Odell Beckham’s Demands – Will the Browns Surrender?

Being a passive/aggressive drama queen, we can’t expect OBJ to explicitly state his demands to return to the field. However, he might be funneling his demands through reporter Mary Kay Cabot, his biggest fanboi. Cabot has been emphatic that OBJ will only return “on his terms” and has been clear on what OBJ wants:

OBJ wants creative freedom. He does not want to be restricted by the routes designed for him by receiver’s coach Chad O’Shea. OBJ needs creative freedom because he is often double-teamed, and must be free to dance around and shake his coverage.

In other words, OBJ wants business as usual, just like before when he and Baker were the very worst QB/WR duo in the league.

The Browns coaches want none of that. After all, if OBJ is permitted to take the offense back to the Great Regression of 2019, some coaching heads might roll. Baker will suffer too. As of Week 2 in 2021, Baker is the most-accurate QB in the league, and looking to cash in with a huge contract. Being saddled with a “creative” OBJ will likely cost Baker millions.

Cabot also scoffs at Baker & OBJ’s off-season efforts to improve their chemistry, and repeats what is likely another OBJ demand: OBJ needs all the balls all the time to rack up the necessary in-game reps to create real chemistry.

So, in OBJ’s ridiculous system, Baker would just stand there, eyes locked onto his majesty, waiting for that magical moment when OBJ shakes his coverage, and then throw him the ball. In other words, a 100% predictable offense in a league where deception is the only edge.

If the Browns coaches cave to this nonsense, then they deserve what they will get.

In 2020, OBJ was paid $228,261 per catch, yet he only caught 53.5% of his targets, ranking him at #191 in the league. So, we already know that OBJ’s system is dumb, but OBJ does not appear to have any interest whatsoever in going back to being the master technical route runner that he was with the Giants. Even though, if he did that, and seeing as how laser-beam accurate Baker is, OBJ could put up incredible numbers.

During the Browns-vs-Texans game on Sunday, one of the NFL announcers said that Texans receiver Brandin Cooks was known as the “quarterback’s best friend” because of his ability to create instant chemistry. Here’s what Cooks said back in May:

“For me, it doesn’t matter who is throwing me the ball. I’m going to get on the same page and figure out how you like things to be done, and we are going to go out there and ball. I’ve shown that throughout my career.”

And indeed he has. If you look at his stats, Cooks has had 1,000-yard years with all four teams he has played for.

Cooks is a solid, level-headed professional football player. He gets the job done. Why can’t OBJ do that? Because OBJ is not satisfied with being a “mere cog” in a winning system. OBJ want to be THE SHOW. He wants everything to revolve around himself. He probably secretly thinks of QBs as “ball-throwing bitches.”

Ultimately, what OBJ wants can’t be achieved. OBJ wants football to be an individual sport like bowling where he can roll a perfect 300 game every time. It’s a fool’s errand, but who is going to talk him out of it? Doesn’t he have any friends who can do an intervention? All Odell has to do is adopt “The Cooks Attitude” and it’s raining TDs. But he won’t. The Browns should stop trying to knock sense into this knucklehead and move the fuck on already.

Stefanski, Van Pelt, and O’Shea need to hold fast to the training they have given OBJ, even if OBJ holds out until Week 17 as he has threatened to do. They should only back down on a direct order from management or ownership. That way, they will have a paper trail absolving them of the inevitable regression of their franchise QB.

Note: Just like last year, everybody is up in arms over the defense. However, the Browns are above average in total yards allowed, ranking at #14. And that is only two rungs below the Rams who were the #1 defense last year. Not bad.

Note: If you watch the Browns-vs-Texans game-recap, it’s pretty fantastic. Watching Chubb, Hunt, and Felton running the ball is like mainlining heroin.

Beckham Benched!

Browns HC Kevin Stefanski announced on Wednesday that Odell Beckham, Jr. would not be playing against the Texans on Sunday. The coach didn’t want any distractions during his preparations this week, and preemptively booted OBJ out the door.

Two days ago, I wrote:

“Coach Stefanski seems to be indulging OBJ now, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the situation once he realizes what is actually happening.”

And it is “interesting” indeed. The coach mentioned that he had included OBJ in his game-plan for Kansas City, and didn’t seem to like the fact that OBJ refused to play. This week, he wants OBJ out of the picture so that he can develop his plan for the Texans without any drama.

OBJ has effectively been benched.

Note to OBJ fanbois: As this war of words heats up, whose side will you pick? Your majesty, who won’t play, or Stefanski and the Browns? I’m sure this is very stressful for you, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you!

Note to Texans: Don’t even think about celebrating. You will be smashed either way. The Browns don’t need OBJ, at all. Now, get back to putting your affairs in order.

Odell Beckham On Strike!

Odell Beckham, Jr. declined battle on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. While his teammates valiantly fought to avenge last year’s playoff loss, OBJ said: “Nah. I’m good here on the sidelines with the water-boys.”

By all accounts, OBJ is more than ready to play. So, I think he is on strike, and it’s exactly the kind of passive/aggressive strike you would expect from a hyper-narcissist diva like OBJ. He doesn’t like being tagged with these labels, but if the shoe fits…

Coach Stefanski seems to be indulging OBJ now, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the situation once he realizes what is actually happening.

I predicted this would happen. Back on July 27, 2021, I wrote:

“You heard it here first: war is brewing between the Browns and OBJ.”

When will OBJ come back? Here’s how he answered that question:

“So, whenever that is, week 1, week 17, I don’t know. Whenever we’re ready we’ll be ready.”

Why is he on strike? Because his coaches want him to run precise routes, and OBJ wants to run creative routes. The problem is that Baker can’t find OBJ on random routes, and the duo has put up terrible stats. So, the idea is to have OBJ run routes by the book, like all the other receivers, and keep Baker flying high.

At first, OBJ seemed to be with the program. But now it appears that being a diva is more important to him than being an effective receiver. Read “The OBJ Flying Circus Offense” to see why OBJ’s creative route running is such a disaster.

OBJ can end this strike whenever he wants, but he couldn’t call it a victory because he has not presented a formal list of demands. Maybe he would take the field, but just move onto the the next passive/aggressive ploy. Perhaps he won’t run his new routes at all. Or maybe he would do a piss-poor job on them.

Personally, I would love to see him hold out for the rest of the year. The Browns were #1 in total offense for Week 1 (see below), so it’s not like they need him or anything. And they have a new guy to break in. Some are calling Anthony Schwartz’s performance a breakout. I know I was surprised by how well he did. PFF gave Schwartz a 76.4 grade, which is slightly higher than OBJ’s grade from last year.

Make no mistake, the Browns are now in a power-struggle with OBJ. He is healthy, the choice to play or not is his, and he decided not to play in one of the biggest games of the year. If I were Stefanski, I would have been shopping him around from the sideline, during the game. And since OBJ is rarely in one piece, the Browns should hurry up and trade him before he gets hurt again.

Here are two quotes from Coach Stefanski about OBJ:

On Friday: “He was 50-50, questionable and just didn’t feel like he could go.

On Sunday: “He worked out before the game and didn’t feel like he could go a significant amount, so we felt like it was the right thing to do to keep him inactive.

Note: Keep in mind that Stefanski gave the decision to OBJ, and that means that the Browns’ medical staff have cleared him.

Note: the Browns had 457 yards of total offense; more than anybody except the Raiders who had 491. However, I counted 110 yards for the Raiders in overtime, so in regulation time the Browns were still the most potent offense in the league. Also, if you look down the list, you will see the Chiefs way down at #14. They must be pretty upset about that since they were #1 last year. A lot of people are complaining about the Browns defense, but they beat the Chiefs down 13 ranks, which is pretty fantastic.

Stefanski Motivates Chiefs with “Rugby Play”

In the first half of the Week-1, Browns-vs-Chiefs game, the Browns gave the Chiefs a sound drubbing. But just before the 2nd quarter ended, Browns head coach
Kevin Stefanski called his “rugby play” where the players lateral the ball backward to each other to keep the play going. It looks more like rugby than football, and it’s not a serious play. Rather, it’s something fun to do on the last play of a game.

However, by calling this play just before halftime, Stefanski was rubbing it in, and I think that pissed off the Chiefs who then came out roaring in the 3rd quarter. Stefanski was being cavalier, and acting as if he had the game won. In other words, the rugby play is blackboard material; the kind of thing that motivates your opponent.

