July 23, 2014

The Lakefront Pipeline

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Who knew that a tiny Division III Jesuit school nestled in Cleveland, Ohio’s east side would become one of the NFL’s most prized factories of coaches and general managers? Well—everyone who was fortunate enough to witness it all unfold.

On an early August evening in 1995, the John Carroll University football team gathered at the 50-yard line at Wasmer Field. The 5,000-seat stadium in University Heights, nestled among tall trees at the eastern edge of campus, corralled the day’s humidity. Head coach Tony DeCarlo congratulated his team of 100 or so guys for good work during the season’s first set of two-a-days.

[Read more...]

Despite concerns with Browns front office, I’m feeling patient during coach search

Banner Chud 4

Despite my feelings about the Cleveland Browns, which I laid out yesterday, I can be objective about the team’s head coaching search. The Browns have a tough job conducting this search because they destroyed an untold amount of their credibility with fans and around the league by firing a coach after just one season. When I read Jimmy Haslam’s letter updating fans on the process and practically begging for patience, all I could think was that it was the right idea, but an impossible task. Despite my concerns about this front office that missed so badly on Rob Chudzinski, this current search isn’t going all that badly. Or at least I don’t see any concrete evidence that this search is going catastrophically wrong. [Read more...]

Which is more important for the Browns, the right coach or quarterback?

Browns quarterbacksOn Tuesday the list of candidates for Cleveland’s vacant head coaching position got a little smaller. Arizona’s Todd Bowles reportedly told the Browns to remove him from their list, and former Green Bay quarterback coach Bob McAdoo took the offensive coordinator position with the New York Giants. Earlier in the week it was Ken Whisenhunt who came off the board by agreeing to coach the Tennessee Titans.

All three had reportedly interviewed with the Browns for the position of head coach.

So who is still on the Browns’ list? If you are one to believe the most recent rumors, Denver offensive Coordinator Adam Gase might be the frontrunner, although he hasn’t interviewed with Cleveland and won’t until the Broncos are done with the playoffs. Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is another target. Of course the man that everyone knew the Browns were interested in at the beginning, New England’s Josh McDaniels could still be a candidate even though he reportedly told the Browns he wasn’t interested.

And the wheels on the coaching search go round and round. [Read more...]

Comparing national and local perspective of the Cavs and Browns – Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard and Andrew Zelman – WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-13

WFNY Podcast LogoToday I wanted to talk about the national and local perspective of the Cavs and the Browns. It feels so paranoid, angry and negative locally, but that also can sometimes feel accurate. In various cases, that perspective is backed up nationally. So what’s the right perspective?

I talked to Cleveland Scene’s new owner Andrew Zelman and on of Scene’s many resident sports fans, Sam Allard.

You should follow these guys on Twitter as well.

Andrew Zelman is @AZFromCleveland

Sam Allard is @SceneSallard

Check out this episode

The Dude, Michael, and Joey…who loved bowling

Browns Lebowski

“The Dude abides”

The Big Lebowski is one of the greatest movies of all time. Sometimes when life has you down, all you can do is try to laugh about it. With the Browns coaching search seemingly devolving into chaos once again, I thought it might be fun to intertwine some of my favorite quotes from the movie and paraphrase them through the context of the recent events.

The writing was on the wall. From the moment news started leaking out that the Cleveland Browns were going to fire first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski, the word that fans should look for Josh McDaniels to be the prime target of the team was almost immediate.

It wasn’t long before whispers began trickling through that former Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz was expected to be the Browns’ next defensive coordinator, as long as the new coach didn’t veto the move. If the Browns were high enough on Schwartz to hire him before a coach, it would make sense to look for a coach who specifically wouldn’t object. And what kind of coach wouldn’t object? How about a coach from the Belichick tree who shares the same agent as Schwartz and Browns GM Mike Lombardi?

“Oh yeah, how’d the interview go?”
”Went alright. Dude’s candidate got a little dinged up.”
”Walter, we didn’t make the f—ing hire, man! He didn’t get, the f—ing money and we’re not gonna – not gonna –“
”We’re not gonna hire that poor candidate.” [Read more...]

