Friday, July 20, 2007

The Good News, The Bad News, and The X Factor

The good news is that Mike Tanier from thinks very highly of Brady Quinn and expects him to develop into a Pro Bowl QB by 2009. The bad news begins with the fact that he doesn't feel that way about Frye and Anderson, and ranks the Browns' QBs 30th in the league overall.

Not surprisingly, the other components of the Browns' offense don't fare too well in the eyes of Tanier and his colleagues. Football Outsiders ranks the Browns' running game on a par with the QBs (30th overall), but they do manage a little more enthusiasm about Cleveland's receiving corps, ranking the Browns 16th overall. I don't really put a lot of weight in what most pundits have to say, but FootballOutsiders is kind of the bible when it comes to statistical analysis of professional football, and I tend to take their writers a bit more seriously than a lot of the other analysts out there.

Maybe that's just because statistical wonks intimidate me. After all, my math SAT score remains a painful memory and I still can't figure out how I was lucky enough to get a "C" in Calculus. On the other hand, maybe it's just because nobody in their right mind would rate the team any higher in these categories than they did at this point in the preseason.

While the FootballOutsiders writers don't think too much of the Browns, they're practically glowing in their assessment of the team compared to what other pundits have said. Fox's Peter Schrager puts the Browns dead last in his power rankings, as does Sports Illustrated's Peter King.

Still, in the midst of all the media's negativity toward the Browns, there's an "X factor" about the team that almost nobody is paying attention to right now, and that's the offensive line. I say almost nobody, because as our friend Dwayne Rudd discovered, someone over at CBS Sportsline has noticed that the Browns offensive line is much improved this season, and even has a chance to be--dare I say it?-- among the league's elite.

In order for this line to have a chance to be among the league's elite, LeCharles Bentley not only has to come back from his injury, but come back in All-Pro form. That's a lot to count on, but even if Bentley's not the same, this offensive line still has a chance to be a lot better than last year. That's because, as this analysis from Bitterfans demonstrates, any way you look at it, there's just a lot more depth on the offensive line than the Browns have had in years.

However, one of the biggest keys to realizing that potential is for Joe Thomas to get his ample behind into camp on time. Unfortunately, this appears increasingly unlikely, as Thomas seems content to spend his time speaking out against fish viruses, while Savage and the rest of the front office try to convince themselves and us that their negotiating position isn't really as idiotic and insulting as it sounds.


Anonymous said...

A statistical analysis of last season would be hard to justify. For one, oline does not produce a lot of measurable stats. Clearly that was an area of weakness that resonated through the entire team. The tone for the entire season was set on the offenses first play last year...Charlie throwing a bomb to Braylon, as Shaffer looks like a statue, getting burned so bad he has to tackle the DE just so Frye doesnt get killed. So much potential on offense, never to be realized due to the oline.

Charlie may not only look much better behind a great offensive line, but also with having another year of experience under his belt. It seemed last year he was pressing and trying to do what he did at Akron, take chances and try to force a win. I do not see why he can not be adequately coached to manage the game more conservatively. If not, maybe DA can. But that is something a stat would not predict about the upcoming season either. NFL QB has been strange in recent years, it seems like you have Manning and Brady, then a bunch of flash in the pans that fizzle quick.

Being an NFL predictor is the easiest job in the world. Take all the teams record from last year, add or subtract 2 wins based on how you feel they did in the off season, and no one will argue with you. No one would dare go out on a limb and predict the saints, baltimore, etc, would have the seasons they did. Parity from the salary cap makes the talent levels so close these days, things like injuries, turnover ratios..basically luck, make a huge difference on final records.

I was going to make a bunch of other arguments, but you did a fine job answering them in the 2nd half of the post.

I am looking forward to the upcoming season. I hope the rookies get in on time, particularly Thomas and Wright.

Hornless Rhino said...

I think that your statements about Frye are right on the money. I'm not convinced that he's going to be a great NFL QB, but I think he has some potential and it's unfair to judge him based on what he had to work with last season.

Frye's also the most experienced QB on the team, and I think that's a big factor in his favor. With the gauntlet the Browns are going to have run during the first half of the season, I'm not inclined to turn the team over to a rookie or to a guy with limited mobility and two NFL starts to his credit.

Regardless of what people think about Quinn or Anderson's potential, I think that Frye gives the Browns the best chance to win in 2007.

Anonymous said...

I also believe that you guys are on the $$$ when you talk about Frye. There is no way to accurately judge him because of the pourous line that he played behind last year. I believe with the additions we have made and the possibility of Bentley playing at some point this season that we will be seeing a much improved Charlie Frye. I've always liked Frye and have thought that all he needed was a quality line in front of him for him to succeed.