July 29, 2014

T.J. Ward talks about Denver’s winning culture vs. Cleveland experience

TJ Ward interception training camp

Whether or not the Browns will miss T.J. Ward as they welcomed Donte Whitner as his replacement this off-season is up for debate, but I tend to think the Browns will be just fine. That says more about Whitner than it does Ward, but there’s little doubt that you’d have to assume T.J. Ward and the Broncos will likely win more games this season than the Cleveland Browns and Whitner. Sure, this is the NFL, anything’s possible, parity, etc, but everyone in their right mind assumes the Broncos will win more games. That being the case, T.J. Ward’s recent comments about the culture differences shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

“Nothing against Cleveland but this is a winning culture,” Ward said. “They’re used to winning and you treat all things the same way, period: with a preparation to win. That’s how the coaches treat you and that’s how the players treat each other. You expect everybody to know their job, do their job and do it the right way.”

That’s a culture of expectation that can only be built with consistency in approach, standards and a little bit of success. That exists in the Broncos organization currently for a lot of reasons, but it wasn’t so long ago that they seemed lost with Josh McDaniels drafting Tim Tebow. But the Broncos recognized the error in their ways, hired John Fox and welcomed back John Elway to guide the team as an exec. Those two made the Broncos lull disappear in a hurry.

Obviously Peyton Manning has something to do with this story as well, but I just can’t discount Elway and Fox as leaders. Maybe the Browns finally have that with Scheiner, Farmer, and Pettine. We’ll know in a couple years if the Browns sign Donte Whitner’s replacement and he talks about joining a Browns team and calls it a “winning culture.”

Warrant issued for T.J. Ward for strip club incident

Ward_Taylor_Little

CBS4 in Denver is reporting that former Browns safety T.J. Ward has a warrant out for his arrest. Ward, of course was a prize free agent for the Broncos as the Browns turned to Dante Whitner to play safety for them this year.

The warrant became active Thursday. It was issued for Terrell R. Ward, T.J. Ward’s real name. The date of birth on the warrant matches Ward’s date of birth.

Court records reveal little about what prompted the issuance of the arrest warrant. However, sources say the warrant was issued in connection with a scuffle inside a southeast Denver strip club.

The Broncos, of course, have nothing to say while everything is still pending. It’s always disappointing to hear about likable players and former Browns getting into trouble. Throughout his time in Cleveland, T.J. Ward avoided trouble, or at least enough to keep from having warrants issued.

Ward signed a $23 million deal with the Broncos this off-season.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has “invitation” to visit Browns

In a long post about the cornerback market, specifically Darrelle Revis, there is a little nugget for Browns fans and the possibility of landing corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Namely, the post says he’s been extended an invitation.

He is in New York talking to the Jets and Giants this weekend and has an invitation to visit the Cleveland Browns. Two of these potential suitors are exciting.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan likes to play Revis-style man press coverage and sees DRC as a Rodgers Island, if you will. If he goes to Cleveland, he plays opposite cornerback Joe Haden, and the Browns become a team to take seriously.

DRC isn’t Revis or Aquib Talib, but he should be a welcome addition to the Browns defensive backfield opposite Joe Haden. That said, he wouldn’t come cheap. Rodgers-Cromartie is a talented 27-year-old, but based on the deal he turned down in Denver, it appears that it will take more than $10 million in guaranteed money to get him to sign on the dotted line. A team might not have to commit to a bunch of years, but it appears that in the short run, it better be somewhere in that ballpark. Does that mean $15 over two years? Does it mean $18 million? I have no idea, but that’s what DRC is gunning for, I think.

The Browns should be able to afford something like that, even after signing guys like Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner, but it might not be what they want to do. The team has some young corners in Buster Skrine and Leon McFadden as well as 10 draft picks. Meanwhile they also presumably want to put a rich extension in the hot hands of Joe Haden. You have to wonder if that extension becomes more difficult to write for the player and team if they hand out mercenary money to a hired gun – DRC – on the heels of the Darrelle Revis signing in New England and the Aquib Talib signing in Denver.

