Archive for October, 2014

Let’s talk about football (apparently, a favorite topic of mine, at least lately).

Talk about the Cleveland Browns this week has been all the rage in, well, Cleveland.  The two most popular stories: “Are Brian Hoyer and the 2014 Browns the real deal?” and  “Brian Hoyer is 6-2 as a starter for Cleveland; renegotiate his contract, and pay him bajillions of dollars, because he is amazing!”  This shit, along with the Ebola craze, has made for an annoying week to read news…so let’s resolve this quickly.

For starters: The Cleveland Browns are 3-2 through 6 weeks of football thanks to an early bye-week.  For the first time in a long time, they are NOT last in the division, and dealt a crippling loss to the Pittsburg Steelers this past Sunday.  Oh, and did I mention they have a winning record.  Things are good for Cleveland sports fans; or at least, they should be.  Why aren’t they?  Because some people are waiting for the shoe to drop.  Others are over-confident, expecting wins to keep coming, especially over the next 3 weeks (against teams with lesser records).  So, what conclusions should one draw from a team who is 3-2?

  1. We won 3 games.  One of those games was a blowout, the other two we barely squeaked by.
  2. We lost 2 games.  They were heartbreaking, in that they were both to divisional opponents (although we redeemed the first loss to Pittsburg, so not all bad).  And, the losses were by 3 points or less.
  3. That’s it.

This isn’t rocket science.  It is uncharted territory, or at least, uncharted territory for the Cleveland Browns in any recent year.  This is not necessarily indicative of what we’ll do for the rest of the season.  This is an indication that we may be more capable of winning games now than we were last season.  But from a 3-2 record, we can’t make any assumptions.  Statistically that’s rough, because if a fundamental change has been made in the fabric of the team/coaching staff/front office, like so many Clevelanders want to believe, then there is no baseline for how that plays out.  Go Google regression to the mean, and then realize that we don’t know what the mean is, so we don’t know if there will be any regression….or gression (I don’t think that’s a word).  Like granddad always used to say, “5 games does not a sufficient sample size make.”  Grand dad talked a lot like Yoda.

But, even if 5 games was a sufficient sample size, the Browns have done nothing consistently across those 5 games.  Both offense and defense sucked in the first two quarters of the season; then offense turned on for about 6 quarters, then stalled some more.  Then there were some quarters where the special teams performance was lack luster.  The last game, every bit of the team was in step and firing on all cylinders.  Our fourth game set records.  Our fifth game redeemed our poor performance in the beginning of the season.  There have been many inconsistencies all season long.  But by my analysis, simple as it may be, all five games have been fun to watch, because the Browns’ performance has been (at least in some aspect) worth watching.  And we’ve had some close games, with the first four being decided by 3 points or less.  The fifth game was fun to watch because we destroyed Pittsburg, and who doesn’t want to see that?

So, since we have nothing statistically to go on, and even our performance has been inconsistent, let’s calm the “Cleveland better beat Jacksonville” talk and just sit down on Sunday, beers in hand, and enjoy some great football.  That’s what we’ve gotten every week, and that’s what I’m counting on.  Jacksonville, while being 0-6, is a dangerous opponent….not because this is a “trap game,” but because they have weapons too.  They are as inconsistent as the Browns were in 2010 when we lost to Jacksonville but beat up on the Saints and the Patriots.  The Browns can easily lose this game, and there is nothing about our record that suggests we should win it.  So stop assuming.

OK, let’s talk Brian Hoyer.  He’s done well for us in a few games last season, and each game this season.  Much to the dismay of the Manziel maniacs, Hoyer has played a lot of consistent football, and surprisingly has risen to top-10 status in certain areas of performance as a QB in the NFL.  Not bad for a career backup guy.  So, he’s done well in 8(ish) games, so give him a contract, right?


At least, not yet.  What do we know about him?  Well, he’s not better than Tom Brady, otherwise he wouldn’t have sat under him.  He had 43 passing attempts from 2009-2011 in New England, across 13 games.  In fact, 75% of his NFL career passing attempts happened in Cleveland, where he’s been in 8 games (7 full games, one partial).  What this boils down to is, three-fourths of his career passing attempts happened in the span of less than a half of a season.  So, we arguably don’t know enough about him to gamble on a contract just yet.  But he just turned 29, so he’s got some time left to play in the NFL, and someone will pick him up (if we don’t) if he wins us 10 games this year.  And, week after week that is looking like a very plausible outcome.  Hoyer, like the Browns, has not yet had time to really develop an average tendency, because the sample size of his performance is too small.  Some might discount any performance before 2014, since he is fundamentally different after tearing his ACL last year.  But the point remains the same–don’t jump to conclusions, especially unfounded ones.  Don’t sensationalize things…let the guy play football, and allow yourself to enjoy the ride he’s taking this city on.

And, while I’m sure I will regret it, I’d like to also briefly mention Ebola (again).  In much the same way that this Browns mess has gotten out of hand, so has the Ebola discussion.  We all read about it, and talk about it among friends and family; and it has got to be pretty popular conversation in the workplace as well (especially for those who work in hospitals or schools).  What is interesting here is that jumping to conclusions with Ebola is even more ridiculous than the sports stuff above, since we have a good sample size of how this particular strain of Ebola behaves, and most specifically, have a good idea of spread and mortality rates.  I’m not saying that it isn’t worth worrying about; I’m merely suggesting it isn’t worth the energy reacting to sensationalized media.  More people will become infected, and more people will die…these are things we know.  But to assume that it is going to spread here in the US, a country with a half-way decent healthcare system (Thanks, Obama…) the way it did in Western Africa, is kind of ludicrous.  So stop it, America.  Chill your shit.

I have been remiss in my blogging lately, and have no excuses for it.  Material has been fleeting, and it’s football season, so my brain has been occupied mostly by that…and it shows.

Be well and stay tuned.