Dueling reports on Browns interest in Oklahoma’s Stoops

BCS Championship Oklahoma FootballAs we have seen in years past, the NFL offseason is typically a time where national media folks kindly ask the local contingent to step aside while they handle all of the latest and greatest on various hirings and firings. Last season, as the Browns were hot after Oregon’s Chip Kelly, it was NFL.com and ESPN.com leading the pack with the various newspaper folks left to merely retweet or re-word others’ reports.

Things do get a bit interesting, however, when a national report comes out and a local person swoops in to immediately refute it. Such is the case with the ongoing discussions surrounding Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and the reported mutual interest between he and and Cleveland Browns regarding the team’s currently vacant head coaching spot.

On Saturday, NFL.com’s Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops are the team’s top candidates to replace Rob Chudzinski and that it was Stoops who was expected to interview this coming week. McDaniels has been frequently linked to the Browns, but Stoops (and other collegiate coaches) has been more of a bold, wild card-type name.

Not long thereafter, it was Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer who took down Rapoport’s report as if it were a scud missile. With placement above the fold on A1 in Sunday’s paper as well as the featured link on Cleveland.com, Cabot refutes any report that links Stoops as a person of interest and says that an interview is not scheduled.

For the scoreboard watchers and finger pointers, it was Rapoport who all but cemented Kelly in as the next Browns head coach last season prior to the bizarre, and still under-discussed reversal on the coaches part. Recently, it was Cabot who refuted reports of Jim Tressel being interviewed for the Browns gig as well.

There is a big difference between “mutual interest” and “top candidates.” There’s posturing, and there’s the potential for misdirection from sources. Things can change on a dime, as evidenced by a year ago. For the time being, it appears that Rapoport is sticking to his guns.

(AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)  

Todd Bowles succeeded Ray Horton in Arizona, interviews with Cleveland Friday

The Cleveland Browns are starting to put their interviews together and Jason LaCanfora reports that the Browns are set to interview Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on Friday. Not only does Bowles qualify the Browns for the Rooney rule, but he might also lend some insight into what it takes to coach a team coming off of Ray Horton’s coaching. Bowles had coached the 4-3 prior to getting to Arizona where he coached the 3-4 defense for head coach Bruce Arians this season.

In 2013, Arizona had the 6th ranked team in terms of total yards given up. They were seventh in the almighty category of points given up per game at 20.3. In 2012 under Ray Horton, the Cards were 12th in yards and 17th in points. That’s obviously a very simplistic approach to looking at the two coordinators, but it’s something.

Bowles’ experience as an NFL head coach is limited to an interim stint for Miami in 2011 where he went 2-1. Hey, anyone know who Bowles’ agent is?

All this talk about Bowles feels like a waste of breath as the Browns have scheduled an interview with the presumptive favorite Josh McDaniels the following day on Saturday. Until such time as McDaniels is passed over and that talk cools, he remains the assumed successor to Rob Chudzinski as far as I’m concerned.

McDaniels Sad Face

Browns have interest in Auburn’s Malzahn, Vanderbilt’s Franklin; could hire Schwartz as DC

malzahnCBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora has been a busy man today. He reports this evening that the Browns have interest surrounding two college head coaches in Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

Malzahn’s Tigers are playing in the title game next week in his first season as head coach at Auburn. The 48-year-old was previously offensive coordinator there for three seasons, including the 2010 season when Cam Newton led the team to the National Championship. Malzahn’s specialty is an up-tempo no-huddle style of offense, about which he’s written a book. It would seem to be an attempt at capturing some of what they missed out on last offseason when Chip Kelly went from Oregon to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Franklin, 41, has been the head man at Vanderbilt for the past three seasons, taking them to bowl games in all three seasons when the school had never made back-to-back bowl appearances previously. He also has stops as offensive coordinator at Maryland and Kansas State as well as one season in the NFL as wide receivers coach in Green Bay in 2005. Interviewing Franklin would satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

La Canfora adds:

“It’s worth noting how well former Oregon coach Chip Kelly has performed in Philadelphia — Kelly and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien were top candidates in Cleveland a year ago — and how much that has resonated with the Browns, particularly with them now very much interested in some college candidates.

Furthermore, McDaniels, Malzahn, Franklin and Schwartz are all represented by agent Jimmy Sexton, a very powerful force in coaching circles who has strong ties to the Browns organization.”

