April 18, 2014

NFL News: Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams calls out Rob Chudzinski

Last season, Rob Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator for the lowly Carolina Panthers. Although they had an exciting young quarterback in Cam Newton, he’s already been called out by veteran receiver Steve Smith.

This time, it was running back DeAngelo Williams’ turn in line to call out Chud. In an article Tuesday afternoon from David Newton at ESPN.com, the former Memphis Tigers star pointed fingers fairly directly at the new Browns head coach:

“I’m not going to start anything or push anything out there. I can say this, though — a different offensive coordinator. I can definitely say that. The last offensive coordinator got rid of his starting running back.”

“Did I take a shot? Or did I speak facts? A shot is just like it can be factual but it’s really not. That was all facts. I wasn’t taking a shot at him — he knows what he’s doing.”

“You tell me what the difference is in 2013 versus 2012.”

Williams, now 30 years old, ranks third in the NFL with 291 rushing yards through Carolina’s first three games. The team is only 1-2, but just dominated the New York Giants 38-0 at home this past Sunday. They have a Week 4 bye.

The ESPN article shared that Chudzinski “was instrumental” in the Browns’ controversial trade of star running back Trent Richardson last week to Indianapolis. Williams’ comments about taking a shot were in reference to that trade and how he didn’t intend to criticize Chudzinski for that move.

Yet, the other comments do mirror Smith’s earlier remarks about Chudzinski supposedly holding back the Carolina offense in 2012. Cleveland was off to a slow start to the 2013 season, but burst through with a myriad of trick plays and impressive offensive performances during a 31-27 win in Minnesota.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Game Three: Winners and Losers]

NFL News: Panthers’ Steve Smith blames Chudzinski for 2012 season

Every week in the NFL beat writers for every team are included in a conference call with the opposing team’s coach and one of their players. The Carolina Panthers play the Seattle Seahawks opening weekend, and veteran wide receiver Steve Smith was the Panther selected to answer questions from the Seattle media. Some of his remarks didn’t paint a friendly picture of new Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski.

“The prior offensive coordinator [Chudzinski] really was positioning himself to just apply for that head coaching job,” Smith said Wednesday on a conference call with Seattle Seahawks reporters. “I think our offense suffered a little bit because of that.”

Smith, 34, a five-time Pro Bowler, felt Chudzinski had the Panthers get away from some of their strengths last season.

“At times, we got cute,” Smith said. “We did things that weren’t necessarily us, like the underutilizing of [running back] Mike Tolbert. But we’re out of that. The past is the past.” [Blount/ESPN]

Smith caught 73 passes for 1,174 yards and 4 touchdowns last season for the Panthers. Carolina was 12th in total offense, 16th in passing  and 9th in rushing. They averaged 22.3 points per game.

[Related: Barkevious Mingo joins teammates practicing in pads]

NFL News: Officials poised to crack down on celebrations

Pro Football Talk notes reports from both Vikings and Panthers camps that officials have specifically mentioned ball-spinning as celebrations that could draw 15-yard flags this season. In instances like this, the NFL isn’t necessarily creating new rules as much as it is making a point about enforcement or interpretation of existing rules.

In a lot of ways this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it’s obnoxious to have something change the outcome of a football game that has so little to do with talent at playing football. On the other hand, void enforcement for unsportsmanlike penalties the game might break into constant scuffles and fighting. But the first point is what always drove me so crazy about Dwayne Rudd’s helmet toss loss. It was a rule that he broke, but in no way did enforcement of that penalty help determine which team played better football that day.

Yes, there’s something to be said about composure and focus, but I think you also see my point.

So, it stands to reason that there will be a few instances this season where guys will get flagged for doing something that went unflagged a year ago. It will likely change the face of a game either in the Browns’ favor or against it, and it will still have very little to do with which is the better football team on the field on a given day.

If there’s one nice thing about Ben Watson’s departure it is that at least we won’t risk his group celebration penalties that seemed to happen a couple times per year.

[Related: .@Steelersdepot talks Browns, Steelers, Bengals, Ravens, Shamark-nado, Phil Dawson and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-05]

Trent Richardson and Ozzie Newsome represent Browns in Madden cover vote

Nobody in Cleveland has forgotten the Peyton Hillis Madden cover vote just yet. In the end, it came down to Hillis and Mike Vick, and I don’t know if Vick is wiping his brow for having avoided the curse just yet either, as he took a pay cut this year to stay with the Chip Kelly iteration of the Eagles.

Well now the EA Sports folks have decided to pit “old school” against “new school” for this year’s Madden Cover showdown. On the left side of the bracket are the old school people, including Jake Delhomme for the Panthers, Chad Johnson for the Bengals (how OLD!) and Ozzie Newsome for the Cleveland Browns.

As beloved as Newsome is as a player, it will be a tough road as a 13th seed going up against Kurt Warner in the first round. Plus, even if he advanced, he faces such “old school” names as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and even the recently retired Ray Lewis.

