Story of the Week: OBR Forums Edition

Let's take a look at what is being discussed in the OBR Forums.

We're debuting a new piece today at The OBR, one that recaps the biggest story of the week relating to our Browns. However, instead of relying on news headlines and page views, we're examining what is being discussed in the OBR Forums. After all, there is no better source of informed and rational Browns talk then right here in the OBR Forums. This week, we'll take a look at some of the most popular discussion threads in the OBR Tap Room where only the most hardcore and premium of Browns fans can survive.

So to kick things off, I've decided to break the rules and dish out three stories this week. Also, for the debut piece, I'm going to reach back a few weeks to highlight some discussions that began at the beginning of the month.  So having said all that and since we're just a week into Pat Shurmur's tenure, I thought this would probably be the best place to start.

On Pat Shurmur….

Fletch416

(It is becoming obvious) that Shurmur is just a puppet, at this point.  I don't know if that is good or bad.  But, you don't fire Eric Mangini for a guy who has very little experience unless he is your mouth piece.   The Big Show is really the face of the franchise.

OutlawJesseJ

I don't think this notion is correct. MH said himself that if he was to coach McCoy or the offense, he would want a portion of the coaches salary(sarcasm on his part too). He was alluding to the fact that he is not getting paid to coach. He is hiring a guy he knows and that will run something he is very familiar with. That is all.

Part of the problem with Mangini or Daboll's offense is that when MH offered advice, EM and Daboll did not use it or could not, based on the offense they had in place. Those days would be gone if/when MH hires Shurmur.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding Fletch416's post, which was originally posted some time before the hiring of Shurmur. Some 46 responses later, one thought becomes overwhelmingly clear: Patience is not a virtue; Cleveland is ready for a winner.

However, it's worth noting that for the first time in the Browns' expansion era, a coaching hire was made by an executive who doubles as a true football person. The rarity of this sort of top-down management approach cannot be rivaled in recent Cleveland football history, yet does not provide the instant fix that many Browns fans were seeking.

In this sense, the hiring of Shurmur makes complete sense, given the roles that Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert currently possess in the front office. For the first time since the expansion return, the Browns feature the following:

1.  A clear chain of command – Team President, General Manager and Head Coach.

2.  More importantly…. A clear chain of command – Team President, General Manager and Head Coach – all of whom share a common football philosophy.

3.  An overall common franchise direction.

4.  A front office that allows a decidedly non-football owner to focus his attentions towards non-football matters.

5.  The likelihood of another rebuilding project.

As for Holmgren being the "face of the franchise", I can't imagine how anyone could dispute this notion.  Speaking of which….

On Mike Holmgren and Trust….

TpostDawg

Trust my a$$,  he just fired a guy that had this team playing above it's talent level and had this Expansion edition of the Cleveland Browns playing with an identity of tough, smart, and physical football when we all know that this team NEEDED more talent.  Mangini cleaned house and installed discipline and accountability where there was NONE and rather than help the ousted coaching staff offensively he chose to blow it up yet again.    I for one will NOT accept another 5 - 11 season with any thing that resembles patience, he had better get it right NOW or I'll judge him as big a bust as any drafted since 99'.

RockNRollDawg

Great post.  I can't give MH blind faith to get it right either.  In fact given the cast of characters interested in the job, he may have stepped on his .....  or stubbed his toe.  The organization (top to bottom) seemed to be moving forward.  There was no reason to blow up the defense and special teams.  Yes, a new OC was probably in order but not a total reboot for all players.

sec9RowR

Do agree, they are putting pieces of the organization together that all seem to fit together...at least it looks that way so far.  As far as Randy (Lerner) goes, you may be on to something there.  Compare the current organization (president and staff, GM & scouting, HC, DC, OC?...).  to the team of Mangini and Kokinis.   Same with Butch and his guy,  and Opie and Romeo.  And all of the cheaper hires in the coaching staffs....Carthon, Chud....

Maybe ole Randy was trying to get by on the cheap with his staff costs.  So far it looks like he just may have learned his lesson.  Interested to see how they fill out the coaching staff.

It's become an age-old truth in Cleveland – or at least an expansion-age truth – that in order to take a step forward, the Browns have to take two steps back, then throw a check-down pass on third and 11.  And while the process will seemingly start anew in 2011, it's worth suggesting that Shurmur's hire was perhaps made a year too late. 

