Big Ben Tuesday: How to Fix the Cleveland Browns, Whitney on Whitney


KICKAPOO, KS –  I was thinking of exploring the rumor that Vladimir Putin hacked into St. Louis Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong’s email to trade Kevin Shattenkirk to the Capitals . Vlad is dying to see Russian winger Alex Ovechkin win a Cup. #Sad. But I need a challenge, so I decided to single-highhandedly fix the Cleveland Browns. To help me, I spoke with Senior MTM NFL Draft Expert… me.

MTM: Hello… Handsome.
BW: Right back at you.

New Browns: 18 seasons, 26 starting QBs

MTM: The Cleveland Browns hired Paul Podesta in 2016 to try to implement a “Moneyball” type approach. How did it work in 2016?
BW: You tell me. They passed up on Ezekiel Elliot, Joey Bosa, and Carson Wentz, to name a few. They also passed on Dak Prescott. 8 times. They had the most picks of any team and didn’t exactly walk away with a bunch of difference makers.

MTM: True. Does the “Moneyball” application even work in football?
BW: No. With revenue sharing, teams are on a more level playing field and the need to unearth undervalued players is not there. Plus, contracts are not guaranteed. In baseball, if you sign CC Sabathia to a 7-year deal, it’s a pretty safe assumption that he’ll under-perform at the end of it. Small market teams can’t take that risk. In the NFL you can just cut him when he starts declining or restructure his contract.

MTM: What’s the Browns biggest problem?
BW: QB. They cannot go into the season with Kessler and RG3 or we’ll see a mutiny in the Dawg Pound.

MTM: What can they do?
BW: Well, the top QBs in the draft don’t seem to be NFL-ready. And as far as free agents, Tony Romo is too old and fragile and Jay Cutler will be happy winning four games for the Jets. They are kicking the tires on Tyrod Taylor but he is not the answer. I say go big on Jimmy G. The Patriots have said that he will not be traded, but that is about as believable as Trump’s wiretapping claim. Does that guy know he’s the President?

“I could’ve been Tom Brady.”

MTM: It doesn’t appear so, no.
BW: He can find this stuff out without blurting it out on Twitter like a twelve year old. Anyway, the Pats might be bluffing. Or maybe he’s off the table because no one has been willing to give up a first round pick for him yet. Memo to the Browns: give up a first round pick for him. They have two.

MTM: The arguments against are, “He’s only played in a few games. Look at Brock Osweiler.” Or, “The Pats make him look good, like Matt Cassel.
BW: I would say to them that QBs are like singles at the bar at 2 am: You gotta keep taking shots until you find one who’s ready to roll.

MTM: I bet it doesn’t take long for you, you handsome devil.
BW: You’re right. But back to football… This is a weak QB draft and there is an uninspiring pool of free agents. Jimmy G was drafted in the second round by Bill Belichick. He has upside. Give the #12 pick for him. He’s a free agent after next year and Tom Brady’s got some gas in the tank. It goes against the Pats DNA to have a valuable asset sitting on the bench. They’ll do it. Roll the dice.

MTM: You’ve convinced me. Who will they take with the number one pick?
BW: Myles Garrett. He had an eye-popping combine, showing freakish strength, speed, and explosiveness. There are so few of us with all of those things.

Welcome to Cleveland, Myles!

MTM: That’s right.
BW: With Garrett and Garoppolo on board, instantly you have some optimism.

MTM: And what else do they have?
BW: Oh about $101 million in cap space. That’s enough to make the spending the Giants’ spending spree from last season look moderate. It should be enough green to convince guys to don the orange helmet. Orange is so hot right now.

MTM: Who should they be targeting?
BW: The D needs a lot of work and bringing on coordinator Greg Williams was a good start. They do have a few strong players like CB Joe Haden, LB Jamie Collins and some young developing guys. But they could use help on all three levels. How about grabbing a lane-clogging tackle like Washington’s Chris Baker, a blitzing LB like Dont’a Hightower and safety who can support in the run like the Cards’ Tony Jefferson. Throw money at the problem. They could further address these areas with their 12 draft picks, including two picks in the first (until they wise up and trade one for Jimmy G), second, and fourth rounds.

MTM: Not bad. What about offense?
BW: They’re in slightly better shape on O… if they can find a QB. The line was not bad, though they could use a center. They should bring back Terrelle Pryor, who had a good year with some poor QB play. They have some other weapons in Corey Coleman and Gary Barnidge. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson are decent RBs, but they could use an upgrade. Those are positions they might look to address in the draft. They’ve looked at LSU center Ethan Pocic, a guy they could probably get with their second second-round pick. Could electric Christian McCaffrey fall to them at the top of the second round? Probably not, but it’s a deep draft for RBs.

MTM: Another great answer.
BW: You ask terrific questions. With some big name free agents, wise draft picks, and a trade for Jimmy G, the Brownies could become a real NFL team.

MTM: Thanks for stopping by.
BW: Anything for you.

Come back tomorrow for the occasionally funny Angry Ward.  Follow us on Twitter at @benwhit8 & @MeetTheMattsInstagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About the Author ()

Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest “rounders” games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.

  • ToughGuy5

    I have been reading you guys forever and this could be the best I have read. Good job.

    • benwhit

      Thanks ToughGuy. I concur.

    • You know when you get the MTM Edit Staff giggling, that it’s a good piece. That was clearly the case with this timely beauty by Big Ben.

      • benwhit

        So it’s rare that we make you laugh. Disappointing.

  • AngryWard

    If a Cleveland Browns post doesn’t generate ratings here, nothing will. You probably could fix the Browns with some of your suggestions, but it all starts at the top and Cleveland has one of the worst owners in the league in snake oil salesman Jimmy Haslam. He makes Dan Snyder look like George Halas. You’d have better luck getting noted “neurosurgeon” Ben Carson to fix Trumps brain.

    • benwhit

      They’re America’s team right? No? Ohio’s team?

      Did you see Carson called slaves “immigrants?” What a buffoon.

      • AngryWard

        Kind of hard to miss that Carson quote. Even with the endless stream of buffoonery coming out of DC and FLA on a daily basis, there are some items that truly stand out. The responses from Samuel L. Jackson and others have been hilarious.

      • Oh, now we’re parsing words?!

      • jgclancy

        and remember…they didn’t have any legal papers—illegal immigrants is what he meant to say……

    • You need to follow this up with one about the Padres.

  • Dude

    how to fix the cleveland browns: give them the ravens back, give baltimore back the colts and make the current browns franchise the indianopolis cornfeds

    • Brilliant! And that team will beat the Jets.

      • Dude

        all three of those teams will beat the jets

  • Different Matt

    I think another two decades of rebuilding is in order for the Browns. Stockpile those draft picks and wait for a hot draft market to strike.

    • Twenty years. Boom.

    • benwhit

      Over 4.5 wins? I might take that action

    • Rory Sweeney

      This seems like a reasonable timeline given the historical context.

      • Big Blue 56

        Browns fans would sign up for that. It would give them something to look forward to as long as it was guaranteed.

  • buffalobilly84

    Can you fix the Bills? ???

    • benwhit

      Sure. Give me a week to see if I’m available.

  • jgclancy

    MtM is not trading this Jimmy G to the Browns for less thana dinner at Jake’s with unlimited drinks……or even a few beers & free dogs at Rudy’s if you know they’ll buckle under hardball negotiations.
    Nice to see a little football talk…..

  • Junoir Blaber

    Moneyball was a great movie and I got to say, I fully agree with all your points.

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