July 29, 2014

Cleveland Browns Game 14: Winners and Losers

Who caught your eye? Did someone stand out? Who blew it? That’s what were interested in this morning. Winners and losers.

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LOSER: Fans. Let me be clear about this one: I’m not calling the fans losers. I’m saying that we lost. Again. The Browns finished the home slate with a 3-5 record this year. It could have been worse I suppose. The Browns could have won all four of their games on the road. The Browns made a big deal this year about improving the fan experience. In some ways they did, but at the end of the day I think fans will remember a dismal season more than wiener dog races and giant inflatable corn hole games.

WINNER: Tashaun Gipson. When Ray Horton called Gipson the defensive MVP a few weeks back, I admit that I laughed it off. I’m not laughing anymore.

Gipson had a pair of interceptions including a 44-yard return for a touchdown. He also had a pair of tackles for loss and several good plays in the passing game. His ability has given the Browns the freedom to use T.J. Ward as a Troy Polamalu-type player, blitzing and playing the run almost as an extra linebacker. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Who is Edwin Baker?

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Hey, here’s one good thing from the latest Browns loss: “A year after being a 7th round pick by the San Diego Chargers, former Michigan State running back Edwin Baker was reunited with his former head coach Norv Turner. The Browns released Caleb Hanie and signed the young back off of the Houston Texans practice squad; a place they have gone to earlier in this season. Baker seemed excited to be back with Turner and was looking forward to get an opportunity in Cleveland and back in this offense. In his first game of his career, Baker ran for 38 yards on 8 carries while catching 4 passes for 46 yards and his first NFL touchdown.” [Peter Smith/Dawg Pound Daily] [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns close home schedule with 38-31 loss to Bears

1005034_10152097985714684_1828176681_nThe Browns scored two touchdowns on defense, but still were unable to hold off an uneven Bears team as they fall to 4-10 and close out their home schedule. There were some highlights in this game, but as with most games this season, not nearly enough. The Browns haven’t appeared to be a team that’s given up at all this season, but they looked simply demoralized as they gave up a 40-yard run to Michael Bush that took the Bears to 38-24. That was part of a 21-0 beating the Browns took in the fourth quarter before Josh Gordon scored a garbage time TD with less than a minute to go. Another mostly competitive game lost. I’d say it was crushing for Browns fans, except that that horse has long since left the barn.

It wasn’t a game without some fun. I had a good time watching Tashaun Gipson take a pick back for a score. Watching Billy Winn’s strip-tackle which led to T.J. Ward’s fumble return TD was fun too. Watching Edwin Baker run with energy and aggressiveness was a kick, even if he did it against one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL. Ultimately though, the lasting memory of this one will be hearing Bears fans cheer louder than Browns fans as the clock slipped away. [Read more...]

Chicago’s Jay Cutler to start against Browns

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been named the team’s Week 15 starter as they travel to Cleveland to face the Browns. This report comes from ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson.

Josh McCown, who has averaged 352 yards over his past three starts for the Bears, is heading back to the bench. Head coach Marc Trestman reportedly made the decision after Cutler got in a full practice on Thursday, experiencing “no residual issue” from Wednesday’s session. Cutler had previously missed time with an ankle injury.

In five starts this year, McCown is 3-2 with an 13:1 TD-to-INT ratio and a 83.5 QBR. This includes a 27-of-36 for 348 yards, five total touchdown performance against Dallas. Cutler’s eight starts have yielded a 4-4 record, 13:8 TD-to-INT ratio and 63.2 QBR.

The National Football Post’s Jason Cole reported earlier this week that the Bears are likely to let  Cutler, a free-agent-to-be, walk in the offseason unless he’s willing to sign a team-friendly deal.

[Related: Do you want the Browns to lose for the draft? – WFNY Roundtable]

Browns repeat history from 12 years ago

Jordan CameronI apologize for re-opening up old wounds, but the events of yesterday, along with this week’s upcoming opponent had me thinking back to one day 12 years ago. I remember it all to well….because I was there. 

