April 19, 2014

Scott Raab talks about Brandon Weeden, Mark Sanchez, Josh Cribbs and the Indians – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-26

WFNY Podcast LogoAgain this week, I thought I’d skip the bullet points and just send you the email I sent to Scott the night before the podcast. Wherever we end up is based on this email and the conversation that ensues. We ended up talking about concussions in football, Tribe attendance and any number of other topics including some from my Sunday night email below.

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I’d love to spend some time talking about a packed pre-season game in a dome with cheerleaders and their fans wearing irrelevant jerseys. Because they’ve been so good for so long, save one bad year, even their dead jerseys aren’t embarrassing. Dwight Freeney is gone but they still wear his jersey. Jeff Saturday is retired, but he was well represented. Peyton Manning, of course. Edgerrin James. Meanwhile I saw a Tim Couch jersey on the way in. Took a photo for evidence as if anyone would question it. As for the game itself…

Brandon Weeden stares down receivers. He’s going to get Jordan Cameron murdered this season. I’d love to know your thoughts from TV. I feel like I missed a lot from being live.

Josh Cribbs cut by the Raiders. Is this the end for Mr. Cribbs? Now that he’s not on the Browns anymore it makes it easier to be sympathetic toward him. Just a perfect example of how brutal the NFL is when it spits out 30 year olds, even if they have made a nice amount of money first. [Read more...]

NFL Rumors: Braylon Edwards could be cut in favor of Mohamed Massaquoi

Times are tough in the Big Apple as a pair of former Cleveland Browns wide receivers could be vying for one spot on the New York Jets’ 53-man roster. The New York Daily News reports that veteran, and former first-round pick Braylon Edwards could be on the outside looking in after New York opted to pick up the well-traveled former second-round pick of Eric Mangini, Mohamed Massaquoi.

Edwards hasn’t practiced in the past four days, has played later in preseason games than expected, and has a leg injury, according to Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

Ryan also added that the newly signed Massaquoi reminds him of former New York receiver, and NC State record holder, Jerricho Cotchery. This, naturally, serves as large praise for a player who managed just 118 receptions over the course of four seasons in Cleveland and was recently released by the receiving-deficient Jacksonville Jaguars just two months after signing a multi-year contract.

[Related: Browns vs Colts: What I’m Watching]

NFL News: Mohamed Massaquoi signs with Jaguars

And that’s all she wrote, folks. The 2009 second round trio of David Veikune, Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi are now all former members of the Cleveland Browns as MoMass reportedly came to agreement with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Massaquoi will be remembered as a guy who couldn’t stay on the field. You can’t blame him for the time he was crumpled by Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison across the middle, but a receiver who has declining yardage in each of his first four NFL seasons is likely to change teams.

Massaquoi was a pleasant surprise his rookie season when he caught 34 balls for 624 yards, but followed it up with 483, 384, and 254 in the next three seasons. It also doesn’t help that in his contract year MoMass played only nine games and didn’t have a TD reception.

Teams are certainly supposed to do better with the 50th overall selection in the NFL draft.

[Related: This NFL free agent class was “one of the worst”]

Steelers cut Browns nemesis James Harrison

James Harrison has left a trail of broken bodies in Cleveland and I’m not just talking about guys on the roster. Sure, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs and Colt McCoy took their bumps (videos,) but remember that James Harrison also suplexed an unruly Browns fan who ran on the field during a game.

Well now, James Harrison is no longer a member of the Steelers.

As Harrison is set to turn 35 years old in May, he apparently wouldn’t agree to cut his salary back from the approximate $6.5 million he was set to make in 2013. His knees were also giving him problems over the last few years.

There are enough teams converting to the 3-4 and enough teams that might not mind taking a chance on an older Harrison assuming they don’t need him to play full time anymore. It will be interesting to see just how much money Harrison gets and from which team.

For whatever reason, I really don’t expect the Browns to be that team.

[Related: WFNY Podcast – 2013-02-15 – @SteelersDepot talking Browns and the rest of the AFC North]

Browns place Mohamed Massaquoi on IR

Add Mohamed Massaquoi to the list of Cleveland Browns players that might have seen his last action as a member of the team. Mohamed Massaquoi is on injured reserve and the Browns signed Thaddeus Lewis from the practice squad Monday night.