Maybe the Browns invitation is more of a bargain hunt and, if they can’t get it done, they’ll set their sights on using some draft resources to make their move at corner. Regardless, this is a place that I don’t think the Browns should hold pat. The team was fortunate to get away with not doing more at corner during the 2013 season, but “fortunate” is a tough word to swallow following four wins.

D’Qwell Jackson’s free agent tour stops in Miami

DJackson2

If D’Qwell Jackson is looking for a new NFL team that has more continuity and less dysfunction than the Browns, he might barely be achieving that in Miami. Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel reports that D’Qwell visited with the Dolphins yesterday afternoon after the team re-upped Brent Grimes for four years and $32 million with $16 mil guaranteed. I’m sure D’Qwell wouldn’t mind having some version of that deal if he could get it in Miami.

The Dolphins could likely use a leader of D’Qwell Jackson’s caliber on their team. For all the teeth gnashing in Cleveland about Jackson’s slightly-above-average play, there was never a doubt about the quality of the man and his impact on the locker room or in the community. On the heels of Richie Incognito’s reign in Miami, D’Qwell Jackson would be a good addition to that team.

We’ll continue to watch with interest to see where Jackson goes. While it made tons of sense for the Browns to part ways, it wasn’t a fun or easy goodbye for most fans and commentators.

Jackson has also visited the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans.

[Related: The Browns have a lot of money, so why not just spend it all?]

Hopes for the Cleveland Browns as the off-season begins for real

Pettine presser

The off-season already feels old for the Cleveland Browns as it’s been 35 days since they last played football on December 29. As the Browns seem set to announce Kyle Shanahan as their offensive coordinator, and as we sit back and think about how Seattle decimated the Broncos in the Super Bowl, I have a few hopes for the Browns.

[Read more...]

Browns coaching search, Anthony Bennett and Super Bowl predictions with Dennis Manoloff – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-29

WFNY Podcast LogoIt’s always great to catch up with Dennis Manoloff (follow D-Man on Twitter) and it has been too long since I have done so. D-Man talked to me about a variety of topics today from the Browns hiring Mike Pettine, philisophically how he treats the Pilot Flying J case as a Browns story, and Anthony Bennett.

Does Anthony Bennett still belongs in the d-league after his breakout night?

What are the chances that Ubaldo Jimenez is back with the Tribe?

Will T.J. Ward or Alex Mack be back with the Browns?

How much blame should Mike Brown take for the Cavs’ woes?

What does D-Man think of the cold-weather Super Bowl?

What are his predictions for “The Big Game?”

Check out this episode

NFL News: Broncos Adam Gase pulls out of Browns coaching search

It had been rumored last week, but now Ian Rapoport reports definitively that Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase has removed himself as a candidate for the Browns’ head coaching job.

Rapoport said via his Twitter,

#Broncos OC Adam Gase has thanked #Browns for their interest but informed them they can move on with their search as he focuses on the game

This is not a surprise for #Broncos OC Adam Gase. It would take a perfect situation to pull him felt Denver. So he’s out for Cleveland

In this increasingly negative time for the Cleveland Browns among fans and media members, this will assuredly be looked at as a negative thing about the Browns and their available position. It makes the Browns job feel like an undesirable one in which a targeted candidate has refused to even be interviewed. It might have just as much to do with the 35-year-old youth of Gase and his desire to keep working with Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but only he knows for sure what his reasoning might be.

One thing that’s not debatable, assuming the report is true, is that one of the more desirable candidates is out of the running for the Cleveland Browns. The Browns will presumably move forward with Mike Pettine, Dan Quinn, Mike Munchak, and other candidates that have yet to interview.

[Related: Browns expected to release Jason Campbell]

Twenty Six years after The Drive, I’m rooting for the Broncos to win the Super Bowl

the driveJanuary 11, 1987. Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Bernie Kosar throws a touchdown pass to Brian Brennan. The kick-off is muffed by Denver, pinning them on the two yard line.

My phone rings. It is my father, who was watching the game from work.

“We’re going to the Super Bowl!” he said.

He didn’t just mean the Browns. He meant the two of us. We were going to go. Price wouldn’t be an object. Nothing would have kept us out of the Rose Bowl to see the Browns in the Super Bowl. Nothing except John Elway.