On the “new school” side of things, the Browns are repped by Trent Richardson. He’s the seventh seed against the Packers’ long-haired linebacker with Cleveland Browns lineage, Clay Matthews.

Based on Browns fans’ previous experience with the Madden Cover, while I don’t believe in curses, it might be safer to just vote for the Steelers’ receiver Antonio Brown. You know. Just in case.

[Related: Mike Wallace should give the Browns pause]

NFL News: Panthers claim former Browns CB James Dockery

James Dockery was one of the final cuts for the Browns this season as he was presumably beaten out by guys like Trevin Wade, Johnson Bademosi and Tashaun Gipson. It took a little while, but “Dock” has been picked up off of waivers by the Carolina Panthers to take Jon Beason’s roster spot, who was put on injured reserve.

Beason has only played in five games since receiving a five-year, $51.5 million contract extension in 2011 that included $25 million in guaranteed money. He missed 15 games last year with a torn Achilles in his left leg.

The Panthers claimed cornerback James Dockery off waivers from Cleveland to replace Beason on the 53-man roster. Dockery joined the Panthers at practice Wednesday.

Sources have told WFNY that there is a very good chance that Dockery will be active this weekend and could see the field, despite attending his first practice yesterday. The Panthers, with all their injury issues, have only five corners capable of dressing on Sunday.

[Related:Chargers vs. Browns – Reader Survey]

Expecting the Unexpected From Carolina

Veteran journalist Mark Leonard is back to discuss the upcoming NFL draft. You can find the Mark’s other guest pieces here and here. Mark is a Lorain native who loves writing about his favorite teams.

What would the Cleveland Browns end up doing at six if the Carolina Panthers actually chose to do what would be best for themselves—instead of selecting Auburn QB Cam Newton first overall?

If Alabama DT Marcell Dareus rightfully went atop next Thursday’s draft, LSU CB Patrick Peterson, Texas A&M OLB Von Miller, Georgia WR AJ Green and UNC’s Robert Quinn, drafted as an OLB by Arizona, might all expect to promptly drop from the board.

Left prominently available for selection at slot #6 would be Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers, Alabama WR Julio Jones, Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara and less-celebrated pass-rushers like Missouri’s Aldon Smith and Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan, both of whom are DE/OLB hybrids, might re-enter prominence in Cleveland’s conversations. Even Illinois DT Corey Luiget might warrant consideration, as could Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn. [Read more...]

NFL Labor Dispute Could Spell Disaster for 2011 Browns

The Browns will begin next season with new voices leading all three phases of the game. Whoever is selected as OC will implement Pat Shurmur’s offense. Dick Jauron will bring his own set of calls and schemes to the defense, and Brad Seely will have to be replaced as special teams coach.

Sure, the Browns and other teams have swapped out coaching regimes and installed new systems in the offseason before. But this year could be especially challenging.

The elephant in the locker room for these NFL playoffs has been the potential labor strife headed our way. [Read more...]

Browns 2011 NFL Draft Update: Defensive Line, Cornerback or Wide Receiver?

This is the first of a two-part segment on the 2011 NFL Draft: This first edition analyzes the current draft forecast and matches up general options at the No. 6 pick to the current Browns roster. The next article will analyze the stories of the individual players likely to be available.

Just like last year, it is now time to start analyzing the top prospects available for the Cleveland Browns in the upcoming NFL Draft. The franchise is in a different position than 12 months ago, as despite the success of quarterback Colt McCoy and running back Peyton Hillis, the team finished with another 5-11 record and is now hunting for a new head coach.

This April, the Browns will look to add more pieces to compliment star rookies McCoy, cornerback Joe Haden and safety T.J. Ward. An improved defense shined throughout 2010, but more playmakers are necessary on both sides of the ball to take the next step. Stay tuned below the jump for a look at where things stand right now. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Cavaliers Defense, Snow Days Recap, Ohio State-Michigan Preview

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

I understand that the Magic are a great basketball team. I understand that losing by 11 on the road isn’t all that terrible. I realize that the Magic love to shoot threes and are pretty good at making them. I understand that nobody on this roster has much of a chance at guarding Dwight Howard straight up. I understand all of this. But the Cavs’ defense is freaking embarrassing right now.” [John Krolik/Cavs the Blog]

[Read more...]

