Going the Distance with the Proposed PAT Rule Change


By now, you probably have heard about the report regarding the NFL Competition Committee in talks about changing the distance of the PAT. Instead of kicking from the 2 yard line, kickers may have the ball placed at the 25 yard line, making the PAT a 43 yard attempt. The NFL suggests that when a play has such a high success rate, 99.6% in 2013, that has become a predictable outcome with no drama. Or as I like to say, the most boring 45 seconds of a football game.

The conversion rate for field goal attempts between 40 and 49 yards last season was 83%. Will the 16.7% difference be enough to increase drama and watchability of the PAT? I think so. This proposed rule change is based on the accuracy and skill of kickers. Period. They have become so specialized and efficient at their trade that the PAT is lacking drama, something the NFL thrives on. Drama is the drug of choice with the NFL and if they actually implement the rule change, they will turn the PAT into a strategic and important event in a game. Instead of an easy 1 point event that we are all used to, coaches will now mull over weather conditions, their confidence in their kicker, and more 2 point conversions. Imagine the drama at the end of a game when a team scores a touchdown with mere seconds remaining to then await a PAT from 42 yards which will tie or win the game.

Moving the PAT to the 25 yard line is a good move for the NFL. Having increased difficulty will make for more exciting football, not only for the PAT itself, but for the entire game. There will be more 2 point conversion opportunities, more strategy, and more people watching the PAT instead of just assuming it will be a successful attempt and hit the bathroom before everyone else does.

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Question: Are DPN’s Sources Reliable?


As we’ve gotten a lot of attention in the past few days, the question has come up over and over and over again on whether or not our sources are reliable.  Or, really, if we even have a source or sources at all.  To be honest, I’ve grown to loathe the word “source” more in the past 10 days than I had ever imagined possible.  That said, I understand the questions raised, because we are after all just a fan blog.  That, and let’s be honest, not everyone knows if I am who I say I am, or if I’m at all an honest and straightforward guy (personal friends who know me, disregard).  So, the most objective way to judge our worth in this regard is to test our results.  Have we been accurate before?  Let’s take a look at when we’ve hit, and when we’ve missed.

When We’ve Been Right:

1.  Mike Lombardi May Be Removed As Browns General Manager

2.  The Browns To Hire Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator

3.  The Browns To Hire Mike Pettine

4.  Chud Getting Fired

5.  The Trent Richardson Trade (Very first, early report here) (Closer, more accurate report closer to trade)

When We’ve Been Wrong

1.  Josh McDaniels

Overall, I’m pleased with our track-record.  It’s a tricky thing, to be honest, knowing when to feel secure enough in an early report and when to let it simmer for a while.  I do hope that going forward, we continue to earn your trust.

Shawn is the Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer for Dawg Pound Nation.  He’s also an Army Sergeant, married to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three and aspiring Browns Writer.  You can follow him on Twitter @ShawnMStarr or @DawgPoundNews, as well as on the Dawg Pound Nation Facebook Page.

Ask Shawn: November 5th Edition


Let’s get right to it!

Randy Brown Asks:  Should we pick up Nhamdi Asomugha for some added depth in the secondary?

Shawn Says:  Like everything else, it depends on the price.  The Browns are a little light at safety, but only if they take an injury.  That’s also assuming Asomugha would be able to transition to a backup at strong safety, because honestly the Browns really don’t need another CB.  Chris Owen got more time on the field last sunday (70-72 plays) because the Browns were in a nickel package a lot.  That won’t be the norm though, and a three CB rotation works well for the Browns because of how well TJ Ward and Tashaun Gipson have been covering the deep threat.

Tyrone Ruffin Asks:  Should we bring in a another QB, just incase something happens to Jason Campbell, I don’t won’t to see Weeden throwing another pass this year.

Shawn Says:  The short is yes.  It really does seem like the Browns can win football games with anyone but Weeden.  The problem remains that the Free Agent market for QB’s is super thin.  Matt Flynn is terrible.  Vince Young is no good.  Tebow is not a quarterback.  Those are the best available in free agency right now.  I expect the Browns to take at least one, maybe two QB’s in the draft however, probably keeping a late round pick on the practice squad to develop in case of emergency.

