April 17, 2014

Joe Banner, the 3-4 versus the 4-3 and agent Jimmy Sexton

Jimmy Sexton Hire My Clients 595

One of the scariest things for Browns fans in the transition from Mike Holmgren to Joe Banner was Banner’s decision to switch defenses. It isn’t that Cleveland Browns fans have that much of a preference, other than they have a preference against switching schemes all the time. You know, continuity and all that? The Browns were a 3-4 defense with Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini before switching to the 4-3 for Pat Shurmur’s two-year tenure under Mike Holmgren. That defense was young and thought to be on the rise when Joe Banner fired Shurmur, Dick Jauron and proclaimed to Terry Pluto that the Browns needed to run the 3-4. Now that the Browns have fired Rob Chudzinski and are again searching for a new coach, the rumor mill is churning out Jim Schwartz’ name. He’s a 4-3 guy.

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NFL Rumor: Ray Horton expected to be named Browns defensive coordinator

The off-season drum continues to beat on for the Browns. Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the Cleveland Browns might have gotten Ray Horton as their new defensive coordinator.

And so ends the saga of Dick Jauron and if he would be retained in Cleveland. But another saga that many Browns fans had been fearing starts again. According to Jeff Schudel Ray Horton coaches the 3-4.

So who knows what that means for the Cleveland Browns and their abundance of defensive linemen. The biggest question of all is for someone like Jabaal Sheard who might soon have us bemoaning the miscasting of Kamerion Wimbley in the 3-4 as a linebacker as opposed to a 4-3 defensive end.

[Related: A new coaching staff could mean a change to a 3-4 defense. Are the Browns ready for that?]

NFL News: Browns to interview Joe Cullen for coaching spot

The Cleveland Browns have reportedly requested, and were granted, permission to interview Jaguars defensive line coach Joe Cullen, according to a report from Mike Garafolo of USA Today.

Cullen has spent the last three years with the Jaguars after he was hired in 2010. In 2012, the Jaguars struggled to apply much pressure to opposing quarterbacks, finishing dead last in the NFL in 2012 with 20 sacks. The Browns, conversely, finished 2012 in a tie for  11th in the league  with 38 sacks, but continue to mull the possibility of a change to a 3-4 defense. New head coach Rob Chudzinski told reporters last week that the Browns’ defensive coordinator will decide the scheme the team plays in 2013 — Cullen was a part of the 4-3 in Jacksonville.

In August, 2006, Cullen was involved in a pair of alcohol-related incidents. The more notable one involved his trek through a Wendy’s drive-through in Dearborn, MI, while naked.

“Well, it’s simple; it’s called a blackout,” Cullen later said about the incident. “When you have a blackout, bang. You realize, being educated [about alcohol abuse] that you drink too much. I’m sure there’s a lot of incidents out there where people don’t remember a thing they did the night when they were drinking. That’s basically what happened.”

Prior to joining the Jaguars, Cullen had three years of experience with the Detroit Lions as a defensive line coach and has many years of coaching experience at the collegiate level with Massachusetts, Richmond, LSU, Memphis, Indiana, Illinois and Idaho State.

The current Browns defensive line coach Dwaine Board. What position the Cullen interview is for is not yet known.

[Related: A new coaching staff could mean a change to a 3-4 defense...]

NFL Report: Norv Turner possibly in as Browns OC; Jauron likely out as DC

According to Keith Britton of 92.3 The Fan, new Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski is likely to bring Norv Turner on board as the new offensive coordinator, and current defensive coordinator Dick Jauron will likely move on.

Britton tweet

Britton was the first with the Chudzinski as favorite rumor, which was confirmed by several reporters including Chris Mortensen.

Update: Per FOX Sports’ Pete Schrager, Scott Turner, Norv’s son, could also be en route:

[Related: NFL Report: Chudzinski to be new Browns head coach]

A new coaching staff could mean a change to a 3-4 defense. Are the Browns ready for that?

While Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam conduct interviews in Arizona for a new head coach, the one person I’ve been interested to hear from or about is defensive coordinator Dick Jaruon.

