August 26, 2014

The importance of what Donte Whitner said about Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer

Manziel and Hoyer

Everyone’s talking about what Donte Whitner was quoted as saying to Peter King’s MMQB this morning. The quote was this.

“It’s been fierce,” Whitner said. “Two guys fighting for their lives. It’s close. I’d say [the locker room] is split about 50-50. We know they both can play.”

While I think a lot of the focus has been on the split within the team and the report cards comparing the two quarterbacks, what Whitner said last is most important to me. If Whitner’s accounting of team sentiment is accurate, then there’s legitimate belief in the locker room that the Browns have not one, but two quarterbacks who can actually play the position.

As I said on Sunday, I’m intrigued by Manziel’s performance and I can’t wait to see more. Maybe I’ll even get to see him with the first team this week on Monday Night Football. I welcome the opportunity to see it. In the end, with the way the Browns have set up their team this year, the quarterback looks to be helped by the running game and not vice versa.

That being the case, all I need is a guy who can perform somewhere close to the middle of the pack of NFL quarterbacks. I don’t need Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. I need something approximating Alex Smith, Carson Palmer or even Andy Dalton plus a great defense and running game.

It seems like Donte Whitner is saying the Browns’ locker room thinks they might have two guys capable of that.

[Related: Johnny Manziel ahead in QB race? I want to see more, but I’m patient]

The ends don’t justify means in Peter King’s defense of Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi

Haslam and Banner 595 width

Peter King is one of the best NFL writers in the nation and as a national guy his perspective can sometimes be instructive to help local fans take blinders off. As a follower of the Browns, it’s pretty easy to lose perspective on the more overarching story-lines that make up an NFL season or era as you’re consistently living and dying with week-to-week results. It’s with that in mind that it’s definitely worth considering when Peter King instructs Browns fans to “Stop cursing Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.” [Read more...]

Alex Mack might have missed the party


Four weeks ago, before millions and millions of NFL free agency dollars were committed, Alex Mack’s agent got boastful with Peter King who wrote it up for his MMQB column. It caused anyone with half a memory for the NFL to go searching for rule books and articles in Google with the keyword “poison pill” as the discerning criteria. And as a thousand Internet researchers hit the enter key to confirm their inklings that “poison pill” contracts were illegal, it was easy to imagine Mack’s agent sitting somewhere with his eyes shut tightly and with his fingers crossed that somehow he could will the reality of the situation away. It’s hard to conclude anything other than the notion that Alex Mack wants out of Cleveland, but it’s even harder to conclude that he’ll find his way out this year.

[Read more...]

Peter King: Pass interference call “handed New England a win”

Tom Brady throws deep down the right sideline for Josh Boyce, into the end zone, with rookie cornerback Leon McFadden in coverage. There is light contact. Incidental contact. The ball falls incomplete. McFadden is flagged for defensive pass interference. The 29-yard penalty puts the ball at the Cleveland 1, and Brady throws the winning touchdown pass to Danny Amendola on the next play. That’s not interference in second-grade flag football, and here it could well have handed New England a win. Where did the flag come from? Why? How is that call made? TV color man Steve Tasker agreed. He called the call “horrible” twice and “terrible” once. Couldn’t have said it better.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King in his most recent edition of his Monday Morning Quarterback. King set aside a section of his weekly column to discuss four calls which “materially affected” the outcomes of games. King tweeted on Sunday night that the Browns were “robbed” by the officiating. Odds are that he would have dedicated more space to the other questionable calls in this game if not for the other egregious missed calls that occurred this past Sunday. Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski refused to comment on the call on Monday, preferring to not focus on “things [he] can’t control.”

[Related: Cleveland Browns lose 27-26 thanks to key pass interference call]

Peter King: “I was just as wrong for jumping on Kosar”

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has admitted that he was in the wrong for recent comments which were directed at Cleveland Browns color analyst Bernie Kosar. In his latest mailbag piece at SI’s Monday Morning Quarterback, King, who recently stood by his thoughts on Kosar and his choice words in regard to players on the St. Louis Rams, says that he was wrong for the tweets sent out late Saturday night which accused the former Browns quarterback of drinking on the job, commetns which King says was in jest.

“The more I started thinking I was just as wrong for jumping on Kosar with a bad joke,” writes King. “No excuses. I could have been critical of Kosar without being crass. Altogether my fault.”

