July 30, 2014

Terrance West mocks injury reports on Twitter

A source is quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Terrance West has been put on the non-football injury list due to a failed conditioning test, but that was quickly disputed by the Browns’ rookie runner on Twitter.

Regardless of what’s happening with this story, the fact that West himself says he’s healthy, passed his test and good to go, is good news for Browns fans. It will also be interesting to see how all this shakes out.

Not that it’s a big deal, but we don’t know exactly how Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer plan to handle the information regarding injuries. Eric Mangini treated injuries with the same paranoia that the elderly treat their social security number and Pat Shurmur wasn’t much better. Although Shurmur’s communication issues were far greater than a penchant for secrecy.

So, I am a bit curious to see if this new Browns crew has any issue with a rookie player disputing reports and giving out injury status updates via Twitter.

Brandon Weeden visiting Dallas today

Weeden working out wearing his signature series watch

In my experience, Dallas Cowboys fans have some consternation with regard to Tony Romo. In Romo, they’ve got a guy with some clear ability and talent, but he never seems to put them over the top. Romo is nearing his mid-30′s now as an NFL player and makes a ton of money and it’s reasonable to assume that the Cowboys might need to start thinking about the future. It’s hard to believe that thought process begins today when former Browns first round draft pick Brandon Weeden is reportedly visiting Big D.

I’m really trying to be kind to Brandon Weeeden, or at least leave him alone. He tried to be a good quarterback here in Cleveland and much like most players who’ve worn the orange and brown, the organization wasn’t exactly conducive to elevating players. Just consider that Weeden was (over)drafted by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert, before they gave way to Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi – the latter of whom everyone knew didn’t like Weeden – before finally being released by Ray Farmer. Names like Pat Shurmur, Norv Turner, Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Davone Bess litter the box scores that make up Brandon Weeden’s time in Cleveland as well.

Sure, there’s no defending Weeden’s record in Cleveland in the end,  but it seems cruel and unusual to keep harping on it. So, I’ll stop. For now.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it funny that someday a Dallas Cowboys fan might be grimacing through some heart-wrenching turnover-laden Tony Romo performance in the near future and look down the bench at Brandon Weeden to provide some relief.

[Related: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has “invitation” to visit Browns]

Browns’ revolving door costing Haslam $50 million

Haslam2Candidly, Jimmy Haslam wasn’t lying when he called the firing of Rob Chudzinski an “expensive decision.” Following the dismissal of the first-year head coach, plenty of talk surrounded the $10.5 million buyout that the Toledo-native would receive along with his pink slip. What didn’t get as much attention was the fact that Chudzinski was simply one line item on the ledger of previous head coaches and front office members to still be on the Browns’ payroll.

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports that this current coaching search will merely be an addition to the $50 million due to those who have been shown the door.

A year prior Haslam decided to part with team president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert, coach Pat Shurmur and their staffs as well, a move that several sources have estimated at having cost him roughly $30 million in all.

Firing Chudzinski, and letting go of high-priced coordinators Norv Turner and likely Ray Horton, will likely cost another $20 million, sources said, and then Haslam is obviously going to have to now pay an entire new coaching staff that is coming on board.

As with most NFL contracts for front office members (and more recently, high first-round draft selections), there is offset language that would allow a bit of a reprieve in the event those who were fired find work elsewhere. La Canfora estimates that even if Chudzinski, Turner or Horton find work as coordinators or collegiate coaches, the amount they will be paid will barely dent what Haslam will be paying for the next several seasons.

**

(Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY)

Joe Banner, the 3-4 versus the 4-3 and agent Jimmy Sexton

Jimmy Sexton Hire My Clients 595

One of the scariest things for Browns fans in the transition from Mike Holmgren to Joe Banner was Banner’s decision to switch defenses. It isn’t that Cleveland Browns fans have that much of a preference, other than they have a preference against switching schemes all the time. You know, continuity and all that? The Browns were a 3-4 defense with Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini before switching to the 4-3 for Pat Shurmur’s two-year tenure under Mike Holmgren. That defense was young and thought to be on the rise when Joe Banner fired Shurmur, Dick Jauron and proclaimed to Terry Pluto that the Browns needed to run the 3-4. Now that the Browns have fired Rob Chudzinski and are again searching for a new coach, the rumor mill is churning out Jim Schwartz’ name. He’s a 4-3 guy.

[Read more...]