As much as I enjoy watching the rugby play, it might be a good idea to retire it. Even at the end of a game, your opponent just might hold onto the hard feelings for the next time around.

Having said that, the Browns did an amazing job of weathering the emotional storm after the Chiefs came charging back out of the locker-room to start the third quarter. Not only can the Browns handle the Chiefs, but they can handle them when they are fired up. Very impressive.

Note: I was bullish on the Browns’ chances in my last post. However, if you bet on the Browns, you were a winner because they covered the spread.

Note: The Browns are a great team and are going to win a lot of games this year. Just think: they almost beat the Chiefs without having their best receiver involved. And of course, I am talking about Rashard Higgins, who did quite well against the Chiefs last season.

The Chiefs Should Fear the Browns

It seems like the majority of Browns analysts are picking their team to lose to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. And they are already explaining away the loss as not important in a long, 17-game season. These people need to snap out of it already, because the truth is that the Chiefs should be fearing the Browns – a lot.

The #1 Iron Law of NFL Football is that games are won in the trenches. We saw this law in action during the Super Bowl where the Chiefs were blown out due to their depleted offensive line.

The #2 Iron Law of NFL Football is that you can’t win without a good quarterback. But, as we also saw in the Super Bowl, even if you have Patrick Mahomes that does not nullify Iron Law #1.

So, the Browns-vs-Chiefs game here in Week 1 of the 2021 season will be decided by the Browns d-line vs the Chiefs o-line. Now, imagine if you were a Chiefs fan, and you just spent the last seven months obsessing over the rebuild of your o-line. Then in Week 1, Myles Garret comes to town? And he brings Jadeveon Clowney with him? Both freshly removed from their bubble wrap? Wouldn’t you be terrified? Talk about a trial by fire…

By all accounts, the Chiefs have done a good job with their rebuild, and the Browns are also fielding a revamped d-line. So, both lines will need a few games to gel to get up to speed. But the job of an o-line is much more complicated and intricate than that of a d-line. Not only that, but the Chiefs will be fielding three rookie linemen. I predict tough sledding for them on Sunday.

Last year, the Chiefs put up 438 yards against the mediocre Browns defense, but I don’t think they will come close to that this time. Last year, Browns DC Joe Woods staffed his defense with guys acquired via pickup truck from the Home Depot parking lot: “Necesito once! Necesito once!” And Andrew Sendejo jumps in. This year, Woods actually has a whole pile of elite players to work with. Imagine what he will do, KC. Just imagine.

Last year, the Steelers learned the hard way that there is a new sheriff in town in the AFC North. This year, the Chiefs will meet the new sheriff of the entire AFC: your Cleveland Browns.

How to Prevent Sports Injuries

I have been working on a longer blog about this subject, but seeing as how just about everybody on the Cleveland Browns has a hamstring issue, I have decided to post a condensed, emergency edition.

I am a 61 year-old cyclist with knees of steel. I can grind the peddles of my bike with maximum effort without having to worry about tweaking a knee. That wasn’t always the case. A few years ago, I had so much pain in my knees that I could barely walk. As you age, it becomes more and more difficult to keep your joints hydrated. So, I have had to become knowledgeable about sports nutrition out of necessity.

I have learned that you need to do two major things to keep your body injury-free:

Step 1 – Eliminate Diuretics

That means no alcohol, caffeine, theobromine (chocolate), or low-carb diets, which are the very worst diuretic of all. If you take any prescription drugs, find out if they are known diuretics and ask your doctor if there is an alternative. Diuretics cause you to urinate out water, leaving less available to form the synovial fluid that keeps your joints lubricated.

Step 2 – Keep Your Body Alkaline

That means no junk food, including sugar, soda, pizza, and surprisingly, some fruits like grapes and raisins. One of the most acidic foods I have found is honey. So, just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it isn’t acidic. Your body has several mechanisms to keep itself pH balanced. However, if you eat an acidic diet, your pH will eventually drop, and things will start to go haywire. The classic symptom is a stiff neck.

Discussion

Avoiding diuretics is pretty easy, but learning about pH balance takes a little bit of work. So, start out by reading my Acidic & Alkaline Foods page.

Hydration and pH balance are related in that your body burns up electrolytes to neutralize acid. For example, calcium is an electrolyte and also the main ingredient in antacids like Tums. If your body needs more calcium to neutralize all the acid you are consuming, it will pull it out of your bones and teeth, weakening both.

And finally, pH balance is especially important for athletes because training itself is acidifying! Each ATP energy molecule that you burn results in the creation of an acidic hydrogen ion, which then has to be disposed of. Your bloodstream will carry the hydrogen to one of your kidneys where it will be injected into your urine. But when it goes, it takes a potassium atom with it, and potassium, of course, is one of your primary electrolytes.

If you stay hydrated and pH balanced, you will dramatically improve the condition of your joints, muscles, and bones, and have a huge advantage over nearly every one of your competitors. After all, what young athlete is going to give up beer & pizza? Answer: no one. So, this is low-hanging fruit.

If you are an athlete and have success using these principles, please let me know. If you would like to hire me as a consultant, please send an email to the address shown on this page.

Odell Beckham Fanbois Just Won’t Quit

OBJ fanbois remind me of the Black Knight character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The last limb of the metaphorical OBJ Knight was cut off by Browns receivers coach, Chad O’Shea, two months ago when he took OBJ to the woodshed. See what I wrote back on May 14, 2021.

One such limbless OBJ Knight is Brett Kollmann who obviously didn’t get the O’Shea memo. In a video titled: “The Odell Beckham Jr. Narrative Makes No Sense” Kollmann rolls out a bunch of lame excuses for OBJ’s poor performance in Cleveland. Even though OBJ’s route-running has already been retooled from the ground up, I feel a duty to attempt to deprogram these thralls out of their cult of personality so that they may move on to more productive lives.

The first argument Kollmann defends OBJ with is that “correlation does not equal causation.” And just because Baker’s stats suffer when Beckham is on the field doesn’t prove that it’s OBJ’s fault. But sometimes a correlation does reveal a causation. In fact, correlations should be looked at as clues that might lead you to a valuable causation. And in this case, there is plenty of causation. That’s why the Browns’ expert coaches have ruled against OBJ. He has been weighed, measured, and found wanting.

Kollmann’s second argument is this:

“Believe it or not, this offense was not designed around getting volume opportunities to Odell Beckham. It was designed around using the threat of Odell to give wide-open opportunities to basically every other skill-position player on the roster.”

But why was that done? Answer: Stefanski was aware of the 2019 shit-show and had to come up with a way to work around the hideous Baker-Beckham duo. Using OBJ as a decoy instead of a receiver was one of the solutions deployed. Running a Kubiak-Shanahan system, and making Baker a game-manager QB, was another.

Kollmann’s third argument is that Baker did better without Beckham on the field in the second half of the season because the whole team had gotten better as the season went on. But we know that isn’t the case. In reality, it only took 12 minutes and 24 seconds after OBJ got injured for Baker to light the Bengals’ fur on fire. (See my time-line here.) According to NFL NextGen Stats, the odds against Mayfield completing 22 straight passes were 19,062 to 1.

It was no accident. Baker transformed almost instantaneously after he was free of the OBJ albatross.

Kollmann claims that OBJ could not possibly be the problem because:

“Football, the most complicated team sport in the world does not work that way. It never has been, and it never, ever will be that simple…”

True, football is indeed complicated, and it is rare when a single player, no matter how talented, can change the fate of a team. However, there is a reason why QBs get paid so much more money than other players: they have an outsized impact on the team. Receivers are the second-highest paid players because the QB needs talent to throw to.

But OBJ is no ordinary receiver. He is a megastar, far more popular than Baker off the field. And he has used his star-power to deploy a reality-distortion field around the Browns offense. See what I wrote here. So, the Browns are a special case when it comes down to a single player dramatically discombobulating the offense.

Kollmann puts his hopes in the fact that Baker and his receivers worked on their chemistry over the summer at Camp Mayfield in Texas:

“The only thing – and I mean literally THE ONLY THING – holding the Browns’ offense back in the first half of last year was themselves. They had all the talent in the world, but they just didn’t have the chemistry to make that talent work efficiently.”

