August 1, 2014

NFL News: Green Bay makes Alex Van Pelt its new QB coach

van pelt packersImmediately after the Mike Pettine hiring, Green Bay running backs coach Alex Van Pelt was mentioned as one of the early favorites for Cleveland’s offensive coordinator. That won’t be the case.

Quickly on Thursday afternoon, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported that he heard Van Pelt was staying in Green Bay with a promotion to be their new quarterbacks coach. He’d be replacing the since-departed Ben McAdoo, the new New York Giants offensive coordinator. Further reports circulated about the move on Thursday night and Friday.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein pointed out, the Packers had the right to block interview requests for Van Pelt. In the NFL, only assistant interviews for head coaching positions are fully safe. Teams also cannot block interviews for coaches no longer under contract, such as the situation for McAdoo, who had been expected to leave this offseason.

Van Pelt, 43, is most well known as a former quarterback at Pitt and for the Buffalo Bills. He began his coaching career with four years in Buffalo and followed that with two in Tampa Bay. He just completed his second season as Green Bay’s running backs coach. He’s regarded as an up-and-coming coaching prospect, and with only one year left in his contract, could be a hot possible coordinator candidate next year.

Earlier, the Bills tabbed Jim Schwartz as Pettine’s replacement. That leaves Bills LB coach Jim O’Neill as the easy favorite to land the defensive coordinator job in Cleveland.

On the offensive side, it’s possible that Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter could remain a candidate for a lateral move to Cleveland. Van Pelt was listed as the early favorite. Another candidate could be former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, but such a move is now hinted as being unlikely.

[Related: Browns hit reset again with Mike Pettine]

Photo: Associated Press

Ben McAdoo set to become Giants offensive coordinator

MJS packers21 49 of hoffman.jpg packers21You can now scratch off a fourth Cleveland Browns interviewed candidate from the wish list: Green Bay Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo will reportedly agreed to become the new offensive coordinator of the New York Giants.

FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez reports the news on Tuesday evening, per a source. Kevin Gilbridge, the Giants’ seven-year offensive coordinator, retired after the season.

McAdoo’s contract with the Packers ended after the season as well and it appeared to be a foregone conclusion that he’d receive his promotion elsewhere. He had been with the organization since 2006, including six previous years as the tight ends coach. This was his second season as Aaron Rodgers’ coach.

The 36-year-old interviewed with the Browns last week. He also had been making the rounds in interviewing for other offensive coordinator vacancies. That seemed to be a more natural step in his development than the large leap to head coach.

Earlier on Tuesday, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles took himself out of the Browns running. Previously, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels did the same. Ken Whisenhunt, new Tennessee Titans head coach, was the other interviewed candidate who is no longer a part of the running.

As has been repeated before, the Browns appear to be mighty content with waiting it out for Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. We likely won’t be hearing many more updates besides lost opportunities until the Broncos’ season finally ends.

[Related: I want to be The Earthquake]

Photo: Mark Hoffman/Journal Sentinel

NFL Rumor: Browns to interview Packers’ McAdoo

MJS packers21 49 of hoffman.jpg packers21Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo is the latest rumored interview target for the Cleveland Browns in their head coaching search, according to a report today.

NFL.com’s Adam Rapoport tweeted Tuesday morning that the Browns will look to interview the 36-year-old who has spent the past two seasons in this role. He previously was the team’s tight ends coach for six years. He also had one-year stints as a quality control coach and various assistant positions for the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, both under current Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.

Just on Monday, Packers beat writer Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel wrote that McAdoo was likely in line for a major promotion this season. Here were his comments:

His current one, Ben McAdoo, appears to be in line for a major upgrade in position as various teams look to replace departed head coaches and coordinators. McAdoo, 36, has a good reputation, and two years ago former Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano attempted to interview him for his offensive coordinator’s position.

Silverstein wrote that McAdoo then waited until his contract expired at the end of the 2013 season, knowing that then, the Packers could no longer deny interview requests. Silverstein reported Monday that McAdoo was in line to interview for at least one offensive coordinator job and possibly a head coaching position.

Well, then comes Rapoport with the surprising report on Tuesday morning about the Browns: https://twitter.com/RapSheet/status/420570506538909696

Silverstein has since confirmed the report as well. It’s a perhaps surprising move for the Browns, who are reportedly no longer interested in Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. The team also interviewed the proverbial favorite, New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, on Saturday.

