Don’t Chase Talent

Trading Up is a Bad Idea

Many Browns fans seem to be growing in excitement at the prospect of trading up to get Manziel in the first round of the draft this year. This is a bad idea, and it has nothing to do with Manziel’s ability or lack thereof, to succeed in the NFL. Even if Manziel turns out to be the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, in terms of draft strategy it would still be a bad idea.

I know what you are thinking. “If he wins a championship, then who cares what we had to trade to get him? You’re dumb, bro” That is true, if he brings a ring to Cleveland, then I’m all for it. The problem is, you have absolutely no idea if Manziel, or any player at any position will help win a championship. Sure scouts take a semi-scientific look at a player’s physical, mental, and emotional attributes, and sometimes they get it right.

When all that poking and prodding and evaluating is done, and all the picks are in, there are still way more future busts than there are future Pro Bowlers. In fact of the current 32 starters, only 8 of them were drafted in the top 4 overall picks in their draft year. Now compare that to the number of quarterbacks in the last decade who were selected in the top 4 and were total busts, or are about to be busts.

Those are long odds. Trading multiple picks, especially multiple first round picks to go from number 4 to number 1 (regardless of the player) is just poor math. You are basically going all in on just one guy, when statistically, and historically speaking, that guy probably will not accomplish much.

The Draft is a Lot Like the Lottery

This is even more accurate when drafting a QB. Sure there is some science to it, but there are too many variables. Rarely do you get a guy who is going to be an absolute sure thing or an absolute sure bust.

When you are trying to win the lottery you want more lottery tickets, not fewer. Trading multiple picks to move up to get 1 guy is a lot like trading multiple lottery numbers because you are quite certain you know what the winning Powerball number will be.

Great teams, teams that are well run and generally successful on the field, always seem to find themselves trading down. The Patriots for example, have a system, they go out and get the best guy available for that system or they trade down and get multiple selections thus getting more shots at winning the lottery. Sure many of those picks are still busts, but they have increased their odds of drafting yet another future Pro Bowl player.

Déjà vu All Over Again

Many browns fans seem to be certain that trading up for Manziel (or any QB) is the smart move. I understand the desire to finally fix the profound lack of stability at the quarterback position for the last 15 years. Yet the organization has tried this before and it has led to some amazingly awful moves by front office personnel whose names we still curse to this day. Remember when the Browns traded up to get Brady Quinn? Remember when the Browns took Weeden, McCoy, or even Tim Couch because they were the best quarterback available?

The organization has done this before, it has ended terribly and we as fans grew very bitter at how poorly run this team seems to be. Now many of us turn around and are champing at the bit to trade up to take Manziel (or any QB for that matter). This is not an argument for or against any one player either currently on the Browns’ roster or that may be in the future.

Great Teams Don’t Chase Talent

Simply put, wanting to get a QB just for the sake of finally having a good QB at the expense of logic and reason is precisely the kind of impatience that has led the Browns organization into one contractual quagmire after another. Admittedly, patience is hard when your favorite team finishes 4-12 every single year. Patience and sound, long-term strategy are essential in building a winning team not impulse and recklessness.

If there is a QB on the board at #4 and the Front Office is quite confident in his abilities, then go for it. If a QB is on the board at #4 but does not seem promising, then do not draft that player just because he is a quarterback or because he is the best quarterback available and you really want a QB. Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, and Akili Smith were also the best quarterbacks available when they were selected.


Rumors: Mike Lombardi May Be On His Way Out As Browns General Manager

Rumors are starting to leak out of Browns Headquarters that General Manager Mike Lombardi may be on his way out, at least from his current position as GM.

It’s relatively easy to connect the dots on this one.  The circumstantial evidence is right there.  Lombardi has been noticeably missing from recent Browns activities, including the head coaching interviews and the recent pressers, including the firing of press conference for Rob Chudzinski, and the introduction press conference for new Head Coach Mike Pettine.  Outside of that, Owner Jimmy Haslam has been fairly silent on why Lombardi has been absent.   Tie that together with the fairly odd decision by Browns Assistant GM Ray Farmer to turn down the Miami Dolphins General Manager position recently, and the quiet whisperings of a few front office folks start to gain some interesting validity.  Why would Ray Farmer, who wants to be a GM, turn down a job that he was the leading candidate for, if he didn’t have a very good reason to stay in Cleveland?  Where has Mike Lombardi been?

The scenarios on Lombardi being out are pretty straightforward.  Either the Browns cut ties with him entirely, or they may seek to move him from the GM position by a lateral promotion to another part of the organization.  The latter seems just as plausible to me, because then they wouldn’t have the taint of another shake up within the organization.  Lombardi simply is removed from the area where he can do real damage (personnel), and is able to keep a job within the organization.

Update 1:  MF Jones Reports:

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Shawn is an Army Sergeant, husband to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three, and lead writer/publisher here at Dawg Pound Nation.  You can follow him on twitter @ShawnMStarr.

One Big Post: What Is Loyalty?