This is a common argument from OBJ fanbois. The problem is that nobody actually knows how to create chemistry, and I’m pretty sure that hanging out together off the field isn’t going to do it. The only thing that seems to work is a massive number of practice reps, which OBJ could not do this off-season because he was still rehabbing his knee. So, OBJ fanbois need to brace for more suck on the chemistry front this year.

Of course, if you really wanted chemistry, Landry, Higgins and Njoku would be starters. And Donovan Peoples-Jones would be your #3 WR. DPJ has shown signs of developing chemistry with Baker; and he is doing it with far fewer reps than OBJ has done with Baker. In fact, DPJ has surpassed OBJ on the chemistry front. If OBJ goes back to running predictable routes, and Baker can finally find him, there is a chance for them to develop chemistry. But as far as we know, as of today, OBJ & Baker have no chemistry whatsoever and likely never will. The same goes for Hooper, though he has tried much harder than OBJ. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. But again, the Browns do not lack chemistry! All they have to do is fucking deploy it!

In other OBJ Cult news, Mary Kay Cabot still thinks OBJ should be able to freelance his routes. Here’s what she wrote back here:

“In addition to building their friendship off the field, the two will have to compromise on the field. Mayfield likes his receivers to run precise routes so he can deliver the ball on a dime. Beckham, often double-teamed, freelances to get open, using every bit of his artistry and athleticism, and expects the QB to find him. This season, in addition to communicating about route details, ball placement and the like, they’ll need to come each other’s way a bit. It will help that both know the offense a lot better, but Mayfield will sometimes have to allow Beckham the freedom to get open — even though offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt is on Team Precise Routes — and Beckham will have to sometimes be more disciplined in this timing offense.”

Compromise? What the hell no! This isn’t the NBA where players have much more power than NFL players. Didn’t you see the QB rebellion led by Aaron Rodgers this summer? He lost. The Browns have pissed away half of their Super Bowl window already by letting OBJ discombobulate Baker. Now, it’s time for Baker to be THE MAN and put OBJ on a short leash.

This is why I am for shedding OBJ instead of trying to rehab him: the stakes are just too high. The marvelous “point guard” style of play that we saw from Baker as he fed the ball to whoever was open just doesn’t have room for a psychologically disruptive prima-donna WR like OBJ.

If the higher-ups insist on keeping OBJ, the team has two lines of defense. First, we must pray for Coach O’Shea to succeed with his rehabilitation of OBJ’s route-running. Second, Baker has to acquire the skill of being psychologically impervious to any mental manipulation from OBJ. An example is sulky body-language when OBJ feels like he isn’t getting the ball enough. Baker needs to totally ignore that.

So, that is what we Browns fans need to hope for. As for you limbless Black Knights, instead of simply slobbering over OBJ, recognize that Baker is THE MAN, and that OBJ should run his routes to the letter and not try to influence Baker to get more targets.

P.S. The new “point guard” style that we saw Baker running during the second half of last season was not new. That’s how he played during his rookie year in 2018 when he set the NFL record for most TD passes by a rookie. He stopped playing like that when OBJ arrived.

Disaster Strikes Browns: DePodesta Extended for 5 Years

Bad news everybody: The Browns have extended Paul DePodesta’s contract for 5 more years. The team’s “Destroyer of Chemistry” will continue his campaign to stamp out chemistry wherever he finds it. Why? Because he is a famous analytics guy, and chemistry does not compute. In fact, chemistry makes DePo and his bullshit spreadsheet look bad.

In 2018, Rashard Higgins and David Njoku became fan favorites by making many clutch plays with rookie QB Baker Mayfield. Both players were rewarded by being benched by DePo in 2019 and then again in 2020. Njoku asked to be traded, and Hig suffered in silence. Both players were unjustly persecuted.

In 2020, after a series of injuries to other receivers, the Browns finally had to let Hig play. And he (and Njoku) did as they always have: they were key in the Browns first playoff run in a very long time.

Their reward? Njoku clearly should be the #1 tight-end, but almost certainly will not. Hig should be a starter but will likely end up benched again. Both players will likely play behind their far more expensive, and lower-performing “upgrades” Austin Hooper and Odell Beckham, Jr. Two players that account for a mind-boggling waste of money.

In recent years, the Browns have become infamous for having lots of talent on paper, but surprisingly poor performance on the field. This, in retrospect, is exactly what you might expect of a team built with a fucking slide-rule.

Think about this: what if Njoku and Hig were starters for all of 2019 and 2020? Can you imagine how lethal Baker would be by now? And what if all those reps wasted on OBJ & Hooper had gone to train-up other, more-promising pass-catchers?

Sure, it’s easy to make such rear-view statements, but keep in mind that the Browns employed OBJ for 22 games of dogshit performance, hoping that he would start to click with Baker. He never did. Hope, was their plan. It didn’t work.

One thing we have learned is that you cannot parachute in a big-dollar, big-shot player and expect him to fit in. Providing pass-catchers to Baker just doesn’t work that way.

Hooper has tried very hard, but it doesn’t seem like he will ever approach the chemistry that Njoku has with Baker. Imagine two couples. Couple A is always finishing each other’s sentences. Couple B never finishes each other’s sentences, but think it is cool, so they start practicing doing so. What are the chances that they will be able to develop the same chemistry that Couple A has? Not very good, right? Are there any analytic techniques that might help them? Probably not.

This is why the Browns should move on from Hooper and OBJ. They need to stop ramming their head into the wall already. Like they say: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Coach O’Shea is retooling OBJ’s route running, and if anybody can fix OBJ, it is O’Shea. But there is copious evidence that Baker and Beckham are a Couple B.

Without DePodesta, Browns coaches would almost certainly pay more heed to the chemistry between Baker and his receivers.

I expect the Browns to have another good year, but not good enough to get Baker on the Hall-of-Fame track where he belongs. That can’t be done with an analytics nerd stripping Baker of his favorite targets.

Note: When Coaches Kitchens & Stefanski benched Hig & Njoku, they did not give reasons. This enraged fans. But my theory is that it was DePo who gave the orders and swore the coaches to silence.

How About a John Ross vs Anthony Schwartz Showdown?

The New York Giants are coming to Cleveland to practice with the Browns, and play a preseason game on August 22, 2021. And guess who they signed back in March: none other than reigning-champion speedster, John Ross, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ross holds the 40-yard dash record, clocking in at 4.22 seconds at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. The fun part is that Browns’ rookie speedster Anthony Schwartz said that he would have broken that record if the NFL had not cancelled his combine due to COVID-19 fears.

So, why not have a little foot race in Berea? If the players are healthy and warmed up, and the field is in good shape, I don’t see the harm. After all, players are doing 40-yard dashes left-and-right as they run routes during practice.

Such a race would garner a good number of eyeballs.

For more info on the forty, see my Browns Player Speeds page.

Odell Beckham Jr. Bends the Knee!

The major drama in this year’s Browns preseason is: can the team persuade Odell Beckham, Jr. to run technically-correct routes so that Baker Mayfield can find him? OBJ prefers to do how he pleases, and run what he considers “creative” routes despite the statistical evidence that shows that such BS simply does not work.

Well, last week, OBJ bent the knee to his position coach, Chad O’Shea, and said in an interview that it was now up to him to fit into the new Browns offense that gelled while he was rehabbing his knee during last season.

As far as I can tell, no reporter has published OBJ’s comments, so I don’t have a link for you to follow. However, apparently, OBJ made his “fit in” comment on July 25, 2021, when he hosted a football ProCamp at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, Ohio.

This is fantastic news. Last year, the dysfunctional Baker-Beckham duo forced the Browns to run a tight-end heavy ground game. Once OBJ was injured, Baker was able to spread his wings and soar to elite levels, and the Browns adjusted their scheme to accommodate more passing.

If OBJ does his job correctly and becomes an asset to Baker instead of an albatross, the Browns can come out in Week 1 with both guns blazing.

Of course, just because OBJ is running technical routes doesn’t mean that he will develop chemistry with Baker. However, it does enable the possibility of it happening, though I wouldn’t bet on it. As the coaches tell us, it’s “time on task” that allows chemistry to develop, and OBJ’s knee precludes him from doing the required extra hundreds of practice reps with Baker.

In any case, with OBJ buying into the new technical mandate, the Browns’ coaches have taken all the necessary steps to field a world-class offense in Kansas City on September 12th. As long as Paul DePodesta doesn’t issue an edict benching two of Baker’s favorite targets, Rashard Higgins and David Njoku, the Browns will be in fine shape.

