August 26, 2014

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Safeties

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Browns Training Camp is now in full swing. The team is in the process of installing Mike Pettine’s new defensive scheme. He wants his defense to be physical and tough in order to compete in the AFC North. In order to do so, the Browns added several players who fit this qualification, one of which was strong safety Donte Whitner. Within the last 24 hours, they also added Jim Leonhard to add more depth to this position. The safety is asked to contribute heavily in the run and pass defense. This position could improve just because of the improvement in the cornerback group. The safeties can focus on other areas if the corners can cover in one-on-one without much help. The defense will be looked upon as the backbone of the Browns and if these safeties can play well, the team will have a solid secondary.

Let’s take a look at the safety position for the 2014 Browns. [Read more...]

Let Free Agency Commence!

What do the Browns have cooking today?

What do the Browns have cooking today?

I have no idea what the Browns will do with free agency this year, but I have some clear ideas about what I think they should and shouldn’t do. Despite the massive amount of money and the ever growing list of players available, I still think it’s a bad idea to build a team too much through free agency. This Browns team, despite their struggles of a year ago, is still a relatively young team and improving from a player experience level standpoint. My biggest preferences are for overpaying for continuity and continuing the Banner trend of grabbing guys in their 20′s as opposed to their 30′s.

So let’s start by going through some of the rumored players linked to the Browns. [Read more...]

Rick and Craig talk Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and other Browns stuff – WFNY Podcast – 2013-10-23

WFNY Podcast LogoRick was on hand today for Rob Chudzinski’s press conference and also Jason Campbell’s media availability. We talk about a lot of other Browns stuff.

Did the Browns try hard enough to compete in 2013?
Brandon Weeden and whether he can ever start for the Browns again
Joe Thomas and his free pass for not talking to the media today
The hurt man locker in the Browns locker room
Why haven’t the Browns signed a third quarterback yet?
Couldn’t the Browns have signed better running backs than Bobby Rainey and Willis McGahee?

Check out this episode

Browns vs Rams: What I’m watching

The preseason opens tonight for the Cleveland Browns. Will they be a different team in 2013? These are the things I’ll be watching for…

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When the starters are in:

1) Can the offense and specifically Brandon Weeden find a rhythm and move the ball? Weeden has been a bit inconsistent in training camp. We know that the Browns aren’t going to open up the playbook a whole lot, as Rob Chudzinski has said they are going to work the base offense and defense. Weeden needs to show that he has a grasp on that basic offense and be able to move the team against a defense that likely won’t be diving deep into the playbook either.

We’ve heard and seen the offense work on a quicker pace or tempo. How will that translate to the first game? Watch the playclock. The Browns have been working on snapping the ball with about 8 seconds left on the clock. That might be a good indicator of whether or not they are playing at the same pace that they practiced.  [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… The Free Safety Battle, More On Bullpen Woes, and Friday Night Lights

While We’re Waiting is the daily morning link roundup that WFNY has been serving up for breakfast for the last several years. We hope you enjoy the following recent collection of yummy and nutritious Cleveland sports-related articles. Anything else to add? Email us at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Leading off, Fred Greetham of Fox Sports Ohio talks about the free safety position for the Browns and its two main contenders for the starting role, “It is obvious Gipson has impressed both Chudzinski and new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, so far.“I’ve been pleased with Tashaun,” Chudzinski said. “He’s showing a lot from a coverage standpoint. The last couple of days just watching him, obviously we put the pads on tomorrow, so we will get a chance to see all the guys pop. From a tackling standpoint that’s where we will get to see some of the physical things and we will get a little bit more of a chance to evaluate some guys.”” [Greetham/Fox Sports Ohio]

Next up, Michael Hattery at IBI talks more about the bullpen struggles of late, “However, Smith’s ground ball percentage kind of sticks in your eye. Smith is a guy who was tremendously ground ball prone because of the life on his fastball. Smith has a heavy fastball because of his release point and the arm action/spin imparted. Smith has had over a 10% decrease in groundballs which are the backbone of his success as a pitcher. Add in an inflated HR/FB and you see how destructive the increased fly ball rate has been.” [Indians Baseball Insider] [Read more...]

