April 21, 2014

The Browns shouldn’t put too much stock in Brian Hoyer

105-20130726-0178_600Part of the Browns’ off-season has obviously been a debate over what priority the Browns should place on which positions.1 Some fans prefer that the Browns draft a quarterback no matter what. Some fans prefer standout wide receiver Sammy Watkins who showed off his skills against the (mostly) popular Ohio State Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl. There are more still that don’t name a specific player but insist on the Browns taking the best player available at all times. I largely stand with this last crowd, but I also recognize a clear and obvious premium that must be placed on the quarterback position in the NFL. With that in mind, while I don’t have any kind of mandate in mind that I want to try and artificially put on the Browns, I can’t help but think the Browns would be wise to hedge against the wild fantasies about Brian Hoyer proving to be a franchise quarterback.

There are enough examples in history that make our dreams of Hoyer becoming the next Kurt Warner legitimate enough. Could it happen? Of course it could. But there’s at least equal chance that Hoyer won’t become the next Tony Romo.2 He could just as easily be Kelly Holcomb. In many of Holcomb’s 24 career NFL starts, someone thought they’d have a chance to win with Holcomb. In those 24 starts, Holcomb went 8-16, including his 4-8 mark with your Cleveland Browns. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Opening sentences to Browns posts feel like massive understatements lately. []
  2. Some of you might argue that Romo isn’t good enough either, I bet. []

WFNY Roundtable: Barkevious Mingo and Expectations

WFNY_roundtable
 
Here at WFNY, some of our best post ideas come from our daily email conversations. In the spirit of openness, we wanted our readers to get a sample of what one of these banter sessions look like. Craig sparked an idea about Barkevious Mingo and whether or not he has met our expectations. Normally these conversations take place via email, but for this Roundtable we decided to try a new service called ReplyAll.me. The roundtable discussion takes place below:

[Read more...]

The 2013 Cleveland Browns: WFNY Predictions

Paint The Town Browns Logo

Earlier this week, we heard from Craig on where the bar is set for the 2013 Cleveland Browns. Given that expectations and predictions are undoubtedly different, we here at WFNY provide you with what we feel will happen between today and the conclusion of the regular season. Do enjoy.

1. Fill in the blanks: Trent Richardson will play ___ games and finish with ____ yards and ____ total touchdowns.

[Read more...]

Supporting Browns Ownership is a Tricky Proposition for Fans

Jimmy Haslam seemingly dissatisfied

Just 10 short days from now, the Cleveland Browns will officially open Training Camp 2013. It’s hard to believe how fast summer always flies by, but I consider Training Camp to be the beginning of the end of summer. And in just 3 weeks from yesterday, the Dolphins and Cowboys kick things off in the annual Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.

Indeed, real on-field football is right around the corner. Of course, for Browns fans, on-field football seems to be about the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. Instead, the story dominating Browns headlines as of late revolves around new owner Jimmy Haslam.

I wish the story was the Browns themselves. Even if that story is about how the Browns rank #31 in ProFootballTalk’s preseason rankings. Or heck, I’d even settle for more talk about the Browns potentially carrying 2 kickers on their roster. But on-field Browns news is hard to come by these days. I actually had to do a Google search to find out if Barkevious Mingo had signed a contract yet1. I was pretty sure he hadn’t, figuring I’d have heard about it if he had. But with so much talk about Jimmy Haslam, it seemed somewhat plausible that he had signed and the news just flew under the radar. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. he hasn’t []

Tom Reed talks about Bon Jovi, the Browns PR, Soccer and Jason Isbell – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-18

WFNY Podcast LogoI love chatting with Tom Reed from the Plain Dealer. I am continually pushing the boundaries of topics with him and lo and behold he ended up pushing the boundaries for me by giving me an assignment for our next podcast. He has vowed to get Cleveland talking about Trailer Park Boys. So check it out before I talk to him next time.

Also be sure to check out his article on Browns lineman Joe DeLamelleure and his walk for charity.

  • Alec Scheiner and the Browns had to cancel the Bon Jovi concert
  • Is this a Bon Jovi problem or a Cleveland problem?
  • The Browns and leaving the news cycle to the public’s imagination
  • The public relations difficulty all the way back to Colt McCoy’s concussion and Mangini’s mural
  • The Chuck Klosterman article nightmare
  • Do you think the Browns are discouraged by their luck so far?
  • Alec Scheiner’s willingness to get out in front of the PSL story
  • The success of the USMNT soccer game in Cleveland this year
  • Getting soccer into Cleveland after Randy Lerner sells the team
  • Is it hard to be a soccer fan and being tasked with explaining it to people all the time?
  • People starting to cheer nice exchanges of passing
  • ESPN’s decision to put soccer on their channel isn’t an accident
  • Clint Dempsey is a good player no matter where he’s playing in the world
  • I can’t picture the Browns doing Hard Knocks on HBO
  • Would the Browns do it if they stabilized their team for a few years in a row?
  • Marvin Lewis and his long-standing tenure
  • Jason Isbell and how people who don’t like country like him
  • The Drive-by Truckers and how the roots are more in rock
  • Jason Isbell and how he avoids the pitfalls of cheesy country
  • Ryan Bingham and the Trailer Park Boys
  • Former Browns player Joe DeLamielleure

[Read more...]

