it does. It’s just ambiguous writing that allows me to spin the sentence to be something it’s not. A clearer phrasing would be “with a win at Cincinnati next week the Browns would clinch their first playoff appearance since 2002.”

Posted in Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Sports, statistics | 6 Comments »

Derek Anderson: Where He Ranks

Posted by disappointmentzone on 13 December 2007

Each week The Disappointment Zone gives the QB Score and QB Score per play statistics of the Browns’ quarterbacks, which since week two has been Derek Anderson. During that time Derek Anderson’s performance has rarely been put in the larger context of how he compares to his peers. With discussions cropping up about what the Browns should do re: Anderson after the season now seems like a good time to provide that context.

Of the 34 qualifying quarterbacks, Anderson has been the 8th best quarterback this season, as measured by QB Score per play. He’s played better than a number of highly regarded quarterbacks, including Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees and Cleo Lemon. Take from this what you will, but do not view this list as an unassailable hierarchy of NFL quarterbacks. It’s a good jumping off point for further discussion, though.

Historical Average is 1.85
qbscore.jpg

QB Score = All Yards – 3*All Plays – 30*All Turnovers

All Yards = Passing Yards + Rushing Yards – Yards Lost from Sacks

All Plays = Pass Attempts + Rushing Attempts + Sacks

All Turnovers = Interceptions + Fumbles Lost

Posted in Cleveland Browns, statistics | 12 Comments »

One (Big) Thought on Derek Anderson

Posted by disappointmentzone on 10 December 2007

How does the story go….

You’re a coach deciding between two runners. They both run the 100m equally fast. One has perfect form. The other has terrible form. Who do you chose?

You chose the runner with terrible form. Why? Because when he finally has perfect form he’ll wax the floor with the other runner.

Right now Derek Anderson is the runner with poor form. Despite this, he’s still playing above league average. Attribute some of that to the line. Attribute some of that to the receivers. But attribute most of that to DA.

Few quarterbacks are consistently above average. Anderson is quickly proving himself to be capable of being one of those guys. He might not have the upside of a Tony Romo, but consider:

Tonight the Falcons are playing in the Monday Night Football Game. The Falcons will be starting Chris Redman, their third quarterback of the season. He replaces Joey Harrington, who was replaced by Byron Leftwich earlier in the season before the starting job was defaulted back to him. Last night, during the Sunday Night Football Game, the Ravens played Troy Smith, who replaced Kyle Boller late in the game, who himself replaced Steve McNair earlier in the season. Next week the Ravens are playing the Dolphins, who will start John Beck, who succeeded Cleo Lemon, who succeeded Trent Green. Meanwhile the Browns will be facing the Bills. At the helm will be Trent Edwards, who was tapped to replace JP Losman a few weeks ago.

Quarterback depth in the NFL is not a luxury so much as a necessity. Finding a quarterback who can reverse that equation, making quarterback depth a luxury instead of a necessity, is incredibly valuable. Finding a quarterback who can do that all within his first season as a starting quarterback is even more of a luxury. And finding a quarterback who can do that without killing a team’s salary cap is may have the most value of all.

Derek Anderson is not a NFL MVP candidate. He shouldn’t be. He hasn’t played remotely well enough to put himself in that discussion. But there is a strong argument to be made that his value to the Browns is nearly equal to that of Brady’s value to the Patriots or Romo’s value to the Cowboys.

This is not hyperbole.

Given where the Browns were last December; given where the Browns were last April; given where the Browns were five minutes into the season; given where the Browns suddenly find themselves now, in the thick of a playoff race; given where the Browns will be in the off season, in control of two young, valuable quarterbacks, neither of whom will hamper the team’s ability to sign free agents and both of whom will gain an additional 12 months to develop at practically no cost to the organization; and given where the Browns could be next season — this all falls squarely on the shoulders of Derek Anderson.