From time to time, some folks take our brand of humor to mean that we aren’t loyal to our team.  They ask how we can claim to love the Browns when we spend so much time making fun of them.  This is my response.

I’m Not Loyal To The Cleveland Browns Organization

That may sound shocking at first take, but it’s the truth.  The Cleveland Browns football organization, the front office and such, I feel no connection to whatsoever.  They’ve done nothing but lie, mislead, and consistently fail to do justice to our proud history through their inept failures.  My loyalty is to the fans, the community, the history and to an extent, the players and coaches.  I say to an extent, because players like Kellen Winslow Jr and Braylon Edwards I never felt any loyalty to.  Guys like Joe Thomas, Phil Taylor, and D’Qwell Jackson, those guys who bust their asses and put it on the line for this city, THOSE guys I feel loyal to.  Coaches like Chud, who made it their mission in life to coach for this team, those guys I hold loyal to.  Jimmy Haslem, Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi?  Not so much.

I Am Loyal To My Fellow Fans And Our Great Community, The Dawg Pound.

I’ve never pretended like anything but my fellow fans were my number one priority.  And since my loyalty to this community far outweighs any connection I have to the organization, it fires me up when I see my friends and fellows continue to suffer.  I often recount growing up, a young kid who got to sit in the Dawg Pound.  I remember how crazy everyone seemed, but how nice they were to me, even then.  I remember, one of my favorite moments as a child, when I got to meet Michael Dean Perry and his brother, The Fridge.  I was maybe five, and MDP picked a very little me up and put me on his shoulders at the behest of some rowdy Dawg Pound folks.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little spooked, but I felt (and probably was) 10 feet tall.  Over the years, I’ve met so many great fans and great players.  And I’ve watched them all suffer.  And why? It drives me nuts that the organization that we carry the banners for humiliates us and makes us a figure of fun throughout the country.  Because we deserve so much better than this pathetic joke of management.  We are the best, the very best fans in the country.  I can say that objectively, as I’ve been all over this great land of ours.  There is no other place where fans have stayed as faithful, as loyal, and as optimistic as we have in Cleveland.  And how have we been repayed for our stalwart loyalty?  Ask fired Browns Coach Rob Chudzinski how his loyalty was repaid, when he landed his dream job, to coach the team he loved growing up.  He was fired after 11 months for not turning water into wine and winning with no running back (except one they got from a nursing home who managed only 377 yards on 138 attempts), and 14 games of Campbell and Weeden starting.  The defense certainly struggled down the stretch, but this was their first year under a completely new system with all new coaches.  The front offices plan to fix it?  Scrap it all and start over, again!  Brilliant.

The Front Office Will Need To Earn My Trust and Loyalty.

I don’t mean this in a self-important kind of way.  I realize they probably care less than none about earning mine, or any other individual fans, loyalty and trust.  However, the sum of all of us distrusting them, and not giving them our loyalty without their earning it is a powerful thing.  When Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi show they can find “the” head coach, when they show they can do better in the draft, when they show they can not completely fail in free agency, and when they show that they either give a damn or can actually get this right, then maybe I’ll come around.  In the meantime, when they make terrible decisions, I’m going to call them on it.  I’m going to make fun of them, because the fans deserve better.  At the end of the day, that’s it to me.  The Cleveland fans, the Dawg Pound, we just deserve so much more than this.  Period.


Shawn is an Army Sergeant, husband to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three, and lead writer/publisher here at Dawg Pound Nation.  You can follow him on twitter @ShawnMStarr.

Gus Malzahn, the Browns Last, Desperate Hope

Oh Browns.  Could you have done anything more Cleveland Brownesqe than fire your “hand picked’ head coach after less than twelve months on the job, and NOT have any idea who your replacement would be?  Could there be a better sign of dysfunction and failure than this?  We’re left here in January, coach-less, and the store where you go to buy Head Coaches is starting to look like a Best Buy at 6 pm on Black Friday.  The shelves are getting bare, and before much longer you’re going to have to just chalk it and pay full price for a less model.  I read somewhere that the Browns remaining list of candidates looks like a yard sale on its last day.  That’s pretty accurate at this point.

As the Browns continue their search for their next “THE GUY” who they will assure us is a visionary leader who will lead our beloved franchise back from decades of irrelevance and painful to endure seasons, the list of candidates is getting pretty thin, and frankly pretty weak.  With fans whipping themselves in a frenzy for the beloved name of Jim Tressel to be named as a coaching interviewee, the list of candidates the Browns are actually going to, or will probably interview is going to look mighty bleak to Browns fans by comparison.

I try and give you realistic perspectives on things.  So I’m going to tell you, point blank, I don’t think there is a chance in hell that Jim Tressel will be your next head coach.  I don’t think the Browns are even going to extend an interview offer to him.  We’ve got to get past the “If it works at Ohio State it MUST work in Cleveland” thing anyhow.  Kenny Guiton isn’t a viable QB option, nor Braxton Miller, nor Pryor or any other Buckeye that we loved.  Ohio State is a different animal than the Browns.  We’ve got to stop the madness, because really, we’re trying to mix oil with water.