Joe Banner: “We’ll be a quality, competitive team pretty quickly.”

Despite Grantland’s Chuck Klosterman struggling to get a sit-down interview with Joe Banner over Draft Weekend, Clark Judge, CBS Sport’s senior NFL analyst, was able to sit down with Cleveland Browns’ CEO Joe Banner and talk about the rebuilding project of the Browns.

In what was a, frankly, candid interview, Banner refused to shrink under the weight of the massive job that lies in front of him. In fact, Banner was exceedingly confident that he will not fail in his duty:

Q: Five years from now what are we going to be saying about Joe Banner and the Cleveland Browns?

Banner: “Hopefully, you’re not focused on Joe Banner. But I think you’ll feel the Browns are where they’re supposed to be. It’s an iconic NFL franchise that has a rich tradition and fans that deserve success. To me, it’s a three-legged stool: You have on-the-field performance; you have charity and a commitment to community; and you have the whole fan experience element of running these teams. I think people will look at this franchise and feel we’re doing all of those very well.”

Q: But talk about a daunting challenge. Aren’t you basically trying to raise the Titanic?

Banner: “This is a big challenge. I’ve sold people on coming here on the basis that we have a chance to create one of the most compelling turnarounds of any sports franchise in the country. And I think that’s how we’re thinking about it. Some people may be intimidated by that, but we’re actually excited by it.”

Banner also had some strong remarks about the failures of his predecessors:

Q: I’ve heard talk about a 3-5-year program, but Browns fans are sick of more long-term pledges. So what should people know about what you’re doing here, and how soon should they expect to have a winning franchise?

Banner: “I think it’s going to be obvious so that once we get playing, they won’t need to ask the question. I think they’ll see improvement immediately, though nobody realistically thinks we’re ready to win a Super Bowl. And, at the risk of crossing the line, there have been a lot of people here over a lot of years who talked about long-term plans, but I haven’t seen anybody who actually implemented that. They’ve been filling needs year by year, sometimes with expensive players who aren’t that good. Everybody talked about a long-term plan, but when’s the last time the team traded for a future draft pick? When’s the last time the team said, ‘We may not have position ‘X’ with the best player this year because there’s nobody in the marketplace who’s that good, and we don’t want to waste all the future cap money just so we win six games instead of five?’ So there’s been a lot of cheap talk about long-term plans here, and I’m not talking last year. You go back 15 years through different administrations. They all have basically been trying to win now.”

Whether Banner will find success where others have failed remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Joe Banner is going to approach this process with a confidence and a straightforward approach that seems to differentiate itself from what Browns fans have seen before. The results should speak for themselves on the field.

[Related: Cleveland Browns to release QB Thaddeus Lewis]

NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns Select Barkevious Mingo

With the 6th pick in the NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Barkevious Mingo.

Mingo, a Junior Defensive End from LSU, is an impressive pass rusher who has been part of one of college football’s best defenses the last 3 seasons. With the Browns switching to a 3-4 defense they will hope Mingo can provide them the edge rush and consistent pressure the defense needs.

Here’s Mel Kiper’s profile on Mingo:

Production 3 2009: Redshirt 2010: (13/1) – 35-5.5-2.52011: (14/3)  36-15-8 2012: (13/10) – 38-8.5-4.5Career: 11 PBU, 4 FF, 3 FR
Height-Weight-Speed 1 Tall, linear frame with room to add bulk. Outstanding top-end speed for size. Ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, including a 1.59 10-yard split at the combine. Also turned in a 37-inch vertical jump, a 10’8′ broad jump, and a 6.72 three-cone drill (all of which first or second among DL at the combine).
Durability 1 Played in all 40 games (14 starts) during three seasons of eligibility at LSU. Flexible athlete.
Intangibles 2 Has matured from first year at LSU. Worked harder in classroom and weight room during final two years. No off the field issues to our knowledge. Nickname is KeKe. Dad is Hugh Mingo and mom is Barbara Johnson. Has four siblings: Hugh Mingo III, Hughtavious Mingo, Malik Johnson and LaDarian Johnson.
 
