August 26, 2014

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Quarterbacks

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The season is just 100 days away. Enthusiasm is growing with each 140-character update from OTAs. The Cleveland Browns have had a very busy offseason in terms of the roster, coaching staff, and front office. Making big splashes both in free agency and the draft, they’ve completely revamped the roster. Each week from today to the beginning of training camp, I will examine the state of one position on the Cleveland Browns. The first position I will look at is the highly talked about group under center.

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I’m not cheering the Greg Little release, but it’s no big deal

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And so the Greg Little era in Cleveland has come to a close. It’s not a day worth celebrating, that’s for sure. It’s never a good day when your team gives up on a second-round draft pick who was still playing under his rookie contract. It’s never a good day when your team is cutting a player under the age of 25 who has good size and passes the eye test as an athlete. Then again, all said and done, if you are a fan of a team and have any aspirations for that team to be successful, you might not want to get all caught up emotionally over a move like the Browns cutting Little. In the end, it’s just not that big of a deal.

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Terrell Pryor to be cut or traded by Raiders

Terrelle Pryor Ohio State Sugar Bowl

Former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Terrell Pryor didn’t have an awful year last year, but he apparently isn’t going to be a part of the future in Oakland. It certainly sounds like if you’re a bettor that you should probably assume he’ll get cut.

It seems unlikely that anyone would trade for Pryor when the word is out that he’s about to be cut. Then again, he did show flashes of promise last season, and he’s only due a salary of $750,000 this year, so it’s possible that some team might think he’s worth a seventh-round pick.

I certainly don’t think this is the kind of thing that the Browns should pursue, but you never know where Ray Farmer and company might think to look for a backup to replace Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden. Terrell Pryor might not excite Browns fans, but in a field that includes Rex Grossman, it’s probably not the worst idea ever.

Pryor’s highlights from last year were mostly plays he made running the ball, but he did have two games where he had a QB rating over 100. He also had two games with over 100 yards rushing.

Colt McCoy signs with the Washington Redskins

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Colt McCoy wasn’t out of work long. The former Browns quarterback has never been able to find tons of success in the NFL, but the backup QB game isn’t so bad. Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy? All of them have been able to find rosters at least for this year’s training camp.

I’ll never get used to NFL teams reporting their own news with “BREAKING” as a descriptor. Anyway…

The financial details haven’t come out yet, and McCoy will certainly have his work cut out for him on a roster featuring RG3 and Kirk Cousins already. Even if he doesn’t make it to the roster for the regular season, I wouldn’t bet against Colt McCoy getting a job as a backup somewhere.

For all the warts on his résumé, I will always consider Colt McCoy a player of value. No, he’s apparently not starter quality in the NFL, but for whatever reason, I’ll always look back on his tenure more fondly than that of Brandon Weeden’s or even Derek Anderson’s. That’s not much of a contest to win, of course, but congrats to him for winning it just the same.

It must be the snake-wrangling photo.

[Related: Browns brass becomes bystanders for Blake Bortles’ ballgame]

Josh Gordon thinks Browns will draft a QB at No. 4

Gordon catch sm

Josh Gordon might not know a whole lot more about the Cleveland Browns’ draft plans than we do. That has to be stated first and foremost. Still, Gordon’s opinion on the matter is interesting just the same. On Thursday, the Pro Bowl wide receiver told ESPN that he believes the Browns will call a quarterback’s name with the fourth pick of the 2014 NFL draft.

We won’t go so far as to speculate that this is something that Josh Gordon wants as a receiver. I’m guessing the guy who was able to go for over 1,600 yards in only 14 games while catching passes from Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell feels pretty comfortable in his ability to get open enough for just about any quarterback.

[Related: Johnny Manziel will wear helmet and shoulder pads at pro day]

(Photo by John Cole/WFNY)

Jason Campbell signs on with Bengals for one year

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Being a backup quarterback in the NFL isn’t such a bad gig. Despite lackluster performances, former Browns like Brandon Weeden and Derek Anderson are never going to be out of work, it seems. Jason Campbell had a pretty bad year for a starting quarterback in the NFL, but it was apparently good enough to get him another job in the league as he signed with the Bengals yesterday.