On Thursday night, as the Browns were taking on the Rams in a preseason contest, Kosar, after a full night of intricate analysis of play-to-play defenses, referred to the Rams’ wide receiving corps as “horrible,” as well as a joke surrounding the Pope. These comments drew the ire of St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher and, later, King. Ultimately, the comments perpetuated by King led to a firestorm on Twitter as the widely followed and highly respected King was accused of a variety of items including cronyism (he and Fisher share an agent; the agent, Marvin Demoff, is the father of Rams COO Kevin) and unprofessionalism.

“In the old days, pre-social media, I’d likely have forgotten about it,” writes King. “You didn’t let me. It’s good that we have our readers/followers/listeners to remind us that we ultimately are reporting and opining for them.”

King concluded his thoughts by defending his relationship with the Rams, stating that he has yet to discuss Kosar’s comments with Fisher.

[Related: Bernie Kosar, Peter King and our broken culture]


Bernie Kosar, Peter King and our broken culture

11959204-largeJoe Banner and the Browns did exactly what they should have done once the Bernie Kosar commentary story became a national headline. From the Browns’ perspective — and Joe Banner’s specifically —  he’s in the business of making the Browns the best he can make them, all while protecting the league overall. If criticizing some “questionable phrases” is what it takes to make sure the Rams and Jeff Fisher wouldn’t have ill will in a trade scenario with Banner in the future, then that’s exactly what Banner should do.

Ultimately, my problem with this whole Bernie Kosar situation isn’t with Bernie, Joe Banner, Peter King or even Jeff Fisher. I have a problem with us as a culture overall.

[Read more...]

Scott Raab discusses Bernie Kosar, Peter King, Johnny Manziel and the Tribe – WFNY Podcast – 2013-08-12

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab (@ScottRaab64) and Craig Lyndall (@WFNYCraig) talk about all the Cleveland sports topics from Bernie Kosar to the floundering Cleveland Indians. Here’s what else we talked about.

  • Marketing 101 with Brian Spaeth (@brianspaeth)
  • Bernie Kosar’s comments about Kellen Clemens and the Pope
  • When you take local comments national the context changes
  • NFL AM hypocritically mocks Mark Sanchez after slapping Bernie Kosar’s wrists
  • Wolf Blitzer vs. Walter Cronkite
  • Casa D’Barons memories from Scott Raab
  • Peter King and Jeff Fisher sharing the same agent
  • Nate Jackson’s book and how they worked with the same editor
  • Bernie’s demons and how fair game they are
  • Should Joe Banner have apologized for Bernie?
  • Sports has turned into a reality TV show
  • Johnny “Football” Manziel and Scott’s thoughts on that
  • The hatred for people with money from Manziel to Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton [Read more...]

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King discusses his comments on Bernie Kosar

Bernie Kosar, doing color on the Browns preseason game against St. Louis Thursday, had some harsh things to say about the Rams. He called the Rams receivers, including the eighth pick in the 2013 draft, Tavon Austin, “horrible,” said their parents “would be embarrassed” if they were watching the game, and, about backup quarterback Kellen Clemens, said, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter.”

Kosar’s a good guy, and I have always liked him. But I found the comments pretty far over the top and asked rhetorically, on Twitter, whether Kosar had been drinking. Which brought on a raft of criticism from the Twitterverse, saying I’d gone over the top. I don’t think I was over the top, but many of you felt I’d gone too far given the sea of trouble Kosar has had in his personal life. (None of which, from what I can tell, involve treatment for alcohol, or any admission of alcoholism.) My point was, I think there’s a way to be critical of players and teams, and analysts should definitely do that. But Kosar went too far, in my opinion. And not just mine. Kosar called Rams coach Jeff Fisher Sunday to apologize, and Browns CEO Joe Banner said Sunday the Browns “don’t condone the personal and unprofessional approach” Kosar used.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, following up on the firestorm he created on Twitter this past weekend with comments on Cleveland Browns’ color commentator (and legendary quarterback) Bernie Kosar. The Browns, through CEO Joe Banner, released a statement saying that they have spoken to Kosar, but no further action was required. For an in-depth look at what Kosar said throughout the preseason contest against the Rams, head to Dawgs by Nature.

