August 17, 2014

LeBron James attends Browns practice, takes photos with Joe Haden, Phil Taylor and Buster Skrine

LeBron picked a day to come to Browns camp when fans wouldn’t be there, but he took some photos with fans, just the same. It turns out that those fans are also professional athletes.

Photos of Browns Training Camp from 2014-07-27

I’m not a good photographer by any means, but in case you couldn’t be there, here’s the way things looked from my vantage point. Look out for the “bro bump” between Paul Kruger and Karlos Dansby. Plus a few shots of Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.

Dansby and Kruger smaller

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Defensive Linemen


WFNY’s State of the Browns series shifts from the offensive side of the ball to the defensive side. As we saw in the Super Bowl last season, great defenses can lead a team. The Browns are built for the defense to be the backbone of the 2014 Browns season. They will be running a 3-4 hybrid defense with the ability to change to a 4-3 at times. Probably the strongest part of the defense is their defensive line. This group has talent at the top and a lot of depth to keep everyone fresh for the whole season. The team has versatile linemen, who can play multiple positions on the line. The defensive line has players who can put pressure on the quarterback and others who can stop the run. The defensive is pretty much the same group as last season with the exception of a couple undrafted rookie free agents in Calvin Barnett and Jacobbi McDaniel. Let’s take a look at the state of the Browns defensive line! [Read more...]

Browns pick up fifth-year option on Phil Taylor


In one of the more underdiscussed story lines of the offseason, the Cleveland Browns have picked up their fifth-year option on big defensive tackle Phil Taylor.

Taylor started 15 games in 2013, but only played 555 snaps as a two-down player used to impede the opposing running game. The switch to Mike Pettine as head coach will bring a different “hybrid” defensive scheme to the Browns, one that could ultimately bring Taylor more playing time. The team, however, has considerable depth at defensive line and may continue to rotate players given their luxury.

“Phil’s explosive,” Pettine said on Thursday. “He’s got some pass rush ability, yet he’s solid enough to be at the point of attack. Absolutely, he’s a fit for us.”

“I am humbled and honored that the Browns exercised the fifth-year option on my contract,” said Taylor. “I truly hope to be in Cleveland my entire career and to be part of the team that turns this franchise back into a perennial winner and championship contender, and restores the luster of the Dawg Pound!”

Taylor will have made $8 million through his first four years with the Browns. The 2011 first-round pick will now make $5.5 million in Year 5, becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2016. The Browns had until May 3 to pick up the option.

(Photo via Candice Vlcek/WFNY)

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...]

What’s next for the Browns?

Taylor3According to the NFL Players’ union, as of Tuesday morning the Cleveland Browns are still sitting on $31,828,788.00 worth of cap space for the 2014 season.

The Browns entered free agency with around $45 million. They have signed free agents Donte Whitner (S), Karlos Dansby (ILB), Ben Tate (RB), Jim Dray (TE), Andrew Hawkins (WR), Isaiah Trufant (CB) and Paul McQuiston (OL). They re-signed kicker Billy Cundiff, and let go of QBs Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, as well as LB D’Qwell Jackson. Shawn Lauvao (G), Oniel Cousins (G) and T.J. Ward (S) left through free agency.

The big question mark remains Alex Mack, though it would seem that the team most interested in obtaining Mack is now out of that market. Baltimore traded for center Jeremy Zuttah from Tampa Bay.

The Browns of course have the right to match any offer that Mack gets, but teams have been hesitant to try and pry the transition tagged player away from the Browns.

On Tuesday, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam met with reporters from the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando. He told the gathered throng that he believes Mack wants to be a Brown. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. What seems very likely is that the Browns will be willing to match nearly any offer handed to to the Pro Bowl center. Haslam himself said that Mack is the kind of player that they want around long term.

The Mack situation aside, what is the next move for this organization? [Read more...]

NFL salary cap could jump to $160 million by 2016

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 9.31.31 AMLast week the NFL set the salary cap for 2014 at $133 million which was higher than many thought it would be. According to league sources in contact with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, it could be a trend that continues.

One source with knowledge of the process…  tells PFT that the cap could spike to $145 million in 2015 and a whopping $160 million in 2016.