Will Holbrook Asks:  Why is(nt) obeynia getting more carries

Shawn Says:  I’m guessing you meant isn’t, so I’m going to answer it like that.  Oby isn’t a great running back is the simple answer.  He’s a much better threat as a receiver out of the backfield, which is how both Hoyer and Campbell have utilized him (he had 5 receptions for 39 yards against Baltimore), and its a role he’s much better suited for.  See, Ogbonnaya lines up as the Browns starting Fullback, but at 6′ 225lbs, he’s a bit undersized to really thrive between the tackles.  That said, he’s deceptively quick and can create havoc when he gets away from linemen and forces corners/safeties to try and bring him down in single coverage.  So, I think the Browns actually have found the right way to use Oby’s skill set.  He’s not going to be a good running back, but he is a threat in the flat and on rolling routes.

Shane Mcroberts Asks:  Is our defense a legit? Is hoyer the stater next year? When we ever have a solid two back run game??

Shawn Says:  I think by this point in the year we can safely say that the Browns defense is one of the better units in the NFL.  Their defensive line is pretty close, if not already, elite.  The combo of Joe Haden and Buster Skrine is tough on opposing wideouts, and TJ Ward and Tashaun Gipson are without doubt the two most versatile and hardest hitting safeties we’ve ever had.  The outside linebackers are a constant pass rush threat to opposing QB’s, and the inside linebackers have been given adjustments to help cover their weakness in pass coverage.  The thing is, the Browns defense has consistently been top ten in most categories for the entire year.  They are consistent, they are aggressive, and they are confident they can dominate anyone.  I love what Ray Horton has done with that unit.

As to next years starter, my answer isn’t going to be well loved, but remember that I’m pretty good at picking QB’s.  If Jason Campbell plays anything like he has been for the rest of the season, the Browns should name him their starter heading in to camp next season.  Campbell has outplayed Hoyer in his first two starts, and its not really even close.  That said, I expect Campbell’s numbers will probably even out over the second half of the year, as he faces a few tough defenses in Cincy, Chicago and New York.  So I expect a competition between Campbell and Hoyer next year.

The Browns running game is without doubt the weak link this season.  They just are not getting production from their runners.  I would expect the team to try and sign Ben Tate in the offseason, and pair him with Dion Lewis when he’s healthy, and possible use a 3rd or 4th round pick on a another back.  It will almost certainly be running back by committee going forward, and Norv Turner likes to use quick backs who are as dangerous as receivers as they are running backs.  Don’t look to the Browns to ever draft a Trent Richardson kind of back again under this regime, ie no more every down backs.  But, if the Browns land Tate and get Dion Lewis back healthy, they should be much more consistent in running the ball effectively next season.

Bryan Molihan Asks:  why are we not targeting Jordan Cameron more in the past few games

Shawn Says:  There are a couple of reasons why I think Cameron has been less effective the past few games.  First, defenses have adjusted to provide coverage on him.  While doing that, it’s let guys like Bess and Little get off with lighter coverage, usually a safety or a linebacker, which is why they’ve been targeted more.  Before, that would be acceptable to most defenses, but if Bess and Little remain productive, you’ll see them get better coverage and Cameron should be able to provide the mismatch he was before when there isn’t a third corner to cover him.  The other thing is that Cameron has been highly effective in pass and run blocking the past few weeks, which has gone largely unnoticed.

Ask Shawn: October 29th Edition


Felix Asks:  Why is Cameron not being utilized like he should be in critical 3rd down scenarios?

I think he got a bit more involved in the offense with Campbell playing, and I think you’ll likely see that role continue to grow back to near what it was when Hoyer was starting.  The thing is, there are very few designed TE plays in most offensive system.  The great thing about having a TE like Cameron is if you have a QB who can go through his progressions properly, you’ll see the TE get a lot of good looks because of the ability to create mismatches in the secondary, and because they generally are going to be on a safer pass catching route.  Since Weeden simply would not look past his first option, Cameron went silent.  Campbell made a point to get the ball out fast to slow the formidable Kansas City pass rush, which clearly worked as they only sacked Campbell once all game (KC was the 1st ranked NFL pass rush going in to Sunday’s game), but it also limited the amount of looks that Cameron got.  In games where the pass rush isn’t so constant, you should see Cameron get more involved.