Little by little, yard by yard Elway tore my heart out of my chest. I was fourteen years old, and I hated John Elway and the Broncos for taking away my Super Bowl trip. The following year’s AFC Championship game cemented it.

For years and years the Broncos were second only to the Steelers in terms of NFL teams I despised. Then after the team moved, they took a backseat only to Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Elway himself slipped just behind Art Modell.

Watching the conference championship games unfold on Sunday, I was surprised by my reaction to it all. I want the Broncos to win the Super Bowl. [Read more...]

NFL Rumor: Adam Gase leaning toward staying in Denver

gase_adam21.jpg?w=402Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase is reportedly leaning toward staying in Denver if he’s eventually offered the Browns head coaching position.

The Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot just shared that news on Saturday morning. Here’s how her report begins:

Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase is leaning toward remaining in Denver and not taking the Browns head coaching job if it’s offered, a league source told cleveland.com.

Gase, who’s expected to interview with the Browns after he’s eliminated from the playoffs, loves his job in Denver and relishes the idea of spending a second season as Peyton Manning’s offensive coordinator.

Later, Cabot adds that Gase’s agent Bob LaMonte has been telling teams that his client needs one more season of working with Manning before moving into a head coaching role.

All week, we’ve seen quotes from John Elway, Broncos Executive VP of Football Operations, about how valuable the 35-year-old Gase is to their success. Nonetheless, this seems like a huge story for the Browns, as they’ve been somewhat reliant upon Gase’s candidacy to be their future head coach. It’s possible this scoop also came from the team to cover their tracks and spin their version of the story, much like Chip Kelly a year ago.

Throughout this peculiar process, Gase has been a very surprising candidate. On Dec. 31, news broke that Gase was declining interviews until the end of the Denver season. On Jan. 14, reports circulated that the Browns were willing to wait just so they could make sure to interview Gase, who reportedly was willing to interview.

The Browns have interviewed eight candidates so far and four remain: former Titans head coach Mike Munchak, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Cowboys special teams coach Rich Bisaccia.

Pettine, who reportedly received a second interview request, perhaps could be the new proverbial favorite if Gase is no longer in the running. Rex Ryan’s former right-hand man in Baltimore and New York, he’s a well-liked coordinator over in Buffalo.

[Related: Despite concerns with Browns front office, I’m feeling patient during coach search]

Photo: DenverBroncos.com

Browns appear set on Gase, Malzahn

gase_adam21.jpg?w=402After a handful of interviews and at least one reported “thanks, but no thanks,” the Cleveland Browns front office appears to be set on filling their currently vacant head coaching position with one of two men who have yet to even express interest in obtaining said position. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports that Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner have their sights set on the man who was the first known candidate following the firing of first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski: Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

In addition to Gase, the other name which remains linked to Cleveland is Auburn’s head coach and budding guru Gus Malzahn. Per La Canfora:

Team officials realizes it may be a longshot to land Malzahn, who nearly won a national title at Auburn and is very happy there, but his offensive innovation and the style of offense he runs is very much in line with what the team would like to put in place (the Browns are also very high on quarterback Johnny Manziel, sources said, who would be a perfect fit in a Malzahn offense). The Browns immediately asked to talk to Gase following their firing of Rob Chudzinski at the end of the regular season, but were informed he would not do any interviews, if at all, until after Denver’s season ends.

The interesting item comes in the way of La Canfora stating that Gase, whose Broncos offense is set to take the field against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, may not even want to interview for the Browns job. The 35-year-old Gase will have at least one more season of a Peyton Manning-run offense that set several passing records in 2013. It is anticipated that, while the Browns are interested this season, the offensive coordinator would be a leading candidate for several positions come this time next year.

If recent history is in any way indicative of the future, it’s not far-fetched to assume one of those positions being in Cleveland.

Image via DenverBroncos.com

Denver’s Adam Gase declines interviews until end of his season

Are they a package deal?
(John Leyba, The Denver Post)

Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase has been one of the more surprising names in the head coaching rumors over the last two days.

A 35-year-old regarded to be one of the up-and-coming offensive geniuses, he helped engineer the Broncos offense to a record-setting 2013 season.