According to the Browns’ news release, Massaquoi started five of nine games in which he appeared this season and caught 17 passes for 245 yards. For comparison’s sake, Josh Gordon has 46 and Greg Little has 50. With those kinds of numbers and difficulty remaining healthy it remains questionable as to how much interest Joe Banner and whichever general manager is working for the Browns, will have in the soon-to-be free agent.

If MoMass is truly done with the Browns it closes the chapter on one of the most disastrous second rounds quite possibly in NFL history. The Browns traded down a few times and ended up with three picks in the round. They selected Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, and David Veikune.

[Related: NFL Rumors: Banner to “clean house” as soon as season ends]

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]

Massaquoi, Gipson Ruled Out for Colts Game

The Browns sent along the latest injury update this afternoon affecting the team’s receiving corps and secondary:

Please be advised that the Cleveland Browns downgraded DB Tashaun Gipson (knee) and WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) to ‘Out’ on their Saturday (10/20) injury report.

The Colts have been one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league this season, so while Gipson hasn’t played extensively, his injury certainly doesn’t help the team’s nickel unit. Massaquoi is out for his fourth week in a row, as Josh Gordon continues to get more work.

[Related: WFNY Podcast – 2012-10-20 – Talking Colts with a Colts fan]

What should the Browns do with receiver injury situation?

The Cleveland Browns have had receiver problems for as long as anyone can remember at this point. Anyone talked to Kevin Johnson lately? Former Browns receiver and returner André Davis is only 33. Maybe he still has something in the tank. Kidding aside, it felt like the Browns’ receivers were developing this year early on as we got looks at Mohamed Massaquoi, Greg Little, Travis Benjamin and Josh Gordon. Plus, we had the promise of pesky Jordan Norwood and Josh Cribbs making appearances in relief. …And then there were none. Or at least that’s the way it feels.

Mohamed Massaquoi is presumed to be out this weekend along with Travis Benjamin and Jordan Norwood. That leaves Greg Little, Josh Gordon, and Josh Cribbs. Add in the presumed call-up of Josh Cooper from the practice squad and the possibility of recently re-signed Rod Windsor and you can at least fill out the lineup, I guess. But, that’s a whole lot of guys without a whole lot of experience or meaningful recent playing time, so what should the Browns do? Here are some suggestions. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting … End of a Tribe Blog, Avoiding ‘Redskins’ and Bad Browns Offense

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 at tips@waitingfornextyear.com

The “A Lazy Sunday” feature has been a regular read on my Sundays and a regular component of While We’re Waiting posts on Mondays for years now. This is a very sad way to end a very sad season for the Tribe. Everyone should pass along their thanks to Paul for running such a great site for so long, and for having the stomach to write about this awful season. Best of luck in your future journeys, sir:

“Though that title may lead you to believe that I’m finally going to weigh in on the dismissal of Manny Acta from Thursday, it actually refers to someone else exiting stage left, as I’ve decided to walk away from writing about the Indians on these Interwebs on a permanent basis. While I know that I took some ‘time off’ last off-season and there will be those that will only believe there will be permanence to this when they fail to see 3,000 words from these fingers flying at them every couple of days, the time for me to move on from this endeavor has arrived.” [Paul Cousineau/The DiaTribe]

Wow. This was peculiar and intriguing to see a newspaper take a stand on this topic. Seems mostly inconvenient, however: “An interesting note from the public editor of The Kansas City Star on the paper’s policy of avoidance when it comes to the mascot of the NFL team from Washington: ‘[H]ere, I also agree very strongly with The Star’s longtime policy on this matter. I remain unconvinced by every argument I’ve ever heard that the name is not a racial epithet, plain and simple. …’” [Isaac Rauch/Deadspin]

Hmmmm. Wasn’t the Browns offense like astronomically good in 2007? Lot of good that did us then: “There are all kinds of things the Browns have to improve upon – and kinds of players who must improve — if they want to start winning. You name it, and it has to get better. You name him, and, with one exception — kicker Phil Dawson — he has to get better. The list is endless. There are few things or people not on the list. But there’s one thing that, above all else, must improve. Without it, the improvement of all these other things and people doesn’t matter – not one bit. We’re talking about scoring – or a lack thereof. Until the Browns score more points more consistently, things won’t change in terms of wins and losses.” [Steve King/SportsTimeOhio]