Schwartz was the Lions’ head coach for the past four seasons, accruing a record of 29-47 with one playoff loss. Prior to that, he spent eight seasons as the Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator and was a personnel scout with the Browns from 1993-95. It’s interesting that the Browns would have a defensive coordinator already picked out. The front office stressed the importance of having experienced and well-respected coordinators for a first-time NFL head coach last season when they hired Chudzinski, so perhaps that would be a recurring theme if they dip into the college ranks. Schwartz is another 4-3 defensive guy, which would prompt the Browns’ fourth flip between a 3-4 and 4-3 defense since 2009.

The Browns have been reportedly interested in a large number of candidates, including Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. They fired coach Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night after just one 4-12 seasons.

(Photo: USATSI)

Related: Haslam and Banner’s media savvy couldn’t save them today

Browns given permission to interview Josh McDaniels

Fans can now add Josh McDaniels to the list of men allegeldy brave enough to take the job of head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the Browns asked, and have been granted permission to interview the baseball hat-wearing current offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.

After being named the head coach of the Denver Broncos as the replacement to Mike Shanahan, McDaniels, as you may recall, was the man who managed to instantly cultivate distrust within quarterback Jay Cutler. He eventually traded the Vanderbilt product to Chicago, and ultimately selected (alleged) left-handed quarterback Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. It would also be McDaniels who would also bench and trade wide receiver Brandon Marshall. While with Denver, a 3-9 season (after the team finished 2011 with four straight losses) would lead to his dismissal in early December of 2010.

The Browns’ interest in the Patriots’ play-caller should not come as much of a surprise as general manager Michael Lombardi has long been a fan of New England’s Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization.

A big reason McDaniels returned to New England, having been their offensive coordinator prior to his stint in Denver, was, per Breer, due to the stability within the franchise.

The Patriots, winners of their Week 17 contest, have a bye this weekend. How does this impact the Browns as they look to fill their vacancy? Well, any team wishing to interview the 37-year-old has to do so by the end of Sunday’s wild-card games—the interview window closes soon as the calendar turns to Jan. 6, only opening again if the Patriots make the Super Bowl or once the Pats are eliminated from the postseason. McDaniels cannot accept a head coaching job until that time.

[Related: Denver’s Adam Gase declines interviews until end of his season]

Scott Raab talks about Rob Chudzinski being fired and Andrew Bynum – WFNY Podcast – 2013-12-30

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab couldn’t be finished with the WFNY Podcast for 2013 after what happened over the weekend, so we decided to do one more in 2013. We touched on all of the obvious topics including…

  • Scott Raab talking about the Browns
  • Dumpster fire’s use in the mainstream
  • Joe Banner and the ego that goes with firing Chud
  • Jimmy Haslam’s role in the firing
  • The informational path from Mike Lombardi to the media
  • How should fans react to this today?
  • Was Rob Chudzinski the wrong guy for the job?
  • Rob Chudzinski’s own issues and how they impacted his own firing
  • Tony Grossi’s post about Chud refusing to cut Greg Little and Shawn Lauvao
  • Professional sports leagues are cartels, not pizza parlors
  • Scott: “We’re prisoners, not customers”
  • Is there anything Haslam and Banner could say for Scott?
  • Media should have an adversarial relationship with the front office
  • The Kyrie Irving situation is going to end the same way the LeBron one did
  • The Art Modell move continues to haunt coverage of the Browns
  • Andrew Bynum, the media and the Cavaliers’ future
  • Brian Windhorst continues to be one of the best Cavs beat reporters
  • The Kyrie Irving scenario and how it’s playing out [Read more...]

Browns’ exhaustive coaching search is refreshing

It came out this morning that the Browns’ brass interviewed former Arizona Cardinals coach (and former Pittsburgh coordinator) Ken Whisenhunt. This, on the heels of their interview with Ray Horton and news of their forthcoming interview with Chip Kelly. Those are just the names of candidates that we know of since Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam stationed themselves in Arizona around the Fiesta Bowl where Kelly’s Oregon team is set to face Kansas State tonight. The Browns have been linked to other names as well. Obviously their first move to go to Arizona shows that their first priority is Chip Kelly. Whether or not you like or agree with that, compared to the last two coaching searches in Berea, this one definitely feels different. Different in a good way.

