This blog is primarily a Browns blog and as the guy who is supposed to be blogging about our other losing teams, I figured its time for a change up to the traditional mold, so here's Indians blogger James' opinion on what the Browns should have been doing this offseason. Just to make it clear, I often disagree with fellow bloggers JP & Chip on what Cleveland should be doing and the direction they should be going, so this isn't going to be me simply re-stating what their general consensus is. Anyways, lets get down to what Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren should be doing in free agency sif they took my opinion as gold.
- 1. Look West to find Colt McCoy some serious competition
If there anything was proven last year about Colt McCoy it is that no one still knows exactly how good he is. Throughout the Browns kingdom fans have gone back and forth on whether last years performance was a sign McCoy was bad, average, or good based on whether his throws were a result of his lack of skill or the lack of skill players around him. In my mind, why not speed up the process and bring a QB or two to compete and turn the pressure up on McCoy. Once we lost out on the RGIII lottery, the team should've immediately looked to lock up the guy to right doing his best Abraham Elam tackling impression on his wife. Jason Campbell is the proto-type QB you want to bring in to compete for a starting job. He's a former first rounder who has started multiple seasons for two teams with some average success. Naturally, the Browns ignored the idea of adding Campbell even though he got a cheap, riskless 1 year 3.5 mil deal with Chicago. Cleveland still has hope though, with the Peyton Manning sweepstakes coming down to Denver, San Fran, and Kansas City, I was an advocate of bringing in whichever scorned QB was cut. Manning ended up in Denver, and grabbing the Christ of football for a fourth round pick is again something the team should consider. Tebow at the very least would breath some life into a seemingly dead offense, and at best he would take his team to the playoffs. Let's not forget the Tebow and the expansion era Browns have the same amount of playoff appearances, and Tim has more wins. Of course H&H Co. are going to pass on adding anyone with big play ability on the offense, and we will probably reach on a QB somewhere in the first round (I swear if they draft the reverse Matt Jones, uh I mean Ryan Tannenhill) they will lose at least 10 games. Simply said, there should be some QB competition for some urgency at a position that will be address next year when we draft Matt Barkley/Landry Jones/Tyler Bray/Tyler Wilson. Instead, it looks like the team will be standing pat and again competing with the state of Florida for the worst professional starting QB in the league. Hell, at this point I would've considered bring in another West Coast QB, Brady Quinn. I can't believe I'm serious too, Jesus this team.
- 2. Sign/Trade for a proven elite WR and DO NOT draft one
This is a topic I felt strongly about last year, a topic I feel strongly about this year, and a topic I will feel strongly about next year. That said, the front office is still going to follow their "draft and develop" plan and we will be seeing another year of Greg Little, Josh Cribbs, and Mohammad Massaquoi as the starting WRs. Now before anyone says that Justin Blackmon could and would upgrade that wide receiver core significantly, let me present a list for you. AJ Green, Julio Jones, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Crabtree, Calvin Johnson, Ted Ginn, Braylon Edwards, Troy Williamson, Mike Williams, and Reggie Williams. Those are the last 10 WRs selected in the top 10 of the draft, and stuck right in the middle of that list in terms of effective performance is good ole' Braylon Edwards. If we take Blackmon in the top 10 we are either going to get Julio Jones (who we effectively traded last year), Troy Williamson (that goofy looking guy on the left who's single season peaks are 37 REC/455 YARDS/2 TDs, or a guy in the middle like Braylon. Yeah, I'd rather sign a proven guy too. You can sign a Marques Colston or Vincent Jackson to get the job done, or even better move two 3rd round picks for a stud (and mentally unstable) Brandon Marshall. Sure they both got paid big ($40 mil over 5 and $55 mil over 5 respectively), but if there ever was a time for the Browns to spend money on wide receivers now is the time. Colston fits the extremely West Cost Offense being a guy who blocks very well and can slants and quick routes superbly. Jackson doesn't fit as well, but if there is any part of the playbook the Browns must address it's running deep routes to stretch the defense and there might not be anyone better at doing this in the NFL then Jackson. Hell, even if you don't like these two guys we could've moved two Colt McCoy clones for Brandon Marshall a top 10 receiver in the league. Instead Holgrem, the guy who took Koren Robinson (and his creepy mugshot) in the top 10, is going to either stand pat and do nothing or draft Justin Blackmon. Call me crazy for being a pessimist, but I don't have any confidence that a top 10 WR is going to turn into a stud, especially in Cleveland, especially with Colt McCoy throwing to him, especially with Mike Holmgren in the front office. Just staying.
- 3. Fill the backfield with value RB(s)
I firmly believe that in order to have a great running back you have to have a great offensive line. Right now the Browns employ an average offensive line, so the team either needs to bring in an extremely skilled running back or deploy a committee of average RBs who fit the system well. Now depending on your viewpoint, Peyton Hillis could've fallen in either of these categories. Personally, I think Hillis doesn't fit the WCO the way Shurmur wants to run it, so letting him walk for big money wasn't something I would lose sleep over. However, letting the guy walk to Kansas City for $3 mil makes no sense. He already knows
the system at least somewhat well. He already has proven he can be effective (no one in Cleveland has forgotten 2010). Now he proves that he isn't going to cost an arm and a leg to keep. Effectively management must've wanted a clean break after the up-and-down 2011 year, but for that price tag it seems to be a completely wrong decision. Looking at the current roster, H&H Co. cannot realistically want to head into camp with a Brandon Jackson/Montario Hardesty split backfield. They surely know that at some point during the season one of them is going to injured, and even those two healthy isn't exactly screaming confidence in the running game (something a WCO must have in order to be successful). The rest of the FA crop of runners is full of over the hill backs who aren't good at catching the ball (Cedric Benson, Brandon Jacobs, Michael Bush, Ryan Grant). The only other back who might have fit the system, Mike Tolbert, signed with Carolina. Unless we make a trade (a 2nd rounder and conditional 3rd for Jonathan Stewart? Please?), we are going to be drafting a RB high in the draft. All signs point towards Trent Richardson, but why couldn't we have just re-signed Hillis and address other issues in the draft. It seems like H&H Co. wanted to create another hole in a team full of holes because they didn't like Hillis at all. Why?
This article just brings up one obvious point. Unless draft some combination of QB, RB, and WR with our first three picks, we are going to be missing out filling holes in free agency. It's one thing to believe that you have to build your team through the draft (don't all teams not owned by Dan Snyder think this anyways), but when there is good value on the free agent market you should probably go sign some of it.
Looks like another sub .500 year again Cleveland. Fuck.