While the Browns are still struggling to get out of the basement of the league and shouldn’t probably be working too hard to spend all their money to maintain the status quo on their roster, it’s still good news. The Browns have a ton of money available to them this year, and this just means they’ll have that much more going forward.

Even as the Browns haven’t been successful on the field yet, there are still some players that the Browns will want to take care of and presumably keep using that money. Jordan Cameron, Jabaal Sheard, and Phil Taylor will be free agents after the 2014 NFL season. Add Joe Haden to the list if the Browns don’t get his extension done earlier.

The following year could shape up to be a biggie too if Josh Gordon can keep his nose clean and continues to play at the Pro Bowl level he played in 2013. Oh yeah, and if the Browns win the lottery and Brian Hoyer proves he’s a legitimate NFL starter, his $1.25 million salary for 2014 won’t be good enough to bring him back in 2015.

This rise in the salary cap also means that the free agency pool is likely to get even less efficient as the same players who were fighting for a piece of $126 million now get to chase a piece of $133 million.

NFL News: Joe Haden, four other key players inactive for Browns finale

All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden is among five key contributors that will be inactive for the Browns regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers today.

The 24-year-old Haden will miss the game because of a hip pointer that has bugged him over the last week. Rookie Leon McFadden will make his first career start in Haden’s absence.

In addition, both Phil Taylor (concussion) and John Hughes (knee) on the defensive line are out. Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and Billy Winn will get the starts there.

On the offensive side, guards Jason Pinkston (concussion) and Shawn Lauvao (thigh) will not play. John Greco will switch over to right guard and start, while rookie Garrett Gilkey will make his first career start at left guard.

Tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion) is active and expected to start.

With all of these injuries, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is lined up for a field day at home. Receiver Antonio Brown ranks third in the NFL in receiving yards and already was a matchup nightmare. Without Haden, the Steelers could pass all over the Browns, who also are missing one of their most disruptive forces on the line. It could be a long end to the season.

[Related: NFL Draft 2014: Quick thoughts on QBs before Browns finale]

Do you want the Browns to lose for the draft? – WFNY Roundtable


Craig: It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, not for TD who prefers March Madness, but I digress. The holidays are here and it’s a confusing time to be a Browns fan. In the middle of fan appreciation week, there are lots of fans out there who probably don’t want the Browns to defend their home field this last time they play on it against Chicago this weekend.

Personally, I always want my team to compete and try to win. The chips will fall where they fall in terms of the draft and it’s up to the talent evaluators to make the most of their picks wherever they happen to land. That’s just my opinion on it though. I do see the downside of winning late, meaningless games at the end of the season. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns lose 27-26 thanks to key pass interference call

Brady Edelman Pats BrownsYou really can’t spend a lot of time talking about NFL football and talking about refereeing. It has a tendency to go both ways and good teams overcome all kinds of bad calls all the time. It’s a part of the game, period. Of course I open my recap that way because today is not one of those days.

Today, I have no choice. The Cleveland Browns were called for pass interference in the end zone on one of the softest calls I’ve ever seen while clinging to a 26-21 lead in New England. The Pats, who’d been trailing the whole game received the bail out call to end all bail out calls. Tom Brady threw long to Josh Boyce and Leon McFadden had great coverage as he and Boyce dove for the ball. The ball went past them both and the cowardly official tossed his flag on the field to make sure that the action wasn’t decided by the actual players making good football plays. Can you tell I’m still pretty fired up about it.

Serenity now… [Read more...]

Browns’ Phil Taylor fined for facemask penalty on Jacksonville’s Jones-Drew

Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor has been fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness against Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the league announced on Friday.

Though he had seemingly tackled Jones-Drew for a one-yard loss late in the contest, Taylor’s infraction resulted in a 15-yard penalty and a field goal for the eventual winners.

While this is the first time that Taylor has been fined this season, as’s Mary Kay Cabot points out, the Browns former first-round draft pick has been docked several times, including twice in 2011 and once last season. Taylor’s most recent incident came this past January when blindsided Pittsburgh Steeler offensive lineman Kevin Beachum with a forearm to the head, causing him a concussion.