Randy Lerner hired Eric Mangini nine days after he was fired by the Jets. He did so only after failing to land Scott Pioli as his general manager. Lerner spoke to other candidates like Steve Spagnuolo, Josh McDaniels and outgoing Browns defensive coordinator Mel Tucker before hiring Mangini.  [Read more...]

Schefter: McDaniels will not interview for head coaching jobs

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New England’s Josh McDaniels will not be interviewing for head coaching vacancies.


McDaniels had been linked to the Browns as a possible head coaching candidate. He was previously a head coach in Denver.

[Related: Browns to interview Dirk Koetter]

Grossi: Josh McDaniels and Mike Lombardi likely to become Joe Banner’s puppets

Fresh off of their soul-crushing loss to the Washington Redskins, it appears that the inevitable shake-up of the Cleveland Browns front office and coaching staff is starting to take more shape. From ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi:

It is commonly believed that GM Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur will not be back. Heckert, my sources say, knew it the day Banner reported to work in October as Haslam’s CEO. Shurmur surely knows it now, after that coaching debacle against Washington on Sunday.

Banner has diagramed an organization chart that calls for football operations to report to him. That means Heckert’s position will be replaced by a glorified player personnel director who will work closely with Banner. He may win some battles but ultimately he will have no real authority to establish a vision, pick players or make trades. Banner will set the agenda.

So who would accept these restrictions? Someone who has been out of the league for five years – Mike Lombardi.

Grossi continues by listing three coaching candidates who could join Lombardi in Cleveland: Alabama’s Nick Saban, Oregon’s Chip Kelly, and New England’s offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Saban is rumored to be on the receiving end of a 10-year, $100 million deal, but has no interest in coming to Cleveland, especially if it is Lombardi who is calling shots.

Kelly would be a serious candidate, but is rumored to want full control of the roster if he would accept a head coaching spot in the NFL. With Banner and, potentially, Lombardi in tow, this would not happen in Cleveland.

The third choice, and potentially the most likely to actually happen, would be former Denver Broncos head coach and current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. A native of Canton, Ohio, there are ties to the area; at age 36, he is not considered to be much of a retread despite his failed attempt at Mile High. Grossi adds that if it were McDaniels who is hired, it would likely meant that Dick Jauron would be retained as defensive coordinator.

[Related: Did Brandon Weeden call the 69-yard TD pass to Travis Benjamin himself?]

Browns Begin Work on Assembling New Coaching Staff

As the Ravens and Steelers prepare to play for the right to head to yet another AFC Championship game, the Browns organization is searching to replace yet another coaching staff.  The Browns introduced their head man yesterday but the process of filling out the rest of the staff, including the all-important positions of offensive and defensive coordinator, remains.

It was reported yesterday that current Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was  being pursued by the Dallas Cowboys for their defensive coordinator position.  Ryan, who technically could remain with the Browns and has one year left on his contract, had entered into negotiations yesterday with Dallas and it is likely he will land there within the week.  That would leave a void at DC that many are speculating the Browns will fill with current Eagles Defensive Backs coach Dick Jauron.

[Read more...]

Could Denver Coaching Change Have Cleveland Implications?

The Broncos jettisoned head coach Josh McDaniels on Monday, and speculation is underway as to who might replace him in the Mile High city. Browns fans have to be concerned this off-season about losing defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Ryan has been showered with praise for his work in confusing some of the best Quarterbacks in the league. Just today Ron Jaworski was on ESPN radio calling Ryan a genius- “Rob Ryan is doing some of the most unique stuff in the league. His Amoeba D and Creep schemes are nearly impossible for opposing qb’s to figure out.”

Now, we all know that just because a man is a great coordinator doesn’t mean that he will be a good head coach. Ryan however, has the family legacy going for him, and will at some point get the chance to guide an entire team. Even Eric Mangini went on record this season saying he hopes Ryan gets his shot.

The good news, if you’re looking for it, is that at least early on the Broncos don’t appear to have Ryan on the short list. [Read more...]

Great Peyton Hillis Highlight Video

There are a lot of garbage highlight videos on Youtube. This is not one of those. This video is very well done.

