April 21, 2014

D’Qwell Jackson follows Chud, T-Rich to Indianapolis Colts

DJackson2

The Browns were kind to give D’Qwell Jackson a chance to sell himself around the NFL and make the best choice for himself. As it turns out, the best choice was in Indianapolis where Jackson is reported to be pulling a 4-year deal worth $22 million ($11 million guaranteed) with the Colts. Jackson follows former teammate Trent Richardson, who was traded this past season, and former head coach Rob Chudzinski who was hired as an assistant to the head coach after being fired by the Browns following the conclusion of the 2013 season. That’s a whole lot of Browns connections in the Indianapolis Colts for a house like mine where my wife is a Colts fan.

The Jackson move comes on the heels of a PFT report that the Colts had no intention of resigning oft-injured linebacker Pat Angerer. Angerer has shown tons of potential over the years, but between foot surgeries and the knee surgery he’s rehabbing now, it’s a story of injuries.

D’Qwell Jackson’s career was once thought to be something of a lost cause due to pectoral injuries that saw him play only six games over a two-year period from 2009 to 2010. Jackson’s seemingly on the other side of that storyline now. He’s played reasonably well the last two three years as he’s played all 16 games per season since 2011.

I obviously wish D’Qwell Jackson well, but I still wonder if he’s the answer for any NFL defense that aspires to be truly great. As productive as Jackson is and as good as he is as a leader, I still wonder if he’s good enough at such an important position on the field to truly raise the level of a team’s defense to a championship level.

[More Browns: Cleveland Browns have released Davone Bess]

(Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY)

Indianapolis Colts hire Rob Chudzinski as special assistant

Weeden - ChudFormer Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski will be joining the Indianapolis Colts as a special assistant, the team announced on Saturday.

The Browns fired Chudzinski, 45, on Dec. 29 after their final game of the season. Cleveland eventually replaced him with Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

Over in Indianapolis, Chudzinski will join the staff of head coach Chuck Pagano. The two previously worked together at The University of Miami and for the Browns in the early 2000s.

He’ll also be reuniting with running back Trent Richardson, traded in mid-September this past season. Offseason murmurs out of Indianapolis indicate that the team will not retain Donald Brown, who served as the starter for the season’s second half. They appear to be committed to Richardson’s long-term future.

Shortly after the firing, there had been previous murmurs that Chudzinski could be a candidate for the Miami Hurricanes, his alma mater program. Eventually, Al Golden decided to stay at The U and Penn State hired Vanderbilt’s James Franklin instead.

Overall, Chudzinski’s resume isn’t too shabby and he should probably nab an assistant job of some kind next season. Recall that he did have four years of NFL offensive coordinator experience (two in Cleveland, two in Carolina) and five years of assistant jobs (one in Cleveland, four in San Diego) prior to his toxic one head coaching season.

For the comedic, this now means that former Cleveland athletes Richardson, Chudzinski and even Andrew Bynum are all employed by sports teams in the city of Indianapolis. There certainly are plenty of jokes to be made there (even if the Pacers are one of the NBA’s best and the Colts made the playoffs).

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: The Firing of Rob Chudzinski]

Will Mike Pettine’s young coordinators deliver a game-day advantage?

Browns' new coordinators 590

If nothing else, you have to give the Cleveland Browns credit—they’re not repeating themselves. After watching Browns head coach Mike Pettine introduce his coordinators, you couldn’t imagine a more polar opposite scene from Rob Chudzinski’s staff. Mike Pettine, a defensive guy, replaces the former offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski. Jim O’Neil, a young guy with five years of NFL experience, replaces Ray Horton, who took the Browns coordinator job after being considered a head coaching candidate. A 34-year-old Kyle Shanahan replaces a 61-year-old Norv Turner. Well, I guess there’s Chris Tabor, who remains Teflon greased in olive oil after surviving firings of Pat Shurmur and Rob Chudzinski, who will handle special teams under Mike Pettine. [Read more...]

Talking Browns, Cavs, Chief Wahoo, and poetry with CBthePoet – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-26

WFNY Podcast LogoI don’t go to the “friend” card on the podcast very often but when you have a friend who works in the business of the spoken word, it seems like a good place to go. My friend Chris grew up in Cleveland and relocated to Charlotte about 15 years ago. He keeps up with all the CLE sports just like the rest of us and sometimes uses them in his art, namely his poetry. CB has a poem he recently did about his revelations about Chief Wahoo and we talked about that… you know after we got the Browns and Anthony Bennett talk out of the way.

You can follow Chris on Twitter and you can check out the movie he referenced about slam poetry. Asphalt Revolution.

