April 23, 2014

Would Browns trade down to draft Derek Carr?

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I lust for the day when the Cleveland Browns draft rumors won’t involve first round quarterbacks. In order for that to be the case, the Browns will have to find one, probably in the first round. So, the only question is where in the first round? As the Browns are set to host Carr in Cleveland this week, Pro Football Talk suggests maybe Ray Farmer and the Browns could take a page out of the Ravens’ book.

They could trade down from No. 4 and draft Carr in the teens, like the Ravens did when acquiring Joe Flacco six years ago. This would give the Browns an extra pick or two as the latest new coaching staff tries to put together a team that fits the new schemes and systems.

One of my biggest complaints about the Browns — as I’ve stated time and again — is that under Mike Holmgren, they seemed to constantly lose the “poker game” aspects of the NFL draft. The Browns went and got guys they wanted, which is good, but they seemed to pay steep prices. I’m really hoping that the Browns stop losing the poker game under Ray Farmer.

Maybe that includes confidently trading down, gaining more assets and still getting a player they covet. Now, whether or not they should be coveting Derek Carr is another conversation…

[Related: "Growing sentiment" that Browns nab Carr at No. 4]

Photo: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

Calling out the worst of all NFL draft clichés

2012 NFL Draft

Leading up to an NFL draft, there are a lot of hackneyed conversations that will drive a fan absolutely crazy. It seems that some fans want to rely on simplistic rules to simplify the NFL draft for themselves. It’s a coping mechanism to help deal with the fact that most fans have do not possess nearly enough information to truly decide what their team needs or how they should build for the future. It’s not an indictment of fans to not know, but it is an indictment for fans who pretend like they do.

Know what, exactly? It’s infuriating this time of year, but how many fans do you come across — at the bar, calling sports talk radio or on Twitter — who think of themselves as the only one qualified to run the war room of their favorite football team? Imagine every nugget of their “wisdom” being delivered with a confident, smug smile that says, “I just know I’m right.” Instead of looking at each team like a complex system that needs lots of different pieces, we get a lot of vague, simplistic misconceptions. And with that, here are my least favorite draft clichés.

[Read more...]

Browns to reportedly hire Baltimore’s Andy Moeller as new offensive line coach

Andy MoellerMike Pettine continues to add to his Cleveland Browns coaching staff and reportedly will poach a former colleague from an AFC North rival to lead his offensive line.

Andy Moeller, Baltimore’s assistant offensive line coach, will take the offensive line job with the Browns, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. Of course, Pettine worked in Baltimore from 2002-2008, overlapping with Moeller in that final season.

The 49-year-old Moeller started with the Ravens as an assistant in 2008. He then was the team’s offensive line coach from 2011-12. This season, he was replaced and brought back down to assistant with the addition of long-time Philadelphia Eagles coach Juan Castillo to the Ravens staff.

Moeller’s name made some national news back in 2011 when he was suspended for the team’s first two games because of multiple alcohol-related incidents.

Previously, before his Baltimore days, he worked in college football and accumulated seven years at Michigan, six years at Missouri and six years at Army. The background is certainly extensive.

In Cleveland, he’ll replace George Warhop, who bolted along with two former Browns colleagues to the warmer pastures of Tampa Bay. Warhop had been in Cleveland since 2009. He was well regarded for helping with the development of Pro Bowl linemen Joe Thomas and Alex Mack.

The Browns still are without a confirmed offensive coordinator. Former Tennessee coordinator Dowell Loggains has signed on as at least the quarterbacks coach. There have been few updates of late on Kyle Shanahan potentially coming on board as well.

[Related: All-Pro Josh Gordon: ‘You cannot replace Norv Turner’]

Photo: Associated Press

Will Browns be motivated enough to dash Steelers playoff hopes?

chudzinski presserI have no doubt that on Sunday the Cleveland Browns players will be trying to win as they’re somewhere near a touchdown underdog on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t believe that players and coaches involved in an NFL schedule think about the NFL draft or anything other than doing their jobs and maybe trying to have fun as they play out their schedule. The Browns might not win this weekend in Pittsburgh, and they might even be generally unmotivated, but it won’t be “tanking” if they lose.