On Monday, Banner and Haslam made it clear that all coaches were free to interview elsewhere if they wished and that they could be brought back if the new coach wanted them. What we really don’t know is if Jauron wants to come back to the Browns without Shurmur and Holmgren here. We reached out through the Browns, but have received no statement or answer. (Not surprisingly.)

I hope that Jauron wants to finish what he has started here in Cleveland and will be welcomed by the new head coach, whoever that happens to be. I would put the odds of that happening at fifty-fifty or less unfortunately.

If there is a change of defensive coordinators, we could be staring at another transition between the 4-3 and 3-4 defense. As Browns fans will remember, that transition is sometimes a slow painful one. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Browns-Steelers renew rivalry

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.

Lots of advantages for the Browns in this detailed scouting report, with this being a solid final point: “Given the Steelers’ solid defense, there’s no way I can project some sort of a blowout. Yards will be tough to come by for Cleveland, but Pittsburgh’s struggles should set the offense up with some situations where they can manage a couple of field goals and a touchdown or two down the stretch. Many quarterbacks can rally a team from behind, but Batch isn’t one of them.” [Chris Pokorny/Dawgs By Nature] [Read more...]

Jauron: I have a lot of admiration for Buster Skrine

I just have a lot of admiration for the way [Buster Skrine] plays, the toughness he plays with. Clearly he’s learning a lot. He’s getting schooled at times and he’s making plays at time also. I have a lot of respect for his toughness. Clearly his speed and his quickness are things you can’t teach. He’s gifted in that regard and he’s a guy that he really does want it badly. He prepares as well as you can prepare, he works so hard in practice every day and he listens. He listens and with Tim (Hauck) and Ray (Rhodes), he’ll keep developing. He’s going to get penalties, clearly we can’t have as many as he’s gotten, but guys that battle like that and are willing to go up and press like that, they’re going to get called so we’ve got to clean that up and he’s got to clean that up. I have a strong in belief in him. He’s a terrific young man too on top of all the other stuff, but he’s just a tough player that likes the game and is going to get better and better.

– Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, Thursday, on cornerback Buster Skrine who has sustained two consecutive weeks of spotty play in the defensive backfield. He will be counted on to do more this Sunday due to the ankle injury sustained by cornerback Dimitri Patterson. The return of Joe Haden will allow Skrine to play mostly in the slot, a position Jauron states is “more familiar” to second-year defensive back.

[Related: What should the Browns do with receiver injury situation?]

Adam Caplan breaks down second viewing of Browns vs. Eagles

It’s always fun when your favorite team plays another team with a good analyst and commentator. Adam Caplan is one of those guys. He is good for news from all over the league, but when it comes to the Eagles and his job with that team it is on another level. He re-watched the game against the Eagles and had some pretty interesting observations, some of which you probably saw and some which you might not have seen.

It seems like maybe the Browns are still quite susceptible to the running game. Thankfully the Browns will have a chance to button that up this week against BenJarvus Green-Ellis.1 Either that or they’ll make him look like Gayle Sayers, I guess.

[Related: Shurmur to Trolling Fans: Brandon Weeden is Browns’ Starting Quarterback]

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Footnotes:

  1. I know Green-Ellis had a decent first game against the Ravens last night, but I still don’t believe in his talent for whatever reason. I’ve been wrong before. []

If it is Brad Childress For the Browns, Then Good

Mike Sherman is poised to be the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins and it looks as if the Browns will get Brad Childress, according to sources and reports that peppered social media last night.  Whether or not that means Childress was the consolation prize between the two remains to be seen, but it sure feels that way with Sherman landing first.  The negativity from Browns fans on Brad Childress doesn’t stop there.

If Childress is the guy it will be another Bob LaMonte client coming in to catch a paycheck from Randy Lerner.  LaMonte’s name has grown to such epic proportions over the last two years because he represents so many of the people who occupy Berea, it is becoming its own conspiracy circle.  It would have been funny to see what those theorists would have said if the Browns went after Josh McDaniels who happens to be a Bob LaMonte client, yet a part of the Belichick tree instead of the Holmgren one.  It is my sense that too much is made of the LaMonte thing, but it is certainly a pervasive opinion.  [Read more...]