Now, knowing Tressel is off the board, let’s take a look at other guys who’ve fallen by the wayside as we’ve moved along here: James Franklin (Going to Penn State), Bob Stoops, Josh McDaniels (thank Christ actually).  First, let’s be honest with ourselves.  Those aren’t names that get any of us even remotely excited.  They’re names that would likely have made us groan if we had read that they were being announced as the next Cleveland Browns head coach.  Those aren’t names that we want to hear, we want to hear unrealistic names like Cowher and Gruden (Jon).  We want to feel excited.  We want a savior.

More reality friends.  There’s only one savior type coach left on the board.  There’s only one guy left who makes any sense considering the direction the front office is rumored to be heading (read: Johnny Football).  That guy, the only actual THE GUY left out there, is Gus Malzahn.

Gus went from a High School head coach, to Auburn Head Coach, to a National Championship game in eight short years.  That’s impressive, regardless if the naysayer will mock him as a high school coach.  Those people are idiots.  If you know anything about the situation that Gus took over at Auburn, and how unbelievably impressive it is that he made them a relevant program, no less got them to a NC game, you know why people who know what they’re talking about respect the man.  He’s fixed, in under 24 months, a program that had become as broken, crooked and dysfunctional as any program outside of Miami in the past 20 years.  Easily.  And he did it with energy, with passion, with gusto.  As importantly, for those of us who adhere to the old ways of the Dawg Pound, he did it with hard work and integrity.  Gus is squeaky clean, unlike his predecessor at Auburn, and it’s real.  He’s the real deal.

But outside of the reasons why you should like Gus Malzahn the Man, you should love Gus Malzahn the coach.  It’s impossible to question his football acumen, and his results on the field speak for themselves.  That, and its a brand of football that Browns fans should LOVE.  It’s built on pounding down opposing defenses with a crushing running game, and blazing speed and big plays on the outside.  While I do usually shy away from drafting OSU players in Cleveland, if you gave Gus a backfield of Carlos Hyde, Dion Lewis and the emergent Edwin Baker, they would run holes into any defense.  Pair him with a QB like Brian Hoyer, and yes, maybe even Johnny Manziel, and they would sprint down the field.  Give him a weapon like Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and one of the premier WR’s in this draft, and the Browns would start to look like a track team on Sundays.

Gus has the goods, but its still a long shot that he’ll leave Auburn.  The Browns would have to do some serious work to get him.  They’ll have to overpay, rightfully, because of all the past failures around coaches in the organization.  They’d have to swallow the arrogance that they’ve so often displayed under this regime, and give Gus the keys to all the doors in Berea.  They’d have to let him have final say on players and personnel, they’d have to not question his decisions, and they’d have to trust the man driving the Gus Bus.  But isn’t that what we’ve cried out for for YEARS?  A strong, decisive leader who will passionately change the way the world looks at Cleveland Browns football?

Get on the Gus Bus Browns fans.  Drop the Tressel nonsense, stop asking for Cowher.  Get on the Gus Bus, put some media pressure on the front office, and let’s turn this mother around, for good.


Josh McDaniels Reportedly Declines The Browns Head Coaching Job

According to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels has declined the Head Coaching vacancy with the Cleveland Browns.
What does this mean?  It’s oddly troubling, as much as many (myself included) did not love the idea of McDaniels being named the Browns next Head Coach.  McDaniels is by no means a hot commodity in the NFL coaching circles, his reputation still suffering from an objective failure in Denver.  The part that should concern the Browns organization though is the fact that a second rate coaching prospect would turn down their position.  These things will happen when you fire your Head Coach after less than 12 months on the job, but it seems as though the Front Office underestimated how much the Chud firing would damage their credibility with coaching candidates.
At this point, the short list of possible Browns coaching candidates grows even shorter.  To date, the only coach left on the Browns interview list is Ben McAdoo today.  They’ve been rumored to have interest in Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, but he is heavily rumored to be taking the opening at Penn State.  Adam Gase remains the lone Browns coaching candidate that is rumored to be of interest to the team that they can possibly interview.  At this point, it seems that perhaps hiring a QB coach instead of a seasoned head coach or even coordinator may be the Browns last options.  This won’t end badly, I’m sure.


In short, chaos reigns supreme once more in Berea.  Great job Jimmy H and Joe Banner, keep up the great work.

Josh McDaniels Early Favorite In Browns Head Coach Search

Sources have told DPN that Josh McDaniels is the Cleveland Browns inside favorite to take the reigns as the new Head Coach, in the wake of the sudden dismissal of former Head Coach Rob Chudzinski.

McDaniels has connections to both Browns GM Michael Lombardi and Joe Banner, and sources inside the Browns front office tell us that he is their hands down favorite.

That being said, the Browns cannot interview him until after January 5th, and could have to wait longer due to the Patriots playoff games.  Also, there are rumors that McDaniels may not be interested in the job in Cleveland.