The Decline and Fall of Odell Beckham, Jr.

As we speak, the once-mighty Odell Beckham, Jr. is being spoon-fed routes as if he were a fucking child. Coach O’Shea has given him a set of routes to practice. Coach Van Pelt said that OBJ was doing a good job drilling those routes during mini-camp. And even Baker Mayfield was pointing out flaws in OBJ’s route-running.

This is pretty amazing because OBJ was renowned for his technical route-running when he played for the Giants. But at some point, OBJ switched to being a “creative” route-runner. Maybe it was the $95 million contract that the Giants gave him in 2018 that went to his head. That would explain why Eli Manning was able to run up huge stats with OBJ, but Baker Mayfield can’t make head-or-tails of him.

But now the Browns are cracking down. They don’t want any more “creative” nonsense. They want professional-quality, technical route-running. They want OBJ to be where he is supposed to be so that Baker can fucking find him.

What took so long? I think that, before the 2020 season, the franchise looked at OBJ as a potential savior, who would, one day, when he was finally 100% healthy, score 5 touchdowns a game and lead the team to the Super Bowl. So, they were loath to question him.

But after the 2020 season when the Browns ran deep into the playoffs without OBJ, they finally snapped out of OBJ’s spell. They finally saw that the hype was just that: hype. They finally saw that they could do just fine with Rashard Higgins starting. And they realized that when Baker has receivers who can run precise routes, he suddenly transforms into an elite QB.

And having an elite QB is really, really nice. There are zero NFL teams with elite QBs that want to give them up. Not only that, but the new administration of Berry/Stefanski/Van Pelt can take credit for Baker’s renaissance – even though they were the recipients of pure, dumb luck. All it took for Baker to shine was for OBJ to leave the field.

So, keeping your prize pony prancing pretty is very simple: make OBJ run precise routes that Baker can work with, or kick OBJ to the curb. And that is exactly what Coach O’Shea has told OBJ.

And so, OBJ’s gigantic ego has been pounded with a Gallagher-esque Sledge-O-Matic, and I’m sure that it wasn’t an enjoyable experience for him. Make no mistake, OBJ has hit rock bottom.

Now the question is: will he take the coaching and rise from the ashes? Will he give up his egotistical, creative route-running and finally run professional-quality routes?

At this point in time, I think the answer to that question is: maybe. OBJ appears to be taking the coaching and trying to run QB-friendly routes. However, he will not be putting in the hundreds and thousands of practice reps with Baker to develop on-field chemistry. When asked about it last week, OBJ said:

“So, whenever that is, week 1, week 17, I don’t know. Whenever we’re ready we’ll be ready.”

In other words, he won’t be practicing, again, this year because he will be rehabbing his knee until at least week 1. Now look at what Baker said last week:

“We have a lot of great players, and this isn’t taking anything away from them because I love these guys. But it doesn’t matter who we have, if we don’t have chemistry and we don’t do our jobs, none of it matters.”

Obviously, he had OBJ in mind when he said that. Who else could it have possibly been?

This type of talk from Baker is a little bit alarming, but what the Browns are asking OBJ to do is very reasonable. They just want him to run routes as specified in the playbook. Hardly an onerous request. The Browns want Technical OBJ, not Creative OBJ.

Will they get him? I certainly hope so, because conflict with OBJ is not just conflict with a single player, but with a gigantic cult of personality. Imagine if OBJ were benched and Higgins became the #2 WR; people’s heads would explode. A divorce from OBJ would likely be a traumatic event that could potentially distract the team. If it has to be done, then it has to be done, but it could get ugly indeed.

And the Cleveland “sports” media isn’t even discussing the possibility, no doubt because, with notable exceptions, they are all OBJ fanbois. As a consequence:

You heard it here first: war is brewing between the Browns and OBJ.

In other news; No, You Can’t Have Kareem Hunt.
People are talking about how the Los Angeles Rams might want to trade some draft picks for Kareem Hunt. Is there anything more terrifying for a Browns fan than seeing Kareem line-up on the other side of the ball? When Kareem was running roughshod over the Browns during their 2018 game against the Chiefs, I remember thinking: “This isn’t fair; how are we supposed to stop this guy?” I don’t ever want to experience that feeling of helplessness again. That’s for Steelers, Ravens, and Chiefs fans now.

Also, in other news: People are all worried about the Browns defense gelling, what with all the new players. But anybody who saw Coach Woods in action last year knows not to worry. He is a magician when it comes to incorporating new players into his defense. In reality, the gelling problem the Browns have is OBJ, who may simply refuse the gel.

And finally, people are saying that LB Mack Wilson might not be able to make the team this year. But I hope the Browns don’t forget that it was Wilson who delivered justice for the highly illegal murder attempt on Rashard Higgins during the Chiefs game. The refs didn’t flag Daniel Sorensen so Mack Wilson took matters into his own hands and knocked out Patrick Mahomes. The refs didn’t flag Wilson, probably because it was their way of saying sorry for the Higgins call. But think about what Wilson did there. He was thinking something like: I need to avenge Hig, and then a few minutes later he did exactly that. Sometimes the players have to balance the scales of justice, and Wilson is a guy with the raw ability to do that.

Higgins vs Beckham – Touchdowns per Target

You OBJ cultists are cringing right about now because you know what’s coming: yet another statistical beat-down of Your Majesty, Odell Beckham, Jr.

Today, we are looking at the touchdowns-per-target metric. Racking up yardage is nice, but scoring touchdowns is what actually counts. Rashard Higgins and Baker Mayfield are legendary for their aerial prowess, so let’s quantify exactly how fabulous they are. Take a look at this spreadsheet:

So, when Baker throws the ball to Hig, it results in a TD 8.57% of the time. But when Baker throws the ball to OBJ, it only results in a TD 3.45% of the time. OBJ only had two passing TDs from Baker in 2020 (see below).

How do Baker/Hig’s numbers compare to the rest of the league? If you look at this page, you will see that Hig finished 2020 just an eyelash behind DK Metcalf, so he is in pretty good company. Adam Thielen led the league with 13% – almost quadruple OBJ’s performance.

Since we are examining Baker/Higgins as a duo, versus the Baker/Beckham duo, we can’t just use the standard targeting numbers. Not all targets are created equal; most come from Baker, but some targets in the Baker Era came from Tyrod Taylor, Case Keenum, Garret Gilbert, Jarvis Landry, and Odell himself. So, here are the adjustments that were made:

Item: Higgins had 53 targets in 2018, but 10 were from Tyrod Taylor, so his targets with Baker in 2018 are 43. Taylor did not throw any TDs to Hig.

Item: Higgins had 11 targets in 2019, but one was from Garret Gilbert, so Hig’s total for the year has been reduced to 10.

Item: Jarvis Landry has not thrown any passes to Hig, but he threw 1 TD to OBJ during the Dallas game in 2020. So, OBJ’s 2020 TD total, and target total, were decremented for that play.

Item: One of OBJ’s TDs during the Dallas game was an end-around where Baker handed him the ball. So, that was not a pass, and OBJ’s TD total was decremented again.

Item: Case Keenum thew one pass to OBJ in 2020, so OBJ’s targets were decremented for that play.

Note: the full name for this metric is “Career Touchdowns-per-Target for QB/Receiver Duo.”

Note: See also my post: “12 Stats Where Rashard Higgins Beats Odell Beckham, Jr.

If OBJ’s 174 targets were given to Hig, and his conversion rate of 8.57% held up, a total of 24 TDs would have been scored instead of the actual total of 15 for both receivers combined. Why don’t the Browns bench OBJ, start Hig, and just pick up the low-hanging fruit of 9 free TDs? I don’t know, but I suspect that HC Stefanski has marching orders from the Haslams to play OBJ no matter how dysfunctional he is with Baker. Either that, or the orders come from Paul DePodesta, the analytics nerd.

The season hasn’t started yet, so there is still time for the team to come to its senses, but don’t hold your breath. Higgins, who is like a 50-caliber machine-gun with only a couple of rounds in its ammo belt, will likely ride the bench again this year, just like he did at the beginning of the 2020 season. It’s mind-boggling to have a weapon like this and not use it, but that’s what happens when your franchise is not a football team, but rather a cult of personality dedicated to keeping the ego of Odell Beckham, Jr. puffed-up.