However, after all the extra coaching rumor attention, it was announced on Monday that Gase has declined all coaching interview requests until after the Broncos season is finished. These were his comments to Mike Klis of the Denver Post:

I’m appreciative of the interest I’ve received, but I’ve decided to postpone any potential opportunities until after our season concludes. My complete focus is helping our team prepare for our divisional playoff game.

Gase has been with the Denver organization since 2009. He replaced new San Diego head coach Mike McCoy as the offensive coordinator this season. Previously, he served as quarterbacks coach and also wide receivers coach. He also worked for the Detroit Lions for six years and under Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State and LSU.

His name certainly isn’t the sexiest among the rumored candidates at the moment for the Cleveland Browns. The Minnesota Vikings also are reportedly interested in his services. Long-time head coach Mike Martz spoke highly of Gase, per NFL.com’s Adam Rapoport.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: The Firing of Rob Chudzinski]

NFL Week 1 – Previewing the Dolphins vs. the Browns – WFNY Podcast – 2013-09-06

WFNY Podcast LogoWeek one is finally here! Craig and Andrew break down the matchup week one between the Cleveland Browns and the Dolphins.

Ravens vs. the Broncos
The value of Anquan Boldin
What do you make of the Dolphins?
Can the Browns come out and take care of business week one
Moving on after the departure of Reggie Bush
Browns leading by playing defense and running the ball  [Read more...]

You talk Tim Tebow and I’ll talk Charlie Frye

tebowing-3While I think as Browns fans we all appreciated Tim Tebow stepping up and beating the Steelers1 in the playoffs for the Denver Broncos, the continued, unending talk about him is pure silliness. Of course my own decision to talk about Tim Tebow is ironic given the first sentence, but I’ve embraced the catch-22. Despite my misgivings about talking about him at all, I can’t help but put my name in the chorus.

Last night I sent out a tweet that I’m sure a lot of people found trollish. I asked everyone who they thought was a better quarterback between Tim Tebow and Charlie Frye.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. They might have beaten themselves, but whatever… []

NFL News: Tom Heckert joins Denver Broncos as Director of Pro Personnel

We’ve all just had a lesson in how front offices turn over in an off-season. It feels like a relatively new lesson here in Cleveland. The Browns have decided not to renew some contracts of scouts that were in Berea under former General Manager Tom Heckert.

The timing of waiting until after the draft is apparently pretty commonplace. In Denver the Broncos let Keith Kidd depart after being there since 2009 with Josh McDaniels. That vacated a spot for Tom Heckert who has reportedly joined the organization as Director of Pro Personnel.

In Denver, that position means that Heckert will be underneath John Elway who is the executive vice president of football operations and also the general manager. There’s little doubt that wherever Heckert goes he will have plenty of influence with his resume. Still, it’s interesting how different organizations choose to organize and function.

It will also be a very different task in Denver than it was in Cleveland. Heckert will look to help make every second that’s left of Peyton Manning’s career successful while also helping to plan for the day that Manning can no longer play. It’s not exactly like dealing with Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Eric Mangini and Pat Shurmur on the way to seeing the team sold out from under your five year plan.

[Related: Browns thoughts on Terry Pluto, ProFootballTalk, “black boxes,” and draft strategy]

Parallel Universes: Super Bowl XLVII and the ’87 AFC Championship Game

Earnest BynerLook on the bright side….Art Modell didn’t make the Hall of Fame and Ray Lewis will never play another football game.

The Super Bowl was a fascinating and superb game last night. I can’t imagine not being able to enjoy that event as a pure football fan. The play on the field was very reminiscent of the 1987 AFC Championship Game between the Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos, affectionately known as “The Fumble.”

Just like the Ravens did last night, the Broncos, behind a host of Browns turnovers various lapses in judgement, jumped all over the Browns from the start. On the Browns first possession, Webster Slaughter let a pass go through his hands and off his knee on a crossing route, right into the arms of Denver’s Freddie Gilbert. John Elway hit Ricky Nattiel for a TD pass and in the blink of an eye, the Browns trailed 7-0. On the next series, Kevin Mack, grinding for extra yards, was stripped of the ball with Denver recovering. The Browns thought they had the bleeding stopped, but a defensive holding penalty on third and goal, gave the Broncos first and goal at the one and Steve Sewell scored a touchdown to put the Browns in a 14-0 hole on the road in a hostile Mile High Stadium. [Read more...]