 

Randy Asks:  Will the Cleveland Browns find a franchise quaterback this draft or have better luck drafting new running back that can get 1,000 yards on the ground?

First, I do think the Browns will get their guy in this draft at QB.  With the amount of picks they have stockpiled, there is no reason to think they shouldn’t be able to trade up if needed to ensure they get who they want (from what I’m hearing more and more, that guy is Brett Hundley of UCLA), and I have enough confidence in this front office to think they’ll make the right move.
As to the running back situation, I don’t see the Browns drafting high.  I could see them grabbing a guy with one of their third round picks, and looking to sign the Texans Ben Tate (who is a free agent this off season).  You have to remember, Dion Lewis will be back next season, and he is the type of guy Chud/Norv love to use.  Expect to see the Browns use 2-3 backs, a la the New Orleans Saints, and get their yardage there.  Don’t count on seeing one back get a thousand yards, but I’d bet with the right 3 they’ll get over that mark.

 

Tim Asks:  Why didn’t they leave Bess in Kansas City? Why would they allow him to return here with the rest of the team?

Hehe, now where would the fun in that be?  In seriousness though, while I’ve given Bess a hard time about his rough run on Sunday and his drop issues this season, the fact is that he’s had quite a few years of reliable production in the NFL.  I have to think the coaching staff (and I agree with them in this) assume that Bess is going to get over whatever mental yips he has and get back to normal.  That, and we don’t have another punt returner on the roster that I’m aware of, outside of maybe Greg Little.

 

Erick Asks:  Will we get rid of butterfingers Bess?

I wouldn’t count on it.  Honestly, the Browns don’t really stand to gain at all by cutting Bess now.  Now, I still think maybe he should sit for a week or so to drive the point home that mistakes will have consequences, but I wouldn’t cut him.  I still think the odds are in favor of Bess rebounding and getting back to being a productive, veteran player.

 

Kayle Asks:  Y are they talking about trading 2 of our better player? They wonder y we don’t have a team… They need to let them play as a team for more then a week before they make major changed….

The trade rumors around Josh Gordon are really Josh Gordon’s fault.  I would love to be mad at the Browns organization for them, but this mess is really on Gordon’s shoulders.  The fact is, he’s a big risk if the Browns keep him, and his trade value will likely never be greater than what is is at the moment.  He is a game changer on the field, and he has the physical skill set to be a big time WR.  That said, the odds are pretty good that he’s going to get busted for drugs again at some point and have to sit out a full season.  I say the odds are good because he has failed a drug test every single year of his pro and college football career (at LEAST one), and at least two that we know of in High School.  He got kicked out of two college programs over drugs, and has been nailed by the NFL twice (with a third rumored initial offense), and is already facing his third strike in only his second pro season.  Now, I don’t necessarily think the Browns should trade Gordon, but if the right offer came along, they’d be nuts to not consider it.  And that is completely, 100% Josh Gordon’s fault.

Ask Shawn: Thursday, October 24th Edition


Brad Asks:  When will the Browns be better than mediocre? What is the chance that Josh Gordon gets traded after the game this week?

The short answer is when they get a quarterback who can deliver consistently average-above average results on a weekly basis.  This team has the goods on both sides of the ball to compete with any team in the NFL right now.  The defense has a ton of depth, the front seven is one of the best in the league, and the secondary (which we all thought was going to be a weak point) has developed into the strongest part of the defense in my opinion.  Gipson/Ward are two of the hardest hitting safeties in the NFL, Joe Haden continues to be a shut down corner, and Buster Skrine has really stepped up big time.  On the offensive side of the ball, there are quality skill position guys (Cameron/Gordon/Bess), and the offensive line remains one of the most dependable units in the NFL.  They’ve looked weak at times, but mainly when Weeden has been in, because of how much extra time he stays in the pocket.  The running game is a weakness that needs to be addressed, but with Dion Lewis coming back and some combination of free agency (think Ben Tate) and the stock of 2nd/3rd/4th round picks we have, the Browns should be able to build the running system they want.  What I’m hoping happens is that Hoyer gets healthy, takes the reigns next year with a 1st round draft pick QB backing him up, with Campbell in the 3rd spot.  Long term, that’s how we’ve got to build this team to be successful.