Counting Down the Worst Cleveland Browns Christmas Gifts – #4

When you live in a world with Amazon.com and professional sports, you just know that you’re going to end up with some really bad team branded products. Those products get searched out this time of year as potential presents for giant sports fans, no matter how ludicrous. In fact sometimes the more inane they are, the more likely they’re chosen as gifts. With that in mind, I decided to identify these gifts and open them up for commentary by WFNY writers and alumni.

Without further ado, I bring you the next in this series… “Cleveland Browns Zombie Statue.”

Browns Zombie [Read more...]

Rick and Craig talk about the Browns headed into the bye week – WFNY Podcast – 2013-11-05

WFNY Podcast LogoRick and I talked about the Browns game from Sunday. We also talked a bit about the Browns heading into the bye week.

  • Is this one of the weirdest up and down Browns seasons in memory?
  • How did the Browns come to play the QBs they’ve played so far this year?
  • The nuance of talking about the running game issues without getting lost in the Trent Richardson debate
  • Willis McGahee and just how ineffective he’s been for the Browns
  • Davone Bess and how some people wanted to cut him just a week before
  • The reactionary nature of Browns fans
  • The hiring of Chud and comparing his handling of the Browns to Pat Shurmur
  • Norv Turner and his influence on the quarterback decisions
  • Ray Horton’s defense gaining traction


Check out this episode

In praise of the Browns front office… so far

Banner Chud 4In the name of front office accountability, I’ve been very open with the fact that I’m not a fan of the Trent Richardson trade. I’ve learned quite a bit about criticism and sports over the last five years with our Cleveland franchises and Mike Holmgren helped ensure that I already finished drinking my last bottle of “Benefit of the Doubt” cola,1 let alone a sugary glass of Kool-Aid. That doesn’t mean that I am just a skeptic for the sake of being a skeptic. I think it’s important to look at the things that this Browns front office has gotten right, or that are showing decent early returns.2 Without those positive facts on the table, criticisms don’t mean very much. So whether it be Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi, Ray Farmer, Alec Scheiner or some combination of all of them, here’s what I’m encouraged by so far.

1. Chud – I tried really hard not to get sucked into the “local boy” story with the Browns’ selection of head coach Rob Chudzinski. The local angle has been beaten to death in Cleveland and it hasn’t yielded much since 1999 other than one really great year watching Joe Jurevicius catch passes. So far, so good for Rob Chudzinski. Of course it’s far too early to say conclusively, but right not I give the front office credit for ending up with Rob Chudzinski and his decorated crew of assistants led by Norv Turner and Ray Horton. At least for this early moment in time, it appears that however it all went down, the Browns ended up doing just fine missing out on Chip Kelly. But comparisons are really unfair at this point, so I’ll just compliment Chud on his own merits.

Just this week alone, I was really impressed the way Chud tried to rev up the crowd when the Browns were on defense and simultaneously admitted a mistake and apologized when asked about not going for two on what turned out to be the final score of the win against Buffalo. As we all know from Pat Shurmur, meek defenses and arrogant attitudes don’t help anyone. It’s nice to see Chud handle his position with confidence and humility so far, while also staring down cries of “tanking” to win three games in a row. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Really bitter after-taste! []
  2. I liked the Browns draft day trades, but that isn’t an example for this list because it’s too early to say anything about the results. []

Is Brandon Weeden an “undervalued” fantasy QB?

We certainly don’t spend a lot of time talking about fantasy football here at WFNY, but I found this ESPN post (insider) about undervalued QBs to be pretty interesting. Brandon Weeden comes in at number seven on their list behind RG3, Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith among others. The post goes on to compare Weeden’s value to that of AFC North counterpart Andy Dalton.

Apparently Weeden’s average numbers for longer passes compared pretty favorably a year ago. Considering that this was the case in a Pat Shurmur offense that we can all agree didn’t aim to accentuate Weeden’s vertical potential, it give cause to think Weeden might truly be under-drafted in a lot of fantasy leagues this pre-season.

Of course, this probably won’t be the case if you’re in a fantasy league with Cleveland based fans. So, for you I’ll just say that ESPN also named Carson Palmer as an undervalued QB, so you can get a jump on your Cleveland based fantasy owners who will overdraft all the Cleveland Browns players.

In case you were wondering, this is where ESPN’s own fantasy site has Brandon Weeden ranked based on their point projections.

Weeden ranking on ESPN

[Related: Cleveland Browns Greg Little named to “All-Overrated” team]

TD talking Tribe, Browns and turkey sandwiches – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-14

WFNY Podcast LogoI couldn’t get a proper cold cuts conversation out of Brian Spaeth, so I saw an opening with TD and I grabbed it! Also, make sure you let us know what you think of the two songs I put together as potential replacements for our opening sounder.