[Related: Training Camp News and Notes: A different kind of kicking contest]

NFL News: Browns issue statement regarding Bernie Kosar’s comments

Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner issued a statement Sunday evening regarding the comments made by Bernie Kosar during the broadcast of Thursday’s preseason game against the Rams.

“We don’t condone the personal and unprofessional approach that Bernie took with some of his comments during the broadcast Thursday night. We’ve spoken to Bernie, he understands that, and we would expect the situation is resolved moving forward. We’ve also reached out to the Rams organization and have shared those same sentiments.”

St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher and Sports Illustrated’s Peter Kiing both spoke out Saturday night about Kosar’s commentary, specifically his remarks about the St. Louis receivers and quarterback Kellen Clemons.

Saturday night the Browns said that they would be reviewing the situation, and Sunday Banner’s statement was released.

[Related: Training Camp News and Notes: Haden picks off a pair of passes]

NFL News: Rams Fisher, SI’s King criticize Kosar for on-air comments

Sports Illustrated’s head NFL writer Peter King and St Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher took issue with some comments made by former Browns QB Bernie Kosar during the Browns-Rams preseason game this past Thursday.

“Bernie’s got his issues. They’re well-documented,” Fisher said.

Fisher said he doubts Kosar has done the kind of research that Fisher believes an announcer should do before opining about a team. And he said that while he still respects the Browns, he doesn’t think Kosar belongs in the Browns’ broadcast booth.

“I guess I’m a little disappointed,” Fisher said. “I feel bad for them that they had someone doing the broadcast who would feel the need to speak that way about players, specifically on our team, and coaches for that matter. I’m just surprised that Bernie has such a lack of respect for players and for this game. So I lost a lot of respect for him.”

King tweeted:

I’m honestly surprised by this. I watched STO’s replay of the game in its entirety on Saturday and Kosar’s comments didn’t stick out to me. Well, that’s not entirely true. Things did get a little dicey when Jim Donovan told a story about Rams backup QB Kellen Clemons gave the Pope an autograph and Bernie cracked “Bless me Father for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter.” But considering all the ways a Pope bit could’ve gone horribly wrong, I felt they skated by mostly unscathed (I mean, this was a local broadcast of a crappy preseason game. This could’ve been much worse).

I’ve never seen an NFL head coach get mad about comments made by an opposing team’s announcer. During a preseason game. I understand that Fisher has to stick up for his players and this is a easy battle to wage. But it’s not like Bernie was… you know… wrong. The Rams receivers weren’t very good. Kellen Clemons ended the night going 8-13 for 116 yards with a TD and two INTs.

Not everyone agreed with Fisher and King.

I was also a little surprised that King went with the “are you drunk?” crack. Seems like a shot a Bernie. But I don’t disagree with his concussion remarks. He’s absolutely right, if you’re gonna get in the booth, what you say is fair game. And if his injury history really has impaired Bernie’s judgement, King is right, he probably shouldn’t be on live television for three hours.

But really, we’re mad that a local announcer called a player “horrible” in a pre-season game? This is a thing?

One of these days the focus is going to be on all the good things the Browns did on the field. Not the owner’s legal issues. Not player comments. Not Bernie. The play on the field.

And it will be glorious.

[Related: Training Camp News and Notes: Joe Haden picks off a pair of Weeden passes]


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...]

Raiders sign former Browns safety Usama Young

The connections between the Raiders and Browns seem to keep getting stronger, or at least more strongly anecdotal. First the report that the Raiders badly wanted to keep Desmond Bryant, whom the Browns signed in free agency. Now, Pro Football Talk is reporting that the Raiders have signed former Browns safety Usama Young. Details of the deal aren’t available yet.

Darin Gantt of PFT makes the connection that Usama Young will rejoin his former Saints secondary coach Dennis Allen, now with the Raiders.

So, even if the money is nowhere close to being equal, I’ll still take the Desmond Bryant for Usama Young swap. Young was expected to nail down a starting spot for the Cleveland Browns, but ultimately couldn’t stay healthy for parts of his two years with the team.

Young originally signed a 3-year deal with the Browns for $5.9 million. He earned $1.7 million in 2011 and $1.8 million in 2012 before the Browns decided to save the approximately $2.25 million in cap space by cutting him loose.