The Odell Beckham Dallas Litany

Odell Beckham, Jr. cultists are just giddy with excitement, putting their idiocy on full display for all to see. They think that when OBJ returns to the field in September, he will embark upon a season where every game is like the Browns 49-38 victory over Dallas where OBJ scored 3 touchdowns.

They believe that His Majesty, paired with the new, improved Baker Mayfield will light the field on fire. Of course, Baker has never played well with OBJ on the field, but try telling that to a cultist.

Coach Chad O’Shea is valiantly attempting to fix OBJ, but his efforts are not guaranteed to succeed. At this point, I think that putting OBJ on the field is still very risky given how he has discombobulated Baker ever since he came over from the Giants.

Because of OBJ’s terrible performance with the Browns, cultists are always on the defensive, which is hard work because they have no glowing stats to point to. And so, they are forced to point to OBJ’s only bright spot: the Dallas game.

The Context

It’s important to keep in mind that going into this game, Browns fans were frustrated by the continued poor play of the Baker-Beckham duo. Their anguished cries could be heard: “We must get the ball into the hands of the play-makers!” By which they meant OBJ. Since having Baker throw the ball to OBJ wasn’t working, other options had to be considered, which would be:

1) Have somebody else throw the ball.
2) Have Baker hand the ball to OBJ.
3) Have OBJ throw the ball.
4) Have OBJ return punts and kicks
5) Have OBJ take a direct snap.

Right? Everything but having the preternaturally talented QB simply throw him the ball because OBJ couldn’t run a crisp route to save his life.

The Game

So, that’s why in this game we saw Jarvis Landry throw a TD to OBJ, and Baker hand the ball to OBJ on two end-arounds. And while it looked like success on the surface, with OBJ having a monster game, consider the opposition:

Dallas linebacker.

During the 2020 season, Browns fans suffered with an injury-plagued defense held together with chewing gum and twine, but the Dallas defense was quite a bit worse. The Browns’ defense ranked at #17 in the 32-team league, while Dallas ranked at #23. The Dallas rushing defense ranked at an abysmal #31.

So, with the Browns elite (#3) running attack going up against the league’s second-worse ground defense, it was no surprise that the Browns crushed Dallas like a Native-American hunting party clubbing baby seals. Even if you take out OBJ’s 73 rushing yards, the Browns still had 234 yards on the ground – and that was with Nick Chubb being injured and missing three quarters. D’Ernest Johnson took the baton from Chubb and had a field-day with 95 yards on 13 carries for an average of 7.3.

So, OBJ’s most glorious moment in his career with the Browns came against a truly inept defense. Cultists like to say that OBJ single-handedly won the game for the Browns, but is that really the case? If Rashard Higgins were allowed to wear the uniform for that game, instead of OBJ, do you really think the outcome would have been much different?

Cultists also like to say that OBJ’s 50-yard end-around TD in the 4th quarter won the game for the Browns. But it was really Denzel Ward’s interception with 1:42 left on the clock that sealed the victory. Not to mention the Browns defense winning the turn-over battle 3-0.

During his big end-around TD, OBJ first ran backward 14 yards. It worked against the puny Cowboys, but not on a real defense when he tried it against the 49ers in October 2019:

Cultists like to say that OBJ won the Dallas game “single-handedly” but if they can say that, then we can say Higgins “single-handedly” defeated the Buffalo Bills in 2019:

Of course, the 2019 Buffalo Bills (10-6) were a much better team than the 2020 Dallas Cowboys (6-10). OBJ beat up on a hapless defense while Higgins out-smarted the Bills’ elite defense that ranked at #4 for the 2019 season.

Aftermath

OBJ cultists need to explain why, if OBJ is so fabulous, why didn’t he repeat this performance in the next two games versus the Colts and the Steelers? Why didn’t he stop the Steelers from smashing the Browns 38-7? The answer, obviously, is that the Colts and Steelers had elite defenses at the time. Instead of facing cute little baby seals, OBJ had savage polar bears to deal with. He scored zero touchdowns. In an end-around attempt versus the Colts, OBJ was thrown for a one yard loss. Meanwhile, Rashard Higgins caught a TD pass in each game.

After being smashed by the Steelers, the Browns went to Cincinnati where OBJ sustained his season-ending injury.

Here is an actual sample of the Dallas Litany from reporter Mary Kay Cabot who repeats this virtually every time she speaks:

“If you do keep Odell on the team, you really do have to make sure, like they did in the Dallas game…they have to make sure that you give him plenty to do, plenty to do early on. You’ve got to let him throw the ball, you got to let him run reverses, you got to let him catch the ball from Jarvis, you’ve got to let him find a way somehow to really showcase all of his talents and his abilities.”

No, no, no! The Browns do not exist to “showcase” anybody! The Browns exist to win football games! This is why the Cult of OBJ is so dangerous: it is not focused on winning games, but rather on aggrandizing OBJ’s massive ego. That is not how professional football if played.

Note: thankfully, not everybody is brainwashed. See how MMA fighters Brendan Schaub and Josh Thomson reacted during their live-stream when OBJ was briefly shown in the audience of UFC 264:

Schaub, in addition to being a former MMA heavyweight also made it to the Buffalo Bills practice squad, and is knowledgeable about football. I believe that he became a Browns fan when Baker Mayfield was drafted and/or the Browns were on the NFL’s “Hard Knocks” TV show in 2018. Schaub was a fullback/tight-end kind of player in college at the University of Colorado.

Note: the Dallas game is the one where Donovan Peoples-Jones failed to field a kickoff and almost caused a disaster. See the 12:15 mark of this video.

The Odell Beckham, Jr. Debate is *OVER*

What the fuck is wrong with these OBJ fanbois? Are they ever going to quit? How can they still be spewing their specious rhetoric when the issue has long been settled with actual facts?

For example, during episode #10 of the “For Pete’s Sake” podcast (43:40), Nicole Chatham wagged her finger at OBJ critics, and questioned our ability to think logically. She suggested that we go back to high-school debate class:

“You know what I think it really comes down to? Everyone needs to take debate in high school. This is what it actually comes down to because the number of logical fallacies that get applied to this scenario is incredible. First of all, we have the correlation-causation thing with OBJ. Just because Baker played better in the second half of the season and OBJ wasn’t on the field in the second half of the season does not mean that one of those things caused the other thing.”

Can you imagine? Debate? I’ve got news for you fanbois: The OBJ debate is over, and has been over since ESPN dropped their statistical nuke on October 29, 2020.

And I quote:

“In fact, over the last two seasons, Mayfield and Beckham have the worst completion success rate (55.6%) of any duo in the NFL (with at least 100 attempts).”

That’s right; the Baker-Beckham duo is objectively dogshit. That is not an opinion up for debate! In fact, the Browns knew about this long before ESPN published their numbers. That’s why they brought Stefanski in in the first place. His job was to work around the dogshit stuck to the franchise’s shoe by installing a Kubiak-Shanahan system that would feature Nick Chubb & Wyatt Teller rather than Baker & OBJ. The franchise was matching the coach to the talent, such as it was.

After The Great Regression year of 2019, nobody was really sure if the problem was Baker, OBJ, or Freddie Kitchens. After all, Baker played superbly with Freddie as his coach in 2018. But Freddie was made the fall-guy, and everybody thought that 2020 would be different.

It wasn’t.

Despite having the Coach of the Year at the helm, Baker-Beckham still stunk in 2020. That removed the coach as a variable. Baker-Beckham stunk under both Kitchens and Stefanski.

Then OBJ got hurt, and we saw Baker go back to his real self and play as well as any QB in NFL for the rest of the year. Anybody who even entertains the idea that Baker was the fly in the ointment is just plain crazy. You literately could not ask for better evidence to solve a mystery like this. During the second half of 2020, we learned that Baker could hit a ham sandwich if it ran a crisp route. And that proved that OBJ is the poison in the Baker-Beckham duo because even the most enthralled fanboi admits that OBJ does not run crisp routes.

Sometimes correlation *is* causation.

But that’s all ancient history.

Here in 2021, the *fact* is that while the fanbois were continuing to defend OBJ, Coach O’Shea was retooling OBJ’s routes. That’s right; the magical unicorn is now being micro-managed to fix his glaring fault: the inability to run QB-friendly routes. Maybe OBJ’s random route-running can’t be covered, but it can’t be hit either because Baker just doesn’t know what the fuck OBJ is doing out there.