McAdoo’s name is similar to the mold of 35-year-old Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, also a reported target. But Gase has declined interview requests until his season is over. That leaves the door open for the Browns to interview other names, such as McAdoo, whose team was eliminated in the Wild Card round on Sunday on a Phil Dawson field goal.

[Related: The Cleveland Browns are playing a high stakes version of ‘This or That’]

Photo: Mark Hoffman/Journal Sentinel

Dawson lets Cleveland know admiration is still mutual

Many Browns fans found at least a tiny bit of joy in their hearts last night when Phil Dawson hit a game-winning field goal to help the 49ers beat Green Bay in Lambeau field yesterday. Well, thanks to the modern world of social media, we can verify that Dawson still appreciates the fans in his old football home, not that it’s much of a surprise or anything.

Dawson helped propel Kaepernick and the boys forward 23-20 in a hostile, frozen road game. Insert comment about ice running through Dawson’s veins as a Packer defender flew dangerously close to blocking the kick that Dawson also snuck in on the right hand side of the goal posts.

The friends of WFNY on Facebook were digging it in a big big way last night, as well.

Dawson Dagger

While We’re Waiting… Anderson Varejao the key for Cavs

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com

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Opposing scouts analyze NBA teams. Here’s one take on the Cavs: “Anderson Varejao is the Cavs’ second-most-important player. He plays unselfishly at both ends of the floor. He is an improved shooter, not a great shooter, but he can move the ball. He’s an unbelievable pick-and-roll defender, and he makes up for other people’s mistakes because he’s in the right place. He’s one of those guys you don’t like to play against, but you like to have him on your team.” [SI.com] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Uncle Drew coming back soon

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

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Looks like Uncle Drew will be back again shortly. Check out Pepsi Max’s teaser YouTube and Instagram videos from the other day. [Read more...]

Joe Thomas finally gets his chance to see a game at Lambeau Field, and he’s playing in it

joe-thomas-campJoe Thomas grew up in Brookfield, Wisconsin. He was a star athlete at Brookfield Central High School, lettering in football, basketball and track. Thomas was a state champion in the shot put and discuss in high school, in addition to being all everything in football.

Growing up a Green Bay Packers fan, Thomas was 12 years old when Brett Favre and Reggie White led the team to a Super Bowl title in 1996. One thing Thomas never got to do was see a game inside historic Lambeau Field, though it was only 140 miles up I-43.

So it will be a special day for Thomas on Sunday.

“I think it’s a thrill for everybody in the locker room,” Thomas said. “It’s one of the most historic, legendary places to play in the NFL. So many great players that are in the Hall of Fame have played there.”

Thomas may never play for the Packers, but he is certainly on a path to add his name to the list of Hall of Famers from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“It’s a special place,” he said. “It’s the only community owned franchise, it’s the only stadium that’s kind of right in the middle of a community, so it’s a special place to play for anybody. It’s still special for me growing up a big fan.”

Thomas has played a preseason game there, but never a regular season game. [Read more...]

NFL Free Agency Rumor: Browns interested in Greg Jennings

We’ve heard plenty about potential targets for the Cleveland Browns in the last few days of free agency. But we hadn’t heard definitive interest in this WR star: Greg Jennings.

Jennings, 29, missed the majority of the 2012 season with the Green Bay Packers. He missed the season’s first game with a suspension from an off-the-field incident, then had a concussion and hernia surgery later in the year. It has remained up in the air for months because of his age and durability whether he would he able to reach a deal with the only team he’s known in his 7-year career.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, via Evan Silva of Rotoworld on Twitter, mentioned the Browns tonight as one of several teams potentially interested in the services of Jennings. The quote was that the “Packers are still trying to negotiate,” but then the Vikings (who just traded Percy Harvin) along with the Colts and Browns are other potential suitors. The Dolphins, of course, also have been listed several times previously.

Along with Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace — who we have seen mentioned in plenty of Cleveland rumors — Jennings and New England’s Wes Welker are the other two “elite” wide receiver targets this offseason. Some secondary options include Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander, Donnie Avery, Domenik Hixon, Brandon Gibson, et al.

Jennings — a second-round pick in 2006 out of Western Michigan — appeared in only 8 games in 2012, catching 36 balls for 366 yards and 4 touchdowns. It stands as the worst year of his career. His averages during the previous five seasons (thus, excluding his rookie year): 69 receptions, 1,108 yards and 8 touchdowns.