On November 4, 2001, my life was completely different. The world had been changed forever two months earlier with the tragic events on September 11th. I had just gotten married and was living in Chicago in an apartment in the Lakeview neighborhood. No kids. No dog. Just me and my bride. My father was alive and healthy. LeBron James was a 16-year-old high school phenom, nowhere near becoming a Cavalier. The Indians had just finished up a season where they lost in game five of the ALDS to Seattle. The game is remembered mostly for Robbie Alomar dogging it down the line when hitting into a bases loaded, one-out, double play. Then there were the Browns.

The 2001 season was one that was going to be full of optimism. Team President Carmen Policy pulled off a coup after his first head coach, Chris Palmer, failed miserably. In all fairness to Carmen and his GM Dwight Clark (not that they deserve any sort of pass), Palmer was about their fifth choice. This time around, they were determined to hit a home run. Nobody thought that Butch Davis would leave the power that he had built at the University of Miami. But not many knew the gravity of Butch’s massive ego either. For those who don’t remember how good and talented Davis’s Miami teams were – think Alabama of these past four seasons. At one point, he had Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, and Clinton Portis in the same backfield!

[Read more...]

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]

Will Leitch talks Trent Richardson, Cleveland sports and an Indians Cardinals World Series – WFNY Podcast – 2013-09-23

WFNY Podcast LogoWe showed Will Leitch around when he was in Cleveland and now I got him to come talk on the podcast. This was scheduled for a while, and it was just dumb luck that there was something big like the Trent Richardson trade to talk about.

The USMNT and the hipster patriotism
Lee Greenwood and how that song sucks
The Trent Richardson trade after Will Leitch visited
The value of the trade and making that choice
The tone deafness of Trent Richardson trade
“It’s a business” for everyone but sports fans
The tone deafness of the Indians and the Thome statue
Rebranding the championship the Super Bowl
The dead jersey graveyard in Cleveland vs. the dead jersey graveyard in Indianapolis
The accountability punted down the road for Joe Banner
The parity of the NFL and how everyone gets a turn [Read more...]

Browns vs Bears: What I’m Watching

132-20130726-0261_600The preseason concludes tonight in Chicago for the Cleveland Browns. These are the things I’ll be watching for…

Let’s be honest, once you heard the majority of the starters weren’t going to play in this one you tuned it out didn’t you? Is there anything worth watching in this game?

Well there are a few things. First of all, I want to see what David Nelson looks like against competition (assuming he does in fact get in the game.) This would be Nelson’s first action of the preseason. Even though coach Rob Chudzinski said that he expects Nelson to play tonight, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ended up sitting it out. Call it a hunch I guess.

If he does play, what kind of shape will he be in? Can he separate from defensive backs? A healthy Nelson could seriously help the team while Josh Gordon is suspended. He is 6’5″ and has demonstrated the ability to go up and grab passes out of the air in Buffalo. Keep your fingers crossed. [Read more...]

Jason Campbell’s contract for two years $3.75 million

The cost of taking a chance on Jason Campbell is now known. Many outlets have reported that the Browns’ two-year deal with Campbell is worth $3.75 million. According to Sportrac, the deal is for $1.5 million in 2013 and $2.25 million in 2014.

Far be it for me to call millions of dollars a “cheap deal,” but that’s exactly what this is. Campbell’s previous deal with the Chicago Bears was for one year and $3.5 million. He made $3.1 million in 2010 and $4.5 million in 2011. The Bears reportedly wanted Campbell back and he is rumored to have left a bit of cash on the table in order to choose the Browns and a chance to unseat the current #1 quarterback.

No juicy contract details to break down here like we’ve had an opportunity to do with other Joe Banner deals thus far. Campbell is a guy who needed an opportunity and the Browns presumably told him he’d have a chance to compete for the job. If he wins the job and plays well, it will be an amazingly efficient signing for the Browns at two years and $3.75 million.