As far as Josh Gordon goes, I’d say its really a toss up at this point.  The Browns would be wise to avoid a lot of the fan chatter and make the decision based on whether or not they honestly think Gordon can stay off of drugs.  He’s failed a drug test every single year since 2009, and he’s been kicked out of two colleges, in addition to being nailed twice for failing tests in the NFL.  He’s a big risk either way, and if they can really get a 1st/2nd round pick PLUS a player of quality for him, I’m betting they pull the trigger before the deadline.

Shane Asks:  What’s the odds we trade our million draft picks this year to draft a qb second or third? And will it johnny manziel? What other top qbs are reallt in the draft this year? Maybe good ol braxton miller..

I don’t think we’ll see Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi overreach on this draft.  Trading off a bunch of our draft picks just doesn’t make sense to me, especially when you consider how deep this draft class may end up being.  You could end up with Bridgewater, Boyd, Mariota, Hundley, Manziel, McCarron, Mettenberger, Murray, and Derrick Carr all going in the first 3 rounds (if they all end up declaring).  That’s a deep group of quality QB’s to chose from.  The thing is with that, there are a ton of good developmental picks that I could argue for making in the later rounds as well (Stephen Morris, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kenny Guiton, Tommy Rees, Connor Shaw, Bryn Renner, Logan Thomas), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Browns snag one or more of those guys in the later rounds.  My point is, you don’t really need to waste picks in this QB draft.  The Browns could end up getting a Hundley or Mariota or Mettenberger in the mid/late first round without too much surprise.  I don’t think the Browns will take Manziel, mainly because I don’t think he fits with the front offices vision of their dream quarterback.  

Joe Asks:  Why are the browns seldom using the very explosive Travis Benjamin?

I think Weeden being back has probably hurt Travis Benjamin more than anyone else on the Browns offensive roster (outside of maybe the offensive line and Jordan Cameron).  The best plays to use Benjamin on are short routes where he can get into space and create serious issues with his explosive speed.  Think about the designed offensive plays we’ve seen Benjamin get big yards on so far this season.  Short screen, open space on the right side of the field, results in a 42 yard gain.  End around reverse, defense bites, Benjamin ends up 44 yards down the field.  The thing is, Weeden couldn’t make those type of screen throws.  The plays that gives Benjamin the space to make those big explosive gains just don’t work with a QB who can’t finesse the ball in to space.

James Asks:  If available in the draft will they pick up Clowney before a QB?

I highly doubt it.  The only way I see them taking anything but a QB with their top pick is if their first choice is off the board.  Then, I think they’re likely to pull the trigger on one of the better WR’s in this draft, especially if they end up trading Gordon.  Probably one of either Mike Evans (A&M), Marqise Lee (USC), or Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt).  I’d expect most of their defensive picks to come with their loaded 3rd and 4th round picks, where they can fill in a lot of their roster with depth.  They don’t need defensive guys to come in and start day one, where on offense having a new QB/WR could prove more of a day one type need.

Aaron Asks: My question for you is now with him at the helm albeit he is better then Weeden obviously how man games to you see us winning this season n now? Also in your opinion is this the best overall team he played for?

You really have to look at the schedule for that answer. We probably lose Sunday, but if Campbell plays decent there’s probably 4-5 more wins on the schedule. We should finish 7-9 or 8-8.

I think the Washington team he played for was terrible, the Oakland team was better offensively but not as good defensively. Campbell was pretty consistent on both teams. He’s never really gotten a fair shot in his career in my opinion.