It’s shocking that the Bengals of all teams would have signed Campbell. Why? Consider that Campbell helped author a 41-20 loss to the Bengals this past November when he threw three interceptions and finished the day with a 44.3 QB rating. The game featured so many check-downs that even Colt McCoy was embarrassed for him.

The terms of the deal aren’t available yet, but you have to assume it’s a pretty modest veteran salary.

The Campbell signing also goes to prove just how strange a little place the NFL can be. Jason Campbell reunites with former Raiders coach Hue Jackson, who happened to be coaching the Raiders when Jason Campbell hurt his collarbone after starting the season 4-2.

What happened next? The Raiders traded for Carson Palmer.

Anyway, in case you want to remember just how bad the Browns loss to the Bengals was this past season, check out the first paragraph from the recap. Remember this is a game where the Browns gave up 31 pointsin the second quarter.

The Cleveland Browns had a meaningful game against the division leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday and responded very poorly. They started the game great going up 13-0, but quickly imploded into a cornucopia of bountiful gifts for the Cincinnati Bengals to feast upon. Interceptions, punt blocks, fumbles and offensive ineptitude took the place of pumpkins, grapes, apples and squash. I’m thinking of so many bad jokes about the Browns getting squashed that I’m not even going to bother. Given a chance to respond to opportunity, the Browns failed on this day.

[Also see: Brandon Weeden, Dallas Cowboy]

Image via Rick Grayshock/WFNY

Browns expected to release Jason Campbell

campbelldownFind me another profession where you can be considered elite one week1 and unemployed just a few weeks later. Such could be the case for Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell who, per ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi, is expected to be released due to triggered escalators in his contract.

Campbell, who was leapfrogged by Brian Hoyer after Brandon Weeden’s first bout with the injury bug, played more than 45 percent of the team’s snaps in 2013 and, in turn, is due a crispy $3.25 million in 2014. While we may never know if the escalator played into the initial decision to start Hoyer prior to his injury, the 32-year-old Campbell was just 1-7 as a starter and regressed mightily over the final few weeks of the season as the team spiraled into a place that ultimately cost their first-year head coach his job.

Campbell is, however, expected to be joined by former first-round quarterback Brandon Weeden whose contract contains $2 million in guarantees, leaving the Browns with Hoyer—coming off a torn ACL—and whichever quarterback they land in the offseason. They are widely expected to use their first-round pick on a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Joshua Gunter/Plain Dealer

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Footnotes:

  1. On November 8, as things were looking a bit brighter for the Browns, Campbell was in the midst of captaining a team that was considererd (by at least one person) to be the best in the AFC North, and was given the “elite” tag. This column also stated that the Browns “hit a home run” with Rob Chudzinski… []

My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Brian Hoyer

The hometown kid rejuvinated a bitter and beaten fan base (Diamond Images/Getty Images)

The hometown kid rejuvinated a bitter and beaten fan base
(Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover. In turn, WFNY will soon announce its choice for 2013′s Cleveland Sportsman of the Year. Here’s one of the nominations for that honor by a WFNY writer.

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Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers Week 17 Open Thread

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The Browns season mercifully ends today. A lot of key players are missing, including Joe Haden. The Steelers are 7-8 and still have an outside chance at the AFC’s second wild card with a win and help. The Browns are 1-9 in their last 10. This afternoon’s game should go over quite well!

Join us here in the comments for some Week 17 NFL action. We can always talk quarterbacks too, if that’s more of your style. Oh and Rob Chudzinski’s job might be in jeopardy. Fun times in Cleveland!

Will Browns be motivated enough to dash Steelers playoff hopes?

chudzinski presserI have no doubt that on Sunday the Cleveland Browns players will be trying to win as they’re somewhere near a touchdown underdog on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t believe that players and coaches involved in an NFL schedule think about the NFL draft or anything other than doing their jobs and maybe trying to have fun as they play out their schedule. The Browns might not win this weekend in Pittsburgh, and they might even be generally unmotivated, but it won’t be “tanking” if they lose.

In a violent game like NFL football, we’ve seen what can happen to a quarterback who gets lazy in pursuit of the safety of out-of-bounds lines and take an unnecessary hit.  In a game where players get hurt all the time while trying their hardest, the injury rate has to be even higher when players are laying off and only half playing. There’s no way of measuring this, of course, but it makes loads of sense.

What does this mean for the Browns game this weekend? [Read more...]

