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Now that the hype is over...

By Bert Daniels

The three grades that really matter are, talent, coaching, execution. Obviously if the game plan that a coaching staff develops is good but the team lacks the talent to execute it, the losses pile up. Good players stinking up the place by poor execution of a good game plan, yields the same end result, losses. As well, decent players executing a flawed game plan will rarely bring a win. Two of the three grading out good and your season is 8-8 at best with an easy schedule. If all three areas graded high it might yield a playoff run. So after the hashing and re-hashing of the draft, the grades that really matter are overall talent, coaching and execution.

Coaching. D-. Don’t forget Browns fans, NOTHING has changed since the Browns were a one win team last fall. (before the “win streak at season’s end) Lord Holmgren is not coaching. We still have the same generals we had when everyone was yelling for heads to roll. Did you forget the putrid offensive game plan? Did you forget teams making the defence look like a high school freshmen trying to tackle Jim Brown in his prime? The only reason it’s not an F is special teams.

Execution. We can only go on last year, so again D-. If it were not for the four game win streak at seasons close, I would have to grade an F. I have no confidence that an aging veteran, a backup and a rookie at QB will execute any better than BQ or DA did. (Well, maybe I should take that back. At least they can’t be any worse.) Receivers? Ho hum. Not impressed. I’m just not falling for the false sense of security a decent draft brings in the area of execution. Today’s outstanding draft picks are tomorrow’s rookies. And like it or not, almost all rookies play like rookies. Once in a great while a rookie plays like a veteran and executes well. But almost always they play like they are lost in a game too fast, too complicated and more painful that college ever was. On top of that, these players are now spoiled rich kids.

Talent. Until proved wrong, C. I think last year the talent was average for the NFL. But poor execution of an ugly, simple, predictable game plan took a team with middle of the road talent to D- level. So in come the wonders of the 2010 draft. Do they lift the talent level? In come the off season acquisitions by trades, free agent signings and such. Does this lift the talent level? Maybe. But until a quality, innovative, exciting game plan appears, the talent is stuck with the old, “It’s hard to soar with eagles when you run with turkeys”, axiom. I still remember watching the Browns in the first ¾ of the season, and only woke out of my dazed boredom when Josh Cribbs lined up in the wildcat formation. That was the only time I ever saw execution of a well constructed, (and admittedly borrowed) innovative coaching call, by a talented player working for a raise.

There is however one amazing curve to the grade scale. It is the winning curve. Players can play better than the talent they possess, and execute simple plays flawlessly when they smell a win. Confidence is a great thing. Maybe a full grade and ½ improvement in all areas would come should a win or two come early in the year.

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