[Related: Browns fans weigh in on Trent Richardson, the draft and free agency]

Can the Browns rivalry with the Steelers ever return?

brownssteelersstripingBill Polian said that he and Tony Dungy had an understanding that he could get his team up to play with just a little bit more intensity just a few times per year. It makes sense. Football players are human and their effort is likely to be somewhat consistent to their abilities most of the time with a little bit of fluctuation up or down. To think that you can get a team up to play at maximum level every single Sunday is unrealistic. Will Rob Chudzinski be able to do that this weekend with his team? Is there any way to make a modern NFL player feel a rivalry the same way fans have been raised to respect it? I’m not so sure.

Of course it helps that the Steelers are a divisional opponent. Competing in the division is important to any NFL player simply because it is the easiest gateway to the NFL playoffs. If you can’t handle your business against the guys who are all scheduled twice per season, year-in and year-out, how are you ever going to make meaningful strides toward winning a Super Bowl? Even then though, does that put the Steelers on any different level for players on the Cleveland Browns roster than when they play Baltimore or Cincinnati? [Read more...]

NFL: Browns Phil Taylor takes hysterical dive trying to draw penalty

Phil Taylor acts like he was in The Last Boy Scout and someone ran down the field with a handgun. Good for the referees they didn’t fall for it. Anderson Varejao gives his approval.

[Related: Councilman: Goal of stadium upgrade is “to improve the Browns’ bottom line”]

Phil Taylor Dive GIF



WWBD – What will Banner do?

Gordon and CameronIt is no secret that the Browns are still a team in transition, building for the future. Team President and GM Mike Lombardi have already shown they have their own agenda and anyone who was brought in during the run of the previous regime shouldn’t feel safe.

Today at 4:00 PM, the NFL has its trade deadline. It has been no secret that certain members of the team have appeal and could be had for the right price. If you don’t think that Banner isn’t shopping players despite what his coach Rob Chudzinski said yesterday, then you are fooling yourself.  You didn’t think Trent Richardson was going to go anywhere either did you?  [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Film Room Game Three: Pressure!

For the third consecutive year, we’ll take a seat each week in our very own WFNY Browns film room and break down a little tape from the game, with a specific focus.  Do enjoy.


So, first a bit of an explanation. There was no film room last week. Actually there was, but it was never published. Here’s why. I spent three days working on the question ‘Who is the better third down back, Ogbonnaya or Richardson’? I put the finishing touches on it about an hour before the trade went down. A low point in film room history to be sure.

This week I wanted to get over to the defensive side of the ball. I’ve wanted to study this defense since Horton was named the coordinator. What better place to start than the times the Browns got to Ponder this week. Let’s go to the tape. [Read more...]

Training Camp News and Notes: Richardson sits out; Taylor fights with Mack

Taylor post practice

Twice in practice Friday night, Phil Taylor got into a scuffle with center Alex Mack. The first occurred in 11-on-11 drills. Taylor took a swing at Mack after the two were tangled during a play. Taylor hit the top of Mack’s helmet with his hand. The next time was in an offensive/defensive line double team drill. At the snap Taylor pushed his forearm into Mack’s neck and kept driving after the whistle. Mack of course wasn’t too thrilled with the move. When asked about the skirmish, the Browns’ defensive tackle said, “It’s just practice. Just practice.”

Maybe he was inspired by Michael Dean Perry, who visited camp today and spoke to the defensive line during practice. Perry was a second round draft pick of the Browns in 1988, and spent seven seasons in Cleveland. His 51.5 sacks are good for fourth in Browns history. He is also a five time Pro-Bowler.

Or maybe it was just par for the course for a somewhat strange practice all together. [Read more...]

Pat Kirwan leaves Berea with glowing remarks of Browns, questions reporter

CBS Sports’ Pat Kirwan recently paid a visit to Berea to take in a Cleveland Browns practice and filed some rather solid thoughts on the progress and question marks that has been the team’s Training Camp.

Of the notes worth sharing…

  • Barkevious Mingo “regularly beat the offensive tackles” in the one-on-one pass rush drills and possesses “multiple moves.”
  • Brandon Weeden looks “great: in the shotgun formation and was impressive distributing the ball to all the receivers.
  • Joe Thomas has had trouble keeping up with converted linebacker Jabaal Sheard.
  • The Browns “hit a home run” with two of their veteran personnel moves, lineman Desmond Bryant and wide receiver Davone Bess. Surprisingly absent was a mention of Paul Kruger.
  • Potentially the most polarizing of statements: “Phil Taylor was almost impossible to pass block during the drills and team period. What was interesting was a comment made to me before practice by a local reporter, who said Taylor wasn’t very good and the team should release him. There was nothing at practice to indicate that was a sound idea.”
  • The tight end situation as well as the kicking game remain gigantic question marks given how much both were used last season.