The Browns QB Carousel — WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2013: No. 4

If you thought that 2012 was one crazy year in the world of Cleveland Sports, 2013 proved that there is rarely a dull moment. There were good times and bad, hirings and firings, wins and losses, and appearances in postseasons and courtrooms. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last five years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the ten biggest sports stories to grace our local sports scene over the last 12 months. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. Do enjoy.

The Quarterbacks

Stop me if you have heard this one before: The Cleveland Browns need a quarterback. You have all seen the infamous jersey. Since Bernie Kosar, the lord himself, your football team has struggled not just in finding a good, quality quarterback, but a competent one. It is truly incredible how many swings and misses several different regimes have taken with the various men under center. It doesn’t matter whether they went the first-overall pick route (Tim Couch), the first-round path (Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden), the mid-round developmental guy (Colt McCoy, Charlie Ward), the waiver wire pickup (Derek Anderson), the career backup (Kelly Holcomb), or the end-of-the-line veteran (Trent Dilfer, Jeff Garcia), nothing and I mean NOTHING has worked out long term since the Browns returned in 1999.
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Cleveland Browns Game 15: Winners and Losers

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Wow. Having watched that game, I can’t say with a straight face that there were any winners in Orange and Brown. Looks like an all-loser edition.

LOSER: Jason Campbell. Drops aside, this was a miserable game from Campbell who as a veteran should have been able to beat this Jets team. 18-39 for 178 yards and two interceptions.

LOSER: Greg Little. Pretty convinced that Greg Little was gone next year long before Sunday. Call this one the clincher. [Read more...]

Browns extend losing streak to six with 24-13 loss to Jets

Check out the Steelers fan trolling the Browns on the road

Check out the Steelers fan trolling the Browns on the road

The Browns still have not won a game since their bye week. They are 4-11 after losing 24-13 to the Jets on Sunday. There’s really not much to say about the particulars of this one. It was just bad to watch all the way around. The Browns failed to score touchdowns with drops and a penalty that nullified a rushing TD. The Browns were gifted an extended trip to the red zone in the first half when the refs called an inexplicable roughing the passer penalty. The Browns couldn’t score, even on 4th and goal from the two yard line. The defense was pretty pathetic too, giving up a 91.7 QB rating to Geno Smith in addition to over 200 yards rushing to the Jets as a team. U-G-L-Y.

Speaking of ugly, it’s not just the losing. This kind of game makes me long for the New England game, which was at least entertaining to watch. I have been impressed by the Browns’ willingness to take accountability and have complimented Joe Banner on that continually, but as this one gets uglier and uglier, I’m starting to wonder what that even means. Accountability for disappointment is alright if it looks like there’s something being built, but what if it doesn’t look that way anymore? [Read more...]

Coordinators call out players for team’s shortcomings: Browns Notes

Norv Turner Press ConferenceAs the Browns are stuck on four wins, having lost three consecutive games in the fourth quarter, the team’s coordinators have decided to place a chunk of the onus on the 53 players who wear orange and brown on every Sunday afternoon. Speaking during their usual Thursday afternoon media session, both Ray Horton and Norv Turner pulled no punches when it came to where the breakdowns have occurred.

“I think as the games go on, there’s more pressure to perform well and to not repeat a pattern that has happened in the past,” Horton said of his defensive unit, one which recently allowed 21 points to the Chicago Bears. This repeated pattern Horton is speaking of comes in the way of the ever-popular late-game collapse. At home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Browns had a three point lead in the final minutes of the game only to give up a touchdown drive, the point-scoring play coming with 40 seconds remaining. With just over a minute remaining in New England, and the Browns having amassed a 12-point lead, Tom Brady and the Patriots rattled off two quick touchdowns. The Bears’ 21 points would come in the final 11 minutes of a game the Browns had been leading.

“It’s not acceptable at this point in the season,” said Horton. You have to do your job and you have to be accountable or at some point you move on.

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Scott Raab – Browns lose, Mike Brown gets tossed, Indians idle – WFNY Podcast – 2013-12-16

WFNY Podcast LogoScott and I had another good chat this week running down all the Cleveland sports stories worth talking about. As usual, here’s the email I sent to Scott on Sunday night…

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Hope you had a nice weekend.