The Browns Will Win If…

Well, I’m fully off of my Browns high from a couple of weeks ago. After an abysmal offensive performance on Sunday, the Browns come home to another game that they should have a good chance to win. Except that things have changed a bit. Jake Delhomme is back under center, who hasn’t played since the Atlanta game and hasn’t started since week 1.

brownspanthers

On paper, this looks like an ugly game. These teams are a combined 4-16 on the year, and the Panthers are 0-4 on the road. However, it can be argued that the Browns are a much better 3-7 than are the Panthers at 1-9. For example, the Browns average almost the same amount of points as they allow (19.2 vs 20.6). The Panthers cannot boast the same: they score only 11.7 points per game and allow 25.2. The Panthers’ offense is AWFUL; 11.7 points per game, less than 100 yards of rushing offense per game, and just over 150 yards passing per game. Hopefully the Browns can capitalize. Without further ado…

The Browns Will Win If…

Browns Schedule: About That 5.5 Over/Under Projection…

Before we start printing playoff tickets, let’s just bask in the glow of the Browns’ 34-14 beat-down of the Patriots yesterday, and then let’s slowwww dowwwnnnn on the prognostication. I say this because, while (as I’m about to show you) the Browns’ schedule is about to let up quite a bit, while we can look ahead at the schedule, we can’t start chalking up wins for games six weeks from now. So, guy-who-called-in-to-WTAM-on-my-way-home-and-predicted-a-10-6-finish, perhaps you might want to sleep on that for just a bit. This team is still in the “let’s look for improvement game-to-game” phase of their development, in my opinion. (So, get your “HYPOCRITE!” cannon ready, as I spend the rest of this post prognosticating.)

But, that’s not to say there’s not some reason for optimism. Back at the beginning of September, we here at WFNY had a Roundtable discussion about the Vegas line of 5.5 wins as the over/under mark. A lot of the guys took the over, but with humongous caveats attached to it. [Read more...]

NFL Rumors: Cleveland’s Interest in Julius Peppers

julius-peppersAfter making borderline marginal moves during last year’s off-season, the rumors that continue to swirl around the Cleveland Browns continue to revolve around players with considerably more name recognition.  Just yesterday, we discussed the rumors surrounding a pair (trio?) of Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks.  And today, thanks to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, we revisit thoughts related to five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers.

The thinking behind listing the Browns as a “sleeper” candidate to land Peppers is, as expected, Mike Holmgren.  The newly crowned president has quite a history with late defensive end Reggie White, dating back to the Green Bay Packers signing White as a free agent in 1993.  Similar to what could unfold with the Peppers situation, White’s best years were with the Philadelphia Eagles.  However, White was still able to record 68.5 sacks and was a major player in the two Super Bowl appearances by the Packers.

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… No Cowher in Carolina, Let LeBron Dance, and CSUs Norris Cole

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

cowher_hope_medNo Cowher in Carolina? “Current speculation is that some of the large bags of gold hand-delivered to Cowher’s home daily by Fox Sports executives might come available this off-season, as the Steelers coach looks to return to the sidelines. Furthermore, that speculation has Cowher landing in Carolina to coach the Panthers for the aforementioned real-estate reasons – namely, that’s somewhat close to where Cowher lives now. 

For a lot of folks, that’s enough. Cowher lives in Carolina, he’s going to coach the Panthers. Game, set, match.  Since I don’t think a single real estate-based rumor has proven out in the ten years the OBR has been around, you’ll pardon our skepticism about this line of analysis.” [The OBR]

[Read more...]

NFL Trade Rumors: Corey Williams to Carolina

LOL Corey WilliamsFrom high-profile free agent addition to second-string defensive end, it appears that Corey Williams’ days in Cleveland could soon be coming to an end.

From the Gaston Gazette, we find out that Williams had a few extra eyes on him; some that didn’t belong to Browns fans hoping that the man who once recorded 14  sacks in a two-year period could perhaps return to form.

Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney was in Green Bay Saturday night scouting the preseason game between the Packers and Cleveland Browns, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. That makes sense since Hurney wasn’t at practice today.

Now here’s the interesting part — Tony Grossi, who covers the Browns, speculates that Hurney might be there scouting Browns defensive lineman Corey Williams, who could be on the trading block. Williams (6-4, 320) is a potential answer for the Panthers at defensive tackle.

[Read more...]

NFL Draft Contest

nfl_draft.jpgA couple weeks ago WFNY sent out invitations for a Blogger Draft Contest that we are hosting. The concept is simple, give us 5 players your team will pick in this weekend’s draft. Not 5 guys they are looking at for the first pick, but name us 5 guys that will be on the roster after the last name is called. The response has been slim.

Our good buddies at Ghosts of Wayne Fontes came through with their picks, in fact they already posted them on their site. Matty from The Phinsider is in, and waiting until the deadline to get their picks to us. (We went back and forth on whether or not to allow them to list Long, but in the end decided they could. Come on, they had to watch the Dolphins all last year.) Dave from Stripe Hype, a Bengal site is in. (By the way, I noticed Dave and a few other mock drafts have Sedrick Ellis falling to the Bengals at 9. That would be very fortunate for them I think.) Cat Crave (Panthers) is in as well as John sent us his picks last week.

That’s all the bloggers that responded. So I’m opening this thing up to our readers. If you’d like to take a team and try your luck, claim them in the comment section. The Browns, Bengals, Panthers, Lions and Dolphins are taken. If you claim a team you must email me the 5 players you believe that team will select before midnight on Friday. (Those were the rules for everybody.) Good luck and have fun…