[Related: NFL Free Agency Primer: Part 1- Wide Receivers]

Let’s talk about money and NFL referees

Hooters girls offer to ref next game (H/T Busted Coverage)

Everyone has been talking about the NFL replacement referees and the lockout, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it as well. It’s even gone so far that the Hooters girls are offering to ref your next game. It’s such a big issue in such a big league that it is being used for PR stunts. Obviously, they got the wrong call at the end of Monday Night Football. Obviously, the games have been slower as they’ve been less decisive in making decisions, but let’s go beyond the superficial stuff that is easy to scream about and obvious. Let’s talk about the real issue here which is the battle between the NFL referees and the NFL.

The quality of replacement referees has absolutely nothing to do with the crux of the fight between the NFL and the referees over pensions. This isn’t an unfamiliar fight to most Americans as pensions are a dying breed of retirement vehicle all over the country. I don’t want to get too financially technical here, but there are two basic kinds of retirement plans. One is defined benefit, like a pension, that guarantees a certain benefit at retirement. It will frequently be a percentage of the employee’s final salary depending on years served in a career. A defined contribution plan is one that doesn’t guarantee future benefits, but instead guarantees contributions into investments like a 401(k) during employment.  [Read more...]

What We’re Watching: Browns at Packers

Well, here we are: The Dress Rehearsal. The Browns head to historic Lambeau Field to take on a team that was 15-1 just one season ago. As the Browns continue through their four-week journey of stadiums which will be empty by the third quarter, we here at WFNY will shed some light on the one thing we will each respectively be looking for from the otherwise meaningless contest. Naturally, having all player escape without injury is a priority. But beyond this, we have plenty to keep an eye on. For reference, here’s last week’s edition. For those who care nothing about the future, we have you covered after the jump.

What We’re Watching… [Read more...]

Hensley: Browns should take fifth rounder for Colt McCoy

This is a little meta because Jamison Hensley was quoting Adam Schefter’s mailbag in creating his own blog post about Colt McCoy being a trade fit with the Green Bay Packers. Schefter’s thoughts are nothing new, really, except to say that Aaron Rodgers still needs a capable backup now that Matt Flynn has moved along to Seattle. Hensley’s take is what I am quoting and responding to here.

I’ve said repeatedly that I would keep McCoy as the backup. He’s a cheaper alternative to Wallace, who’s scheduled to make $2.4 million this season. He’s younger than Wallace. And he has just as much starting experience as Wallace after last season. But, if the offer was a fifth-round pick, it makes sense to trade McCoy for that level of compensation.

All due respect to Hensley, but if Colt McCoy has as much value as a backup as I think he does for the Cleveland Browns, then I’m definitely not going to take a Green Bay fifth round pick in exchange for his services. Despite common thought, McCoy is not a distraction yet. He had some pointed words when the starter was named, but he and Brandon Weeden appeared to communicate just fine on the sidelines during the first pre-season game. McCoy also seemed to compete hard in his quest to play and get better when he had his chance with the twos.

The Packers had the 163rd pick in the fifth round this last draft, and they’re considered favorites to make the playoffs, if not reach the Super Bowl. So that fifth is actually more like a high sixth round choice. Just for reference though, the Browns’ last couple fifth round picks were Larry Asante in 2010, and Buster Skrine in 2011. The high sixth rounder the Browns got in 2010 was Carlton Mitchell. As excited as we are about Buster Skrine’s potential, you can’t tell me that’s worth as much as a solid backup quarterback with at least a little bit of starter potential, no matter how badly he was over-matched a year ago.

As I said this morning, I might just hang on to Colt McCoy unless I thought the Browns could snag a third or a fourth round pick. Assuming Schefter is correct and the trade partner is Green Bay, I’m holding out that much more because their pick isn’t liable to be a great one with expected on-field success.

[Related: It’s just pre-season… Colt McCoy, Concussions and Free Agency]

Greg Cosell: Browns must “shorten” the game with Trent Richardson

If Greg Cosell is right then the Browns will get the highest rated player in the draft overall at #4 this week. Interestingly enough, he echos a lot of what I was trying to say about Peter King’s stat of the week trumpeting the need for a passing game. Now Greg Cosell’s mock draft seems to back me up even more.

Cleveland: The Browns select my highest rated player, RB Trent Richardson. Richardson is a special runner, the best to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson. Cleveland will not compete in the AFC North trying to outscore Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cincinnati. They will not sustain offense throwing the ball. They must shorten the game, limit the number of snaps their defense is on the field, and try to win 17-14. You need a foundation back to do that.