Some thoughts this fine Sunday evening…

The Browns should know conclusively that Jason Campbell is a nice backup and nothing more. Probably better than Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme, so not a candidate to be the long-term starter. Maybe they really did know this all along as he was consistently their last choice all year until they mercifully concluded that Weeden couldn’t play either.

Edwin Baker ran hard and it didn’t leave me impressed with him as much as I’m shocked that the Browns haven’t been able to find guys to run the ball with that level of energy all the time. Even Brandon Jackson seemed to run with more urgency than Willis and Fozzy. Seems like it should be easy to find, although maybe it’s confidence. Confidence is something rarer.  [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns close home schedule with 38-31 loss to Bears

1005034_10152097985714684_1828176681_nThe Browns scored two touchdowns on defense, but still were unable to hold off an uneven Bears team as they fall to 4-10 and close out their home schedule. There were some highlights in this game, but as with most games this season, not nearly enough. The Browns haven’t appeared to be a team that’s given up at all this season, but they looked simply demoralized as they gave up a 40-yard run to Michael Bush that took the Bears to 38-24. That was part of a 21-0 beating the Browns took in the fourth quarter before Josh Gordon scored a garbage time TD with less than a minute to go. Another mostly competitive game lost. I’d say it was crushing for Browns fans, except that that horse has long since left the barn.

It wasn’t a game without some fun. I had a good time watching Tashaun Gipson take a pick back for a score. Watching Billy Winn’s strip-tackle which led to T.J. Ward’s fumble return TD was fun too. Watching Edwin Baker run with energy and aggressiveness was a kick, even if he did it against one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL. Ultimately though, the lasting memory of this one will be hearing Bears fans cheer louder than Browns fans as the clock slipped away. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Game 13: Winners and Losers

Who caught your eye? Did someone stand out? Who blew it? That’s what were interested in this morning. Winners and losers.

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WINNER: Josh Gordon. Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be brought up. Seven catches for 151 yards and a TD. It was Gordon’s seventh 100 yard receiving game of the year. He set an NFL record for receiving yards in a four game span with 774. He is the first Browns WR ever with four straight games over 100 yards. Oh, he also led the team in rushing yards today with 34 on one carry. McGahee had 14 carries for 33 yards. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns lose 27-26 thanks to key pass interference call

Brady Edelman Pats BrownsYou really can’t spend a lot of time talking about NFL football and talking about refereeing. It has a tendency to go both ways and good teams overcome all kinds of bad calls all the time. It’s a part of the game, period. Of course I open my recap that way because today is not one of those days.

Today, I have no choice. The Cleveland Browns were called for pass interference in the end zone on one of the softest calls I’ve ever seen while clinging to a 26-21 lead in New England. The Pats, who’d been trailing the whole game received the bail out call to end all bail out calls. Tom Brady threw long to Josh Boyce and Leon McFadden had great coverage as he and Boyce dove for the ball. The ball went past them both and the cowardly official tossed his flag on the field to make sure that the action wasn’t decided by the actual players making good football plays. Can you tell I’m still pretty fired up about it.

Serenity now… [Read more...]

Animated: Josh Gordon celebrates after toasting Aqib Talib for 80 yards

Josh Gordon was having a quiet day. Operative word being “was.” After being harrassed by Aqib Talib all day long, Gordon finally exploded for 80 yards all on one play as he caught a pass in stride and shrugged off the agitating New England defensive back.

And this was his celebration.

Josh Gordon Celebrates 80 Yarder

 

[Related: Cleveland Browns – What to watch for now that the games are meaningless]

Browns to start Jason Campbell on Sunday against Patriots

Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell (concussion) has been cleared to start for Sunday’s Week 14 game against the New England Patriots.

Campbell was forced out of the Browns’ Week 12 game after sustaining a concussion in what would eventually be a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The play in question resulted in a fine being assessed to Pittsburgh conerback William Gay, despite a penalty not being called during the game. The Browns brought in quarterbacks Alex Tanney and Caleb Hanie in the event that Campbell (or teammate Brandon Weeden) would not be cleared by the NFL’s protocol on concussions, but it appears that one of them, likely Hanie, will serve as a back-up on Sunday. Weeden has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

In five games, the 31-year-old Campbell has completed 87 of his 153 pass attempts (56.9 percent) for 933 yards, adding six touchdowns and three interceptions.

[Related: Browns fans weigh in on Trent Richardson, the draft and free agency]