Check out this episode

Scott Raab discusses the Browns hiring of Mike Pettine – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-25

WFNY Podcast LogoWe don’t do a regular Monday morning podcast with Scott Raab anymore, but whenever there’s something that needs to be discussed, he’s there for us. With the Browns’ hiring of Mike Pettine and ending the lengthy coaching search, it was a good time to catch up.

We discussed the Browns’ search. We discussed Mike Pettine as a candidate. We discussed the challenges facing the Browns going forward and we even fit in a bit of Cavs talk with Chris Grant and Anthony Bennett.

Enjoy!

Check out this episode

Mike Pettine is qualified, but what can he achieve?

Rap Sheet Pettine“I’m going to try and cobble together an opinion of Mike Pettine now.” That’s what I said in the daily WFNY email chain in anticipation of writing this post about the soon-to-be defensive coordinator from the Buffalo Bills. The problem is obvious. There’s no way for most fans to know much more than superficial things about head coaching candidates in the NFL. We scour their résumés with hopes of proving our pre-conceived notions of whether these guys are good or bad as if those résumés aren’t tied to so many other variables as to look largely meaningless. With that in mind, I will still try to tell you my thoughts on Mike Pettine.

How about we start with some bullet points?

  • Mike Pettine is qualified for the job. So were Rob Chudzinski and Pat Shurmur, but still this is important. It might have been tougher to say the same thing about Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Mike Pettine was Rex Ryan’s key assistant with the Ravens and then the New York Jets. He left the comfort of Ryan’s shadow to coach the Bills in the last season and the Bills defense played well. [Read more...]

What if Chud wasn’t fired? (and other thoughts on the Browns)

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As the Browns continue to work through their process, I’ve been searching out other voices than just those who normally populate WFNY to opine about the Browns and provide perspective. Today, I’ve engaged Mike Burgermeister, who many may know as Jim Kanicki, the man who constantly talks on Twitter when he’s not writing his own website, or guesting on the WFNY Podcast.

[Read more...]

NFL News: Mike Pettine getting second interview with Browns

Bill defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine is apparently going to interview with the Browns a second time. When we first heard Pettine’s name, it was courtesy of notorious first-reporter Jay Glazer. This time? Pettine’s daughter’s twitter had the scoop. The modern world is crazy, huh?

pettine second interview

“It’s the Browns… But hey, still pretty cool!”

[Related: Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to interview in Cleveland]

Despite concerns with Browns front office, I’m feeling patient during coach search

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Despite my feelings about the Cleveland Browns, which I laid out yesterday, I can be objective about the team’s head coaching search. The Browns have a tough job conducting this search because they destroyed an untold amount of their credibility with fans and around the league by firing a coach after just one season. When I read Jimmy Haslam’s letter updating fans on the process and practically begging for patience, all I could think was that it was the right idea, but an impossible task. Despite my concerns about this front office that missed so badly on Rob Chudzinski, this current search isn’t going all that badly. Or at least I don’t see any concrete evidence that this search is going catastrophically wrong. [Read more...]

Video: Keith Olbermann puts Jimmy Haslam on blast

When the Browns sent out a letter to the fans yesterday, there were varied reactions. There was nothing “varied” about Keith Olbermann’s take on the video. While he did acknowledge that it was a polite letter, he thought it basically served to tell Browns fans to “shut up” about the ongoing head coaching search.

See the whole deconstruction of the letter in the video below.

[Related: Jimmy Haslam addresses coaching search in letter to season ticket holders]

Steelers Depot helps break down the Browns and their coaching search – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-15

WFNY Podcast LogoDave Bryan from Steelers Depot (@SteelersDepot) is one of the best podcast guests we have. He’s super knowledgable, and is always great at breaking down what’s happening without the rose-colored glasses.

  • Dave Bryan and not being a homer for the Steelers
  • Is there ever a justification for firing a coach after one year?
  • Brian Hoyer and whether he can get the Browns to the next franchise QB
  • The perception of the Browns head coaching job
  • Adam Gase and why is he such an attractive candidate?
  • Josh McDaniels and his taking his name out
  • Jim Caldwell and Whisenhunt
  • Jake Locker and what can become of it
  • Chris Johnson and his poison contract
  • Ray Horton ending up with Whisenhunt in Tennessee
  • Ray Horton’s defense and Dick LeBeau’s defense
  • Chud talking to other potential coaching candidates
  • The hiring of Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh
  • T.J. Ward and Alex Mack better be brought back
  • Alex Mack and how the Browns need to bring him back
  • Moving Schwartz to guard and getting a new right tackle
  • The All-22 version of the national championship game
  • Football attendance at games
  • Making NFL stadiums smaller over time
  • Browns fan experience in the stadium is far better
  • The government attacking TV blackout policies
  • Dave would be shocked if the Browns didn’t bring back Ward and Mack
  • Did the Browns waste a year of not front-loading deals?
  • The Browns can only franchise one player between Ward and Mack
  • The Steelers and the Shamarko Thomas deal with Cleveland
  • Johnny Football and whether the Steelers would be concerned about him
  • Johnny Manziel is a guy that you root against
  • Manziel as a boom or bust guy
  • Could Brian Hoyer be that bridge to the QB of the future?
  • The Ben Roethlisberger extension