About the offense, this looks briefly at the topic of the Browns wide receivers thus far this season: “After Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, many people are noticing some semblance of what can be called progress. But the Browns continue to wallow in the painful world that is their current crop of wide receivers. Through four games, no Browns receiver has had more than 90 yards in a game (it was Mohamed Massaquoi against the Bengals), and no one has separated himself from the rest of the pack.” [Steve DiMatteo/Dawg Pound Daily]

Today is October 1. That means basketball starts this month, hoorah! In that spirit, Cavs: The Blog continues its “10 things to like” series in focusing on that awesome coach of ours: “‘Camp Scott’ opens today, complete with the notorious trash cans for players to chunder into between laps if they show up out of shape. With an extension rumored to be in the works, it’s as good a time as any to look at why Scott appears to be the right guy to develop the Cavs now, and win with them in the future. You have to respect a coach who can whip out his phone and dial up a highlight like this (You’d think a basketball player named Purvis Short would be destined to be posterized, right?)” [Nate Smith/Cavs: The Blog]

This was from Friday, but it’s never too late (or, really, since the season is still 4 weeks away, I mean early) to read about fantasy basketball! “Kyrie Irving is a fantasy stud who I think is worth a first-round pick in a 12-team league. … I don’t know who the third-best point guard is in fantasy. It might be Kyrie Irving and not Deron Williams. His ADP of 16.7 is actually too low; I am happy taking Irving ahead of guys like Al Jefferson and Andrew Bynum with bigger fantasy reps. His playing time will go up, his turnovers should be down, his assists will increase and he is almost certain to at least double his 73 three-pointers. What he did at 19, as a point guard, on a team offering him little or no help was remarkable.” [Bruce Wrigley/Sheridan Hoops]

Oh viral GIFs are so much fun. The latest example? This gem from right after Saturday’s big Buckeyes victory. A random photographer lined up perfectly for a photobomb and also got the quintessential angle for a nice hello to the crowd. [Lost Lettermen via The Big Lead]

Five takeaways from that 17-16 physical victory in East Lansing: “In what will likely turn out to be the 2nd most physical game the Buckeyes play all year, Meyer’s troops overcame a slew of in-game injuries and three Braxton Miller turnovers, escaping East Lansing with a 17-16 victory over a chippy Michigan State squad. The gutsy effort improved Meyer to 11-0 in conference openers and to 95-5 when leading at the half. As a program, the Buckeyes have now won four straight in East Lansing, improving to 14-5 up there overall. Hey Michigan, that’s how you’re supposed to treat your little brother.” [Chris Lauderback/Eleven Warriors]

WFNY Podcast – 2012-09-27 – Craig and Scott preview Browns vs. Ravens

You want the short version? There is no good reason to pick the Browns to win Thursday. We already all new that. That doesn’t mean the Browns can’t win per se, but if you predict them to do so you’re praying more than predicting.

More specifically, we talked about…

  • Mohamed Massaquoi missing the game
  • Alex Smith missing the game
  • Trent Richardson’s running attack
  • The young guys on the defense
  • Pat Shurmur and how much of the start is his fault

Enjoy!

Thanks for listening! Tell a friend!

 

Massaquoi, Alex Smith ruled out Thursday against Ravens

The task of beating a more talented divisional opponent won’t be any easier for the Browns now that Mohamed Massaquoi has officially been ruled out of the game. Earlier this week the Browns seemed at least somewhat hopeful that Massaquoi would be available. Or maybe they wanted the Ravens to think they were hopeful. Either way, he is now out.

Additionally, the Browns will have to play another game without Alex Smith who suffered a concussion somewhere along the line. Most Browns fans weren’t all that excited for the Alex Smith era in Cleveland, and certainly his career as recipient of hand-offs isn’t all that glorious, but there’s just no doubting the Browns miss his blocking and surprisingly good hands. You wouldn’t want to overrate a player like Smith, but he’s become something of an indispensable role player for the Browns.

The absence of these two players should mean additional reps for Jordan Cameron at tight end and Josh Cribbs plus maybe Jordan Norwood at wide receiver. Cribbs has appeared sparingly on offense so far this season and Norwood has been inactive for all regular season action through three games.

[Related: Chris Mortenson reporting deal with NFL referees is “at hand”]

Cleveland Browns Film Room: How the Bills committed to stopping Trent Richardson

Rick is still the man with the film room pieces, and I believe he might still have one this week. But I watched the beginning of the Browns game again yesterday and wanted to share a couple things about the Bills’ defensive gameplan.