And here’s DraftBrowns.com’s Brendan Leister’s profile:
Overall, I am a big fan of Barkevious Mingo.  I didn’t have high expectations coming in, but I actually liked what I saw from him in 2012.  He simply wasn’t asked to put heat on the quarterback off the edge every play in LSU’s defense.  It seemed as though he was coached to be extremely aware every play and to take running backs out of the backfield and to give up on his rush early if it meant that he could knock down passes.  I cannot be certain that he was coached to do these things, but that was what I took away from watching a lot of his games.  Had Mingo been asked to come off the edge every play with reckless abandon as many pass rushers are asked to do, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have been a lot more productive from a statistical standpoint.  If Mingo can learn to consistently fire off the snap low on a consistent basis, he has a chance to develop into an elite pass rusher at the next level.

Scott Raab discusses the Steubenville rape trial – WFNY Podcast – 2013-03-18

WFNY Podcast LogoUsually I like to post about all the bullet points and things that we talked about, but it seems kind of weird to try and do that with a topic like this.

I will say that I was really happy Scott Raab was available to discuss this topic. I had a feeling that he would have some interesting takes on it that were different than the way it is being covered other places. We ended up talking about the case, specifically the criminals, the victim, the culture, the public reaction to this case and the press coverage.

Not a typical podcast, but I think I can safely call it a good conversation about a very difficult topic. Enjoy.

[Read more...]

Banner Report: Defensive Backs

Banner Report ElevatedYou may remember back in 2010 (you know the last time there was a complete overhaul in Berea) we wanted to give incoming President Mike Holmgren a hand evaluating the roster. We are nothing if not equal opportunity. The Browns have a completely new group in charge this year. Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Rob Chudzinski, Norv Turner and Ray Horton take over a 5-11 team. They have plenty of important decisions to make about the roster between now and the 2013 NFL Draft. WFNY wants to offer our assistance with The Banner Position Reports. Previous reports: LB, QB, RB

In 2012, only 7 teams in the NFL allowed more passing yards than the Cleveland Browns. This came just one year after allowing just the 2nd fewest passing yards. So why the drastic change? A lot goes into raw passing yards allowed stats. It’s not just on the DBs, but it’s a combined effort between getting pressure on the QB, forcing opponents to be one dimensional in any way possible, and of course, defending opposing receivers.

The Browns have certainly been active the last couple years under Tom Heckert in trying to address the secondary, bringing in guys like Usama Young and Dimitri Patterson and drafting Buster Skrine, Trevin Wade, and Eric Hagg. The results have been somewhat mixed, but lets see if we can’t look a little more in depth at any potential issues with the Browns’ DBs. [Read more...]

WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-31 – The Art Modell Episode

WFNY Podcast LogoThe Art Modell talk has been going strong lately, and in this episode Craig and I discussed the former Browns owner’s upcoming consideration for the pro football Hall of Fame.

We tried as much as possible to not rehash all the excellent pieces that have been written on the subject lately, but some of the topics we discussed include:

  • Is it possible to discuss this issue without bias as Cleveland fans?
  • Is the argument against Modell more about Art himself or about the Hall of Fame itself?
  • Ozzie Newsome’s guest column in the Plain Dealer
  • The perspective from neutral observers on this subject
  • Is there any real chance Modell actually gets in?
  • Much much more…

 

 

Listen at Stitcher

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WFNY on location: Cowboys Stadium

Cowboys Stadium.

The Death Star.

Jerry World.

Or District 9, whatever you want to call it, the future of football lies in Arlington, Texas.

In the middle of Arlington, among a Wal Mart, Cici’s Pizza, and Panda Express, Cowboys Stadium looks extremely out of place. That being said, there aren’t many places outside of Dubai where a football stadium/spaceship wouldn’t look odd. The mystical mountain of a stadium can be seen from 15 miles away on the Texas horizon. As an outsider I imagined Cowboys Stadium to be a hostile environment with thousands of storm troopers on patrol. A place where barking Clevelanders would be forced to face the emperor and pay for their behavior. Instead of entering the Death Star though, we were welcomed to Jerry World, home of America’s biggest party.

Fans are greeted by the twanging of guitars and thumming of drums as they walk through the gates into a rock concert outside the concourses. A crowd gathers in front of a stage and dances along with the music. The party has only begun. [Read more...]

Breaking News: Mike Holmgren to Leave Browns, Possibly Within Next 24 Hours

With new Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam officially being voted into the club today by his fellow NFL owners, the curtains on Haslam’s plans for the Browns can finally start to be lifted.