In a violent game like NFL football, we’ve seen what can happen to a quarterback who gets lazy in pursuit of the safety of out-of-bounds lines and take an unnecessary hit.  In a game where players get hurt all the time while trying their hardest, the injury rate has to be even higher when players are laying off and only half playing. There’s no way of measuring this, of course, but it makes loads of sense.

What does this mean for the Browns game this weekend? [Read more...]

NFL News: Tomlin fined and Steelers may yet see draft pick punishment

Mike Tomlin’s sideline transgression was going to cost him and the Steelers. That much we knew. Now, there’s an idea of just how much. Ian Rapoport is reporting that in the first wave, Mike Tomlin’s pocket will be hit to the tune of $100,000. Although the rest of the punishment is unknown, he also reports that the NFL is still considering taking away or downgrading a draft pick by the time it’s all said and done.

Pittsburgh lost the game to Baltimore on Thursday night, and you can only imagine the outrage that would have ensued if Baltimore had lost. During the game, Mike Tomlin stepped onto the field of play as Jacoby Jones was racing down the sideline to try and return the ball for a touchdown. He appeared to need to take a step inward to avoid Mike Tomlin and almost simultaneously he was tackled by the last available Steelers defender to save the touchdown.

The Steelers lost the game and stand to lose even more, it seems.

For further backdrop on sideline incidents, read Jacob’s first post on this topic.

NFL News: Steelers might lose draft pick for Mike Tomlin incident

NFL News: Cleveland Browns to work out Caleb Hanie

The 21st quarterback of your Cleveland Browns since 1999 might have finally revealed himself. According to Mary Kay Cabot, Caleb Hanie is likely headed to Cleveland for a workout and an interview.

Caleb Hanie is 28 years old and has spent time with the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and most recently the Baltimore Ravens, although he didn’t make it to September with the Ravens. He’s only thrown 116 career passes, and hasn’t played in a regular season NFL game since the 2011 season with Chicago. He has three career TDs and 10 career interceptions.

Hanie went undrafted in 2008 out of Colorado State.

[Related: Browns’ play pulls the plug on FirstEnergy Stadium]

Ozzie Newsome taken from stadium in ambulance

Following today’s Ravens-Bears game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ravens general manager and former Browns great Ozzie Newsome did not feel well and left the stadium in an ambulance, according to several reports.

“Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome left Soldier Field via ambulance after his team’s loss to the Bears, as first reported by WNST’s Nestor Aparicio. The Chicago Tribune‘s Brad Biggs later confirmed the news, via a Bears source.

Aparicio, a radio personality in Baltimore, tweeted that he rode in an elevator with Newsome and Newsome was “sweating profusely.” Biggs reported that “Ravens officials were adamant they wanted person going on ambulance taken out side door of locker room so no one would see.””

Newsome played tight end for the Browns from 1978-1990 and compiled 600+ receptions, nearly 8,000 yards receiving, and 47 receiving touchdowns in his career. Newsome was a 1999 Hall of Fame inductee after not missing a single game in his 13-year career.

Following his playing days, he went to the Browns front office as an executive. When the team left for Baltimore in 1996, Ozzie went with them and has remained there ever since. He was appointed as General Manager in 2002, and he’s highly regarded as one of the best in the business.

All the best to Ozzie.

Related: Cleveland Browns punt opportunity against Bengals, lose 41-20

Cleveland Browns Film Room: Blitzing the Ravens

Gang I wish I had more opportunities for film rooms. I really do. Part of the problem is that the all-22 and end zone views aren’t available until the middle of the week, and my schedule has gotten crazy from Wednesday on. Life just gets in the way.

BrownsFilmRoom

I wanted to highlight something that Craig and I talked about in our podcast from this past Tuesday: The defense has been terrific over the last six quarters of football going back to the second half of the Kansas City game. They have gotten pressure on the quarterback and have recorded 11 sacks over those two games.

Early in the season, most of the sacks came when the team rushed just four and had seven in coverage. The past two weeks we have seen more of Ray Horton’s more exotic blitz schemes. Safety T.J. Ward has two sacks over those games, and cornerback Chris Owens got into the action with a sack himself against the ravens.