This is the crux of one of my big arguments over the last few months that we as fans need to stop constantly attempting to measure ourselves based on how everyone else seems to do it. You can follow certain parts of team culture like continuity, building through the draft and things like that, but not the finite details of constructing a team. Every successful team puts an original spin on their success. The Pats and Packers have just as many differences as they do similarities other than winning over the last few seasons.

The Browns need to find some of their own unique attributes that set them apart (positively) among other NFL teams.

[Related: Is Jason Pinkston the Browns true plan at right tackle?]

Why do the Browns play the Eagles twice in three weeks?

Something has been staring us all in the face since the NFL schedule came out and I don’t think anyone has brought it up yet. Thankfully for us, we have the benefit of readership that is more observant than we are. We were alerted to the fact that the Browns play the Eagles in the all-important, “dress-rehearsal” third game of the preseason a mere two weeks before the Eagles come back to Cleveland for the season opener.

I know teams don’t tend to show a ton of their secrets in the pre-season, but it certainly seems odd that the schedule-makers would put these two games so close together and also have the Browns play the most “real” pre-season game against the same team.

In 2011 the Browns pre-season opponents were the Packers, Lions, Eagles and Bears in that order. In 2o12 it is the Lions, Packers, Eagles and Bears. Even a slight change in order placing the Eagles earlier would make more sense.

In the end, it probably isn’t a giant deal, I guess, but doesn’t it seem odd? As if the Browns didn’t have enough to think about in terms of working on their team and gameplan, but now they’ll have to think about being that much more secretive and “vanilla” when they’re trying to emulate the way they actually want to come out of the gate to start the NFL season.

I’ll admit I don’t have tons of knowledge about the schedule and its intricacies year over year, but this does strike me as strange.

[Related: 2012 Cleveland Browns schedule has been released]

Digging into the Packers blueprint under Ted Thompson

I was astonished to read something about the Packers at ESPN today. Regarding the signing of Jeff Saturday it is notable that the veteran center for Peyton Manning is the first unrestricted free agent signing for the Packers in three years. That led me to do some more digging and I found that the Packers are so proud of the way that their team is built that they have a “How The Packers Were Built” page on their website.

On that page it tells you that 33 of the current Packers were drafted vs. 31 who arrived by way of free agency. That free agent total sounds pretty high, but so many of them were undrafted rookies it makes sense. Donald Driver is the lone player remaining from the 1999 draft. Chad Clifton is the lone player from the 2000 draft. Then there is a scary break in the action as the Packers have no representatives on the team from 2001 – 2004. During that time coach Mike Sherman fulfilled both the coach and GM role until Ted Thompson was hired in 2005. Thompson drafted Aaron Rodgers and built a Super Bowl winning team.

Jordy Nelson? Second rounder from 2008. Jermichael Finley? 3rd rounder 2008. Ryan Grant was acquired in a trade from the Giants in September of 2007 in exchange for a future sixth-round draft pick. James Jones was drafted in the third round of the 2007 draft. [Read more...]

NFL Free Agency: Matt Flynn unlikely to be tagged by Green Bay Packers

As the deadline for using the franchise tag approaches Monday at 4 PM it becomes less and less likely that the Packers will use their franchise tag on Matt Flynn. The Green Bay Press Gazzette seems to think that Packers GM Ted Thompson will not take the risk.

If they tag Flynn, though, they would have to make room for his $14.4 million tender, at least for a brief time, on March 13. That would require personnel moves, such as releasing players and restructuring contracts, before 3 p.m. March 13.

For all the Matt Flynn fans amongst Browns fans this is good news. Certainly you have to think the Dolphins have the inside track on Flynn should he become a free agent with former Packer offensive coordinator Joe Philbin as the new coach in Miami. Fans and media types have also mentioned Miami as a destination for Peyton Manning should the Colts cut him loose.

So we’ll see. For now, it appears that one hurdle to Flynn’s availability in free agency is close to being cleared as the franchise tag deadline approaches quickly.

For more on Matt Flynn and the Browns…
Please let it be Matt Flynn
What would it cost for Matt Flynn if he is franchised?