NFL News – Nate Ulrich on Tebow coverage, Browns position battles, Josh Gordon suspension, contract extensions and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-14

WFNY Podcast LogoAlways good to catch up with the Browns observations with Nate Ulrich from the Akron Beacon Journal. Here’s all that we discussed.

  • How good do you feel not having to talk Tebow?
  • Bill Belichick out to prove he doesn’t have to talk about anything.
  • Gregg Popovich and how he just defies everyone to do what he wants.
  • Ray Horton’s new attacking scheme and how evident it might or might not be at this point
  • T.J. Ward in the box a bit more, maybe like Troy Polamalu?
  • Ray Horton’s Phoenix radio station and how it was going to mirror that of the Steelers
  • Maybe Horton’s change in tune is to avoid player comparisons from Pittsburgh
  • Josh Gordon and the league’s CBA that limits the fact-finding
  • Dawgs by Nature post about changing to Drew Rosenhaus and the timing with the change
  • Joe Haden and his change to Drew Rosenhaus as well
  • Davone Bess and his ability to fill in for Josh Gordon
  • Davone Bess replacing Josh Cribbs as the leader of the wide receivers
  • Fullback and Cleveland Browns and Vonta Leach
  • Leach’s agent talked to Mike Lombardi but no visit was scheduled
  • No real interest on the Browns’ part
  • Owen Marecic’s future and Brad Smelley’s future with the Browns
  • Browns had two backs in the backfield a lot including Ogbonnaya and Hardesty together
  • The Brandon Jackson signing and how weird it was
  • The injury history of Trent Richardson and at the RB position in general
  • If there was one position group where the Browns might supplement the roster, which one would it be?
  • Chris Owens, Buster Skrine, Leon McFadden all battling it out opposite Haden and in the nickel
  • Brandon Bogotay and his competition with Shayne Graham
  • Expected player extensions and why we haven’t seen any just yet
  • Mike Lombardi said it was “a little early”
  • Moving training camp to 4-6:30 PM and how packed camp has been anyway
  • Fan experience and how important it seems to be to the new regime


Check out this episode

Cabot, Grossi: Gipson And Bademosi Will Battle For Starting Free Safety

In their customary Sunday morning “Hey, Tony!” and “Hey, Mary Kay!” columns, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland and Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer give some insight from a pressing issue for Browns’ fans, just who is going to start at free safety opposite T.J. Ward in the secondary.

Hey Tony: One of the more intriguing reports – in my opinion – that I’ve heard coming out of OTAs is that Chudzinski and Horton are giving Johnson Bademosi a look at the free safety spot. He’s certainly got the motor to cause some disruption in the secondary, and as a corner by trade his coverage skills should be respectable. Do you think there’s a realistic chance that Bademosi could make noteworthy contributions at free safety in 2013, or am I just desperately searching for a diamond in the rough?

– Josh, Bethesda, MD

Hey Josh: Bademosi’s physical traits and work and study habits are intriguing to the new coaches. I am planning an update on Bademosi very soon. He is being given an opportunity to challenge Tashaun Gipson at free safety and could work his way into much more playing time on defense.

Hey, Mary Kay: The Browns have done basically nothing to address the safety position except draft somebody in the sixth round. Is this not a concern? – Angelo Costanzo, Cleveland

Hey, Angelo: Second-year defensive back Tashaun Gipson has the early lead on the starting free safety job, and sixth-round pick Jamoris Slaughter (Achilles) will be worked into the mix when he gets healthy. The Browns are working second-year DB Johnson Bademosi at safety instead of cornerback this year.