According to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Jimmy Haslam will be immediately naming Joe Banner as CEO/President, a move everyone expected. What was less clear was what Holmgren’s future would be. Now it appears we have the answer:

New Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, whose takeover of the team was officially approved Tuesday, will name Joe Banner the team’s CEO/president and current president Mike Holmgren will depart the organization within 24 hours, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder.

Haslem has a news conference scheduled for noon and will announce the Banner move, the sources said. It is unknown if Holmgren’s status will be addressed at the news conference.

Many expected Holmgren would at least stay on through the end of this season, but if Werder’s sources are correct, the end of the Mike Holmgren era in Cleveland may be over sooner than most anticipated. For all the losses the Browns racked up under Holmgren’s watch, an argument could still be made that strides were made and that the talent on the team is in better shape today than it was 3 years ago.

No word yet on what the future holds for Browns GM Tom Heckert or head coach Pat Shurmur.

UPDATE (12:30 pm): ESPN’s Adam Schefter is now reporting that Holmgren will stay on for the remainder of the season, and then will leave the organization. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is also saying that Holmgren will stay on for the rest of the season.

Browns LB Scott Fujita Rips NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

The NFL has announced new suspensions for participants in the Saints’ bounty scandal. Among them, current Browns linebacker Scott Fujita has been handed a 1 game suspension. And while the league seems to acknowledge Fujita was not a participant in the bounty scandal, he is still being suspended for 1 game for not speaking up (or something like that).

Obviously, this does not sit well with the beleagured linebacker, and on Wednesday, Fujita fired back at the commissioner, calling him out for his abuse of power and condescending tone. Speaking to the media before practice, Fujita said:

“Additionally, I am now purportedly being suspended for failing to confront my former defensive coordinator for his inappropriate use of language. This seems like an extremely desperate attempt to punish me. I also think it sets a dangerous precedent when players can be disciplined for not challenging the behavior of their superiors. This is an absolute abuse of the power that’s been afforded to the Commissioner.

For me, the issue of player health & safety is personal. For the league and the Commissioner, it’s about perception & liability. The Commissioner says he is disappointed in me. The truth is, I’m disappointed in him. His positions on player health and safety since a 2009 congressional hearing on concussions have been inconsistent at best. He failed to acknowledge a link between concussions & post-career brain disease, pushed for an 18-game regular season, committed to a full season of Thursday night games, has continually challenged players’ rights to file workers compensation claims for on-the-job injuries, and he employed incompetent replacement officials for the start of the 2012 season. His actions or lack thereof are by the league’s own definition, ”conduct detrimental”.

My track record on the issue of player health & safety speaks for itself. And clearly, as I just listed, the Commissioner’s does too.”

No word yet on whether Fujita will appeal this suspension.

Bengals’ Maualuga: Trent Richardson “Didn’t do nothing spectacular”

Unintended double negatives aside, the Cincinnati Bengals LB Rey Maualuga is not concerned about facing Trent Richardson this Sunday when the Cleveland Browns and Bengals square off in Cincinnati.

According to ESPN’s AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley, the Bengals LB wasn’t too shy about making his unimpressed opinions of the Browns’ rookie RB known:

Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga didn’t come away impressed after watching tape of Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson. “He can run you over and you can miss a tackle, at the same time, from what we’ve seen he didn’t do nothing spectacular,” Maualuga told CBSSports.com. “From running screens, missing passes, trying to find a hole when he’s running the ball. He just didn’t do anything spectacular from what I’ve seen.” I double-checked and made sure this was Maulauga and not Jim Brown talking. This is funny because Maualuga “didn’t do nothing spectacular” in the season opener against the Ravens. He managed five tackles in a game where he got continually blocked by Ravens fullback Vonta Leach.

Outside of running over defenders and making people miss, I’m not sure what else a RB needs to do to impress Maualuga. Of course, presumably, averaging more than 2.1 yards per carry would be a good start.

Either way, I believe the first verbal shots have been fired. We’ll see how the Richardson and the Browns respond. A victory over the Bengals would be this author’s preferred response.

[Related: Browns Offer a ‘Taste of the Browns’ for the Cleveland Foodbank]

Joe Banner Brings Winning Experience and Tough Decisions to Cleveland

Joe Banner will have some decisions to make in Cleveland

While Randy Lerner’s sale of the Cleveland Browns to Jimmy Haslam is not yet official, it’s becoming quite clear that everyone expects the deal to go through without issue. Furthermore, we now know that former Philadelphia Eagles President Joe Banner is a part of Haslam’s ownership group.