Why Waiting for the Browns Offensive Coordinator isn’t Such a Bad Thing

To say the Browns are going slowly in their search for an offensive coordinator is an understatement.  Really, compared to what I hoped for when Shurmur was hired, the Browns are a about a year late already.  I digress.

Even if the Browns didn’t get it right the first time around, I don’t mind this process taking a long time now because it means the Browns are searching for a strong candidate of the level that is considered for head coaching gigs in the NFL.  That was my dream when the Browns hired Shurmur.  I wanted him to have extremely experienced coordinators on both sides of the ball to support him on his maiden voyage into the head coaches headset.  Maybe the Browns offense would have struggled just the same with an offensive equivalent of Dick Jauron running the offense.  We’ll never know for sure, but the hope is that some of the gameday gaffes might have been avoided without an overwhelmed first-time head coach.

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While We’re Waiting… Browns Injuries, Asdrubal Cabrera’s Contract, Kobe on Mike Brown

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.

Updates on Browns injuries fresh from yesterday’s press conference, beginning with a look at this intriguing backup: “Running back Brandon Jackson passed his exit physical after being placed on the injured reserve in the preseason with turf toe. That means he will be ready to go for the team’s offseason programs, and if the team doesn’t re-sign Peyton Hillis, he would become the team’s starting running back.” [Chris Pokorny/Dawgs By Nature]

A local TV station blog post petitions for McCoy to remain as the QB: “So, here it is: Colt McCoy’s stats are BETTER than four Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks– all of whom won Super Bowls — after 16 starts in the NFL. Even BETTER than two former Browns heroes who played QB.” [Tim Misson/News Net 5] [Read more...]

Browns Injury Update: T.J. Ward Could Miss Four to Six Weeks With Foot Injury

Yesterday, Craig wrote about the potentially scary scenario of having Eric Hagg starting at safety on Sunday opposite Mike Adams. With both Usama Young and T.J. Ward missing practice this week, it was a very real possibility. With Young returning to practice yesterday but still dealing with a hip injury, it now appears that Hagg could be seeing the field for a majority of the remaining season. It’s been reported that Ward could be out four to six weeks with a right foot injury. The length of the Ward’s unavailability came as somewhat of a surprise as the seriousness of the safety’s foot injury had not been previously addressed in detail – the club still does not know for sure if the foot is sprained or broken. He will have the foot re-examined on Monday.

Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron addressed the depleted safety position, and didn’t exactly sugar coat the unenviable situation.

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The Alleged Disappearing Act of TJ Ward

One season ago, Cleveland Browns strong safety TJ Ward was a skull-cracking, open field-tackling, Dawg Pound riling rookie.  Seemingly all over the field, the second-round draft pick out of Oregon led the Browns in tackles, was present for nearly every snap and single-handedly embarrassed any wannabe GM who was ranting, albeit without substance or support, about the team passing on USC’s Taylor Mays during the 2010 NFL Draft. 

Fast forward one season later and Ward is not only allowing wide receivers to keep their helmets on straight and in one piece, but he’s so Copperfield-esque that he can’t even get as much as a line item in a  recent post about a solid defensive effort against the Oakland Raiders. 

Or is he?

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On the Browns and Taylor Mays

I’m not even sure, exactly why I am talking about Taylor Mays.  I guess mostly for a couple of reasons.  Last year before the Browns drafted Joe Haden and T.J. Ward, Taylor Mays was one of the many draft options in the forefront of many Browns fans’ minds.  There were questions about his maturity, attitude and his size being a bit too big to play NFL safety in coverage.  Those questions ended up causing him to drop into the second round where Mike Singletary and the 49ers snatched him up with the 49th overall pick.  Fast forward and Mike Singletary is out and ESPN reported that the 49ers sent an email blast letting everyone know that Mays was available.

Again, why am I even talking about this?  The Browns don’t have a spot for Taylor Mays with T.J. Ward at the strong safety and Usama Young and Mike Adams at the free safety.  Plus, free safety seems like a pretty bad fit for Mays as the question marks around him are related to his ball skills and inability to play in space.  Even still, I can’t help but wonder if this is the kind of project that the new Browns’ regime would be interested in entertaining.  Why?  Check it out. [Read more...]