  • The Indians collapse
  • Craig tries out two new songs as potential openers for the podcast
  • Is it good enough to just contend late in the season?
  • Do the Indians have any more free agency options in the bank?
  • Dropping the payroll to the bottom of the league in payroll
  • Asdrubal Cabrera probably won’t be in Cleveland next year
  • Where does the growth come from in Terry Francona’s second year?
  • Has Prince Fielder been a problem of a contract?
  • Asdrubal Cabrera as cleanup hitter is a joke
  • Mark Reynolds had one of the strangest seasons I’ve ever seen in my life
  • Lonnie Chisenhall and what he can become or not
  • Nick Swisher and how nobody kills him
  • Chris Perez’ time in Cleveland is just over [Read more...]

Training Camp News and Notes: Roger Goodell visits Berea

Roger GoodellToday was a big day in Berea with the commissioner in town for a special youth “Heads Up” promotion aimed at teaching football fundamentals to help avoid head injuries. After participating in that, Goodell entered the media scrum to avoid answering much of anything about Jimmy Haslam. It wasn’t at all surprising that Goodell refused to play the “What if?” game with regards to the word “indictment.” Also when asked if the NFL could have known or done better vetting for the Pilot Flying J troubles, the commissioner spoke of just how big a surprise it was for everyone and that the NFL continues to monitor the situation.

Goodell wasn’t the only big name in camp today in Berea. National sideline reporter Pam Oliver was on hand to see what the Browns have going on, as was Peter King. King made the rounds on radio row and spent a good amount of time filming a M.M.Q.B. segment with Browns’ first round draft pick Barkevious Mingo. Now, for the actual football stuff… [Read more...]

NFL News: Tom Heckert joins Denver Broncos as Director of Pro Personnel

We’ve all just had a lesson in how front offices turn over in an off-season. It feels like a relatively new lesson here in Cleveland. The Browns have decided not to renew some contracts of scouts that were in Berea under former General Manager Tom Heckert.

The timing of waiting until after the draft is apparently pretty commonplace. In Denver the Broncos let Keith Kidd depart after being there since 2009 with Josh McDaniels. That vacated a spot for Tom Heckert who has reportedly joined the organization as Director of Pro Personnel.

In Denver, that position means that Heckert will be underneath John Elway who is the executive vice president of football operations and also the general manager. There’s little doubt that wherever Heckert goes he will have plenty of influence with his resume. Still, it’s interesting how different organizations choose to organize and function.

It will also be a very different task in Denver than it was in Cleveland. Heckert will look to help make every second that’s left of Peyton Manning’s career successful while also helping to plan for the day that Manning can no longer play. It’s not exactly like dealing with Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Eric Mangini and Pat Shurmur on the way to seeing the team sold out from under your five year plan.

[Related: Browns thoughts on Terry Pluto, ProFootballTalk, “black boxes,” and draft strategy]

Fair shots at the end of the Colt McCoy era in Cleveland

Colt McCoyThe fact that I’m writing this at all is probably too much. Such is life in Cleveland where the quarterback controversies aren’t too high and mighty for Charlie Frye. That was less than a decade ago, by the way. But now that former Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Colt McCoy has been traded away for a late-round draft pick upgrade,1 it’s time to end another era.

Like that of Brady Quinn, this one couldn’t even live up to the Derek Anderson era, though I would put the Colt McCoy stint higher than the Charlie Frye version and somewhere lower than those of Tim Couch/Kelly Holcomb. Splitting miserable, disgusting hairs is no way to go through life, but we do it out of pure obligation.

So now what? The future isn’t any clearer. As Colt McCoy has his future clearly defined as the backup for Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, Browns fans shudder to think what the world will look like if Brandon Weeden is ushered out in similar fashion this time next year. Strangely though, if that did happen, I don’t think anyone would be asking if the world had been fair to Weeden.

[Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Basically the Browns upgraded from a 6th to a 5th in my point of view []

WFNY Podcast – 2013-03-05 – Diminishing returns in baseball stats?

WFNY Podcast LogoJon and Craig got together to talk sports, and this is what went down.

  • MIT Sloan conference (again)
  • Nate Silver the rockstar
  • Baseball analytics… are they a diminishing returns game?
  • Stability to run an analytics department
  • Chip Kelly might be the best thing that ever happened to the Browns
  • Pete Carroll, tall corners
  • Baseball and the closers came after saves
  • Pat Shurmur never played with confidence
  • Puritan and Company in Cambridge and tip to tail dining
  • Horse meat and dog meat
  • The worst tagline I could possibly think of for the podcast

[powerpress url="http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/WFNYPodcast2013-03-04.mp3"] [Read more...]