This is not a knock on Eric Mangini, who as several Forum contributors have suggested, performed a heroic feat considering the limited lack of talent on the Browns' roster over the past two years. But rather, it now seems apparent that the 2010 season was an evaluation of sorts by Holmgren, who understandably did not know much about the Browns this time a year ago. 

And while fears of another blown-up roster are completely understandable, it's comforting to think that the process may have already started. 

Despite the arrival of Shurmur and now Dick Jauron, last April's draft, influenced by Holmgren and Heckert, already delivered three potential core players in Joe Haden, T.J. Ward and Colt McCoy.  Throw in some projects in Shaun Lauvao and Carlton Mitchell, along with the additions of Ben Watson, Scott Fujita, Sheldon Brown and Peyton Hillis, and it appears that this latest rebuilding effort will not be as devastating as the last three versions.

Another thought here relates to RockNRollDawg's suggestion that both the defense and special teams did not need to be "blown up."  On the surface, one can find some common ground, but currently the following players are either bound for free agency or need replacing for various reasons….

1.  Matt Roth

2.  Chris Gocong

3.  Abe Elam

4.  Eric Wright

5.  Shaun Rogers

6.  Robaire Smith

7.  Eric Barton

8.  Brian Schaefering

Defensive changes were on the horizon, regardless of who coached the defense in 2011. Had Mangini and Rob Ryan been retained, the defensive front seven still needed a major talent upgrade. The defensive line rapidly aged last season, with the exception of Ahtyba Rubin. The same could be said for the veteran core of linebackers, none of whom could be considered as premiere playmakers. 

In this sense, the presumed shift to a more traditional 4-3 alignment is not really that big of an adjustment.  Simply put, this defense needs to add some young talent – regardless of the scheme.  Which brings us to this…

On the Draft….

ramllov

I read a message written by SOBOdawg which was fun to read.  He used the suggestion that the Browns concentrate on the defense with the first pick and take a WR with the second pick.  The draft could be deep in defensive linemen as well as WRs depending upon the number of underclassmen that declare.

It is early in the declaration season, but, activity should increase over the next 9 days.  I believe the deadline is January 15th.  There are about 15 players who already declared.  I was looking at a report that listed about 70 underclassmen who were ranked.

syddawg

And if you look at Tom Heckert's history, it is interesting how many high picks were used on the DL from 2005 :-
* no first round pick
2008* Round 2 Trevor Laws DT Notre Dame
2007* Round 2 Victor Abiamiri DENotre Dame
2006 Round 1 Brodrick Bunkley DTFlorida State
2005 Round 1 Mike Patterson DT USC

mcnulty

As for the Browns, I want defense defense and more defense in the draft with WR being addressed in FA if possible.  If we stick with the 3-4, Robert Quinn interests me ALOT.  Looks like a prototype 3-4 OLB.  Roth is leaving and WE NEED someone who can get to the QB.

Ramllov's post generated some great draft discussion, most of which focused on the defensive side of the ball. And as most OBR Forum members stated, this April's draft seems to be stacked with some potential defensive playmakers. 

And to return to the idea of the Browns shifting to a 4-3 alignment, perhaps the timing couldn't be better. After chasing their tails trying to find a hybrid DE/OLB to rush the passer over the past several years, this year's draft offers some prime 4-3 linebacker prospects, including Texas A&M's Von Miller and North Carolina's Bruce Carter, a player who could prove to be a mid-round steal.

The same can be said for finding a more traditional defensive end. North Carolina's Robert Quinn and Ohio State's Cameron Heyward could become dynamic NFL starters, while a player such as Nebraska's Pierre Allen or South Carolina's Cliff Matthews could be had in the later rounds.

And as syddawg points out, history is on the defense's side, at least if you look at Tom Heckert's drafting history with the Eagles. While Heckert was not exclusively responsible for the Eagles' past drafts, he comes from a system that values drafting linemen in the early rounds. Looking at the Browns' current roster, let's hope that tradition continues.

Of course, this is a roster with multiple needs. Like ramllov points out, I would love to see the WR position addressed early in the draft – but not too early. Since Georgia's A.J. Green will likely be gone by the time the Browns make their first-round selection anyway, the names of Pitt's Jon Baldwin and Maryland's Torrey Smith are very intriguing early in the second round.

But then again, there's just something scary about the Browns taking a WR in the second round.

But not as scary as the phrases "blowing up" and "rebuilding."


The OBR Top Stories