Here is a summary for fanboi knuckleheads who are living in the past:

Phase 1 – Baker is awesome in his rookie year of 2018.
Phase 2 – OBJ arrives and Baker stinks for all of 2019.
Phase 3 – Baker-Beckham continues to stink in early 2020.
Phase 4 – OBJ is injured & Baker is awesome for the rest of the season.
Phase 5 – ESPN proves OBJ is Baker’s Achilles Heal in October of 2020.
Phase 6 – Coach O’Shea re-tools OBJ’s routes as first order of business in 2021.
Phase 7 – OBJ appears to be taking the coaching, though there is no reporting.

If your head is not in Phase 7, then you are a terrible football analyst/reporter, no doubt mentally crippled by your need to worship His Majesty, Odell Beckham, Jr. My advice to you is to snap the fuck out of it, and report on Coach O’Shea’s effort to fix OBJ. Because if he succeeds, it could be a truly epic event in football history. Make no mistake, this is a huge story.

Here are some questions that I want answered by the Cleveland sports OBJ-worship media:

1) Is OBJ taking the coaching? How does he feel about it?
2) Is he practicing the new routes with Baker? If so, how many reps are they doing?
3) When did he start running his random routes? High school? College? With the Giants?
4) How did Eli Manning get so much production out of OBJ?
5) How long will the Browns be patient with OBJ in 2021 if he doesn’t produce?

The last question is the most-important, because if the answer is more than three games, then we will be witnessing the Browns sliding down their Super Bowl window a few more inches.

Browns Coaches Refuse to Gush Over Odell Beckham Jr. *AGAIN*

Back in May, when asked about his “excitement level” for Odell Beckham, Jr.’s return from injury, Browns receivers coach, Chad O’Shea, struck a much different tone. He actually dropped a bombshell: the Browns were dictating to OBJ exactly how they wanted him to run his routes. It was quite the spectacle. See what I wrote back here.

A month later, during mini-camp in June, Coach Alex Van Pelt was asked the same thing by OBJ thrall, Mary Kay Cabot:

“The question is with Odell; there was just so much talk last year obviously about how Baker seems to play freer and looser without Odell, and his numbers were so much better without Odell. Can you just address the notion of what Odell will mean and bring to the offense and to Baker. And I’m guessing that you think that concept of Baker being better without Odell is not true.”

Holy Christ! Talk about leading the witness! But Van Pelt replied, in a pretty stern tone:

“I think Baker was better as the season went on, whether there had been Odell or not still out there.”

AVP, like Coach O’Shea, went on to compliment Odell on his talent. But it was “faint praise” and a pro-forma response that you would expect in the name of team harmony.

But make no mistake, the Browns’ coaching staff is not gushing over OBJ’s return, no matter how many times sycophant reporters prompt them to do so.

And that is fantastic news because it indicates that the offense will be conducted as a professional NFL operation rather than a cult of personality designed to aggrandize the ego of one Odell Beckham, Jr.

Also, during AVP’s press conference, he said that Odell “ran some really good individual routes during the side periods.” This is what Coach O’Shea said they were doing: dictating very specific routes to OBJ. That was back in May via Zoom, and now AVP has informed us that they have installed the new routes live, during mini-camp. And OBJ seems to have taken the coaching.

So, the effort to get professional-quality route-running out of OBJ is on track, and that is exactly what needs to be done. Now, we just need OBJ to practice those routes with Baker, hundreds of times, until they can connect on them with their eyes closed, and bring OBJ up to Higgins-grade chemistry with Baker.

And that is a tall order because Baker & Hig have reached a level of near-perfection. Not to mention Jarvis Landry. In fact, OBJ will have to work hard to catch up with Baker’s entire receiving corps. Right now, statistically, OBJ is the very worst when it comes to on-field chemistry with his quarterback. I believe he is now trying, but his success is not guaranteed. He has a lot of work ahead of him.

All in all, I like the way things are going with the Browns. As for the Cleveland sports media, not so much. They are completely missing the most important story of the year. Can OBJ finally develop chemistry with Baker Mayfield? What’s bigger than that? And yet, all these reporters want to do is rub shoulders with the big shot celebrity.

Pathetic.

Maybe I have to spoon-feed ideas to them. Here’s one: call up Eli Manning and ask him how he handled OBJ during his years with the Giants. Not only is that a great subject, but it could actually help to improve Baker’s management skills. But, don’t hold your breath waiting for such valuable content from Browns reporters.

Note: the transcript of AVP’s comments is here. The video is here, and Cabot’s question comes at the 12:28 mark.

Will 2021 be the Year When Odell Beckham, Jr. *Finally* Develops On-Field Chemistry with Baker Mayfield?

No, no it will not. When asked awhile back, Coach Stefanski said that chemistry between a receiver and his quarterback requires lots of “time on task” which means hundreds, maybe thousands of practice reps. And while OBJ is more than happy to take *all* the in-game reps from Baker, he doesn’t appear to be willing to put in the long hours of taking practice reps like Rashard Higgins did when Baker showed up in 2018.

Make no mistake: the chemistry between Baker & Hig was developed through hard work. While it looks like straight-up magic now, it is the result of the deliberate efforts of two humble, hardworking professional football players.

And there’s your trouble right there. OBJ is not humble. In fact, he is the very opposite of humble. The idea of doing hundreds of practice reps with Baker would simply never occur to him. Rather, he is more likely to think that Baker needs to up his game, and that is exactly what OBJ’s sycophants say.

But we know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Baker is not the problem. With OBJ on the field in 2020, Baker’s stats stunk. But with OBJ gone for the second half of the season, Baker was fucking stellar.

OBJ is out of excuses. There is no dastardly Freddie Kitchens to blame. Baker is bonafide elite. And according to his last hype video, OBJ has recovered from his surgery better than anybody ever, ever, ever. But will he show up at Baker’s passing camp in Austin?

Hell no.

What about it OBJ fanbois? Why isn’t OBJ taking reps with Baker to develop that Higgins-like chemistry?

Note: the market for a 30-something WR1 has been set by the Julio Jones trade. If the Browns could get a similar deal, they would be crazy not to take it.

Update: a few hours after I posted this on Tuesday afternoon, there was reporting that OBJ and Jarvis Landry were down in Austin at Camp Baker. While that is good news, it doesn’t seem like there would be enough time for Baker and OBJ to do any significant chemistry work since OBJ & Landry need to get back to Cleveland in time for Landry’s charity softball game on Saturday. Is OBJ just doing a cameo? Or is he working hard with Baker? We will have to wait for further reporting.

Update: on Thursday a video surfaced showing Baker throwing a pass to OBJ. So, that’s one. I’m sure they did more than that, but nobody is uploading video from Camp Baker, so the official rep count stands at 1, pending further reporting.

No, Odell. The Browns Don’t Need You

Last week, Odell Beckham, Jr. posted a hype video on Instagram demonstrating his progress in rehabbing his knee. He looks good, but keep in mind that while running and cutting are progress, we need to know if OBJ is ready to take contact. Could his knee survive an assassination attempt by “Dirty as Fuck” Daniel Sorensen of the Kansas City Cheats, who the Browns will be facing right out of the chute in Week 1? You do remember the illegal hit on Rashard Higgins in the playoffs, right?

I trust that the Browns won’t put OBJ out there until he is completely ready, but that may take longer than the hype videos would have you believe.

OBJ began his video with a scene from Scarface where Tony Montana (Al Pacino) says: “You need people like me.” But if the 2020 season proved anything, it is that the Browns don’t need Odell. In fact, having OBJ out there might be a letdown because, down the stretch, and deep into the playoffs, fans got used to Baker throwing 40-yard laser beams to Rashard Higgins seemingly at will.

Why do you think Sorensen tried to kill Rashard?

Because that was the only way to stop him!

Now, you might think that since OBJ is more talented than Higgins that OBJ will be able to outproduce Higgins in the improved offense with the improved QB, but don’t be so sure. OBJ cannot match Higgins’ chemistry with Baker, and if the Browns decide to take that chemistry off the field, once again, don’t be surprised if the offense regresses a bit. Trading chemistry for celebrity? Not a good deal.

However, coach O’Shea is on the case, and I trust that the Browns will use OBJ better than ever this year. That is one of the keys to the Browns season: will OBJ take the coaching?