During Baltimore’s only real possession of the fourth quarter, the Browns pulled out all the stops to get pressure on Flacco. The Browns were up by only three points, 21-18. Two blitzes in particular I wanted to highlight, mostly because they came on third downs. [Read more...]

NFL News: Greg Little confirms he was being choked during Ravens game

(Click for larger version)

(Click for larger version)

You never quite know with still photos, but if you take Greg Little’s word, he was in fact being choked. Mary Kay Cabot has the quote.

“I know the ref was saying ‘let go of his face mask,’ but he was choking me, so I’m not (going to let go),” said Little, who was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. “There’s a thin line between football and just morals and if you’re a man, you’re not going to let a guy spit in your face, and your not going to let a guy choke you.”

Of course we’ll now see how the NFL’s disciplinary arm deals with this in terms of fines. As it stands now, the only one who has been punished is Greg Little with 30 yards worth of yellow laundry on the field last Sunday. Almost makes you wish the Browns had one more game left against the Ravens this year. This finally has the makings of a rivalry considering the Browns finally stood victorious at the end of one of these games.

[Related: NFL News: Jason Campbell named AFC offensive player of the week]

Rick and Craig talk about the Browns headed into the bye week – WFNY Podcast – 2013-11-05

WFNY Podcast LogoRick and I talked about the Browns game from Sunday. We also talked a bit about the Browns heading into the bye week.

  • Is this one of the weirdest up and down Browns seasons in memory?
  • How did the Browns come to play the QBs they’ve played so far this year?
  • The nuance of talking about the running game issues without getting lost in the Trent Richardson debate
  • Willis McGahee and just how ineffective he’s been for the Browns
  • Davone Bess and how some people wanted to cut him just a week before
  • The reactionary nature of Browns fans
  • The hiring of Chud and comparing his handling of the Browns to Pat Shurmur
  • Norv Turner and his influence on the quarterback decisions
  • Ray Horton’s defense gaining traction


Check out this episode

Scott Raab on the Browns beating the Ravens, Chris Perez and Chris Grant’s future – WFNY Podcast – 2013-11-04

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab ended this week’s podcast telling everyone to go to the dentist, don’t do drugs and stay in school. You should listen all the way to the end to see how we got there. As per usual, here’s the email I sent Scott last night.

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They beat the Ravens. It was a “proof of parity” game for the Browns. The Cleveland Browns with Jason Campbell are no longer defying the rules of parity in the NFL! There’s nothing like going into a bye week with a win. Love it. Love being consistently mediocre with a chance to win. I hate myself for loving it as much as I do.

Farewell Chris Perez. There was a lot of talk about Chris Perez’ legacy this week in Cleveland and it seems like a waste of breath. I supported Chris Perez talking when he was in Cleveland because I kind of like it when athletes don’t shy away from saying something real as opposed to a cookie-cutter phrase. [Read more...]

Pic: Was Greg Little being choked by a Ravens player?

The Browns won yesterday beating the Ravens 24-18, so Greg Little’s two personal fouls are much easier to take. Now some visual evidence makes at least one of the penalties a little bit more understandable. It sure appears like Greg Little is being choked by some Ravens player’s hands in the pile. This was the incident where Little was penalized for grabbing a helmet.

(Click for larger version)

(Click for larger version)

So while Joe Haden was right that this isn’t the same old Ravens, it appears he was also wrong. It is the same old Ravens in terms of attitude, toughness and willingness to provoke opposing teams and be largely intimidating. At least the Browns and Greg Little didn’t shrivel.

(Thanks to @MarkSkog for sending the original pic)

[Related: Cleveland Browns Week Nine: Winners and Losers]

NFL News: Ravens say Greg Little is “trying to be a tough guy”

So, is Greg Little the next Kevin Garnett? Is he just trying to be a tough guy? Is he faking it? Little didn’t shy away from the chippiness in the Browns’ 24-18 victory on Sunday afternoon, getting into skirmishes and picking up two personal fouls in the process.