[Related: Raiders "badly wanted to re-sign Desmond Bryant, per Peter King]

Raiders “badly” wanted to re-sign Desmond Bryant, per Peter King

The Oakland Raiders yearned to re-sign defensive tackle Desmond Bryant but could not match the salary cap flexibility of the Cleveland Browns. A report by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King states that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was forced to keep his team out of “salary cap jail,” and had no choice but to let the Browns take the mauling defensive lineman.

Bryant inked a five-year, $34 million deal with the Browns earlier this off-season, adding considerable quality to what was largely considered a strength of the team in the defensive line. Bryant, 27, also drew interest from the San Francisco 49ers before being scooped up by Cleveland on the first day of free agency.

Last season, Bryant recorded 36 tackles, four sacks, and one forced fumble. He was also tied for 7th among defensive tackles with 12 quarterback hits. He is expected to join Phil Taylor and Atyba Rubin on the starting line within Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense.

[Related: Breaking down Paul Kruger’s and Desmond Bryant’s Browns contracts]


Peter King loves Phil Dawson too

There’s just no doubting how great Phil Dawson is at this point, and Peter King has his ticket for the bandwagon.

Twenty-three straight field goals, 21 of them this year, and his consecutive kicks of 32, 28, 29, 33 and 41 in a 32-minute span between the second and fourth quarters gave the Browns a 15-14 lead late against Baltimore. Dawson’s an unsung player, in part because so often his kicks are in losing causes. But a kick’s a kick, and he did his part Sunday against a division rival that owns the Browns.

Phil Dawson. What else is there to say, really?

[Related: Cleveland Browns Game Nine: Winners and Losers]

Peter King says Shurmur could be next Gary Kubiak

Peter King’s column sometimes takes me two days to finish. Still, with the owner’s meetings happening in Chicago today and with Jimmy Haslam getting control of the team, it is worth noting that Peter King is pretty wary of the “blow it up” strategy with regard to the Cleveland Browns. From his ten things he thinks he thinks…

4. Jimmy Haslam’s purchase of the Browns will be approved Tuesday in Chicago. Then Haslam will get on with the business of deciding who will run his franchise in 2013 and beyond. I hope he looks long and hard at Pat Shurmur, who I think is a good man and coach. Not saying Haslam should keep him — just saying he should think very seriously about it, because Shurmur’s the kind of smart young coach, like Gary Kubiak was in Houston’s rocky times, who is growing into a tough job.

You have to wonder whether or not King would have written this had the Browns not beat the Bengals this week for their first win of the season. Would he have thought he thought that had the Browns not outlasted the Bengals?

[Related:Browns’ Mike Holmgren a no-show in Chicago for NFL owners meetings]

King: Haslam to be ‘Much More Involved’ in Browns’ Day-to-Day

While he won’t likely tip the scale in the way of Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban, Cleveland Browns owner Jim Haslam is going to be around the city of Cleveland and his new football team a lot more than his predecessor. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King penned a column following a 30-minute conversation and, like most that have crossed the new owner’s path, came away impressed.

“It’s very important to thank your customers for their loyalty,” Haslam told King. “In my business, I go to the stores unannounced fairly often to talk to my employees. It’s important to assess your business often, and to ask the people out in the field for ideas. I ask, ‘What are we doing wrong?’ Ninety-five percent of our new ideas come from our employees.”

King adds that Haslam yearns to learn. Far from an expert on the Cleveland Browns, it’s Haslam’s job to learn the ways of the Orange and Browns. It sounds as if the new owner plans on bringing a lot of what he learned through his years as partial owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers — stability, consistency, leadership — across state lines. In his discussion with King, Haslam appeared adamantly concerned about the coaching carousel that has plagued the Browns since their return in 1999.

“They’ve averaged a new coach once every 2.8 years [since the franchise returned to Cleveland in 1999],” Haslam said, “and that’s just not a good recipe. One thing I learned from watching the Steelers is the importance of consistency in coaching, and how much it sets you back when you’re always making a change. When you change coaches, it can be a three- or four-year deal to get back.”

King: I think the Browns should hang onto Colt McCoy, But…

In his most recent Monday Morning Quarterback Column, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King (once again) weighs in on the Colt McCoy situation in Cleveland, this time, giving the third-year quarterback a vote of confidence.