The other key is: will Baker Mayfield allow OBJ to pull him back down to non-professional play. Last week, we had some excellent commentary on this subject from Cleveland sports radio announcer, Garrett Bush:

“…Baker Mayfield; has he gotten to the point where his progression is: “I’m the man. I’ll throw you the ball when I see you open. I’m not forcing the ball to nobody else. I’m the dude in this offense, and you guys can fill in wherever you fill in. I don’t care what the name looks like, I’m going to throw it to who I want to throw to.” If he’s that guy, you would have no problems bringing him in (Julio Jones). Who cares? Baker would figure it out like Tom Brady does. But if you don’t think he’s that guy, just let Julio hang out there for a little bit…As your franchise quarterback, if you want $40 million, the top-of-the-food-chain guys, you never hear that about. You are never going to hear: Well, Patrick Mahomes was pressing because he thought he had to throw to Travis Kelce. NO! Aaron Rodgers is never pressed. He got Davonte Adams out there. Have you ever heard somebody say that Aaron Rodgers was scared because he didn’t get him [the ball] enough? NO! The top dudes is like listen…I’m Tom Brady, y’all gonna get in where you fit in. That is where you need Baker to be. When he figures that out, you don’t gotta worry about the receiver ever being the problem. The receiver is never going to be the problem because he’s already like listen: This is me. This is my show, and it’s understood how it goes.”

Exactly. However, in every other situation, Baker *is* The Man with full control of his receivers. It’s only when OBJ steps onto the field that Baker turns to mush and lets OBJ dictate the offense. Off the field, OBJ’s celebrity trumps Baker’s celebrity, but Baker can’t allow that on the field. He has to look at OBJ as just another ingredient that he is using to bake (ha, ha) a masterpiece. Heretofore, Baker has been using way too much of that OBJ salt.

OBJ hasn’t said anything like this about the Browns, but he probably still thinks this way. This is one of the things he said after being traded by the Giants to the Browns in 2019:

“I felt disrespected, because I felt like I was a main reason at keeping that brand alive. They were getting prime-time games, still, as a 5-and-11 team. Why? Because people want to see the show. You want to see me play. That’s just real rap.”

Odell thinks more like a circus performer than a football player. He thinks the fans want to see him catch balls one-handed, on every play. The Browns coaching staff, and Baker, need to disabuse him of that mindset because we have hard evidence that the OBJ Flying Circus Offense does…not…work.

One could imagine OBJ returning to his first huddle in 2021: “Okay Baker, I’m here. Time to start the show. Forget the play-call, just throw me the ball, and I will work my magic that everybody has come here to see.” If Baker says: “Okay, boss” in this hypothetical scenario, his career as a starting QB in the NFL will begin to rapidly disintegrate. And the coaches might want to see how Case Keenum handles OBJ.

I’m not saying this will be easy for Baker. After all, Baker loves OBJ, like all of the other players. OBJ is, by all accounts, a great teammate. Relegating OBJ to a very specific role, as O’Shea is doing might not take.

And finally, I don’t want to put all the blame on Baker because he was swept up in the OBJ hype-wave like everybody else. For example, back in 2019, after Baker threw a pass (of about 20 yards) to OBJ, Tony Romo, who was announcing the game said:

“This is what you got to do. If you’re Baker Mayfield, just give 13 a chance.”

That was during the Denver game in 2019. (See the 7:38 mark of this video.) The Browns were 2-5 at the time, and went to 2-6 after losing to the Broncos. I don’t know if Romo invented the “give him a chance” mantra, but Baker repeated it after the Week 1 loss to the Ravens in 2020. See my post here.

So, starting from the jump when OBJ joined the Browns, everybody thought that it was a good idea to just give 13 a chance. Even a former Dallas QB, Tony Romo, thought it was a good idea. But now we know for sure that such a one-dimensional offensive scheme just doesn’t work. Hopefully, the success that Baker had without OBJ in 2020 will finally allow him to see OBJ in a different light, and enable him to break free of OBJ’s mind control.

Make no mistake, this is the central drama for the Browns’ 2021 season, and for Baker’s career.

Footnote: Garrett Bush made the comments above at the 1:42:57 mark of Brad Ward’s “All Eyez on Cleveland” podcast in the episode titled “Projecting the Browns in 2021 with Garrett Bush of 92.3 The Fan.” YouTube link here. Ward’s podcast is just about the only place where you can hear objective OBJ commentary.

Odell Beckham, Jr. Reined-In!

Thank the sweet baby Jesus! Forget the Jadeveon Clowney signing! Forget the 2021 draft class! Forget the return of Grant & Greedy! The Browns have done something far more momentous: they have reined-in Odell Beckham, Jr.!

OBJ, who is notorious for lacking chemistry with Baker Mayfield, has been taken to the woodshed by Browns receivers coach, Chad O’Shea, who was recently a guest on an official Browns podcast. When asked by a happy-talking corporate shill just how giddy he was to have OBJ back from injury, O’Shea said, in a stern tone:

“I think the one thing that’s been great for him to see is we’ve gone through a lot of the film this off-season already with Odell and showed him the things that he can be a part of offensively for us and be a productive player, and be a big part of our offense that we now have evidence of on film that we didn’t have last year…hey, this is where you’re going to be, this is how you’re going to run the route, and this is how you’re going to win the route. That’s been something that’s been very good for him, spending time the last several weeks, to be able to go through that process and to envision himself in how he can be a big part of this offense.”

Sounds to me like OBJ has been assigned a very specific role, don’t you agree? No more “creative” route-running, no more using his superstar-powered charisma to tilt the field in his favor. From here on out, OBJ will be required to play to a professional standard. And to accept being told “how you’re going to run the route.”

At least that’s the plan. But will O’Shea be able to enforce it when the season begins? Imagine OBJ defiantly running his own route, catching a ball from Baker, and running it in for a touchdown. Will O’Shea reprimand him? Will he bench him? Or will OBJ just go back to doing how he pleases?

We will see. But if O’Shea can pull this off, the Browns will win the Super Bowl, and O’Shea should win the Assistant Coach of the Year Award.

Keep in mind that the metric is not how well OBJ does. It’s how well Baker does. The whole reason why you want OBJ restricted to a well-defined role is so that he doesn’t distract Baker. Of course, Baker needs to do his part too. He needs to read the defense, and go through his progressions regardless of how insistent OBJ is that he get the ball.

Ideally, this problem would be solved by trading OBJ. But if your knucklehead owner insists on inflicting OBJ on the Browns, then this is the best you can hope for.

Godspeed, Mr. O’Shea, godspeed.

Note: O’Shea made his comments at the 34:15 mark of this podcast: 2021 Browns Schedule Analysis & WRs Coach Chad O’Shea | Best Podcast Available. (That’s episode 14, which was released on May 13, 2021.)

Note: Maybe this is why OBJ shut down his Instagram. There’s no way in hell he wouldn’t bristle at being micromanaged like this. Maybe the shutdown is just his way of showing displeasure for not being treated like God’s gift to football. A little passive/aggressive ploy to deprive fans, and maybe even the team, of his rehab videos. Fine with me. As far as I’m concerned, Rashard Higgins was the better receiver in 2020 anyway.

Baker Mayfield’s Coming Regression

Baker Mayfield has zero on-field chemistry with Odell Beckham, Jr. Never had it; never will. Chemistry can’t be built with a “no practice” guy like OBJ. Despite that, and according to everybody on the Browns, including Baker, OBJ will be starting for the Browns again this fall, kicking Rashard Higgins right back to the curb, no doubt.

In other words, a formula that got the Browns deep into the playoffs will be scrapped in favor of one that is statistically dogshit. Baker and OBJ were the worst QB/WR combo in 2019. They were terrible in the beginning of 2020 too. In the second half of 2020, Higgins replaced OBJ, and he and Baker played at an elite level for the rest of the season.

Obviously, we can’t have that…

…because the Browns are not a football team; but rather an OBJ cult of personality.

It is statistically irrefutable that the Browns are better without OBJ. And yet everybody is parading around acting like OBJ’s return is going to be a big boost for the Browns. That’s just plain crazy. But don’t take my word for it; it was ESPN who dropped the statistical nuke on OBJ.