Check out this episode

My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Brian Hoyer

The hometown kid rejuvinated a bitter and beaten fan base (Diamond Images/Getty Images)

The hometown kid rejuvinated a bitter and beaten fan base
(Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover. In turn, WFNY will soon announce its choice for 2013′s Cleveland Sportsman of the Year. Here’s one of the nominations for that honor by a WFNY writer.

[Read more...]

Comparing national and local perspective of the Cavs and Browns – Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard and Andrew Zelman – WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-13

WFNY Podcast LogoToday I wanted to talk about the national and local perspective of the Cavs and the Browns. It feels so paranoid, angry and negative locally, but that also can sometimes feel accurate. In various cases, that perspective is backed up nationally. So what’s the right perspective?

I talked to Cleveland Scene’s new owner Andrew Zelman and on of Scene’s many resident sports fans, Sam Allard.

You should follow these guys on Twitter as well.

Andrew Zelman is @AZFromCleveland

Sam Allard is @SceneSallard

Check out this episode

Browns to interview recently fired Mike Munchak

Though the Cleveland Browns are reportedly set on adding Adam Gase or Gus Malzahn as their next head coach, another day brings us yet another name added into the fold. FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez reports that the team will interview Mike Munchak on Monday.

photo2Munchak was recently fired by the Tennessee Titans after his third season with the team netted a 7-9 record. He is a former first-round draft selection who played guard and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001. He has long had ties to the Houston Oilers and Titans and was promoted to head coach following the departure of Jeff Fisher back in 2011.

Ironically, Munchak was shown the door after refusing to fire his assistant coches at the request of team owner Bud Adams.

“I can’t fire someone when I don’t believe they should be fired. Firing someone is awful. Too many people were going to be affected,” Munchak said of the matter. “For me to maintain a job and a lot of guys lose jobs on a plan I didn’t think was right, I couldn’t do that. I’ll make tough decisions, but not if they’re not right.”

Shortly after the Browns fired first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski, it was reported that his relationship with the front office soured after the head refused to cut players as a “wake-up call” at the request of team CEO Joe Banner.

Munchak has also been tied to the Houston Texans for thei offensive line coaching position. The Browns, meanwhile, have reached the seven-win mark just once since 2002. With the Broncos winning on Sunday afternoon, the team will have to wait at least one more week to find out whether or not Gase will even interview for the position.

Patriots’ Josh McDaniels reportedly withdraws from Browns consideration

is this the last time I get to use this graphic?

Is this the last time I get to use this graphic?

I’ve assumed since the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski that Josh McDaniels was the favorite to be the next coach of the Cleveland Browns. Not to say that McDaniels is necessarily my preference, but his connections to Michael Lombardi seemed all the more indicative that he should be the favorite until I heard otherwise. Well, thanks to Adam Schefter of ESPN, I’ve now heard otherwise.

Peter King also had a quick reaction…

At least they had an “awesome” meeting though, right you guys?!

So, what does this mean? Does this mean that the Browns lost their number one candidate coming into the interview process? The Browns have never admitted missing out on Chip Kelly, so we’ll likely never know for sure. What this means is that the Browns will continue to scour ranks of coordinators and position coaches like Ben McAdoo of the Packers and potentially Adam Gase of the Denver Broncos.

Plenty of successful head coaches have been hired from those ranks, so it’s not necessarily a disaster, but you’ll have a tough time convincing me that one of the Browns’ presumed top options is now unavailable, having followed down the unavailability path of Gus Malzahn.

[Related: Marla Ridenour on the state of the Browns, plus the Luol Deng trade – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-08]

Marla Ridenour on the state of the Browns, plus the Luol Deng trade – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-08

WFNY Podcast LogoI was very happy that Marla Ridenour was willing to come on the podcast today. She’s always a great read, but her work has been particularly noteworthy in her coverage of the Browns since they decided to fire Rob Chudzinksi. She’s pulled no punches as she put Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi on notice. We discussed that for most of the podcast before also touching on the Cavaliers, their trade for Luol Deng and Ridenour’s belief that the Cavaliers will not send Anthony Bennett to the D-League.

You can follow Marla Ridenour on Twitter @MRidenourABJ.