So, feel free to get excited about the Browns’ defense. Just know that someone who is given a legitimate byline happens to think that the team should release their mauling, former first-round draft selection.

[Related: Browns “Town Hall” says little, but shows the team is finally listening]

Browns defensive line is a deep, versatile group


On Wednesday the Browns rotated five players into three positions on the defensive line with the starting group. They have used as many as seven different players in those spots over the course of the first week of practice.

Penciled in as starters are defensive ends Desmond Bryant and Ahtyba Rubin and nose tackle Phil Taylor. While Bryant has been out with back spasms second year end Billy Winn stepped in and has looked good as well. In the middle John Hughes has filled in for Phil Taylor. Brian Sanford and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen have also gotten reps with the ones and held their own.

Unlike say the tight end position, looking at the defensive line depth chart reveals plenty of experience and production. You can look on paper and see depth, but when you watch the Browns in practice, it jumps out at you. As a group they are quick and can be explosive off the ball. They are also quite versatile, and it starts with defensive end Ahtyba Rubin. Rubin has played inside and outside in his five years in the league. This year he will start on the outside, something he hasn’t done in a few years since playing for Rob Ryan. [Read more...]

Training camp news and notes: Day One in the books

Chudzinski camp

Rob Chudzinski’s first training camp as a head coach is officially underway. The Browns practiced in front of a slightly subdued crowd for most of the evening session. That is until the local boy turned head coach ran down the sidelines slapping high fives and interacting with the 2,692 fans assembled.

“We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but you have to take a first step to do that and we took the first step today,” said Chudzinski after his first practice was complete.

For Rob growing up in Ohio as a Browns fan, this practice was a special one. “It was awesome,” he said. “Looking out and seeing some of those young faces out there with their Browns jerseys on and knowing how much it meant to me and how much it means to them.” [Read more...]

The renaissance of the Cleveland sports fan – Scott Raab on LeBron, Josh Gordon and Jim Thome – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-24

WFNY Podcast LogoScott and I had a conversation over the weekend prior to the podcast in which we decided it was time to see if there’s a greater purpose that we can serve. With all the news of LeBron James, Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Tristan Thompson last week, we decided to discuss whether or not Cleveland fans need to redefine who they are. We’ve lost our way. Our organizations, from owners and players are more temporary than we are and it is time to stop letting everyone else define us. We need to define ourselves.

  • LeBron and his legacy is secured now
  • Can we let storylines unfold?
  • Did this cement the Spurs legacy?
  • Do the ends justify the means?
  • Magic Johnson and how much butt he kissed of players during the finals
  • Philanthropy and who the most generous people in the world are
  • The word genius and the senior superlatives
  • The quarterly earnings announcements and Apple
  • Tax avoidance in corporate life and “branding”
  • Josh Gordon and Greg Little hanging with the Heat and “branding”
  • Let’s assume that they were down there trying to do business
  • Tristan Thompson and Rich Paul hanging out with the Heat
  • Cleveland sports fans have lost their way
  • Browns fans didn’t lose their identity when the team was left
  • We need to define ourselves and who we are as fans as something more than victims
  • The fans and their fandom will outlive all the players and owners
  • Scott Raab and his conversation with Dwyane Wade
  • Cleveland internalizing the worst of their self-image
  • Tom Brady and wearing the Yankees cap around Manhattan
  • The symbol of Dan Gilbert’s original sin was LeBron’s Yankee cap at Jacob’s Field
  • You can’t indict players for their personal relationships or who they want to associate with
  • Josh Cribbs using Dan Gilbert’s seats and tweeting about LeBron
  • Jim Thome statue is pathetic and it defines Cleveland
  • You can’t define your ceiling as Jim Thome
  • Devil’s advocate, but aren’t we being too overly sensitive?
  • This doesn’t happen in other cities
  • Do the owners ever talk to each other?
  • The letter that Dan Gilbert wrote was truly great
  • Who’s more important to you as a business? Employee or customer?
  • Please let us know what you think.
  • What can we do? [Read more...]