The Bills, not surprisingly, committed resources to stopping Trent Richardson from hurting them. It is a rational plan to stop the biggest threat and we saw the Browns using various blitzes and spies during week one to try to neutralize Michael Vick’s scrambling. It seemed like the Bills had at least two guys, usually linebackers, spying on Trent Richardson all day to make sure that they blanketed him. Not that you need the visual evidence necessarily, but check it out. [Read more...]

Browns vs. Bengals – Reader Survey

Last week Browns fans predicted a 27-16 loss to the Eagles and got a lot of things wrong. Now that you’ve seen the team and you’ve also (likely) seen the Bengals get pounded by the Ravens, we’ll see how you do. Results will be posted before game time.

It’s just pre-season… Colt McCoy, Concussions and Free Agency

The Browns looked very much like it was their first game of the pre-season this week. There were some good plays, but overall the team seemed to be trying to find their sea legs. As always with the pre-season there was some good and some bad. I was a bit negative about it on Friday night, but as long as it was just a starting point, there were a few good things.

In defense of the bad, the Browns were without Trent Richardson on offense and gave the day off to the likes of Ahtyba Rubin and D’Qwell Jackson on defense. Brandon Weeden fumbled and threw an interception in his short time on the field, but he also tantalized Browns fans with a couple of his passes including a pretty awesome strike to Travis Benjamin that you know Colt McCoy probably (almost definitely) can’t make.

Speaking of Colt McCoy, he did exactly what I thought he should. He showed himself to be more of the gritty playmaker that we saw when he was thrust into the starting spot for Eric Mangini a couple years ago and less of the wide-eyed, terrified guy who was trying to learn a new offense last year. While Colt McCoy didn’t do enough to supplant Brandon Weeden on the depth chart, he kept his name in a few different conversations. [Read more...]

Browns Training Camp Report 7/30/12

The Browns had a rather spirited practice this morning, complete with some goal-line drills, two minute offense and even a couple of minor scuffles. A couple of rookies stepped up, while others struggled and a veteran receiver looked good.

LB James-Michael Johnson looked very good in drills and in the two minute situations. He picked off two passes, one of which was tipped. He was in the right place at the right time, and whether that was good fortune or by design he made the plays when they came to him. Including a big time stop on a goal line situation. He stood a running back straight up and held him there for his teammates to polish off. When I asked him who it was that he stood up, Johnson said “I don’t know, someone had their head down and I blew him up.” [Read more...]

Browns select Josh Gordon with second rounder in supplemental draft

The Cleveland Browns didn’t leave anything to chance in bidding a second rounder to select former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon. It has been confirmed on NFL.com, so Cleveland will have another receiver added to Mike Holmgren’s infamous “pile” that he talks about.

Tom Heckert and company must have really liked Gordon, or they were paranoid about bidding on another receiver and losing out again. The Browns were reportedly second in line via the lottery behind the Buffalo Bills according to Jason LaCanfora on Twitter. That means that only the Bills could have jumped the Browns should they have been willing to also part with a second round pick.

Apparently, bidding a third round pick wasn’t worth the risk for the Browns.

If Josh Gordon becomes a starter, it’s terrific value. You get the guy early. If Gordon doesn’t become a starter eventually, it’s a double-whammy where the Browns won’t get any production this season and also won’t have a coveted second-round pick when the next NFL draft rolls around.

Here’s hoping the tall, fast receiver is all the Browns seemingly think he can be.

By the way, this puts popular receiver Carlton Mitchell on notice that it’s time to produce. He possesses many of the same physical characteristics of Gordon, but has yet to contribute to the team on Sundays. Mitchell was a 6th round choice, and now the Browns have added a guy with a second round pick. The pressure’s on the third-year player.

[Related: Supplemental Draftee Josh Gordon Runs 4.52 40-Yard Dash]

Mike Holmgren changes Browns public relations course

Chuck Booms holding a birthday cake for Mike Holmgren? Who saw that coming? (Photo Chris Allen / 92.3 the Fan)

Up is down. Black is white. Dry is wet. Most importantly screaming is quiet. That’s what happened this morning when Mike Holmgren visited Kiley and Booms at 92.3 the Fan this morning for an interview. You know Booms as the screaming lunatic that has accused Mike Holmgren of not caring and just looking to collect his huge paycheck in his nicer moments. Is it safe to call Mike Holmgren’s strategy switch a complete success if even Chuck Booms can’t muster a guttural grunt of disagreement when he had “The Big Show” sitting a few feet away from him in studio this morning?