[Related: Fun with Numbers: New Browns Edition]

NFL News: Browns in Chicago to interview Marc Trestman

ESPNCleveland’s Tony Grossi reports that the Browns are in Chicago today to interview CFL head coach Marc Trestman. Trestman is currently the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes. Heading into this off-season, I never thought for a second I would type the name of a CFL team.

Trestman’s resume is full of experience. He’s coached football at a high level since 1981 as the QB coach at the University of Miami. Stops in Minnesota and Tampa preceded time in Cleveland in 1988 and 89 as QB coach and offensive coordinator for the Browns. The Alouettes were his first head coaching gig and he’s been there since 2008 including back-to-back Grey Cup Championships in 2009 and 2010.

Trestman is reportedly in Chicago to also visit with the Bears who fired Lovie Smith.

[Related: Browns mishandling media during coaching search]

Bears Backups Beat Browns Backups 28-20

Thankfully, the preseason is now over.

Even Reggie Hodges had a tough night tonight as one of his first half punts failed to cross the 50 yard line with the line of scrimmage at his own 20. That’s not good. Speaking of uncharacteristic, Colt McCoy also gave the Bears a great chance at a touchdown by throwing an interception that was returned to the Browns’ 30 as he failed to connect with Jordan Norwood. For any criticism you might have of Colt McCoy, he’s always been pretty good at not being careless with the football. The Bears quickly made the Browns pay on a short field to take a 7-0 lead as McCown found Dane Sanzenbacher.

The Browns’ defense was also gashed continually for running plays and screen passes. The Browns made Armando Allen look pretty good out of the Bears backfield. He had 83 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving as he filled the Matt Forte role for an evening. The Browns’ backup defense obliged. [Read more...]

What We’re Watching: Bears at Browns

No Brandon Weeden and potentially no fans inside of the stadium despite being forced to pay regular season prices, but that won’t stop us from analyzing the game from the comfort of our own homes. The home stretch before the start of the regular season, the Browns will be forced to use tonight’s contest to whittle their roster from 75 to 53 by the close of business tomorrow. You can see what we were looking for over the course of the last few weeks by clicking here, here or here — for our thoughts on tonight’s “contest,” we await you after the jump.

What We’re Watching…

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NFL’s first draft pick is signed as Alshon Jeffrey agrees with Bears

The craziest part of having two first round draft picks used to be trying to get them signed and into camp. No matter what side you were on in the NFL’s labor struggle it seemed as if everyone agreed that a rookie wage scale was important for both veteran players and owners. Here in the second year of slotting, the Bears and their second rounder Alshon Jeffrey got the ball rolling very quickly.

The Bears announced Wednesday morning that they have already agreed to terms with their second-round pick. Even with the Collective Bargaining Agreement making it much easier for teams to get rookie deals done quickly, this is still a fast development. It’s a four-year deal, financial terms haven’t been disclosed, and it’s the first signing of a 2012 draft pick that we’ve seen this year.

Even though Jeffrey is a second rounder, I’ll consider this good news as an indicator. This is exactly the kind of quick movement and predictability that everyone (other than maybe agents) were looking for when this was on the table during the last collective bargaining agreement. It is also especially good news for a team like the Browns who have to get presumed key players/starters Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and Mitchell Schwartz indoctrinated quickly.

[Related: Report: Browns’ rookie pool assignment is $9.72 million]

NFL Free Agency: Browns interested in DE Jeremy Mincey

The Browns shouldn’t want to waste any time finding someone to play opposite Jabaal Sheard on the defensive line. According to reports out of Chicago and re-broadcast by the Plain Dealer, the Browns are looking at Jeremy Mincey most recently from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mincey had 8 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and an interception in 2011 for the Jaguars. It was his fourth year in the league and second as a full-time player.  Mincey played two years at Florida for Urban Meyer after starting at a junior college. He is listed at 6’3″ and 270 pounds.

The Bears are also reportedly pursuing Mincey.

[Related: Peyton Hillis to visit Chiefs]

Fantasy Football Gone Too Far?

