Celebrate!Power Rankings Review

Time for our midweek look at what the analysts are saying about our beloved Brownies. I gotta tell you, this post gets more and more fun to write every week as the Browns keep adding the wins.

First up is the power rankings review. In ESPN.com blogger Matt Mosley’s Hashmarks rankings, he has the Browns ranked at #9. Quite a rise for the ol’ Brownies considering Mosley had the Browns ranked #32 (yes, that’s dead last in the NFL) in his first power rankings (and yes, I’m going to keep bringing this fact up because the #32 ranking was so laughable even without considering how well this season has gone….there’s no way the Browns were going to be the worst team in football this year).

Next up is Mike McAllister’s Power Rankings for ESPN.com. This week he has the Browns moving up 4 spots, from #13 to #9. McAllister writes,

“The next two weeks are critical for the Browns’ playoff chances. If they can beat division foes the Steelers and Ravens, their schedule is extremely favorable in the final six weeks, facing opponents with a combined record of 16-34.”

Yahoo.com’s power rankings are out this week, and once again both Jason Cole and Charles Robinson have the Browns in their top ten. In Cole’s rankings, he moved the Browns up one spot from #9 to #8, and Robinson moves the Browns up two spots, from #10 to #8. Cole writes,

“Big props go to Romeo Crennel and the Browns. There were more than a few observers who thought Crennel would have been fired by now. Instead, he and the Browns are rolling at 5-3 and have a shot at first place in the AFC North. Good stuff.”

And finally, for the Cleveland Sports Authority power rankings, I have the top 10 as follows:

01. New England Patriots
02. Indianapolis Colts
03. Pittsburgh Steelers
04. Dallas Cowboys
05. New York Giants
06. Green Bay Packers
07. Tennessee Titans
08. Detroit Lions
09. Cleveland Browns
10. New Orleans Saints

For Further Analysis, Keep Reading…

And now to look at some stories and chat transcripts to get a better feel for what the national media’s perceptions of the Browns are. First up, Scouts Inc’s Matt Williamson talked a little in his ESPN.com chat about the Browns’ come from behind victory last week, saying,

Jay (NC): Matt, when is everyone going to stop saying why the other team lost instead of why the browns won? That was a fair fight down to the wire, and the browns earned that one. I think Anderson is the real deal – improvement literally every game from day 1 – and I think the seahawks D was very tough and Anderson had his best game of the year.

SportsNation Matt Williamson: Not sure that I can argue with that. Well said.

Adam (OH): Matt, what do you think about Cleveland… Down 21-9 at half they fight back and again find a way to win these guys are playing with a lot of heart! SportsNation Matt Williamson: They most certainly are and R Crenel should get some Coach of the Year votes. Dangerous offense. For the long term this season, I see the D still holding them back, but the future is very bright and this has been an extremely succesful season.

I found that to be an interesting point. I think the reason people are looking for explanations as to how Seattle let Cleveland win as opposed to saying what Cleveland did to win, is because of how poor our defense has played for the most part on the season. When you have the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL, people are going to doubt you. That’s just the way it is.

In the AFC Winners chat (I still love the sound of that) on ESPN.com, Scouts Inc’s Doug Kretz tackled several Browns questions. The first one was regarding the soon to be QB controversy that is inevitably around the corner,

Mike (Cleveland): So if you were Phil Savage and someone offered a 1st and a 2nd for Anderson you would do it? I personally would keep the guy I know can perform over the guy you think can perform.

SportsNation Doug Kretz: I’d agree with you Mike.. I heard a lot of varying opinions on Quinn when he came out – everywhere from a middle of the first round to a second day (fourth round) grade on him.. I’d take the guy that is currenly winning games for me.

This is an interesting topic that is sure to get more attention as the season progresses. Matt Williamson also tackled a question on this topic,

Treye (Erie, PA): Is the Browns managment kicking itself for giving up next year’s #1 for Brady Quinn, considering the success Derek Anderson is having this season? Also, who is the Browns QB of the future?

SportsNation Matt Williamson: Hard to say how that will play out, but usually in a situation like this, the older guy goes. Anderson is a RFA after the year. Clev will offer him the highest tender, which would get them a 1st and 3rd round pick as compensation if someone were to sign him. That might be steep, but they probably could trade him for a late 1st or early 2nd. Good problem to have. If you were in charge of Chicago, would you give up your number one for DA? Still, Quinn had BETTER be good though.

That seems to be the 2 differing schools of thought on this issue. Do you trade the guy who gives you more trade value right now (DA) and go with the guy who is the unknown commodity but possibly a higher upside (Quinn), or do you stick with the guy who’s winning right now and give him a long term contract, but thus give up on a guy who could be the QB of the future? Frankly, it’s another one of those questions I’m just glad I don’t have to answer. I would lean towards giving the job to Quinn and taking whatever I could get for DA.

For those of you thinking Pro Bowl, you’re not the only ones inquiring. Doug Kretz also answered a Pro Bowl question with regards to the Browns,

Mike (Cleveland): Do the browns have 4 pro bowlers? K2, Braylon, DA, and Steinbach/Thomas? Seems pretty reasonable to me. K2 and Braylon seem to be no brainers.

