April 19, 2014

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...]

Peter King: Heckert thinking Blackmon and Holmgren thinking (about) Tannehill

Are you still having fun yet? I am. Peter King has some juicy bits about the draft in his MMQ column today. First of all, he doesn’t think there will be much action on the third pick because people won’t fall enough in love with anyone not named Luck or Griffin to make a big offer. That leads to Matt Kalil probably heading to Minnesota as most people have suspected from the beginning. That leaves the Browns.

I heard different things over the weekend from people I trust. GM Tom Heckert loves Blackmon and that would be his pick; president Mike Holmgren is still trying to decide with finality if Tannehill is the franchise quarterback worth taking here. The safest pick? Richardson, at a need position, even though receiver is a bigger need.

Joe Lull of 92.3 The Fan is still the (only?) engineer for the Tannehill express, so this probably makes him happy that the man at the top of the Browns pyramid is still even contemplating Tannehill. Regardless of whether you like Tannehill or not, there’s no denying that his rise has been hype-based and meteoric over the last few months. Oh yeah, and he hasn’t done anything new on a football field in that time unless you count a scripted pro day workout.

He didn’t even knock over a Browns position coach. Enjoy the ride people!

[Related: Bill Polian says Trent Richardson is the real deal]

Hey! Come to our draft party!

 

How Will the Steelers React to James Harrison’s Rant?

Playing in the AFC North comes with a special set of challenges in the NFL because of how well run the Steelers have been historically.  Many Browns fans wish that the Browns had a fraction of the leadership and culture that the Steelers have had as they have won Super Bowls over the years.  This culture is often defined by not only drafting and developing players, but also knowing when to say goodbye to them.  We aren’t just talking about run of the mill players either.  This isn’t like the Browns saying goodbye to Mike Sellers.  The Steelers have been willing to wave goodbye to some really talented players over the years.  With that in mind, it will be interesting to see what – if anything – the Steelers do with James Harrison who has called Roger Goodell a “crook” and a “devil,” while also ripping teammates Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger in an interview with Men’s Journal.

Oh, and he also decided posing in a menacing fashion brandishing firearms was the image that he wanted to project for himself, so there’s that. [Read more...]

Browns Quarterback Situation Up in the Air

Your Browns quarterback update is that we will see on Wednesday.  Even with all the changes at the QB spot this year, isn’t it kind of refreshing that every move so far has been almost strictly due to health and injury?  And who would have thought coming into this year that we would know the least about Jake Delhomme by this point in the season?  As always, there is no need for controversy here.  This is how I see it shaking out.  If Colt McCoy is healthy, then he plays.  Otherwise between Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme it doesn’t really matter.

In the event that Colt McCoy isn’t healthy and isn’t ready to go, I would have to guess Jake Delhomme will get the nod this week against Carolina.  Delhomme had a nice pre-season.  He had a bad opener against Tampa Bay and clearly wasn’t healthy enough to play against the pass rush of Atlanta.  Still, he won the job out of training camp over Seneca Wallace.  There is no reason to think today that given the choice between Seneca and Jake Delhomme that Seneca isn’t still the backup.  Yesterday Eric Mangini told us that we would have to wait and see about Colt McCoy on Wednesday.  He also told us that Jake Delhomme is 100% or as close to 100% as anyone ever is. [Read more...]

Things the Browns Have Gotten Wrong

Let’s not call this article criticism as much as it is a “reporting of findings” combined with a dose of self-awareness. It would only be criticism if I called people names or questioned their overall intelligence.  I think I have praised the Browns overall enough this season that I can point a few things out that they have decidedly gotten wrong without coming off like a basher or the dreaded “hater.”

It is totally impossible for any NFL front office in the modern age to be right all the time. Even the mostly infallible organizations like Indianapolis with Bill Polian and the Patriots with Bill Belichick miss on occasion. Still, those guys are so good now that almost nobody will criticize a draft pick, regardless of Mel Kiper’s board. I think the Browns have gotten more right than wrong since Holmgren and Heckert have joined the organization, but they have missed some things too that are currently hurting the Browns on Sunday. [Read more...]

How Are the Browns Doing Compared to 2009?

It isn’t really any kind of a season milestone for the Browns other than the fact that they have hit their bye week and the news comes in a bit slower.  Still, seven games is a pretty good sample size to take a bit of stock to see just how the Browns are doing compared to what we saw a year ago.  Just from judging with your own eyes, you should know that what we are seeing is better.  Obviously it still isn’t good enough, but trust me when I tell you it is better.