Hey, Mary Kay: Do think the release of Eric Hagg points to the Browns signing Kerry Rhodes? Or do they believe Johnson Bademosi can transition to safety to provide depth behind Tashaun Gipson? – Matt Douglass, Lima, Ohio

Hey, Matt: The Browns have had months to sign Kerry Rhodes and haven’t done so; it’s probably not in the cards. I do think they believe Bademosi can serve as a backup to Gipson. They like his size (6-0, 200) and the big hitting ability he’s shown on special teams.

With Eric Hagg and Usama Young being released this offseason, it was believed that the Browns may try to address the free safety position via free agency. As mentioned above, given the new defensive coordinator Ray Horton connection, Kerry Rhodes was a frequently dropped name. Rhodes will be 31 by the start of next season. Last season, he totaled 67 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, and 11 passes defended  in 15 games.

Gipson played as mostly a reserve safety last season, starting 3 games out of the 10 in which he played, amassing 33 tackles, 1 pass defended, and 1 interception. Bademosi played some spot duty at corner due to injuries at the end of the season but was primarily a star special teams contributor for all 16 games, accounting for 20 tackles and defending 1 pass. Jamoris Slaughter, the team’s sixth round selection last month in the draft, will also compete if he is recovered from his Achilles injury.

Related: Cleveland Browns Hit Reset Button On Media Relations

The Cleveland Browns cornerback situation as it exists today

Joe Haden TJ WardThe Browns have a lot of cornerbacks on the roster, believe it or not. Everyone knows about Joe Haden and Buster Skrine at this point, but let’s go over the rest to see just how daunting a task it might or might not be to field a starting backfield with these guys. Remember, the Browns need a starter on the outside opposite Joe Haden and then will need to decide who best fits the needs as depth, nickel and dime coverage situations.

Of course, this is just what’s currently on the roster. There’s still time for free agency, post-draft trades, and also post-draft cuts. The best cuts usually come when a decent player is about to get paid like an elite player and gets cut ahead of a bonus. Not sure which players fall into that category but Browns fans will remember clamoring for the team to sign Eric Winston who was cut loose by the Texans as he was about to be owed $5.5 million in base salary.

Anyway, the here and now includes the following… [Read more...]

Johnson Bademosi named Browns’ fourth captain

When Buster Skrine went down with a concussion this past weekend while filling in for Joe Haden, the Browns had to turn to the bench once again. Johnson Bademosi (every color commentator’s worst nightmare) was the man up and he did pretty well. Bademosi made the team as an undrafted player from Stanford this season because he could play special teams. Now, he’s been named the fourth captain for the Browns’ biggest rivalry game this weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“He’s been an outstanding player on our special teams and then, he stepped in and played some corner for us on Sunday,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think it’s pretty impressive when you have veterans like Phil Dawson, Joe Thomas and D’Qwell who bring to me potential captains and they include rookies, which makes sense because we have so many playing, but the fact that they see leadership in these guys is outstanding.”

Whether Bademosi is effective and a part of the team for the long haul remains to be seen. The NFL is a fickle existence. Look no further than previous starting safety and former seventh round draft pick Eric Hagg who hasn’t seen much of the field since being benched early on this season.

[Related: Steelers vs. Browns Reader Survey]

NFL Injury News: Ahtyba Rubin out for Sunday’s game against Chargers

The Cleveland Browns might someday dominate the defensive line when they get Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor back. That won’t be the case this Sunday.

The Browns injury report as of Friday says that Rubin, Dimitri Patterson and (of course) Scott Fujita are out.

Mohamed Massaquoi, Trent Richardson and Tashaun Gipson are questionable.

The probables are Montario Hardesty, John Hughes, Tank Carder, Travis Benjamin, Johnson Bademosi, Chris Ogbonnaya, Frostee Rucker, Usama Young, T.J. Ward, Bubba Ventrone, and some others.

Interestingly enough, Montario Hardesty hasn’t really been a frequent guest on the injury report. Between that and Trent Richardson, could it be that Brandon Jackson sees himself as an active member of the roster this weekend?

[Related: WFNY Podcast – 2012-10-26 – Craig and Rick preview Chargers matchup]