Browns Smart to Stay Cautious in Free Agency

The cool thing about being a fan of sports is that you really can learn over time.  I feel like a smarter fan today having been through all the things the Browns have been through since 1999.  Take free agency, for example?

The Browns have signed guys like LeCharles Bentley, Donte Stallworth, Dave Zastudil, Gary Baxter, Joe Jurevicius, and Eric Steinbach.  There have been some others, but these are the names that stick out to me most.  Eric Steinbach has been great.  Jurevicius was solid for a season.  The rest ended up being not worth the money or trouble mostly.

Today I was reading about the trade of Albert Haynesworth from the Redskins to the Patriots and Andrew Brandt at The National Football Post helped me really tie together something else I have learned over the last few years with Eric Mangini at the helm for the Cleveland Browns. [Read more...]

Hurry Up, Wait and Be Patient with Browns

The predictions are coming faster and louder that the NFL lockout will be ending in the next couple of weeks.  That will mean that training camps will happen. The pre-season will happen. Free agency will happen.  Then the regular NFL season will happen.  What does it really mean for the Browns though with their development timeline?  The horror stories have already been written about how much further behind the Browns are from everyone else because they are a team in transition both on the roster and with the brand new coaching staff with new offensive and defensive schemes.  None of this guarantees that the Browns will have an awful year this year, but it probably means another year of patience.

I know patience is a tough thing to preach since there hasn’t been any real good fortune since 1999.  Logically though, it is only fair to restart the clock every time a giant change comes to pass in the Browns organization.  Obviously it would be nice to reduce the number of giant changes, but forcing Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur to pay for the sins of the past is part of a counter-productive, destructive attitude whirlpool that has dominated Cleveland for far too long.  As I said. Patience. [Read more...]

Want to Get Excited About Marcell Dareus?

Now that the Browns have vacated a good portion of their front seven, the mock draft people are starting to take that cue and associate the Browns with defensive linemen. First up as Rick pointed out in WWW this morning is Marcell Dareus from Alabama. Obviously these guys will have nothing but highlights on Youtube, but still it is fun to see what visual evidence is out there that potential Browns draft picks could be beasts in the NFL. So, I put together a clip reel that might just get you excited at the prospect of having Dareus lining up next to Ahtyba Rubin next season for Dick Jauron and the Browns.

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Browns Could Go Without Offensive Coordinator

According to reports by Mary Kay Cabot announcing the hiring of quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, it was noted that the Browns might go without an offensive coordinator.  I won’t say that this is my worst nightmares realized, but it gives me pause.

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Report: Browns Will Hire Dick Jauron as New Defensive Coordinator

With the vacancy in Philadelphia (where Dick Jauron currently works) and the news this morning that Dave Wannstedt is heading for Buffalo, it was beginning to look as though the Browns’ chances of hiring one of the “super experienced” Defensive Coordinator candidates were growing slimmer and slimmer.

But, Mary Kay Cabot is reporting that the Browns will be hiring Jauron as their new defensive coordinator: [Read more...]

Browns Coaching Search Concerning, Not Doomed

I have been on record defending Mike Holmgren’s process of hiring Pat Shurmur… to an extent.  I will never turn any situation like this into a completely black and white situation though.  It is nearly impossible with so many moving pieces as the transition takes shape.  Would Rob Ryan stay, or would he go?  Well, now we know he has moved on to Dallas.  How about special teams coach Brad Seely?  Adam Schefter cast some doubt about his return to Cleveland with some 49ers news yesterday.  While I can still defend the process of hiring Pat Shurmur, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some doubts and fears about what is going on right now.

First the good things though.  Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron are still in the running for Browns’ defensive coordinator.  I liked Rob Ryan, but if anybody was going to replace him, I wanted it to come down to some really experienced candidates to help this first-time head coach.  These two coaching vets fit that bill for sure.  Part of my desire to see Holmgren find a young hungry guy to be head coach was bringing big-time experienced coordinators to help him.  In my mind that is a perfect environment for developing a head coach.  Holmgren at the top and at least two more experts flanking Shurmur on his right and left. [Read more...]