SportsNation Doug Kretz: K2 and Braylon are legitimate candidates.. Thomas has a chance.. I don’t see Steinbach simply because Thomas takes votes away from him (too much attention Joe’s direction).

I actually think Steinbach has a better chance than Joe Thomas does. For instance, ESPN.com released their mid-season All-Pro’s, and Joe Thomas wasn’t on the list, but Eric Steinbach was. Len Pasquarelli’s reasoning?

“One of the few big-money guards of the past two seasons who actually is living up to his paycheck, Steinbach has solidified the Browns’ blocking unit. Cleveland is averaging more than 5 yards per carry on plays run over him, and Steinbach has improved his pass-protection skills.”

The only other Browns player that Pasquarelli picked to his mid-season All-Pro team was wide receiver Braylon Edwards, which was an obvious choice. Pasquarelli’s reasoning for picking Braylon was,

“The third-year veteran has become the deep threat the Browns envisioned when they selected him with the third overall pick in the 2005 draft. Edwards has nine touchdown catches, and his impressive 17.5-yard average is the best among players with more than 30 receptions.”

Finally, I want to discuss this trend that’s been going around lately of looking back at this year’s draft and asking which teams regret their picks. First of all, I find the whole thing a little silly because if we knew then what we know now, of COURSE certain teams would pick differently. But that being said, most teams picked the best they could with the information that they had at the time. We as Browns fans know better than most just how much of a crapshoot the NFL draft really is. That being said, Doug Kretz took this question in his chat about the draft,

Mistake by the Lake, Ohio: Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach… Look at the browns O-Line now compared to last few years. This gets a little attention but very little compared to DA. I love DA, Edwards and Winslow insanely, but they would be hard pressed to have the year they having without those 2 coming. I wanted AP in the draft but I think Savage made the right choice, agree?

SportsNation Doug Kretz: I agree that Thomas was a no brainer.. I love what AP is doing, now, but there were some questions about his durability coming out of college.. Thomas has met and exceeded every expectation.. When you get a chance to draft a great talent at left OT you have to jump on it.

I personally couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. But ESPN’s Todd McShay has a much different take. He did an entire first round re-draft this week. He kept the first 2 picks the same, with Russell going 1 and Johnson going 2, but at #3, he absolutely stunned me, picking Adrian Peterson, saying:

“This is the toughest decision of any pick in this redraft. Cleveland selected Thomas back in April and he has turned into one of the offensive leaders for the resurgent Browns. But I said it in April and what’s happened so far this season has only reinforced my feeling: The Browns should have taken Peterson at No. 3 overall. Yes, Thomas is a key player along the offensive front and will likely have a longer career than Peterson, but Peterson has simply been too special early this season not to make this choice. Any of the six teams that passed on him originally might take a mulligan to get him this time around, but the Browns look like the best fit right now as they could use a little more running to balance the seventh-best passing game (254.5 ypg) in the league.”

I’m sorry, but I find this logic to be a bit ludicrous. There’s no way the Browns could give up the stability on the offensive line that Thomas provides. The Browns have been trying to build from the outside in for 7 years. It is finally time they figured out that you need to build from the inside out, starting with the line, and it’s working for us. Don’t get me wrong, Peterson is a special, special player for sure….but I wouldn’t give up Joe Thomas for the world right now. The sight of DA standing upright and throwing while under absolutely no pressure is just too precious of a sight for me. Look, I like Todd McShay quite a bit, and I think he’s an excellent analyst who really knows college football well, but that doesn’t mean he gets the transition to the NFL and how successful NFL teams are built. He even admits in his writeup about it that he’s merely trying to validate something he wrote before the draft last year. That’s all.

For what it’s worth, he also talked about the Browns at pick #22, saying that by not taking Thomas at #3 they obviously need an O-lineman now, so Tony Ugoh would be that pick. He writes,

“The verdict is still very much out on Quinn, but having taken Peterson instead of Thomas with the third overall pick and armed with the knowledge of QB Derek Anderson’s emergence, Ugoh is the logical choice. When healthy, he’s been outstanding for a rookie left tackle being asked to protect QB Peyton Manning’s blind side. Ugoh should only continue to improve with better footwork and conditioning.”

That’s great and all, he’s going to get better and all, but 2 points here. First, why wait for a guy to get better when we can have Joe Thomas, who is growing into an absolute elite LT right before our eyes this season? Point #2, why are we trading to the #22 spot if we know what we’re going to have in DA? If we knew DA was going to be this good, we would have NEVER traded next year’s #1 pick for a chance to move back into the draft this year. It just wouldn’t happen. This stuff is all in fun, for sure, but there’s just no reason for the Browns to change a thing. We’re on our way up and improving every week. I’m content with this team for this season.

Finally, I’ll leave y’all with a response from Keith Kidd in the Winner’s Chat this week regarding the Browns’ playoff prospects:

Mike (Cleveland): Browns in the play-offs? Got a pretty pretty pretty easy schedule. And their O-line. You can say the Browns made a mistake by not taking AP but I couldn’t be happier with Thomas. Not to mention Steinbach. No sacks. None. Browns are for real!!!

SportsNation Keith Kidd: I agree. I think that the two hardest games are coming up, at Pittsburgh and at Baltimore. But they are right in the race. But they need to get help on defense this offseason. Just stay patient with Crennel because the guy is a winner.