“I think the Browns should hang onto Colt McCoy,” writes King. “I do like Brandon Weeden, but how sure a thing is he? And if he plays poorly over the next two years, you’re happier with Seneca Wallace than Colt McCoy? I’m not.”

It was just last week when King had a one-on-one interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell where the two men discussed the concussion and subsequent mishandling which would ultimately serve to prematurely end McCoy’s first full season as a the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback. Given McCoy’s record and relative regression in his second season, the Browns went and drafted Weeden to be the quarterback of the team’s future, leaving McCoy’s status in peril and his family’s mouth agape.

In the event that the Browns do look to cut ties with McCoy, a result which many forecast as the inevitable, King thinks that Tom Heckert’s former team is one of two perfect landing spots.

“I think if I’m Andy Reid or Mike McCarthy, I’m calling Cleveland GM Tom Heckert and sending a 2013 sixth-rounder to Cleveland for McCoy,” writes King. “Perfect backup quarterback who, in time, might be good enough to start for your team for multiple seasons. Take out the tape of his game at Pittsburgh last season, before he got blasted by James Harrison, and tell me he doesn’t have the poise, decision-making and presence to have a chance to be a good player.”

Peter King: Richardson “Not a bad trade by Cleveland”

Peter King is giving everyone a pass on the deal that the Vikings and Browns made to move up from four to three.

I’ve been hearing GM Rick Spielman of the Vikings took advantage of a Browns team that didn’t want to risk losing Trent Richardson, which is true. I’ve been hearing Browns GM Tom Heckert got snookered into throwing fourth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks. That’s a load of crap. This is the easiest Monday Morning Quarterbacking to do (hey, that’s trademarked!) after the draft.

There’s no way Heckert could know what real offer Spielman had on the table. Spielman, as it turned out, had talked to Tampa Bay about the pick, but the Bucs were never seriously interested in it. But Heckert had no way of knowing that at the time. General managers making vital decisions for the long-term cannot sit there and say, “I wonder if Spielman really has something, or if he’s bluffing.” They have to make decisions on the fly. The Browns kept the top five picks of a vital draft intact and got the guy they wanted, Trent Richardson, and still had 10 picks to work with. I don’t castigate Heckert. I applaud him.

At 11a, you’ll be seeing the WFNY discussion of the Browns draft wherein most of us feel the same way. There are certainly things to be critical of the Browns at times, but using their well-earned bullets to ensure they got the biggest potential difference-maker this Browns team has drafted in a decade isn’t one of them.

[Related: NFL Draft: Holmgren Urged Browns First-Round Trade with Vikings]

Another view of Peter King’s stat of the week regarding running backs

Peter King does great work and his Monday Morning Quarterback column is a must-read. He has some really enlightening information in the column even if you sometimes question his sources. Obviously Tom Heckert does, as he blatantly told the Cleveland press this week that he hasn’t talked to King in years. Be that as it may, King was talking about the 2012 NFL draft and the Browns’ potential for taking running back Trent Richardson.

I know it’s fashionable to give Trent Richardson, far and away the best back in this draft, to Cleveland at No. 4 in round one Thursday. But with the game becoming more and more of an aerial show, the Browns should be thinking hard about their choice before Thursday.

Six teams in the NFL won 12 or more games last year. Here are those teams, and where the leading rusher on each ranked in league rushing stats last season:

Team Record Leading Rusher NFL Rank
Green Bay 15-1 James Starks 39
New England 13-3 BenJarvus Green-Ellis 27
New Orleans 13-3 Darren Sproles 33
San Francisco 13-3 Frank Gore 6
Baltimore 12-4 Ray Rice 2
Pittsburgh 12-4 Rashard Mendenhall 21


Ack! That is terrifying. Maybe the Browns should just draft Justin Blackmon! [Read more...]

Tom Heckert Talks First Round as the NFL Draft Inches Closer

With the draft exactly one week away, Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert took to the podium for his pre-draft press conference, fielding questions about headlines, smokescreens and the pressure to perform given the draft history of the team under which he presides.

While he would understandably not get into specifics, reacting to all draft board questions with body language that ranged from slight chuckles to belly laughs, Heckert discussed philosophy and where, exactly, the front office is when it comes to analyzing specific players.

[Read more...]