Then I read the first comment on the video that speculates (in completely unsubstantiated fashion I must add) that Peyton Hillis “accidentally hit on McDaniels wife at some function.”  I don’t believe that rumor, but it made me laugh. I am sure Denver fans are scratching, scraping and even making up stories to try to explain why McDaniels would part with Peyton Hillis.

Plus, we know this story isn’t true because if Peyton Hillis had hit on McDaniels’ wife, wouldn’t she now be Hillis’ girlfriend?

Just jokes people. Enjoy the video.

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting…Harrison Ready, Shaq Backs the Refs (and tweets!), Examining Tribe Scouting

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email in the sidebar.

Jerome Harrison

The Browns final injury report heading into this week’s game against Denver includes all three running backs although Jerome Harrison looks like he will be ready to go: “Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, RB Jerome Harrison was inactive, presumably because he was not fully recovered from the injuries that hindered him in the preseason. Harrison returned to full participation in practice Friday, and should be available for this Sunday’s contest against the Denver Broncos. Will any of the other running backs be ready though?” [Chris Pokorny/Dawgs By Nature]

[Read more...]

What’s worse – being untrustworthy or unapproachable?

mangini-brownsSo, I still don’t really know what to think of the Browns’ hiring of Eric Mangini.  On one hand, he definitely seems to be going about things in the right way.  He’s patched up silly tiffs with players, he’s drafted fairly well, and he’s brought in players who know his system.  On the other hand, the whole hiring process seemed a bit odd, and Mr Lerner has not been too open to the media about the whole process.  At the time, I thought maybe Josh McDaniels would have been the better hire – but as things have progressed, I’m thinking that the Browns probably got the right coach.

Craig has said things along the same line, but based on this report from NFL.com I’m finally on board.  It’s not all new news, but it’s enlightening nonetheless.  According to the article, the media and many of McDaniels’ players don’t see him as trustworthy.  Now, it’s fairly obvious that many of the players on the team were distressed by the whole Jay Cutler situation.  Having your new coach come in and get in a conflict with your starting QB is never good (although I suppose it’s nice to actually HAVE a starting quarterback).  But as things have moved along, it doesn’t seem that much has been done to repair things in Denver.  Couple that with the state of the Brandon Marshall situation and you’ve got dicey team relations. [Read more...]

Mangini vs. McDaniels

Let’s be up front and honest here.  This race is way way way too early to call.  Still, as I was watching the scroll on ESPN yesterday proclaiming that Brandon Marshall has demanded a trade from the Denver Broncos, I couldn’t help but think about it.  I vowed after the off-season hiring of Mangini and Kokinis to monitor the other high profile situations in Denver and Kansas City where regime changes were taking place.  After a rocky start, I think you would have to say so far so good for Eric Mangini.  I also think you would have to take his early returns as Browns fans over the early “returns” of McDaniels in Denver.

Granted Mangini got off to a real rocky start with one of the only bona fide Pro Bowlers on the team in Shaun Rogers.  Granted there were questions about his trade of Kellen Winslow.  Granted Mangini seems almost magically drawn to previous Jets players.  But even with all that said, he hasn’t run a Pro Bowl caliber QB and now a Pro Bowl caliber wide receiver out of town.  And as soon as Winslow signed that super duper expensive deal making him the highest paid tight end in the league (IN THE LEAGUE) even the angriest of Browns fans had to give Mangini a pass on trading K2. [Read more...]

Cutler to Cleveland Doesn’t Make Sense

jay-cutlerSometimes the Browns talk around here gets a little silly, I will admit.  While I am not going to participate in a moratorium, I can’t help but take some of the over-coverage of the Browns this off-season to heart.  As a result, I will try not to go too long on this whole thing, but I just can’t understand why the Browns would want Jay Cutler.  It flies in the face of pretty much everything we have heard so far in terms of Mangini wanting guys who are all about team.  That was at least partially the reason that they traded Kellen Winslow.  So why would they bring in a guy who has babied and whined his way out of Denver because of the new head coach and front office?

I don’t think the Browns would bring Cutler in because of those things.  Mangini wants a leader for the QB spot on his team.  He needs someone that leads the offensive huddle and leads by example on the practice field and in the weight room. [Read more...]