First things first, the record this year is 2-5.  A year ago after seven games the Browns were 1-6 with their lone win coming in that horrendous 6-3 affair in Buffalo.  That game could also eventually be deemed the last meaningful game of Jamal Lewis’ career as he ran for over 100 yards.  Seeing as he didn’t catch on with anyone this season, I am guessing that will be the final 100+ yard game of Jamal Lewis’ career.  Speaking of rushing.

So far in 2010 the Browns have rushed for 708 yards compared with 680 the prior year.  The Browns had 173 yards rushing against the Ravens in 2010 and lost by a touchdown.  In 2009, the Browns rushed for 171 yards in that game against Buffalo that they won.  In 2010 the Browns have rushed for over 100 yards as a team 4 times, while in 2009 to this point it was only 2 times. [Read more...]

Browns Content to Be Competitive and Developing

As the Browns’ list of cuts was finally released and then as they failed to claim anyone, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert’s view of the current Browns is becoming apparent.  The team is far from a finished product and instead of grasping at players who appeared to be minor upgrades the Browns seem content in seeing what they have with the unknown young talents.

Obviously I am talking most notably about the wide receiver position.  As outside observers, it seemed that this was one of the most dire needs the team has had all off-season.  As guys like Vincent Jackson were dangled and as guys like T.J. Houshmandzadeh were cut and became available, the Browns sat idle.  In fairness to the Browns, Housh was unlikely to sign with a team not looking seriously at the playoffs this season, and the asking price was so high on Jackson that he still hasn’t been traded to date.  Still, it speaks volume either about the potential of Massoquai, Robiskie and Cribbs, or the Browns’ desire to see that talent before extending offers to any other players. [Read more...]

New Regime Paying For Predecessors’ Sins With Montario Hardesty

Was the pick of Montario Hardesty a good or bad idea?  Depending on what argument you are intent on making, you could probably argue both sides.  Hardesty received rave reviews from rookie sessions and from voluntary sessions prior to training camp.  In his only and limited pre-season action, Hardesty did enough to impress at least a few fans that I heard from.

Of course, then he got hurt and the old negativity rose quickly and easily to the top.  Hardesty tore his left ACL, which was incidentally the other knee from the one that the team was worried about and caused him to miss all but the final pre-season game.  Naturally, then Hardesty became the worst draft pick in the history of the NFL to a lot of fans.  On draft day Hardesty was known for his, shall we say, limited durability.  Yet the new Browns front office with Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert traded up to get him. [Read more...]

NFL Draft: Browns Running Back

The Browns running back situation is one of the strangest on the team.  There is this hint of depth, but it is based in potential and hope more than reality.  It is so strange in fact, that I feel sorry for the developers of the Madden football game franchise.  Seriously.  How would you rate Jerome Harrison this season in the game?  Same with Peyton Hillis.  Hillis looked great in Shanahan’s final year in Denver.  Then again, Shanahan made Reuben Droughns look like a world beater too.  Add in James Davis and the bar fighting man, Chris Jennings and you have a scent of marginal depth that could turn out to be a real feather in the cap, or a thorn in the team’s side.  And with that, it is really difficult to figure out whether the Browns will spend a pick on a running back, and if so, how early.

The Candidates

1 C.J. Spiller RB 5’10⅝” 196 Clemson
2 Ryan Mathews RB 5’11⅝” 218 Fresno State
3 Jahvid Best RB 5’10⅛” 199 California
4 Dexter McCluster RB 5’8¾” 172 Mississippi
5 Joe McKnight RB 5’11⅜” 198 USC
6 Montario Hardesty RB 5’11¾” 225 Tennessee
7 Toby Gerhart RB 6’0″ 231 Stanford
8 Anthony Dixon RB 6’0¾” 233 Mississippi State
9 Ben Tate RB 5’11″ 220 Auburn
10 Jonathan Dwyer RB 5’11¼” 229 Georgia Tech
11 LeGarrette Blount RB 6’0½” 241 Oregon
12 Charles Scott RB 5’11⅜” 238 LSU
13 Javarris James RB 6’0¼” 212 Miami (FL)
14 Keiland Williams RB 5’10⅞” 233 LSU
15 Shawnbrey McNeal RB 5’9⅛” 194 Southern Methodist
16 Chris Brown RB 5’10⅜” 210 Oklahoma
17 Andre Dixon RB 6’0¾” 205 Connecticut
18 Patrick Paschall RB 5’11⅝” 209 North Dakota State
19 Brandon Minor RB 6’0″ 214 Michigan
20 Curtis Steele RB 5’10½” 188 Memphis

[Read more...]