Anderson is not the best player on the Browns. He’s not the best player on the Browns’ offense. But he is the cheap quarterback with bad form who’s still out-pacing most of the league and for that reason Browns fans have big cause for celebration.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 17 Comments »

Browns Playoff Odds Report: 63.4%

Posted by disappointmentzone on 5 December 2007

As of right now Indianapolis and New England have all pretty much locked up their respective divisions. San Diego and Pittsburgh are inching closer to joining them. Jacksonville, at 8-4, has pretty much locked up the first Wild Card spot. So the only race in the AFC is for the final Wild Card spot. Right now the Browns are in the lead.

Last week the Browns were at 78.8% to make the playoffs, so this week’s 63.4% represents a sizeble drop. However, there are only three other teams being given odds for the Wild Card: the Broncos (1%), Bills (14.5%), and Titans (26.6%). The Browns, at 56.8%, are twice as likely as their next closest competitor for earning that playoff berth. [note: 56.8% are the odds the Browns win the Wild Card. 63.4% are the odds the Browns make the playoffs; they still have a shot at their division.]

Working in the Browns’ favor is that they play Buffalo. The winner of that game will get a huge bump as the loss could effectively eliminate the other team, especially if that other team is the Bills. Then, the Titans still have to play San Diego and Indianapolis — losing both games is very possible — while the Browns will be feasting on the pu pu platter of crappy NFL teams — losing two games is very unlikely. The Browns are not out of the woods yet, but they essentially control their own destiny. If the Browns win out it’ll take a miracle for any team to catch them for the Wild Card. Fortunately, the chances of the Browns winning out are not drastically small. As long as the team is done shooting itself in the foot the Browns should be playing January football.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 1 Comment »

Breaking News: Bobcats Offer Varejao Contract

Posted by disappointmentzone on 4 December 2007

The Charlotte Bobcats have offered restricted free agent Anderson Varejao a three year contract. The offer is for $17.4 million, with an opt-out clause after year two. The Cavs have seven days to match the offer or else Varejao will be lost and gone forever.

There is no way the Cavs don’t match this offer.

UPDATE: QUICK ANALYSIS: According to reports the first year of the contract is worth $5.36 million, which is less than the amount the Cavs were offering in their three-year, $20 million deal. Varejao must seriously want to be an unrestricted free agent to leave money on the table for the chance to be unrestricted one year sooner. Should Varejao opt out after year two he’d be opting out in the summer when Snow, Gooden, Jones, and Marshall come off the books, which means that the Cavs would have the cap room to either resign him to a longer deal or aggressively pursue someone in free agency, knowing that Hughes, Z and Pavlovic are coming off the books the following season. The opt-out clause damages the value of the contract as a trade chip.

Posted in Cleveland Browns | 5 Comments »

Cleveland Browns: QB Score: Week 13

Posted by disappointmentzone on 3 December 2007

The Browns suffered an unfortunate loss, 21-27, on the road against the Cardinals on Sunday. The loss drops them to 7-5. They are now tied with Tennessee for the last Wild Card spot, although they do hold the tiebreaker. Tennessee must play San Diego and Indianapolis in the coming weeks, while the Cardinals probably represented the toughest team remaining on the Browns’ schedule. The schedule definitely works in the Browns’ favor. They are still in good position for the playoffs, but a win would have probably sealed the deal. The Browns are now operating without much room for error. Such is life in the NFL.

Tabling the result (damn loss!) this was a glass half full/glass half empty game.

Glass half empty: The Browns did not play well. They committed 11 penalties. They gave up 133 yards rushing. They turned the ball over four times. One of those turnovers was a Derek Anderson interception that was returned for a touchdown. One was a Derek Anderson fumble that gave the Cardinals the ball in Cleveland territory and eventually led to an Arizona touchdown. One was a muffed punt that led to an Arizona field goal. And another was a Derek Anderson interception that happened deep enough in Arizona territory that the Browns probably lost out on a field goal. That’s a twenty point hole the Browns put themselves in. Few teams could comeback from such a deficit.

