Ray Farmer is closing in on his second season as General Manager for the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have a record of 9-18 under his watch.
If you read the blogs, the articles or the thousands of tweets with the #FireFarmer you will quickly notice that Farmer is not highly thought of among the Browns faithful.
WOIOSports on Twitter ran a poll on who they would like to see dismissed or fired from the team, with the four options of Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer, Jim O’Neil or the whole team in general. Ray Farmer had 34% of the 396 votes, Pettine had 8%. Leading the pack was ‘The whole team’ with 52% of the votes.
Here is why I believe Ray Farmer should be the last to blame. Let’s point out the obvious: Draft picks.
In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Browns selected cornerback Justin Gilbert, quarterback Johnny Manziel, offensive lineman Joel Bitonio, linebacker Christian Kirksey, running back Terrance West and cornerback Pierre Desir. Like Trent Richardson, West was given one year before he got traded to the Titans and later cut, only to be picked up by Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens. Gilbert, in my opinion was Pettine’s pick, and Manziel was owner Jimmy Haslam’s pick. Kirksey, Bitonio and Desir have been solid players, starting many games for the Browns, even in their rookie season.
The team was 7-4 and in first place of the AFC North when rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel. Since Manziel’s first completion in the NFL, the Browns rattled off five losses to finish the season at 7-9. Manziel played in three of those losses.
2015 Draft: It is not yet known who is a bust or who is a great pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The players I like and who I believe have a great future in the NFL, Danny Shelton-Nate Orchard-Charles Gaines-Xavier Cooper-Duke Johnson, which are the players who have been given the most time. Shelton was highly praised coming out of college and was noted as the “safe pick” in the first round, but only playing in certain packages gives him limited reps. Running back Duke Johnson could be regarded as the Browns biggest play maker, because every time he touches the ball, he makes a play that a traditional running back could not make.
Overall, it takes time to judge players and label them as a bust or a great pick.
Let’s get to the point, if the players that Farmer selects in the draft aren’t being coached up, his pick is worthless.
Every college player that ends up getting drafted was selected because a General Manager believes he has the talent to be an NFL player.
Let me give you an example, if you are the greatest pizza maker at Pizza Place A, and you go off and work for Pizza Place B, and you aren’t taught how to make their product, you will likely make a poor pizza when it comes to the standard of Pizza Place B. I do not expect the coaching staff to hold the players hands as they learn, but I do believe it is the coaches' job to find the players skill set and use them to the best of their ability. I don't see the talent on this team being properly used.
Dwayne Bowe averaged 881 yards per season in his time with the Chiefs. The Browns signed him to a $9 million contract, only for him to go out and snag three catches in five games played. Bowe has certainly lost a step after watching him in preseason, however, to drop from getting 600-1,200 yards a season to 31 yards, seems to be a coaching/system problem. Bowe could certainly play a role in the huge drop off in production, but he isn’t getting enough looks for us to judge if his talent has completely dropped off that much. For the most part, the receivers on the Browns are shorter than the traditional wide receivers in the NFL, so an option could be to take advantage of Bowe's big frame in red zone packages and see if he can go up and get the ball on a shorter cornerback, much like how every other team uses their tallest wide receiver.
How can so many teams find talent in late rounds and end up developing them into great players? Those players are being coached up and taught a great system that many players before them have succeeded in. Former Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman jumps off to me. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots took the QUARTERBACK in the Seventh Round, and transformed him into one of the best receivers in the league. The list can go on and on with teams selecting players that weren’t on the radars of general managers, only to go off and have very successful careers.
Moral of the story is this: The players the Browns are drafting aren’t terrible players, they just aren’t being coached up properly. This is why I refuse to blame Ray Farmer over anyone in the Browns organization, however, I’m not giving him a complete pass yet, just simply believe there are bigger issues the Browns fans need to focus on. Like every general manager, there are poor decisions, but this organization needs to find stability from the top all the way down to the bottom. Whether it's with this regime or the next, Haslam needs to stick with one. An organization will never be successful changing coaches and general managers every one to two years.
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