Browns Create Mystery While Still Communicating

Nobody truly knows what the Browns will do with the number seven pick on draft day.  Even the Browns don’t know what they are going to do because they don’t know what will happen in front of them or what opportunities will present themselves.  Still, they have managed to create mystery and intrigue for Browns fans during the run-up to the draft not by being painfully and obnoxiously tight-lipped.  Instead, we have heard about opinions of players from Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow all the way to Eric Berry and Earl Thomas.  What a contrast this is from last year with the serially vague Eric Mangini as the team mouthpiece.

Of course it helps Holmgren and Heckert in creating mystery when there are so many needs associated with the Browns.  Even with all the moves the Browns have made, it is reasonable to assume the Browns could take a stud player at quarterback, cornerback, safety, defensive line, offensive line, wide receiver and running back.  In fact, at different times as fans, I think we have entertained options at each and every one of these positions. [Read more...]

Even If it Doesn’t Work, Holmgren Was the Right Hire

Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. As Browns fans, we know this all too well. Art Modell proved this to us in the mid 90′s after John Elway proved it to us in the late 80′s. If we didn’t learn from that, then Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Butch Davis, and Kellen Winslow all decided to remind us just how little is guaranteed in the sports world. I am not going to dwell on all the negatives of the past with the Cleveland Browns today. It serves no point because we all know this history forward and backward. Even though we have no idea how bright or dark tomorrow will be, today is a chance to feel optimistic about the future because of Mike Holmgren.

I can hear a lot of you groaning as you read the words. Haven’t we all pushed our chips into the middle with this team before? I know I have. I thought Butch Davis was a good hire. We all know how that one worked out. Still, it didn’t have to end as badly as it did. Who knows how successful Butch Davis could have been had the Browns had a dominant culture and business model? Instead, Butch Davis and his right hand man Pete Garcia walked into a situation with a mostly unqualified Dwight Clark running the show. They quickly made a power play that gave them control of everything. [Read more...]

Browns Sunday Trades: Instant Analysis

So, one day we get the signing of an older gentleman quarterback, and the timing leads a few people (The OBR and Cleveland Frowns) to guess that the move was made at 6:00 PM on Saturday as a way of potentially avoiding the news cycle.  Now, at the same time a day later, the Browns unleash some more moves on the sports news scrolls all over the nation.  If you haven’t heard, the Browns traded both Brady Quinn and Kamerion Wimbley today.  Let’s try to make some sense of this.  At this point, I am not going to try and convince anyone that these moves are good or bad.  Instead, I want to try and get inside the heads of the Browns’ front office and coaching staff.

First, let’s talk about Kamerion Wimbley because it might be a bit easier.  After a year of coaching Kamerion Wimbley and after checking tape on Wimbley’s improved play this season, the Browns still felt like it wasn’t worth keeping Wimbley around.  Maybe it has something to do with the depth of the draft.  Maybe it has to do with the acquisition of Matt Roth a year ago.  Maybe it is the fact that Wimbley has failed to prove himself to be more than just a physical freak with only one pass rushing move and a general inability to play in coverage and that he was in the midst of a 6 year $24 million contract.  Probably a combination of all of these factors.  So, the Browns get the 6th pick in the third round of this year’s draft.  Wimbley was a first round pick, but it is easy to see that he hasn’t lived up to his draft slot. Some of that is Wimbley’s fault and some of that is probably the Browns’ coaches over the years. [Read more...]

How Active Should Browns Be in Free Agency?

Mike Holmgren Press ConferenceDepending on your perspective it either seems the Browns have been really active this off-season or not active enough. They have signed two players from outside the organization with Tony Pashos and Scott Fujita. They have made a deal with one of their own in Josh Cribbs. They have traded a second day pick from next year’s draft to bring in presumed backup or stop gap with Seneca Wallace. Now yesterday, they (finally) cut Derek Anderson. But how active should the Browns be in free agency?

I know a lot of us were dreaming about not only bringing back Jerome Harrison, but also signing someone like Thomas Jones to run the ball too. Jones is now gone to Kansas City without so much as a hint of a visit to Cleveland. It was a trade, not free agency, but Anquan Boldin has joined the Ravens to go along with their signing of Donte Stallworth. They could also potentially bring back an aging Mason to round out a receiving corps with a lot of potential compared to what the Browns have. The Steelers went out and re-signed their safety Ryan Clark while also welcoming Antwaan Randle-El back from Washington to play receiver. Then you consider that the Bengals are hosting Terrell Owens, amongst others. Through that looking glass, it would appear that the Browns are incredibly behind in the process. [Read more...]