Deadspin covered it earlier today and now Browns players like Evan Moore, Scott Fujita and Mohamed Massaquoi are busy on Twitter today retweeting a message from Chicago Bears safety Chris Harris.  Harris took exception to an NFL.com website promotion for fantasy football that featured recently injured running back Jamaal Charles.

[Read more...]

Patronizing Preseason Football: Browns Bubble Players Fall to Bears, 24-14

Thousands of Chicago Bears fans were financially assaulted on Thursday night as those who pray to the altar of Ditka were forced to hand over hard-earned money to see what was ultimately a glorified scrimmage that just so happened to be televised. 

While the Bears would trot out a few players who have actually been drafted to fantasy teams at some point in their career, the Cleveland Browns countered with what would ultimately be rookies and bubble-laden veterans hoping to make the 53-man roster when the announcement is made this coming Saturday at 6pm.  The final score read 24-14 in favor of the Bears, but on a night when the goal at hand is to extend a career rather than win the game, lighting up the Soldier Field scoreboard was merely a waste of electricity.

Eighteen of the Browns 22 starters were spectators on this evening, dressed to play but never stepping foot beyond the sideline.  What they witnessed was the arch-enemy of competitive football, the remaining 60 or so players looking to impress the Browns decision-makers – while avoiding injury - but failing to stop the Bears attack on defense or muster one of their own on offense.  Punter Richmond McGee earned his paycheck in this contest with the Seneca Wallace-led offense providing more three-and-outs than three-yard outs.  The first completed pass and subsequent first down came with just under five minutes to go in the first half. [Read more...]

Browns Hire Special Teams Coach

Last week the Browns lost special teams coordinator Brad Seely to the San Francisco 49ers. Yesterday they filled the vacancy with Chris Tabor, who was the assistant special teams coach for the Chicago Bears for the last three seasons.

The Browns have had one of the premiere special teams units over the past few years under Seely’s tenure. It goes beyond the touchdowns and explosive returns of Josh Cribbs. The coverage units have been excellent. The punting game and field goal units have been well above average. Fortunately for the Browns, they were able to find someone associated with the same kind of success.

The Chicago Bears have had tremendous success with their units- [Read more...]

Montario Hardesty Injured, James Davis Steps Up in Preseason Finale

It may not have been pretty, but Browns head coach Eric Mangini praised his team following their 13-10 preseason win over the Chicago Bears.  In a game that featured more reserves than would-be starters, an d not a whole lot of scoring, it was the team’s lack of quitting that inspired glowing remarks from the second-year head coach.

“The thing I was most happy with in the game was the way that we finished,” said Mangini. “Going into the second half and out-gaining them 181 yards to 59, that’s what we are looking for, to be able to come out at halftime and have that type of offensive production and that type of defensive production.” [Read more...]

Open Thread: Browns/Bears and Buckeyes/Herd

Two games with completely different meanings tonight. The Browns (and I use that term loosely) take on the Chicago Bears in their final preseason game. While this game is often little else than a fight for roster spots 50-53, at least we are told the rookies will play a little more than usual tonight in order to gain reps against other competition.

For Ohio State this one counts. No more Scarlett and Gray scrimmages or weird scoring systems to determine if the offense or defense ‘won’. The scoreboard will take care of that tonight, and the folks in Columbus will be partying a bit harder I bet than their counterparts in Cleveland.

Here is your open thread for tonight. Remember the commenting policy please.

Browns vs. Bears – What We’re Watching For…

We’re turning that final corner. Rounding third and heading home. Just trying to escape this post with no major injuries (with the speed at which Scott types, a hand injury is always a concern). Seriously, though, this game is all about one thing: STAYING HEALTHY.

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It’s going to be tough to really go deep on things we want to see, as we can’t really expect a ton of playing time for the starters in this game, and I suspect most people will be more interested in what the gentlemen wearing scarlet shirts and gray helmets will be doing. But, that doesn’t mean this game will be devoid of things to watch for. So what are we, your intrepid WFNY commentators, watching for tonight? Let’s find out.

What We’re Watching For: