August 26, 2014

T.J. Ward talks about Denver’s winning culture vs. Cleveland experience

TJ Ward interception training camp

Whether or not the Browns will miss T.J. Ward as they welcomed Donte Whitner as his replacement this off-season is up for debate, but I tend to think the Browns will be just fine. That says more about Whitner than it does Ward, but there’s little doubt that you’d have to assume T.J. Ward and the Broncos will likely win more games this season than the Cleveland Browns and Whitner. Sure, this is the NFL, anything’s possible, parity, etc, but everyone in their right mind assumes the Broncos will win more games. That being the case, T.J. Ward’s recent comments about the culture differences shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

“Nothing against Cleveland but this is a winning culture,” Ward said. “They’re used to winning and you treat all things the same way, period: with a preparation to win. That’s how the coaches treat you and that’s how the players treat each other. You expect everybody to know their job, do their job and do it the right way.”

That’s a culture of expectation that can only be built with consistency in approach, standards and a little bit of success. That exists in the Broncos organization currently for a lot of reasons, but it wasn’t so long ago that they seemed lost with Josh McDaniels drafting Tim Tebow. But the Broncos recognized the error in their ways, hired John Fox and welcomed back John Elway to guide the team as an exec. Those two made the Broncos lull disappear in a hurry.

Obviously Peyton Manning has something to do with this story as well, but I just can’t discount Elway and Fox as leaders. Maybe the Browns finally have that with Scheiner, Farmer, and Pettine. We’ll know in a couple years if the Browns sign Donte Whitner’s replacement and he talks about joining a Browns team and calls it a “winning culture.”

Calling out the worst of all NFL draft clichés

2012 NFL Draft

Leading up to an NFL draft, there are a lot of hackneyed conversations that will drive a fan absolutely crazy. It seems that some fans want to rely on simplistic rules to simplify the NFL draft for themselves. It’s a coping mechanism to help deal with the fact that most fans have do not possess nearly enough information to truly decide what their team needs or how they should build for the future. It’s not an indictment of fans to not know, but it is an indictment for fans who pretend like they do.

Know what, exactly? It’s infuriating this time of year, but how many fans do you come across — at the bar, calling sports talk radio or on Twitter — who think of themselves as the only one qualified to run the war room of their favorite football team? Imagine every nugget of their “wisdom” being delivered with a confident, smug smile that says, “I just know I’m right.” Instead of looking at each team like a complex system that needs lots of different pieces, we get a lot of vague, simplistic misconceptions. And with that, here are my least favorite draft clichés.

[Read more...]

Jimmy Haslam sounds like the Browns owner we always wanted

 Jimmy Haslam Steely

Maybe 2013 will go down in Browns history as a strange outlier. Maybe we’ll all laugh about it as the trial by fire (of a thousand suns?) that Jimmy Haslam needed in order to figure out how to run a football team and be the kind of team owner he always envisioned becoming. After reading his latest Q&A with the media from the NFL meetings in Orlando, I’m starting to see the possibility that Jimmy Haslam can be the owner we all hoped he would be when he secured ownership of the team from the Lerner family. [Read more...]

Twenty Six years after The Drive, I’m rooting for the Broncos to win the Super Bowl

the driveJanuary 11, 1987. Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Bernie Kosar throws a touchdown pass to Brian Brennan. The kick-off is muffed by Denver, pinning them on the two yard line.

My phone rings. It is my father, who was watching the game from work.

“We’re going to the Super Bowl!” he said.

He didn’t just mean the Browns. He meant the two of us. We were going to go. Price wouldn’t be an object. Nothing would have kept us out of the Rose Bowl to see the Browns in the Super Bowl. Nothing except John Elway.

Little by little, yard by yard Elway tore my heart out of my chest. I was fourteen years old, and I hated John Elway and the Broncos for taking away my Super Bowl trip. The following year’s AFC Championship game cemented it.

For years and years the Broncos were second only to the Steelers in terms of NFL teams I despised. Then after the team moved, they took a backseat only to Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Elway himself slipped just behind Art Modell.

Watching the conference championship games unfold on Sunday, I was surprised by my reaction to it all. I want the Broncos to win the Super Bowl. [Read more...]

NFL Week Five: Winners and Losers

With the Browns having played last Thursday, we thought everyone might like to chime in on the games they watched instead of the Browns this Sunday. So who did you see? Who was the big winner? Who blew it?


WINNER: Peyton Manning. Manning threw an interception on Sunday, which was the big news. He only threw 20 touchdown passes on the season before that pick. Four more touchdown passes and one rushing against the Cowboys in a win Sunday. Ho-hum. Another 400 yard performance.

LOSER: Solo possession of first place. Browns fans were pretty excited after Thursday’s win about being in first place, especially with the Bengals and Ravens both playing tough games this weekend. Well, both of them came up winners on Sunday. The Browns are back in a tie with Cincinnati and Baltimore. All three are 3-2. [Read more...]

Brandon Weeden and his eyes: Cleveland Browns Roundtable


No, this isn’t a conversation about how dreamy Brandon Weeden’s eyes are. It sputtered out, but we decided to do a roundtable about Brandon Weeden in the wake of his comments today when asked about staring down receivers.

Craig: I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching that Brandon Weeden might have an issue with staring down his first option on every single play. It was pointed out all last season and the first two weeks of pre-season this year both at WFNY and at numerous other locations. When asked about it today, Weeden said, “Last time I checked, you gotta look at who you’re throwing to.” He also said that he knows he needs to look off the safety with his eyes, but doesn’t think it’s a problem.

What do you think of all this? Is too much being made of it, or is it a known, unfixable issue that the Browns will have to deal with until they can address the QB position after this year?

Scott: I’m far from an analyst, but I assume that only the best of the best—Manning, Brady, Rogers, Brees—are well-versed in looking off safeties. [Read more...]

Browns to meet with Josh Cribbs’ agent

Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer reports that the Browns will meet with Josh Cribbs’ agent J.R. Rickert at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. This doesn’t necessarily fly in the face of earlier reports that the Browns were cool on the possibilities of bringing the special teams standout back. It is reasonable for any team to perform their due diligence with all their free agents. Rickert also represents Browns restricted free agent Chris Ogbonnaya.

Even with the Browns meeting, I fully expect Cribbs to have an opportunity to test his market value on the open market. If the Browns do bring someone like Cribbs back, I expect it will be a very favorable deal for the club only after Cribbs is unable to garner interest in a substantial multi-year deal elsewhere.

Cribbs will go down in history as one of the greatest Cleveland Browns of all time due to his record-setting performances as a special teamer and return man. Still, in a league where Peyton Manning can’t find a way to spend his entire career with a single team, it remains a longshot that a special teams player like Cribbs would be able to do so either.

[Related: Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi listed as free agents not likely to return]


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...]

Browns limping in, but still have one more chance to shine

I’m not making excuses for the Browns, but I honestly didn’t expect them to be competitive this past Sunday against the Broncos.1

This team was in trouble when T.J. Ward got hurt and when they decided to cut Dimitri Patterson. Add in all the extraneous chatter this week from the locker room about impending change, and no amount of “if” in those quotes could dissuade me from thinking this team was at least distracted and probably just finished with the year.

In a lot of ways, Shurmur might deserve some credit for at least one thing2 this season, and that is that his team played hard almost to the end. And they might have too if not for the injuries and frustration in how they saw their three game winning streak ended by Kirk Cousins and the Redskins a week ago.

[Read more...]



  1. Yes, this is a problem in itself. []
  2. and probably only one or a couple things []

Browns vs. Broncos Reader’s Survey

The Browns weren’t going to be favored this week regardless of the outcome last week against the Redskins. After a three game winning streak ends and with two tough games and a presumably lame duck coach, will the wheels come off? Will this team continue to play hard to the final whistle this season? We’ll know soon enough, but I want to know what you think right now. Will Peyton and the boys crush the Browns? If so, by how much? Do the Browns have one more trick up their sleeve this season? [Read more...]

WFNY Podcast – 2012-10-20 – Talking Colts with a Colts fan

When you write sports at a website like WFNY for a while you get to know your own kinds of fans. As many of you know my house is divided from a football perspective because my wife grew up in Indianapolis. I spared you my wife being on the podcast, but my brother-in-law is very much a similar kind of football fan to what I think we cater to at WFNY, so I talked to him for about ten minutes about the matchup and what it’s like to be a Colts fan on the heels of Peyton Manning and with Andrew Luck at the helm today.

  • How do Colts fans currently feel about Peyton Manning?
  • How much easier did Andrew Luck and the draft make Manning’s departure?
  • Are there any Colts fans that support the team losing this year?
  • Can the Colts actually make the playoffs?
  • What are the risks for the Colts with this Browns matchup?
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NFL Week 4: Winners and Losers

So after each Browns game I pick my winners and losers for the game. Since the Browns played last Thursday, I thought we’d open up today with a league wide winners and losers piece. I mean hey, what else are we going to talk about this morning?

Alright. League wide winners and losers from yesterday. Go…

LOSERS: Detroit Special Teams. Wow. The Lions gave up a kick-off return for a score and a punt return for a score in their 20-13 loss to the Vikings. The Lions fall to 1-3 in a season they had playoff expectations. They four teams they played so far had a regular season record of 27-37 last year, and if you take San Francisco out of the equation, they were 14-34. Yikes.

WINNERS: The Usual Suspects. Brady, Manning, Rodgers and Brees combined for 1,443 yards passing (all over 300 yards), 13 TDs, 1 Interception and 3 wins. Why not 4? Well, Brees and Rodgers played each other. Think QB play is important in this league? Look at the rest of the QB numbers. Insane. [Read more...]

Is Bill Polian a possibility for the Cleveland Browns?

Since Jimmy Haslam came to agreement with Randy Lerner to purchase the Cleveland Browns, the first name on the list has always been Joe Banner to replace Mike Holmgren. Now, ESPNCleveland’s Aaron Goldhammer is pointing to the another name to potentially replace Mike Holmgren that could most likely spell the end of the road for Tom Heckert in Cleveland as well.

Seemingly the connection would be made because Haslam is a huge Tennessee fan, which also means he’s a big Peyton Manning fan. Peyton Manning had a great relationship with the Polian family from his time with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning and the Polians were let go in the same off-season.

If Polian comes to Cleveland as president like he was in Indianapolis, does that mean his son Chris Polian is also going to be hired as GM as he was in Indy? It’s all a lot of speculation, so while I wouldn’t worry about it per se, it is interesting to think about.

 [Related: Browns Veterans Return, Continue to Praise the Kids]

Transcript: Mike Holmgren talks to Dave Mahler on KJR in Seattle 3-19-2012

Mike Holmgren joined Dave Mahler in Seattle this morning.

DM: I was worried about you last week. I’m reading all these articles on the internet that Mike Holmgren’s ticked off. Mike Holmgren’s mad. Mike Holmgren’s angry about the way the RG3 thing went down in the trade between the Redskins and the Rams. I was concerned about you, pal.

MH: (Joking) Well I really do appreciate your feelings about that, but no, I’m O.K. That, as happens on occasion with the media, was overstated just a little bit.

DM: Did it really? If you can, try to fill us in a little bit. I think the way everybody read it is that “Mike Holmgren’s ticked off because the Redskins and Rams have some pals in their front office. And that’s why that deal went down while we were offering just as good a deal if not better. Is that fair, or is that complete nonsense?

MH: Well, no I think there are parts of it… We were involved in discussions. Let’s put it that way. You know, and I thought we had enough bullet in the gun to perhaps make a run at that but it turned out we didn’t. So, I think trades are like games, you know. I mean you get competitive with it. At the time, we were kind of fired up about it. We were disappointed. Then you go on to plan B or plan C. That’s what happens in trades. That’s what happens in the draft. The one thing I’ve learned over the years, David, is that you can’t get so excited about a single transaction or a single draft pick or your position in the draft. Sometimes that guy doesn’t fall to you. Sometimes you don’t get him. If you let it bother you too much then you can’t regroup and do what you have to do after that.

DM: I don’t know if worry is the right word, but do you get concerned or do you have to address the guy that you still have there. A story like that gets out where clearly the Browns were trying to move up to get the number two pick and go after Robert Griffin III. And it doesn’t happen. Do you worry about the reaction of the guy you have there now in Colt McCoy.

MH: I really don’t. I think he’s a competitive guy. He understands this business. He and I had a really good talk before he left in the off-season. And he knew there was going to be competition coming into this next off-season and next training camp. I think if you’re just honest with him, then they’ll be able to handle most things. Is there a little side to any of the players that gets touched by something like that? In all honesty, there probably is. But, you know what? It’s a business and you gotta bounce back. And how you bounce back determines what kind of a guy you are. You remember when we got Matt (Hasselbeck) years ago. And then we didn’t start off so great and then I had to stick Dilfer in there and Matt didn’t like that very much. But it was part of the deal and he responded beautifully and became the player we all thought he could be. That’s the way most of these guys who are real pros handle it.

DM: No question about it. It does change, as you know, from player to player. You would think that’s the way it is for everybody, but sometimes it’s not. And the reason why I bring it up as well is not just to talk about Colt, but now we have this story that came out this morning with Peyton Manning going to go play for the Denver Broncos… What was your take on the news that Peyton Manning was going to be a Bronco?

MH: It didn’t surprise me. I think the teams that were involved in that all put their best foot forward and thought about it a lot, trying to get Peyton to come there.  But, he was only going to go to one place. If you were involved in that, you had to talk about that possibility of not getting him. Like I said earlier, life has to go on, because you don’t just take your ball and go home. He’s a wonderful player and Denver’s better right away. He’s a great player.

DM: They were a playoff team without him last year, Mike. Are they a Super Bowl contender with him?

MH: That’s hard to say Dave, because one guy can’t do it all by himself. But, you saw when he could not play last year what happened to a very proud Indianapolis group that had been very, very good for many years. So, he’s pretty important. You’re not going to go after a Peyton Manning at this stage of his career without the idea that this is why we’re doing it. You know, we’ re going for the whole deal.

DM: Let me ask you about a guy that the Seahawks just signed… The name Matt Flynn…

MH: Well I think most teams that were out this off-season determining their quarterback situation. Clearly the Seahawks did that and Matt Flynn was one of the guys out there, like Peyton, who was out there and had played pretty well. Quite well, as a matter of fact. (chuckling) I believe he holds the passing record for a team that’s had some pretty wonderful players. So, he became a pretty attractive candidate. When given the chance last year he had a really wonderful game against the Lions. It’s part of what every team does. Now that it’s done you have to roll up your sleeves and actually do it. I think any team that goes into a situation like that has thought it through not unlike the time we signed Matt (Hasselbeck) in Seattle.

DM: You brought Matt here and obviously you had the luxury of drafting him and watching him work out in Green Bay. John Snyder and Pete Carroll didn’t have that luxury. They did have the luxury of two games of actual game time… How about you? Was that just not enough for you to see of Matt Flynn and what do you need when analyzing a quarterback?

MH: The thing is that Matt (Hasselbeck) didn’t get to play a lot in regular season games, but we did have him for a full season and we did draft him. We knew him as well as you could know any player in that position, kinda learning and following in Brett’s (Favre) footsteps. But anyone who makes a decision like that one, you’re not always going to get, in fact, rarely do you get it spelled out where like when Peyton Manning goes to Denver, everyone in the world knows about Peyton Manning. Rarely do you get that opportunity. Sometimes you get into these situations where you feel you need a quarterback, that you just evaluate it the best way that you can, not unlike the draft, and then you pull the trigger. And then you make it work. I think the biggest thing that any team – not speaking specifically of Seattle now or any particular player – but any team, and you’ve heard me say this before. Once you decide that he’s your guy – once you decide that that’s the direction you want to go – then it’s pretty important that you commit. You say, “O.K we’re going to get through the tough stuff together. We know there’s going to be some learning curve and some struggles. But that’s O.K. If you believe in the person, and then that gives that guy confidence that he believes in you and you start developing the trust you need.

DM: Did you guys in Cleveland consider Matt Flynn at all?

MH: We did our due diligence and looked at – I’ll guess, including the draft, we probably looked at 10 or 12 quarterbacks. Maybe even more. Matt was one of them, yeah.

DM: Going back to the draft now, for you. Is Mike now happy with Colt McCoy. Do you think you’ll try to draft a quarterback or do you feel comfortable coming back with Colt McCoy even after trying to move up?

MH: Listen, and I want to make something pretty clear. I might as well do it on your show seeing as it’s beamed all over the world. (chuckling) I like Colt McCoy as a player. I think he’s a fine player and has a chance to be a fine player in this league. Last year I thought one, he got beat up pretty good. We didn’t protect him quite as well. I thought our running game after Peyton Hillis got hurt wasn’t helping him enough in my opinion. And then we had the lockout. So you had a new coach, new system, new quarterbacks. You put all that together and I think it was a little bit of a short deck. So, I’m not down on Colt McCoy at all. But I will always – and as long as I’m in a position like this – we are always going to look for quarterbacks. Make that pile a little bit bigger. Try to create some competition. To try and bring the best out of the people you already have. I know Colt as a person. He’ll respond as well as anyone in the world to this. I’m not down on Colt. He can play.

Bovada Lists Cleveland among most likely landing spots for Tim Tebow

Gambling site Bovada lists the Cleveland Browns as the fifth-most likely landing spot for the recently replaced Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, given 12/1 odds.

Following the news surrounding Peyton Manning heading to Mile High, the displaced Tim Tebow becomes the subsequent storyline following his playoff run with the Broncos.  The Browns slot behind the Jacksonville Jaguars (3/2), Broncos (7/4), Miami Dolphins (7/4) and New England Patriots (7/1) as Tebow’s employer during Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season.

The Browns come in dead last among all NFL teams at 150/1 odds to win Super Bowl XLVII. This represents a drop from the 100/1 odds they were given six weeks earlier; Las Vegas is apparently none too thrilled with the relative lack of an offseason in thus far in Berea.

[Related: Browns avoiding “winner’s curse” in free agency]

Report: Peyton Manning Negotiating with Denver Broncos

Is the Tim Tebow era over in Denver? It appears that the former Florida Gator’s last win as a Denver Bronco will have been the overtime playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers as ESPN’s Chris Mortensen andAdam Schefter report that Peyton Manning has begun negotiations with John Elway in the Mile High city.

This marriage, and potentially subsequent divorce, combines two of the biggest storylines to exist within the 2011 NFL season. Manning’s injury-plagued season and inherent what-ifs surrounding his future clashed with the Tebowmania that lit up the land as the quarterback of questionable skill set took the Broncos to the playoffs on the shoulders of several wins hinged on late-game heroics.

The Broncos will reportedly shop Tebow, a former first-round draft pick, in attempt to not only clear space for the arriving Manning but to sell high on the surprisingly successful season.

This move all but removes the chances of a Matt Hasselbeck arrival in Cleveland with the Tennessee Titans falling in line as a runner-up in the Manning sweepstakes — the quarterback made personal phonecalls to Tennessee and San Francisco to make them aware of his decision. Knowing that the Cleveland Browns are in the market for an accurate, high-volume passer, is assumed that Tebow’s availibility does not move the needle in Berea.