For the Browns, Please Let it Be Matt Flynn

I am not a talent evaluator.  I scour Youtube during draft time much to the chagrin of my computer speakers which get worn out playing “Bodies” by Drowning Pool every time some no-name defensive end sacks a division two quarterback over ultra-grainy close-up video footage.  With that in mind, I can’t possibly say definitively from an expert point of view that Matt Flynn is the next backup-turned-Pro-Bowler quarterback in the NFL.  What I am saying is that it would be really good for the Browns if he was and they were successful in their pursuit.

Seems like too obvious a statement for a post, right?  “Here’s hoping a free agent is not only a great player, but ends up in a Browns uniform!” (PUBLISH)

There’s more at work here though.  The Cleveland Browns tipped their hand a bit this week when Randy Lerner spoke to Mike Trivisonno.  That’s not to say that finding a franchise quarterback when you don’t have one is a trade secret that nobody knew, but the way Randy Lerner talked about it indicates just how much of a priority it is.  When you think priorities like that, you start thinking about trading up in the draft.  You start thinking about throwing gobs of money at free agents that fill a huge need.  That’s where the Matt Flynn hope comes in for me.  With those two options hanging in the balance, I would love not to have to trade up. [Read more...]

Mike Holmgren to be Inducted into Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

Current Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren will reportedly be the lone inductee during the Green Bay Packers’ 42nd Hall of Fame induction banquet. Set to be held on July 21, Holmgren will join greats like Ron Wolf and Reggie White as key members of the consecutive Super Bowl appearances within the 1990s.

In seven years with the Packers, Holmgren amassed a regular record of 75-37, setting franchise records for playoff births as well as consecutive victories within the confines of Lambeau Field. Echoing Holmgren’s recent sentiments on “finding a quarterback,” the one who they call The Big Show arrived in Green Bay in 1992, landed Brett Favre via trade one season later and won a Super Bowl in 1996.

“He probably had the leadership qualities that a lot of people don’t have,” Packers president Bob Harlan said. “A lot of people are comfortable in the coordinator’s position and that’s where they ought to stay. … [Mike] took control of his locker room. Took control of his coaches. He just took charge.”

Holmgren is set to enter year three of his five-year contract with the Browns. His franchise has had one playoff appearance since their return in 1999 and will be coming off of a 4-12 season that was rife with off-field issues and on-field injuries.

[Related: For Browns Fans it’s Patience Within the Patience]

(Source: Green Bay Press Gazette)

Report: Packers Unlikely to Use Franchise Tag on Matt Flynn

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Green Bay Packers are likely to use their 2012 franchise tag on tight end Jermichael Finley rather than back-up quarterback Matt Flynn.

The Packers were reportedly considering using said tag on Flynn to allow for sign-and-trade possibilities, ultimately netting them at least one additional draft selection with the counterparty inking the quarterback to a long-term deal akin to that off Matt Schaub or, more recently, Kevin Kolb.

Flynn, 26, was on the radar of many heading into the final week of the season and saw his stock rise considerably following a 480-yard, six-touchdown Week 17 performance against the Detroit Lions.  He has been linked to the Browns as well as other quarterback-hungry franchises like the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins.

The one-year tender for Flynn would cost the Packers $14 million in guaranteed money.

[Related: What Would it Cost for Matt Flynn if He is Franchised?]

NFL Pre-season: What to Watch After Browns Starters Exit

Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur indicated that his starters will play the first quarter on Saturday when they take on the world champion Green Bay Packers.  Obviously, during that quarter, we’ll all be watching the same stuff.  How will Colt McCoy and the offense look against live action defense considering they are all learning a new offense?  How will Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, Jayme Mitchell, and Jabaal Shear perform against an opposing offensive line, QB and running attack?  Will any wide receivers step up and identify themselves from the rest of the pack, or will we be talking about tight ends all year long?

What about after the first quarter when the starters exit the game?  Here’s what I’ll be watching, amongst other things. [Read more...]

Browns Training Camp Notes 8/11: All About Speed, Skrine and Saturday

After taking the last three days in full pads, Browns head coach Pat Shurmur opted to let his players run Thursday’s practice in shells as the Orange and Brown gear up for their first preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

As the team will host the Super Bowl champions in just a little over a day, here are some quick notes involving your Cleveland Football Browns:

- Donning helmets and shorts, Shurmurs squad was able to fly around Berea with the goal of ramping up their learning curve with about 36 hours until kickoff.  Resting tired legs from a hitting standpoint, Thursday’s practice featured a heavy dose of passing as the team opted for drills involving receivers and tight ends versus the secondary as well as a large focus on red zone play, again featuring their pass-catching weapons.  [Read more...]