July 25, 2014

Terrance West mocks injury reports on Twitter

A source is quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Terrance West has been put on the non-football injury list due to a failed conditioning test, but that was quickly disputed by the Browns’ rookie runner on Twitter.

Regardless of what’s happening with this story, the fact that West himself says he’s healthy, passed his test and good to go, is good news for Browns fans. It will also be interesting to see how all this shakes out.

Not that it’s a big deal, but we don’t know exactly how Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer plan to handle the information regarding injuries. Eric Mangini treated injuries with the same paranoia that the elderly treat their social security number and Pat Shurmur wasn’t much better. Although Shurmur’s communication issues were far greater than a penchant for secrecy.

So, I am a bit curious to see if this new Browns crew has any issue with a rookie player disputing reports and giving out injury status updates via Twitter.

The Browns could have been trading with the Jets in Draft Day movie

Draft DayI’m not spoiling Draft Day when I say that it involves some wheeling and dealing for draft picks in and around the NFL Draft. I’m also not spoiling anything when I say that the Seattle Seahawks were the trade partner with Kevin Costner and the Browns regarding a presumed number one draft pick quarterback. What I found out today, though, is that originally the Browns were supposed to be fictionally trading with the New York Jets instead of the Seattle Seahawks.

“They were having something of a quarterback dispute, and the team said that this is just going to incite our fans a little more to criticize us, even though it’s all fictional,” director Ivan Reitman said.

So let me get this straight. The team that continually gets booed live and in person every single year no matter who they draft has a thin skin about how a fictional movie about the NFL draft could impact real world criticism of their team? Seems a little bit thin-skinned for a group of professionals who work in the NFL.

Then again, I don’t know what I’d be like if I had to go through this kind of reaction every time I did anything at my job. See how Radio City Music Hall reacted to the Jets trading up with the Browns and subsequently drafting Mark Sanchez.

Gotta love the Mike Mayock quote on the broadcast too. “We don’t yet know what they (the Jets) gave up to get here, but I’m pretty much willing to bet ultimately it’s going to be worth it.” Well, the Browns just signed Alex Mack to a new deal and the Jets cut Mark Sanchez. What do you think now Mr. Mayock?

Wading through the reports of a Browns trade for Jim Harbaugh

Cleveland Browns headquarters training camp

Berea, Ohio: Where the fun never stops

Late Friday, the never-ending Cleveland Browns coaching search – which really did end on February 6 when the Browns hired Mike Pettine – got an extension in the news cycle. Pro Football Talk got wind of an apparent trade between the Browns and 49ers for their coach Jim Harbaugh and anonymous sources have been doing battle ever since. But what does all this mean for Browns fans as they get set for an immediate future with Mike Pettine?

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Will Mike Pettine’s young coordinators deliver a game-day advantage?

Browns' new coordinators 590

If nothing else, you have to give the Cleveland Browns credit—they’re not repeating themselves. After watching Browns head coach Mike Pettine introduce his coordinators, you couldn’t imagine a more polar opposite scene from Rob Chudzinski’s staff. Mike Pettine, a defensive guy, replaces the former offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski. Jim O’Neil, a young guy with five years of NFL experience, replaces Ray Horton, who took the Browns coordinator job after being considered a head coaching candidate. A 34-year-old Kyle Shanahan replaces a 61-year-old Norv Turner. Well, I guess there’s Chris Tabor, who remains Teflon greased in olive oil after surviving firings of Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski, who will handle special teams under Mike Pettine. [Read more...]

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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Cleveland Browns don’t get a second chance at a first impression

FirstEnergy Stadium Steelers

I really wonder how much of Joe Banner’s legendary arrogance is dripping over in Berea right now. We’ve all heard the stories from Philly about power struggles and ego that I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume the Browns are operating with a fair amount of arrogance, do you? How else can you explain the fact that the Browns – despite losing one of their QBs to an ACL injury in early October – are headed into a week of regular season NFL action with their third ((used to be first, but currently is undoubtedly third)) QB slated to start with no actual backup on the roster? (Caleb Hanie might be signed by the time you’re reading this, but the point stands.) How else do you explain some trading maneuvers, that even if smart in the long run, have left their team woefully thin at the end of their very first NFL campaign at the helm? Regardless of how you feel about the future and how the Browns have set themselves up, there’s no denying that this year’s team has under-performed in a down year in the division with a somewhat easy schedule.