Cleveland Sports Life Boat – Browns Head Coaches

Browns Coach Life Boat

I am a huge fan of the Ron and Fez show on Sirius XM Satellite radio. They do a bit on the radio called life boat, and I’m borrowing it for Cleveland sports. Here’s how it works. There are four people and only three seats remaining on the life boat. You must work your way through the list of candidates and, unfortunately, someone is designated to try their hand at long-distance swimming.

A couple rules.

1. You MUST pick three people to ride in the boat. “Let them all drown!” isn’t an interesting answer and frankly, you’re not funny. It’s been done, so skip it.

2. Don’t use an overly silly premise for your answer. Life boat is a silly enough premise where you aren’t going to “wow” anyone with your take that you should “keep the fatter guy because at least when we turn to cannibalism, we’ll have someone tasty to eat!”

So, this Cleveland sports life boat is Browns coaches. The candidates are:

Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur  [Read more...]

Fun with Numbers

Mario's Early Years - Fun With NumbersEveryone likes numbers right? Every once in a while I like to see what story the numbers tell. Some of them may surprise you. Some of them you may already know. Sometimes they explain a lot. Let’s have some fun-

950- Trent Richardson finished the season with 950 yards rushing. He broke Jim Brown’s rookie rushing record, but didn’t get to that infamous 1,000 yard mark. He carried the ball 267 times and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Now, I don’t have access to Richardson’s contract details, but I would be surprised if there wasn’t a bonus of some sort for hitting 1,000 yards. Between the injuries and that 8 carry Colts game, you would think that another 14 carries would have been possible along the way to get Trent to 1,000 yards. Next year I guess.

24th- The Browns offense ranked 24th in scoring this season. Since their return in 1999, the Browns have finished higher than that only twice. In 2007 they were 8th, and in 2002 they were 19th.

.281- Looks like a batting average no? Actually it is Pat Shurmur’s winning percentage in Cleveland. Since the team returned, three coaches have been given exactly 32 games to coach- Shurmur, Mangini and Palmer. Palmer had 5 wins, Shurmur 9 and Mangini 10. The highest winning percentage among ‘new’ Browns’ coaches? It’s not Romeo, even though he had the best single season since ’99. Try Butch Davis with a .414 winning percentage.

11- The Browns finished the season with 11 players on the disabled list. 8 of those were defensive players. 4 were linebackers. [Read more...]

Pat Shurmur “awarded” Worst Coach, Most Useless Challenge

On the heels of the Greater Cleveland Sports awards, it seems like a good time to see what the rest of awards season brings. Grantland’s resident NFL coaching critic Bill Barnwell has taken down Pat Shurmur all season, and now that it is in the books, he’s deemed Pat Shurmur’s challenge from a week eight game against the Chargers to be the “Most Useless.”

On the first play of a San Diego drive from their own 18-yard line, the Chargers picked up six yards on a pass to Robert Meachem. Shurmur saw something on replay and decided to throw his challenge flag. The play was overturned, turning an insurmountable second-and-4 into a dominant position of second-and-10. With about 46 minutes of challengeable action left to go, it’s hard to figure that Shurmur got good value for one of his two opportunities to throw the challenge flag without worrying about losing the flag for the rest of the game. As I wrote at the time, “It’s like being granted two wishes and using one of them to have a genie take out the trash for you.”

Not to ruin the whole charade, but Barnwell has also named Pat Shurmur the worst coach of the year. The man that the Eagles will be counting on to coordinate their Chip Kelly-fueled offense next year1  is most likely harshing at least some of the mellow that was achieved with the coup of landing Chip Kelly.

Sometimes the words we write on these pages can be questioned because the perspective is so close to home, but when you start reading national people with no Dawg in the fight, even if you agree with some of what they have to say, it’s noteworthy, I think.

It’s not that Shurmur made one bad decision in one particular aspect of the game in 2012; it’s that he made obviously wrong calls in so many different spots. He failed to go for two up 15-10 in the fourth quarter in Week 1 and it cost him the game in a 17-16 loss. He used a timeout before punting on fourth-and-1 from the Indianapolis 41-yard line with 6:38 left in a close game and ended up having to go for it on fourth-and-6 later on. He called nine pass plays on third/fourth-and-short in one Ravens game alone.