[Related: Guessing what the Browns’ moves mean… so far]

(Source: ESPN)

For Browns QB spot, desire can’t create opportunity

Regardless of how exactly the process went down this past weekend, the Browns missed their man. What isn’t in question is that the Browns wanted RG3 on the team and he will not be. So like any good co-dependent fanbase, we scour the earth to figure out who we can count on to be the quarterback to take the Browns to the Super Bowl. When one door closes another one opens. Usually. Exactly when that door will open, is another question entirely. That’s the biggest problem for Browns fans is not knowing.

Despite RG3 being an unbelievably exciting prospect, he was going to be an unknown at the NFL level too. That being said, it would have been fun just to know where the team was going if the Browns had landed the #2 pick. That makes the wait much easier as we would have started to see just what the Browns had acquired in Griffin as a player, teammate and man in the community. Now that the air has been sucked out of the room the wait has become excruciating as the potential destinations aren’t nearly as exciting. [Read more...]

NFL Free Agency: Manning Eying Denver, Souring on Miami?

Reports circulating early Monday morning have free agent quarterback Peyton Manning potentially souring on the Miami Dolphins, the team which was the early favorite to acquire the player’s services following his release last week. In turn, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Denver Broncos could in fact be Manning’s next destination.

The first domino to fall, Manning’s release set the stage for what would ultimately start to land quarterbacks in various destinations. The Washington Redskins followed suit by trading for the second-overall pick in the upcoming draft, presumably to acquire Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Manning, a future Hall of Fame quarterback, took a brief tour of various facilities, but has put that to an end by stating that he “does not want to make this into a Reggie White tour.” While he is familiar with the Dolphins’ facilities from previous Super Bowl appearances, Miami appears to be the third-likeliest landing spot behind Denver and Arizona.

If the Dolphins do not land Manning, thoughts are that they will look to acquire free agent quarterback Matt Flynn. Flynn was rumored to be a target of the Cleveland Browns, speculation only became more rampant upon the Redskins’ recent trade. With the Dolphins potentially entering the fray, however, the Browns may ultimately be turned off by any bidding war after general manager Tom Heckert recently stated that the team will not be “going crazy” in free agency.

[Related: With RG3 Gone, Browns fans prefer McCoy, Blackmon]

(Source: PFT)

While We’re Waiting… Tons-o-love for Kyrie Irving, trading Sessions, and appreciating Manning

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

“I sat on my couch last night feeling completely confident that he was going to score again after the Denver Nuggets regained a one-point lead in the final seconds. After watching Kyrie Irving just convert two three-point plays prior to that last opportunity, there was no doubt in my mind that he had one more in him. Not just one more shot, or one more basket, but one more winning play than the other guy’s got. However many plays that calls for. Just as soon as I felt this air of confidence fall over me, for what felt like the first time in my Cleveland sports fan life, he raced from one end of the court, to the other, and scored again. ” [Brendan/Stepien Rules] [Read more...]

That Is How It Is Done

I know, I know. Nobody wants to talk about LeBron James in this town anymore. Nobody drives that bus more than I do. But I wrote this post anyways.

The situations were entirely different. One guy didn’t want to leave, but circumstances pushed him out the door. The other guy had the choice to stay and chose to bolt. One guy is at the tail end of his career and coming off of injury, the other guy was in the prime of his. Both are considered amongst the top players at their position in their respective sport. In the end, they both left but for completely different reasons.

While there are a few similarities between the parting of the ways of Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts and LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the way they left the teams that defined their careers couldn’t have been handled any differently.

What I witnessed yesterday between Manning and Colts owner/mad-tweeter Jim Irsay was the stuff of legend. The press conference was an advanced placement course on how a franchise player, a player who is synonymous with the city he plays in and rejuvenated that sport for that city, should leave each other. Owner and player stood next to each other and both eloquently delivered heartfelt addresses to Colts fans throughout the country. Obviously the parting was amicable, but it was clear that neither wanted it to end this way. [Read more...]