This isn’t to question all the Browns’ moves or their future. The Browns don’t need Shamarko Thomas (the guy who was taken with the draft pick they traded to Pittsburgh) and hindsight proves pretty well that they didn’t need Trent Richardson. That doesn’t mean that the Browns don’t need a running back at all, however. Further, their game on Sunday against a largely disappointing Steelers team indicates they’re in need of plenty more. [Read more...]

NFL News: Kellen Winslow Jr. suspended four games for performance enhancing substances

Former Cleveland Browns first round draft pick tight end Kellen Winslow has reportedly been suspended for four games for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances. It was just this past week that my Twitter timeline came alive as Jon Gruden called Kellen Winslow a good story on Monday Night Football. Apparently it was too good to be true.

Winslow has battled injuries his entire career thanks to a devastating motorcycle crash that likely still sits fresh in Cleveland Browns fans’ minds. Even still, Winslow was a beast for the Browns in 2007 catching 82 balls for over 1100 yards and five touchdowns. Winslow was eventually traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Eric Mangini took over for Romeo Crennel. It was a painful trade for Browns fans, but many understood the need for it as Winslow had been rumored to have an attitude problem in the huddle and elsewhere. The Browns received a second rounder in 2009 and a fifth rounder in 2010 for the battered target.

Winslow’s comeback this year was an interesting story. After playing only one game and making one reception for the Patriots, Winslow had played in the Jets’ first five games and had 17 receptions and two touchdowns. It’s still interesting, I guess, but for wholly different reasons now.

[Related: In praise of the Browns front office… so far]

Scott Raab talks about Brandon Weeden, Mark Sanchez, Josh Cribbs and the Indians – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-26

WFNY Podcast LogoAgain this week, I thought I’d skip the bullet points and just send you the email I sent to Scott the night before the podcast. Wherever we end up is based on this email and the conversation that ensues. We ended up talking about concussions in football, Tribe attendance and any number of other topics including some from my Sunday night email below.

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I’d love to spend some time talking about a packed pre-season game in a dome with cheerleaders and their fans wearing irrelevant jerseys. Because they’ve been so good for so long, save one bad year, even their dead jerseys aren’t embarrassing. Dwight Freeney is gone but they still wear his jersey. Jeff Saturday is retired, but he was well represented. Peyton Manning, of course. Edgerrin James. Meanwhile I saw a Tim Couch jersey on the way in. Took a photo for evidence as if anyone would question it. As for the game itself…

Brandon Weeden stares down receivers. He’s going to get Jordan Cameron murdered this season. I’d love to know your thoughts from TV. I feel like I missed a lot from being live.

Josh Cribbs cut by the Raiders. Is this the end for Mr. Cribbs? Now that he’s not on the Browns anymore it makes it easier to be sympathetic toward him. Just a perfect example of how brutal the NFL is when it spits out 30 year olds, even if they have made a nice amount of money first. [Read more...]

Scott Raab discusses Bernie Kosar, Peter King, Johnny Manziel and the Tribe – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-12

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab (@ScottRaab64) and Craig Lyndall (@WFNYCraig) talk about all the Cleveland sports topics from Bernie Kosar to the floundering Cleveland Indians. Here’s what else we talked about.

  • Marketing 101 with Brian Spaeth (@brianspaeth)
  • Bernie Kosar’s comments about Kellen Clemens and the Pope
  • When you take local comments national the context changes
  • NFL AM hypocritically mocks Mark Sanchez after slapping Bernie Kosar’s wrists
  • Wolf Blitzer vs. Walter Cronkite
  • Casa D’Barons memories from Scott Raab
  • Peter King and Jeff Fisher sharing the same agent
  • Nate Jackson’s book and how they worked with the same editor
  • Bernie’s demons and how fair game they are
  • Should Joe Banner have apologized for Bernie?
  • Sports has turned into a reality TV show
  • Johnny “Football” Manziel and Scott’s thoughts on that
  • The hatred for people with money from Manziel to Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton [Read more...]

Chris Perez, the Alex Mack contract extension and farewell to D’Qwell Jackson? – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-07

WFNY Podcast LogoOn Mondays I talk to Scott Raab, but I don’t talk to WFNY’s own Scott nearly often enough. We found some time to do it up podcast style. We discussed Chris Perez, and the Browns’ salary cap situation.