And yet…

Glass half full: The Browns still had a chance to win! Seriously, if Winslow is not pushed out of bounds at the end of the game the story this morning is the incredible, improbable comeback earned by the Browns with 1:45 seconds left, 85 yards to go, and no timeouts. Derek Anderson is the minor hero instead of the major goat, a young John Elway who’s lead the Browns to four fourth quarter come-from-behind victories in less than a season’s worth of games. If only that were the script.

***********************

It’s hard to judge a defense when they’re put in such a terrible situation. How one approaches the defense is smaller glass half full/glass half empty situation. The defense should only be on the hook for 10 points; were it not for an outstanding goal line stand that could’ve been 14 points. They gave up an 84 yard touchdown drive, which is terrible. But after the Cribbs fumble they held the Cardinals to a field goal, which was great. Of course, they followed that up by allowing a 79 yard drive that ended with the aforementioned goal line stand. So it’s a wash?

Not quite.

The defense did not get to Kurt Warner for a sack, which absolutely horrible. If a defensive lineman so much as sneezes on Warner he tends to fall down, often fumbling the ball over in the process. The guy is about fifty years old and has the mobility of a dead tree. To not sack Warner once in 30 pass attempts is a very weak showing. They did pick him off once, but they couldn’t stop him when it mattered. They also couldn’t stop James when it mattered… except for when it really mattered, on that goal line stand. This is kinda like a reverse clutch scenario. Were the unit actually clutch they wouldn’t give up long drives. Were they not clutch at all they wouldn’t put up great goal line stands. Is driving home drunk and not getting in an accident clutch driving? (1)

***********************

In a number of way this game reminded me of the Colts-Chargers game from a few weeks ago, where Peyton Manning threw six interceptions and the Colts still almost won because when he wasn’t turning the ball over things were going pretty well. When Derek Anderson wasn’t giving the ball to the Cardinals he tossed the ball around nicely. Hell, even when he was tossing the ball into the hands of the Cardinals he wasn’t throwing it that terribly. Yes, the second interception was inexcusable. It was third and short and Edwards was tripled teamed. Anderson should have dumped the ball off for the first down instead of forcing a throw that would have put the Browns on the threshold of a touchdown. It was a bad throw but it was an even worse decision. It was the sort of throw that was an attempt to erase the first interception, which was not entirely Anderson’s fault. On that interception Anderson didn’t throw a great pass, but it wasn’t so poor a pass that it should have been intercepted. If Tim Carter runs a sharp route — if he makes a sharp cut instead of a curved turn to the outside — and if he moves towards the ball instead of sitting down on the route then at worst that pass is incomplete. That interception was a team effort.

As for the fumble… Maybe Anderson thought his name was Rex Grossman? Who knows what happened on that play. It was a freak accident, probably the result of miscommunication about the snap count. It shouldn’t be cause for concern.

Outside of those three turnovers Anderson played extremely well. (2) How he responded to the interceptions and fumble should inspire a bit of confidence, even if the interceptions and fumble inspire more concern. Including the interceptions and fumble and Anderson was just a tick above average, although going against a weakened secondary a tick above average is probably more like a tick below average. Still, he was on the whole above average. So glass half full, right?

QB Score: 83
QB Score per play: 1.93

fn 1: Do not drive drunk, even if you think you’re the Big Papi of clutch driving. The risk is nowhere near worth the reward. Also, it’s illegal.

fn 2: I’d like to apologize for the idiocy of this statement. “When Anderson wasn’t sucking he was pretty good!” WTF? Is my name Bill Livingston? Moreover, why don’t I just rewrite the line to not be so asinine instead of writing this footnote pointing out how asinine it actually is? Probably because my internal critic is louder than my internal editor.

Posted in Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Sports | 6 Comments »