It didn’t go unnoticed in the Ravens locker room.

“He’s trying to be a tough guy,” Ihedigbo said. “Some guys who aren’t tough try to prove that they’re tough.”

Meanwhile whether or not Little is trying to be a tough guy, he was tackled into the pile when he earned his first personal foul and was given an extra shove after already being out of town when he earned his taunting penalty. So the jury is out on who, exactly, was attempting to be a “tough guy.”

Little also had 122 yards receiving on the Ravens defense which (Jamison Hensley’s post also notes) mostly skipped out on talking to the media after the game.

[Related: The Cleveland Browns begin beautiful bye by beating Ravens 24-18]

Animated: Davone Bess shows some serious shake and bake

Bess Shake and Bake

Davone Bess had a pretty good game today for the Browns, but nothing was finer than this move in the open field that sprung him for a TD.

 

The Cleveland Browns begin beautiful bye by beating Ravens 24-18

Browns Celebrate TDIt’s going to be a fun bye week Browns fans. Your team beat a division rival. They beat them without a lot of gimmicks or tricks. Your team stood up and played to their capabilities and just flat out beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-18. Yes, this team has lost tons of players since last season, but they’re still the defending Super Bowl champs and your Browns beat them.

It wasn’t all cakes and pies. Browns fans got a peek at Brandon Weeden after Jason Campbell was the recipient of a pancake courtesy of Haloti Ngata. Ngata is the same player that had a lot to do with the gnashing of teeth over the Cleveland Browns trading with Pittsburgh on draft day this year, by the way. The last time the Browns traded in the division, they swapped picks with the Ravens so that they could take Ngata. The Browns took Kamerion Wimbley. But let’s not go down that road. Despite the momentary taste of Weeden, Jason Campbell came back to play and play well. [Read more...]

Fun with Numbers: Browns-Ravens edition

sheard ravensBefore the Browns host the Ravens today for a special 4 p.m. game at FirstEnergy Stadium, I did some research to share some fascinating numerical tidbits for you today. You can check back to Oct. 5 for the last time I did this feature.

2,178 – Number of days since Cleveland last defeated Baltimore in an NFL game. This occurred on Nov. 18, 2007. The final score was 33-30 in overtime. Kyle Boller was the Ravens quarterback. Josh Cribbs had 245 kick-return yards, the second-highest total in his career. Baltimore has won all 11 matchups since this date by an average score of 11.6-24.1. The Browns have scored over 17 points just once in these contests.

80% – Jason Campbell’s 105.4 QB rating against Kansas City ranked as the 15th-best performance in his NFL career in games with nine-plus passing attempts. He has 75 such games in his career, marking last week’s outing at exactly the 80 percentile mark for his career. Campbell’s career QB rating is 82.8. The 2013 NFL average is 84.1. [Read more...]

Reign On Spotlight Player of the Week: D’Qwell Jackson

As a local market representative and league manager of one of 16 teams invited to be a part of Crown Royal’s inaugural Fantasy Football League dubbed “First and Crown,” I will be using this spot every Sunday before the Browns kick off against their respective opponent to tell you who I’ll be watching during this Week’s contest.

This Week’s Spotlight: D’Qwell Jackson, ILB

DJacksonFor a defense that is allegedly among the best in the NFL, Cinderella’s carriage sure turns into a pumpkin once that down marker reads “3.” The Cleveland Browns defense has done an exceptional job on first and second downs, holding opposing rushers and terrorizing quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers. But it’s on third downs when Ray Horton’s ears-pinned-back defense gets shredded in the most frustrating of fashions—screen passes, previously unknown tight ends on post patterns, and broken plays extended by athletic quarterbacks being among them.

This week, as the Browns look to break their much-discussed 11-game losing streak against the Baltimore Ravens, where stopping Joe Flacco on third down will be imperative. Shifty, pass-catching running back Ray Rice is reportedly healthy after sustaining an injury during the last match-up between these two teams. And for this reason, it is the team captain and containing linebacker D’Qwell Jackson who gets this week’s Spotlight.

As Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard try to reach the quarterback before he can make a decision, it will be up to Jackson (and teammate Craig Robertson), to hold down the middle of the field—to get down the line when needed, to fill in the gaps, and to bring down Rice any time his number is called.

The Ravens no longer have Anquan Boldin. It can be reasonably assumed that All-Everything cornerback Joe Haden will be blanketing Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. Marlon Brown, Baltimore’s Week 2 hero, is losing targets to Jacoby Jones. Alas, it will be up to Rice to carry a good portion of the load for his team. Conversely, it will be up to DQ52 to carry the momentum gained from the second half of last week’s loss and get his defense off of the field after three downs. Stopping Rice is a terrific first step in doing just that.

Previous Spotlight Players:

Josh Gordon, WR
Barkevious Mingo, OLB
Brandon Weeden, QB
Jabaal Sheard, OLB
Paul Kruger, OLB

Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY

While We’re Waiting… Ohio State deserves more respect

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Trying to give Buckeyes the respect they deserve: “You know what we should do with Ohio State? We should ignore what’s happening there. The undefeated season last year, the 8-0 start this year. Add that up, carry the one, and that’s a 20-0 run the Buckeyes are on since Urban Meyer became head coach before the 2012 season.” [Gregg Doyel/CBSSports.com] [Read more...]

Which Browns team will show up on Sunday?

Battle for the BrownsThe last time the Browns played the Ravens, it wasn’t a pretty sight. Even though the Browns didn’t play particularly well, they were still in that game until the end, losing 14-6.  Jordan Cameron was the only bright spot on offense for the Browns, and Barkevious Mingo recorded a sack on his first snap on defense. Brandon Weeden was hurt in the game, hitting his thumb on a helmet.

What followed of course is the story of the Browns’ season.

Enter Brian Hoyer and a three-game winning streak. Exit Trent Richardson via trade to the Colts.

But that story had a sad ending as Hoyer went down on a first down run against the Bills. Enter Brandon Weeden and a two-game losing streak in which the defense gave up 31 points twice in a row.

Finally, last week the Browns faced off against the undefeated Chiefs. This time it was exit Brandon Weeden and enter Jason Campbell. The defense looked terrible in the first half, giving up 20 points, 16 first downs and total yards. The offense had two big plays, and that’s about it.

At halftime, Joe Haden says the team (and especially the defense) got a verbal smack down from the coaching staff. The result was a big turnaround. The Browns held Kansas City to five straight punts in the second half before surrendering a field goal after the Browns went for it in their own territory. [Read more...]

NFL Rumor: Browns were interested in trade for Eugene Monroe

There had been murmurs earlier in the week of the Browns’ reported interest in Eugene Monroe, the left tackle just traded from Jacksonville to Baltimore. Now, we have the gory details, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora’s latest report:

The Jaguars dealt starting left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Ravens this week for fourth- and fifth-round picks, with Jacksonville assuming $2.35 million of Monroe’s salary and the Ravens paying $547,000. The Browns, hearing of the Ravens nearing a deal for Monroe, reached out to the Jaguars late, and asked of their interest in a player (believed to be receiver Greg Little or right tackle Mitchell Schwartz) , but were told the Jaguars had no interest in the player at that point that trade was essentially complete, sources said.

La Canfora said the trade talks were exclusively between the Jaguars and Ravens, much like the Browns and Colts discussion of the Trent Richardson deal. The Browns would have had the ability to absorb more of Monroe’s long-term deal and would also have been willing to throw in a second-day draft pick, if needed. But talks never occurred.

Overall, the meat of this report is this: the Browns “valued Monroe very highly as a long-term answer at right tackle” with Joe Thomas at left tackle. Considering the team’s interest in Monroe and Schwartz’s potential availability in such a deal, it appears that is unsurprising. Overall, the second-year pro has struggled so far this season.

Cleveland also was interested in Arizona left tackle Levi Brown, who later was traded to the AFC North and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Monroe, an unrestricted free agent this upcoming offseason, could perhaps reach a long-term deal with the Ravens, but no attempts have been made yet by the team.

[Related: Fun with Numbers: Browns stats as they improve to 3-2]