Have you noticed that OBJ’s defenders never cite stats when they defend OBJ? That’s because OBJ’s stats with the Browns stink. What they do say is that ESPN’s work is a mere narrative; just a yarn spun from whole cloth by OBJ haters. Even Baker does that. Here’s what he said in a recent interview:

“The narrative can be what it is, but we’re looking forward to getting back to work together.”

Note to Baker: it’s not a narrative; it’s cold, hard stats. You and OBJ are a terrible duo. In fact, I would go so far as to speculate that if OBJ had stayed healthy in 2020, and Hig stayed on the bench, instead of picking up your fifth-year option, the team would have given up on you and traded you away. You, my friend, were saved by fate. This year, you have a chance to take matters into your own hands by demanding that Higgins be on the field instead of being a healthy scratch. Landry, Higgins, Njoku, that’s where your bread is buttered.

Sadly, Baker himself is a member of the OBJ cult and is doomed to regress this year. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Speaking of narratives, Baker spouts the official team narrative that it was the Bye Week “self scout” that took the offense to a higher level. But this narrative is child’s play to debunk. The Bye Week was Week 9, and Baker had his franchise-record 22-pass-completion streak in Week 7, only twelve minutes after OBJ left the game. Not a lot of time for a sideline self-scout in there, right? Baker went from being a mediocrity to being elite mere minutes after OBJ was out of his hair. For more details, see what I wrote here.

Can the Browns still win the Super Bowl with OBJ on the field? Probably not. The defense is poised to be greatly improved. And Coach Stefanski can go back to a more strict Kubiak-Shanahan implementation on offense, release the Two-Headed Monster, and minimize the poor play of Baker & OBJ. But winning the Super Bowl without an elite QB is just not a thing.

Note: I am a huge Baker fan, and it was fantastic watching him play so well last season, post-OBJ. And it will be heartbreaking to watch him go back to forcing ball-after-ball to OBJ again with half the balls going uncaught. But on the bright side, that will force the Browns to lean more on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt who are just as much fun to watch. It will be a replay of Weeks 1-6 of the 2020 season, but with a much better defense. If you don’t get your hopes up about a Super Bowl, you should enjoy the season.

The Odell Beckham, Jr. Flying Circus Offense

Odell Beckham, Jr. may not be a coach, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t call the shots. He’s like a pretty girl who just seems to always get her way, despite not having any official power. When OBJ is on the field, there is always a danger that he will grab the steering wheel and run the Browns right into a fucking tree.

And if you look at his stats from the 22 games he has played with the Browns, he has done exactly that. When OBJ is on the field, Baker’s passer rating drops through the floor boards. When OBJ is not on the field, Baker plays at an elite level.

The reason for this is that the Browns are an excellent football team – when OBJ is injured. But when OBJ is on the field, the Browns turn into a cult of personality solely dedicated to aggrandizing OBJ’s ego. In other words, they stop playing professional quality football, and devolve into something I call the OBJ Flying Circus Offense (OBJ-FCO).

Make no mistake, the cult knows exactly what goes wrong when OBJ is in the lineup, but that doesn’t stop them from eating it up with a spoon. Perhaps the most rabid OBJ thrall is Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Here she is fingering the exact problem (see footnote #1):

“Odell likes to get open however he can. Baker likes a precise route run.”

Elsewhere, Cabot praises this as OBJ’s creativity. But consider what happens when Baker has no idea what the fuck OBJ is going to do: he has to stop reading the defense and read OBJ. He literally has to stop looking at his other receivers, and lock onto OBJ, otherwise he will miss the moment when OBJ gets open. This throws off the entire offense: the lineman don’t know how quick Baker will be getting the ball out, the other receivers don’t know where OBJ is going to be so that they can block for him, etc. And when OBJ gets open, and Baker doesn’t see him, it looks like Baker is the one who stinks.

So, the central principle of the OBJ-FCO is that the QB reads OBJ, not the defense.

And, as you might imagine, that is not how professional football is played. Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins do just the opposite: they run precise routes and are always at their designated location when the laser beam from Baker materializes. For their efforts, they are derided by the cult as mere technicians.

The OBJ-FCO was so bad in 2019 that Kevin Stefanski was brought in to muzzle both OBJ and Baker with a run-oriented offensive scheme. At the time, it was not known who the real problem was. So, Stefanski just turned the ball over to Nick Chub, Kareem Hunt, Wyatt Teller, etc. and the Browns did just fine.

Fast forward to the present day, and the cult is in a frenzy over OBJ returning from rehab. They actually believe that OBJ will make the Browns better, despite there being zero statistical evidence of him ever doing any such thing. Here is Mary Kay Cabot yearning for the OBJ-FCO (footnote #2):

“If you do keep Odell on the team, you really do have to make sure, like they did in the Dallas game…they have to make sure that you give him plenty to do, plenty to do early on. You’ve got to let him throw the ball, you got to let him run reverses, you got to let him catch the ball from Jarvis, you’ve got to let him find a way somehow to really showcase all of his talents and his abilities.”

In other words, give the ball to OBJ on every play. Ironically, this comment was made right after a discussion of how OBJ’s celebrity gets inside of Baker’s head and screws him up! They know that OBJ is football poison! And they still drink the Kool-Aid!

But Cabot goes even further: she wants the team to negotiate with OBJ in what his role will be (footnote #3):

“One of the things I would look seriously into is: what does he want? What does he want? You have to sit down with him, and with his representatives, and you have to see if he is willing to continue to pour his heart and sole into being here, and if he wants to make a go of it here, and if he feels like he and Baker are going to be a great match together…If he really sees that he can be an integral part of this offense, and that he can shine and help this team win, and be used in so many different ways; throw the ball, run the ball, and some of the other things we’ve seen him do, then I think that goes on the plus side of the ledger. Let me stay here and show you guys what I think I can do in this offense.”

Can you imagine? The Browns ran deep into the playoffs without OBJ and now we are going to have OBJ dictate the offensive scheme? Are you fucking insane?

Regardless of talent, you just can’t give the ball to any player on every down because that makes the offense too predictable. The incredible parity produced by the NFL neutralizes talent. The only way to win is to fool the other team. The NFL game is a game of deception, and this is the second fatal flaw of the OBJ-FCO; it is predictable. What did Baker do as soon as OBJ was injured during the Bengals game? He started spreading the ball around, and it worked like magic.

Also, in case you didn’t notice, Coach Stefanski got more conservative with his play-calling as the season went on, and it was looking more-and-more like the Browns had a real shot at making the playoffs. His tolerance for OBJ might have even decreased since he installed the Kubiak-Shanahan system at the beginning of the 2020 season. And, if you recall, that move was widely understood as a demotion of OBJ’s role.

Nevertheless, former Rams running back Doc Holliday has the correct solution for handling OBJ (footnote #4):

“Y’all have some chemistry going on. I would think the best thing y’all can do; y’all holding onto OBJ…don’t let him come back into the offense forcing things, forcing him the ball. Let him come back and play a role because offensively y’all got some chemistry going on…You have a superstar like OBJ with a superstar mentality. Just don’t let him come back trying to force things, and force them to give him the ball. Make him come in and play within the parameters of the offense.”

I sure hope the Browns are able to do that. But what I want to know is, given the analytics that we now posses, why is OBJ even on the team? The fact that he hasn’t been shipped off is a blatant case of football malpractice, and the people of Cleveland should file a class action lawsuit against the Haslams. Why not just trade OBJ for some draft capital, bring in another top-flight edge rusher, and win the Super Bowl? It really would be that easy.

Note: To see the statistical evidence against OBJ, scroll down to the “The Statistical Evidence of the OBJ Albatross” section on my “Trade Away OBJ” page.

Footnote #1: this quote came near the 25:08 mark of the Orange & Brown Podcast on February 24, 2021 titled: “Building the Browns wide receiver room…

Footnote #2: this quote came near the 31:25 mark of the Orange & Brown Podcast on February 24, 2021 titled: “Building the Browns wide receiver room…”

Footnote #3: this quote begins around the 17:05 mark the February 22, 2012 episode of “The Orange and Brown Talk” podcast titled “The Case for and Against trading Odell Beckham, Jr.

Footnote #4: Doc Holliday is a former Rams running back, and co-host of the “Bleav in Rams” podcast. Holliday said the words above near the 27:50 mark of Brad Ward’s “All Eyez on Cleveland” podcast during the March 17, 2021 episode titled “Browns FA Profile: Star Safety John Johnson III featuring Doc Holliday.” YouTube link here.