Look, I don’t want to be too hard on Booms. I know he is a fan of the Browns and I truly think he is a funny guy. The fact that Booms referred to Mike Vick as just, “The Dog Killer” to Mike Holmgren’s face made me laugh.1 Still, to think that this is the same guy who wanted to run every member of this staff out of town screaming about nepotism and everything else he could possibly think of, is astonishing.

In fairness to Kiley and Booms, Mike Holmgren walked into their studios today with something of an attitude adjustment. Long gone is the angry presser when he spoke of playoff tickets. Holmgren admitted that that whole presser was fueled by anger. He was angry that his team could not only be failing on the field but be steeped in controversy over something that he just couldn’t seem to get his arms around and control. I’m guessing that press conference was one of the key catalysts that led Mike Holmgren to his decision to change and really be out front more. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Of course Mike Holmgren had no reaction to the Mike Vick / “Dog Killer” reference. []

Shurmur: Mohamed Massaquoi is Making Plays

[Mohamed Massaquoi] is looking better and I expect a lot from him. He expects a lot from himself, I’m sure when you go ask him, he’ll tell you that. I see a much healthier Massaquoi. Mo looks good, he’s making plays. I think he’s getting comfortable with all of the quarterbacks and he’s having a good camp. I think we remember seeing him coming into camp last year injured and he had to fight through getting healthy before he could show us what he can really do. Now he is beyond that, knows a lot more about what we’re doing and it’s showing up.

- Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur, Wednesday, following the team’s mandatory workout. Massaquoi is coming into his fourth season with the team, having caught no more than 36 passes in a season. The former second-round selection is thought to be in a make-or-break year as the team has drafted multiple receivers in attempt to bolster the position.

[Related: Is Montario Hardesty Tom Heckert’s Big Miss?]

Holmgren goes on media tour promising ‘big jump’ for Browns in 2012

We’ve heard from Mike Holmgren several times over the last few months say that he expects the Browns to take a significant leap forward. Not just in ‘intangibles’ but in the win column. The Browns were 4-12 last season, and 5-11 in his first year as President of the team.

In an interview on ESPN Cleveland today, Holmgren was asked by Tony Rizzo what happens if the team doesn’t take that jump forward. (Audio here.)

As you can imagine, there was no real answer given.

Holmgren admitted that he “would not be happy if we had the same record or close to it”, but then went on to reaffirm that he believes in his coach, and the people they have in place-

“You just have to persevere and get through the tough stuff when you’re building it.”

Since the beginning, Holmgren has talked about this being a long process. He has talked about consistency and letting the plan develop. Does that mean that if things go south this season Holmgren won’t consider making a change with his Head Coach? [Read more...]

Are the Browns overrating their own running backs?

How much of the plan includes Brandon Jackson in 2012?

One thing that persists as a dark cloud over the Browns is the wide receiver situation from last season. The Browns drafted Greg Little and brought in Jordan Norwood, but the statements that will forever hang in the air are words of confidence in a depth chart featuring Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie at the top. Of course MoMass suffered through some injuries and went on to combine with a battered Colt McCoy for a pretty bad passing attack while Robiskie was cut loose altogether. I still have hopes for Massaquoi when he’s cast in the right spot in the offense, but there’s really no doubting that overall Tom Heckert and company mis-read the abilities of the receiver group as a whole a season ago. When Brian Robiskie got cut, it was pretty much an admission of guilt by the Browns brass, I think. Which brings me to the question about running backs coming into 2012. The Browns have let Peyton Hillis go without much fight and they are rumored to like Trent Richardson, but what do you think they’re thinking for real with regard to their own depth chart? I have a sneaking suspicion that their confidence level is higher in the existing crew than fans might think. If I am right, I think the Browns could be headed for another mistake.

In fairness, my inkling could be totally false. The draft season is the season for misdirection, obviously. The Browns were reportedly impressed by Trent Richardson. Also even if they bypass Richardson or miss out on him with the fourth pick, they’ll have chances at some other pretty highly ranked running backs. Point being, I might be sounding the alarm for no reason. But follow me for a bit.

[Read more...]