Browns limping in, but still have one more chance to shine

I’m not making excuses for the Browns, but I honestly didn’t expect them to be competitive this past Sunday against the Broncos.1

This team was in trouble when T.J. Ward got hurt and when they decided to cut Dimitri Patterson. Add in all the extraneous chatter this week from the locker room about impending change, and no amount of “if” in those quotes could dissuade me from thinking this team was at least distracted and probably just finished with the year.

In a lot of ways, Shurmur might deserve some credit for at least one thing2 this season, and that is that his team played hard almost to the end. And they might have too if not for the injuries and frustration in how they saw their three game winning streak ended by Kirk Cousins and the Redskins a week ago.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Yes, this is a problem in itself. []
  2. and probably only one or a couple things []

Browns sacked by Broncos 34-12

The Broncos are a playoff team fighting for the number one seed in the conference. The Browns are a 5-10 team several pieces short of contention. These were the facts going into the game, and they certainly haven’t changed.

Peyton Manning picked the Browns defense apart with his usual precision. He finished with 339 yards and  three touchdowns. He picked on Sheldon Brown early and Buster Skrine late.

Cleveland’s offense had a few nice early drives, but were unable to punch the ball into the end zone. Brandon Weeden was 12-of-19 before getting knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury. Trent Richardson had 6 carries in the first half and just three in the second half as the Browns abandoned the run once they fell behind again. To add insult to injury, Richardson had to be helped off the field at the end of the game with a leg injury. [Read more...]

Browns vs. Broncos Reader’s Survey

The Browns weren’t going to be favored this week regardless of the outcome last week against the Redskins. After a three game winning streak ends and with two tough games and a presumably lame duck coach, will the wheels come off? Will this team continue to play hard to the final whistle this season? We’ll know soon enough, but I want to know what you think right now. Will Peyton and the boys crush the Browns? If so, by how much? Do the Browns have one more trick up their sleeve this season? [Read more...]

On Brandon Weeden’s rookie season, and other Browns rookie records

Over the past two weeks (part 1 and part 2), my good friend and colleague Rick has posted updates on some historic NFL records being accomplished by the current trio of rookies on the Browns offense: QB Brandon Weeden, RB Trent Richardson and WR Josh Gordon.

In his initial post, I helped to provide some of the backbone research. Yes, I never gave enough credit to Rick for his research and his writing as well, but I did help a little bit. This week, since we haven’t provided an update yet, I thought I’d swing back into the picture to provide the latest update and give some more historical context to Weeden’s rookie season.

Of course, this hasn’t been a perfect season for the much-maligned 29-year-old rookie from Oklahoma State (by way of the New York Yankees). He’s been highly criticized in many ways and certainly didn’t have a good performance against the Redskins in the home finale on Sunday. But, based on my research, he’s still OK compared to other QBs that have started every game of their first NFL season. [Read more...]

Trent Richardson, Peyton Hillis and Watchable Football

For all the explosion that Trent Richardson was missing against the Eagles, he seemed to have in excess this week against the Bengals. Sure the numbers were great. Over 100 yards on the ground, over 35 receiving and a touchdown in either category, but it was what you can’t see in the box score which is most exciting. Trent Richardson made guys miss. He seemed quick to the edge. He was physical and domineering when he needed to be.

Somehow with all the violence, there is something much smoother about watching Richardson than the last hopeful Browns running back Peyton Hillis. When Hillis ran you sometimes held your breath wondering if he was going to get hurt or fumble the ball. Hillis was electric, don’t get me wrong, but it was so very unconventional watching a man of his size hurdle defenders.

It just doesn’t feel at all similar watching Trent Richardson, even at this early juncture in his career. It probably has a lot to do with him being drafted so high. Despite the Browns well-documented history drafting busts toward the top of the draft, it still feels much more comfortable to place expectations – even high ones – on a guy like Trent Richardson than it did on Peyton Hillis even after his extraordinary year. [Read more...]