What does that mean for the Cleveland Browns? Well, it’s possible that Banner just wants to be a part of the ownership group and is done overseeing football operations. But that seems highly unlikely. Most observers fully expect Banner to take up the role currently being held by Mike Holmgren. For Holmgren, the writing is on the wall. It would be stunning to see Holmgren hang onto his job once Banner gets into town. [Read more...]

Ohio State Wins ESPN’s Lawsuit Over Public Records

If you recall a while back, we talked a little bit about the ESPN lawsuit they brought against the Ohio State administration. The basis of the case is that when the Jim Tressel scandal broke, ESPN’s Tom Farrey made repeated requests for information from the University, citing Ohio’s Open Records Laws.

While OSU did turn over much of what Farrey and ESPN requested, some items were withheld by the University with the school arguing that turning over the records would violate FERPA’s student privacy protection guidelines. ESPN wasn’t satisfied with that answer, and took it to the courts to try to get the documents handed over to them.

It was an interesting case with some fairly serious ramifications no matter which way the courts decided. After several months of arguments, the court has reached it’s decision:

The court on Tuesday unanimously ruled that for the most part Ohio State properly shielded records as either protected by federal privacy laws or attorney-client privilege.

The court said in a few cases Ohio State must remove certain names from documents which it then must provide ESPN.

The court also denied ESPN’s request for attorney fees.

This is a big decision, not just for Ohio State, but for all public Universities with high profile athletic departments. While many media outlets were aligning with ESPN in the case, several educational institutions were siding with Ohio State. By upholding Ohio State’s right to protect the privacy of its students, a precedent has been set for similar future cases with other schools.

[Related: ESPN v Ohio State: The Lawsuit and What It Means]

Are you ready for another Browns QB controversy?

With the recent stories surrounding Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace, it’s appearing inevitable that we’ll have a heated QB controversy in Berea over the next few months. No trades appear imminent and so, for now, Mike Holmgren and company appear to be moving forward with the two veterans and rookie Brandon Weeden leading the race together for the signal-caller position.

And get me clear on what I mean by a QB controversy: No starter has been directly named yet. There’s going to be an open competition – at least for the next several months – and there will be some unhappy fans no matter what the final call is by the Browns staff. There will be confusion and there will be frustration, and it’s going to be all over the news for quite a while. [Read more...]

Instead of Fixing Tanking, NBA Should Remove the Lottery

Tanking has been quite the topical conversation starter in the NBA this season. Maybe it was because there was a shortened 66-game season that ESPN, TrueHoop and several websites hammered on the topic ad nauseaum over the past few months (even on this site, quite eloquently by Ben). But, realistically, in order to solve the issue of tanking, one thing should be fixed instead: the draft lottery.

Obviously, basketball is unique because it has a perfect schedule length and draft setup for tanking to be a possibly effective strategy for teams. With only 82 games (usually), as opposed to the NFL’s 16 and MLB’s 162, there’s a possibility that a 6-10 game stretch or more could significantly alter a team’s drafting position. The same is then true in the National Hockey League, but, for some odd reason, despite that league’s similar use of a draft lottery, not as big of a media deal is made of tanking. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Draft Reset: Day Three

After two days, your Cleveland Browns have been among the most active NFL franchises thus far during the NFL Draft. In terms of number of trades, peculiar selections and noteworthy storylines, the Browns have been one of the leading organizations in the past 40 hours. Will that eventually equate to winning football come September? Who knows, but we all at least have one more day in which we can celebrate our favorite past time of the April draft.

Looking forward, here are the remaining picks the Browns have in the third and final day of the draft, which begins at 12 p.m. EST today:

-Round 4, pick 5
-Round 4, pick 25 [Read more...]

Pick #87: Browns Select DT John Hughes

After trading down earlier in the third round, the Cleveland Browns selected DT John Hughes from Cincinnati. Listed at about 6-feet-3-inches, he was listed at No. 250 on the ESPN Big Board and was a bit of a surprise for most people at this selection.

Of course, the Browns picked DT Phil Taylor in the first round last year after trading down, and also have a stud in DT Ahtyba Rubin. Hughes will provide immediate depth on the line, but who knows if more value was elsewhere, even if Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu recently was taken off the board and likely was a top target.

Hughes is listed as being quick with good run skills. He has a powerful upper body, but endurance and conditioning are listed as possible future concerns. He appeared in 50 games at the college level, starting 25 of them, but a right knee injury prevented him from participating in the combine and in his pro day.

He picked up 51 tackles total during his senior season at Cincinnati, including 12.5 for loss and five sacks. Likely, this will be another unpopular pick with the Browns fans as the team completes its selections through the first two days of the draft.

[Related: Browns Trade No. 67 Pick to Broncos]