  • Ariel Helwani and his awesome video blog show setup
  • Jamison Hensley’s video from Berea was an embarrassment
  • Chris Perez and his meltdown against Detroit
  • Scott Sargent is in the bag for Chris Perez
  • Chris Perez loses games in big big spots
  • Mariano Rivera and Craig Kimbrel
  • Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Fausto Carmona as failed closers
  • Craig thinks Jonathan Papelbon is good looking
  • Chris Perez not talking to the media last night
  • Did Perez let his teammates down by not talking?
  • Francona has a history of taking up for his guys
  • The Perez marijuana case and how that’s impacting fans
  • Perez’ bed and how he made it
  • Not wearing the scarlet letter and also not condoning bad fan behavior
  • Alex Mack and his extension… where is it?
  • You would take Alex Mack over Mark Sanchez 100 times out of 100
  • How hard would it be to replace Alex Mack?
  • Browns extending Christian Yount for five years
  • Are the Browns thinking about extending Joe Haden?
  • Could this be the last season for D’Qwell Jackson in Cleveland? [Read more...]

Public relations, fan experience, and winning aren’t mutually exclusive for the Browns

Kevin Griffin (left) and Zak Gilbert (right) are two new faces in Berea this year

Kevin Griffin (left) and Zak Gilbert (right) are two new faces in Berea this year

Yesterday the Cleveland Browns reportedly delivered a Lou Groza jersey to the family of the Browns fan who put a joke about the team in his obituary. Yesterday, Will Burge reported that the Browns are changing many of the features of the Cleveland Browns game-day experience for the upcoming season including (wait for it) wiener dog races and drum lines. I’ll admit that I have my doubts about some of the things that came up in the game experience rumor mill, but that’s where my doubts end. Over the last couple days with these two stories, we might just have a glimpse at the beginnings of a changing of the tides in Berea.

As I said in the podcast last night, the Browns might fail miserably with a few of their game-day experience initiatives. Yes, Kevin Griffin, Browns Vice President of Fan Experience & Marketing might fall flat on his face with the wiener dog race. Fear of failure isn’t very endearing, and many people who end up being defined by failure never gave themselves an opportunity to succeed. In order to succeed, sometimes you need to take some chances. Plus, if Joe Banner taught us one thing last year, it’s that he’s not afraid to adjust on the fly. Remember that he’s the one who stepped up and nixed the “white flag” giveaway. So, if by chance the wiener dog race or the drumline are utter busts, expect another attempt to show up in its place. That’s my expectation anyway.

The one argument that I commonly hear against this stuff is a non-argument in my mind.1 “The only good PR and game-day experience the Browns need is to WIN,” they say. “Everything else will take care of itself!” It would help, obviously, but overall I don’t buy it. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. I don’t think it’s a straw man, by the way. I’ve heard this refrain time and again even if I haven’t quoted anyone specifically here. []

NFL News: Browns Ray Ventrone joins San Francisco 49ers

Special teams standout Bubba Ventrone has reportedly been signed by the San Francisco 49ers. There he’ll re-join former Browns special teams coach under Eric Mangini, Brad Seely. It’s Cleveland Browns football, so talking about special teamers isn’t below us at all.1

Ventrone (and his flowing locks of hair) were a pleasure to watch on special teams over the last four seasons. He’ll also be re-united with Phil Dawson, who joined the 49ers this off-season as well as the recently hired consultant Eric Mangini.

No word on whether or not signing Ventrone was Mangini’s first bit of consulting as a member of the organization.

I’m kidding.

Kind of.

Maybe.

Our own TD has written multiple posts about The Core Four consisting of Jason Trusnik, Nick Sorenson, Ray Ventrone and Blake Costanzo. The “Tribute” is probably the most memorable.

[Related: Eric Mangini joins San Francisco 49ers]

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Footnotes:

  1. Yet? … How about now? []

NFL News: San Francisco hires Eric Mangini as consultant

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini is officially back in the NFL: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports this afternoon that the San Francisco 49ers organization has hired the 42-year-old as the team’s Senior Offensive Consultant.

Mangini has been out of the NFL since being fired by the Browns following the 2010 season. He had a 10-22 record in his two seasons with the club, then was replaced by Pat Shurmur, who last just two seasons. Mangini also was 23-25 in his three previous years with the New York Jets.

Most recently, Mangini has been serving as an analyst for ESPN, where he had been receiving very positive reviews both on TV and radio. But previously this offseason, there had been some murmurs of the possibility of him returning to the NFL in some official capacity, with the 49ers as a likely fit.

Mangini will be joining former Browns kicker Phil Dawson and backup quarterback Colt McCoy in the city by the bay.

[Related: Eric Mangini: TV and Radio Star?]

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]

Les Levine on cell phones, Browns radio rights, Mark Shapiro and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-04-10

WFNY Podcast LogoI said it on Facebook last night, but Les Levine is simply one of the best. He’s exactly as nice and fun to talk to as you think he is. Enough of the butt kissing. Listen to Les talk to me about stuff.

  • Les talks about his history in the Cleveland market
  • The freedoms and restrictions of being a self-reliant show producer
  • 17 years of More Sports & Les Levine
  • Mark Shapiro’s statements about winning on Les’s show
  • Splitting up the Browns’ radio rights between WKNR and 92.3 the Fan
  • The Browns regimes and how quickly we get negative about them
  • Cell phone service at ball games and if we ever thought that’d be a valid storyline
  • Les’s great show-ending tagline vs. my abysmal one [Read more...]

NFL News: Mohamed Massaquoi signs with Jaguars

And that’s all she wrote, folks. The 2009 second round trio of David Veikune, Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi are now all former members of the Cleveland Browns as MoMass reportedly came to agreement with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Massaquoi will be remembered as a guy who couldn’t stay on the field. You can’t blame him for the time he was crumpled by Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison across the middle, but a receiver who has declining yardage in each of his first four NFL seasons is likely to change teams.

Massaquoi was a pleasant surprise his rookie season when he caught 34 balls for 624 yards, but followed it up with 483, 384, and 254 in the next three seasons. It also doesn’t help that in his contract year MoMass played only nine games and didn’t have a TD reception.

Teams are certainly supposed to do better with the 50th overall selection in the NFL draft.

[Related: This NFL free agent class was “one of the worst”]

Cleveland Sports Life Boat – Browns Head Coaches

Browns Coach Life Boat

I am a huge fan of the Ron and Fez show on Sirius XM Satellite radio. They do a bit on the radio called life boat, and I’m borrowing it for Cleveland sports. Here’s how it works. There are four people and only three seats remaining on the life boat. You must work your way through the list of candidates and, unfortunately, someone is designated to try their hand at long-distance swimming.

A couple rules.

1. You MUST pick three people to ride in the boat. “Let them all drown!” isn’t an interesting answer and frankly, you’re not funny. It’s been done, so skip it.

2. Don’t use an overly silly premise for your answer. Life boat is a silly enough premise where you aren’t going to “wow” anyone with your take that you should “keep the fatter guy because at least when we turn to cannibalism, we’ll have someone tasty to eat!”

So, this Cleveland sports life boat is Browns coaches. The candidates are:

Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur  [Read more...]

Is Derek Anderson joining the Browns to teach or start?

Derek Anderson Pro Bowl“Are you kidding me?” my wife said to me as we were driving to my parents’ house on Saturday afternoon when I informed her of the Derek Anderson back to Cleveland rumors.

My wife (as many of you already know) isn’t a Browns fan. Sometimes I run Browns things by her just to take the pulse of a non-Cleveland sports fan to see if I’m nuts. Yes, my wife is biased in a way where she wishes the Browns were a better team because it would make her life easier without so many miserable Sundays per year, but that’s where it begins and ends. She has no affinity for any of the players, really, even if she did fall in love with Ben Watson and his adorable family as they were featured on “Road Tested.” Trust me, even that was a tough sell because there’s so much harbored sports hatred for current and former Patriots even as Indianapolis’ rivalry with them kinda left town when they released Peyton Manning. Even all that said, my wife’s response to the Derek Anderson rumors just about sums it all up.

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Moving Forward in Berea: Mike Holmgren, legacies and dirty water

In a lot of ways, I’m happy that Mike Holmgren’s services are no longer needed in Cleveland. Given the team’s record over the last three years, I welcome the opportunity to have someone else lead this team. Still, I’m a bit taken aback by some of the outbursts on Twitter and on local talk radio that look to cast Mike Holmgren as public enemy number one. [Read more...]

The sooner we get away from Shurmur and the Big Show, the Better

Can it get any worse here in Cleveland?

I was watching another vintage Pat Shurmur-led debacle in Dallas, and all I could do is sit back and laugh. Seriously, how can you even get yourself worked up over this stuff anymore? Every week the Browns hang around just long enough to keep you interested, then fall off a cliff in the end. Spare me the “at least we are competitive” bit. It’s really simple. As was said in the classic flick Top Gun: “There’s no points for second place.” Nobody cares if you are close. Moral victories are for losers.

And that is what Pat Shurmur’s team is. Sorry, that is the truth. It’s nice that Trent Richardson looks like a beast and that the young WR duo of Josh Gordon and Greg Little look like keepers. It’s nice that Joe Haden is a great corner back. It’s nice that the Ahtyba Rubin/Phil Taylor combo are loads in the middle of the D-line. It’s nice that D’Qwell Jackson is an All-Pro type middle linebacker. But none of it matters because the team doesn’t win.

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