2016 Browns Preview (Part Four of Four): What To Expect

Kicking Teams

I have no idea why anyone thinks Chris Tabor can coach. He was hired in 2011, inheriting a unit that already had Phil Dawson, Reggie Hodges and Josh Cribbs. A year later, former GM Tom Heckert, realizing Cribbs was almost out of gas, spent a #4 pick on Travis Benjamin.

When Hodges got hurt, Tabor brought in Spencer Lanning (who had a punt blocked) and Billy Cundiff (who has always been erratic). When Cundiff finally missed some critical kicks, Tabor brought in Travis Coons, who clearly didn’t have enough leg to kick in Cleveland.

There have been problems with the long snaps, problems with blocking on kicks and problems on both kick coverage and kickoff returns. Despite Justin Gilbert’s skill returning kickoffs in college, there was a curious reluctance to try him there.

Now they have Britton Colquitt punting (who was let go by the Super Bowl Champs, which always gives you a warm fuzzy feeling) and Patrick Murray (out of football last year; ditto) kicking.

Not that it will matter, but this isn’t a unit that will win games.

Prediction: 2-14

I could spend a few thousand words breaking the season down, but I sincerely do not believe it is necessary. Instead I will add value by presenting a fairly simple way to make a reliable prediction for football:

  • Begin with last season’s record (which was 3-13),
  • Assume the team will lose to everyone who was at least two win better (13 of the teams were),
  • Figure they’ll go .500 against the others (Dallas, San Diego and Tennessee).

If someone on the schedule has had some catastrophic injury– or free agent defection or trade (or, if this is college or high school, had a bunch of people graduate– adjust accordingly. Since Philadelphia just traded Sam Bradford, and will be playing a rookie from North Dakota State at quarterback in game one, it’s reasonable to say they aren’t a 7-9 team.

That puts four games in the possibly column; so the Browns go 2-2 in those games and lose the rest.

What you do not do, if you use this method, is to make any adjustment that can’t be documented.

An example would be “Robert Griffin makes us a lot better than Johnny Manziel.” The hard cold fact: Over the last three seasons, his team went 5-15 (a .250 winning percentage) when RG3 started. In his two seasons, the Browns went 2-6 (identical percentage) playing Manziel. (That’s a pretty depressing thought, isn’t it?)

“Duke Johnson / Isaiah Crowell will have a better year.” Without Mack and Schwartz blocking?

Oh, and remember that when Puff Gordon came back the last time, the Browns got worse, not better. It might have been Brian Hoyer running out of gas, but Gordon was visibly dogging it.

Is 2-14 good enough?  Nope. Since the beginning of the salary cap era (which put every team on a equal footing) began, my research shows that a good coach will improve a team by at least two games in year one.

The line that the Marx Brothers are floating– that you have to take the team apart and be willing to lose for 2-3 season at the very least– is the same nonsense incoming front offices have always floated.

At one point it was true. Before free agency– when teams could hold onto their good players indefinitely– teams had to draft everyone, and it did take years to build. It hasn’t taken that long in decades

It isn’t anymore. If this regime will succeed, it should produce at least a 5-11 record. That it probably won’t is a sign that the Browns have picked the wrong leadership again.


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