If Shurmur had developed his young talent into successful players, you would excuse his play-calling blunders. Instead, Shurmur failed to develop either Colt McCoy or Brandon Weeden into anything resembling an NFL-caliber starter, ran an injured Trent Richardson into the line for no gain for most of the season, and left the Cleveland organization with a lot of young players who have failed to reach anything resembling their potential.

There’s more there of course, and I recommend you read it, but if you wondered if Browns fans were just too hypercritical of Pat Shurmur in his time here, I think it’s pretty plain to see that the lack of coaching quality really truly does go beyond the won/loss record. It truly wasn’t you. It was Shurmur himself.

Here’s hoping this same thing isn’t written about Chud a year from now.

[Related WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-25 – Cleveland Frowns in a two-part podcast]

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Footnotes:

  1. Bob LaMonte is a wizard, apparently. []

Pat Shurmur Reportedly Returning To Philadelphia As Offensive Coordinator

Chip Kelly in the words of Ricky Bobby wants to go fast. In a head-scratcher for us fans recently released from the offensive reign of Pat Shurmur as head coach, the Philadelphia Eagles have signed Shurmur to be the team’s offensive coordinator, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

For a first time head coach like Kelly, it’s important to have experienced coordinators who may even have some head coaching experience to help the coach along. Shurmur went 9-23 in his two seasons in Cleveland and was fired following the team’s season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a 24-10 loss. Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator in St. Louis for two seasons with quarterback Sam Bradford after being the Eagles’ quarterback coach under Andy Reid from 2002-2008 and tight ends coach from 1999-2001.

Kelly, you will recall, interviewed with the Browns, Bills, and Eagles for their head coaching opening prior to originally deciding to remain at Oregon before changing his mind and heading to Philadelphia.

Shurmur had reportedly talked to the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets about their offensive coordinator vacancies as well.

Related: Chud, Norv, Horton, and Lombardi: The Future’s In Their Hands

WFNY Debate: Do NFL coaches even matter?

chudzinskiIn case it hasn’t been clear yet, the WFNY writers email each other a lot. And I mean a lot. So on top of our two email-based roundtables already this week (post-Kelly rumors and post-Chudzinski hire), we bring you inside the famed Gmail inbox for a look at a Friday debate: This time, we’re talking about the possible impact of pro coaches.

Jacob: Hey guys, I’m considering writing a numbers article about Rob Chudzinski. I’m intrigued by the stats about his TDs, points and plays of 20+ yards with Carolina. Then maybe look at the Browns in ’07-’08, the Chargers, Miami, etc. Compare to league averages. His success with RBs (DeAngelo Williams in Week 17). Here’s a quick snippet of the stats that I had in mind for such a post:

2011: plays of 20+ pass/rush (total) —- Carolina: 66/24 (90); Cleveland: 32/7 (39)
2011: third down conversion —- Carolina: 75/185 (40.5%); Cleveland: 92/238 (38.7%)
2012: plays of 20+ pass/rush (total) —- Carolina: 58/17 (75); Cleveland: 50/7 (57)
2012: third down conversion —- Carolina: 88/204 (43.1%); Cleveland: 67/218 (30.7%) [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Francona brings swagger to Cleveland

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.

“There is a new feeling around the Cleveland Indians. It isn’t a feeling of cockiness, but confidence. It’s a feeling of pride in what has been accomplished since the end of a 94-loss season in 2012, and also a focus on the work that is left to be done. It’s a feeling of comfort and trust, while starting so many things different and new. However you try to describe the feeling, it is one created by new Manager Terry Francona.” [Mike Brandyberry/Did The Tribe Win Last Night?] [Read more...]

NFL Rumors: Heckert, Shurmur Could Be Reunited With Andy Reid In Arizona

Mike Jurecki, a talk show host and reporter out of Phoenix, is reporting that not only are the Cardinals closing in on hiring former Eagles head coach Andy Reid for their head coaching opening, but they are looking at former Browns general manager Tom Heckert for their general manager vacancy as well. There’s one other nugget too: Pat Shurmur might be reuniting with Heckert sooner rather than later.

Heckert, you will recall, spent nine years in Philadelphia in various positions, while Shurmur was there for ten seasons as a tight ends and quarterbacks coach under Reid.

Jason La Canfora also supports these rumors and adds that Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress could be headed there as a quarterbacks coach.

However, not so fast, says Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer.

Related: #1 Moment of 2012: Haslam and Banner Replace Lerner and Holmgren