Also, see some of her Browns coverage that I was referring to in the podcast.

Browns’ three-ring circus leaves Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi next in firing cannon

Also on the Luol Deng trade…

Young Cavs needed Deng trade for their battered psyches

Check out this episode

More talk about the Browns, Spotify, A Perfect Circle, and the cold weather Super Bowl – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-07

WFNY Podcast LogoI wanted to catch up with Dan Parker to talk about the Browns, music and other stuff.

  • Pictures of thermometers
  • Regardless of if the Browns made the right move, they embarrassed themselves
  • The Rob Chudzinski rumors and when you finally believed it
  • How much of the Chud firing was the “pissed off billionaire” ethic?
  • Could Jimmy Haslam become a Jerry Jones type?
  • Joe Banner and what is his burden
  • Chud and his relationship to Hoyer
  • How hard is it to decide on a QB in training camp?
  • Josh McDaniels and whether he would impress us in an interview
  • Jim Schwartz and what defense he might run
  • It’s typical Cleveland to watch the Chiefs blow a lead in second half
  • Chud + McGahee
  • DP is ticked off by A Perfect Circle’s boxed set
  • A Perfect Circle’s version of The Spaghetti Incident
  • Holding music hostage in the digital age
  • The weird relationship between bands and artists in the modern world
  • The Super Bowl in New York and having a cold weather Super Bowl

Check out this episode

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.

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(Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY)

Davone Bess, Browns firing of Chud, Cavs’ future – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-06

WFNY Podcast LogoFirst week in a long time without Scott Raab. First pinch hitter out of the gate was Andrew. We spent some time talking about the Browns and all their maneuvers along with how quiet it has generally been about Davone Bess.

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Scott’s post on Davone Bess is an interesting place to start.

- why is this topic going so under the radar? on the one hand we’ve heard that he has problems in his personal life, likely with his family. I understand the media not wanting to report that, but his pot pictures indicate some sort of meltdown.

- on the other hand, some of the reaction to Scott’s post seemed to indicate, “what’s the big deal? It’s pot and it’s basically legal now!” that’s something we talked about with chris perez earlier this year. Even if you don’t have an ethical dilemma about pot (and I don’t) that doesn’t mean that it isn’t some sort of self-destructive meltdown to have it shipped through the mail / post pics on instagram

- does the Bess thing just have everything to do with the fact that the Browns are such a mess otherwise?

- As for the Browns, obviously confidence is extremely shaken in the entire organization now, but does that preclude them from being right? Is it even possible in your mind that their story is just 100% true and they couldn’t work with Chud despite their reasons for hiring him in the first place?

- if Chud was hard headed about playing McGahee, Little, Lauvao and others as opposed to moving on, would you consider those decent enough reasons for firing a guy? If they were so far off from being on the same page, isn’t it the right move?

- Are you shocked that a first time head coach like Chud would seemingly be willing to push back on his superiors? Do you think it was guidance from Norv Turner – who reportedly blew up at Banner in his meeting – for standing his ground?

- Lastly, we’ll talk Cavs. What are the going to do with Bynum. I’m hoping it’s done before we record, honestly. Otherwise, we can talk about Grant and how hot his seat might be at this point.

Check out this episode

Rob Chudzinski could be head coach candidate for Miami Hurricanes

chudzinskiRecently fired Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski could be a hot head coach candidate for the Miami Hurricanes, with the program likely to lose its coach as well any moment.

Al Golden, their coach for the last three seasons, is rumored to be leaving The U today or very shortly for Penn State University. Thus, multiple reports from Florida have Chudzinski, a Miami product and well-liked former assistant, as a top possibly replacement option.

Chudzinski, 45, was a three-year starter at tight end for the Hurricanes. He was a member of the 1987 and 1989 national championship teams. He then coached at the school from 1994-2003 as a graduate assistant, tight ends coach and finally offensive coordinator. He oversaw the development of pro prospects like Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Willis McGahee, Frank Gore, Kellen Winslow Jr and many more.

After several years as an NFL assistant, he then was hired by the Browns in mid-January 2013. He didn’t even last a full 12 months as head coach, however, as the team’s 1-10 skid to finish the season led to his surprise firing just hours after their Week 17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Browns have now been rumored to be interested in a number of NFL assistants and college head coaches. It’s possible they could again hire someone with no previous head coaching experience. Today, they’re reportedly meeting with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in Boston.

But for Chudzinski, it’s a matter of preference: Would he rather try to find a possible NFL offensive coordinator job again or be the King of The U? The program has had a rough last 10 years since Chudzinski was last around, so if he were to rebuild that program again, he could go down as an all-time legend.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: The Firing of Rob Chudzinski]

Photo: Lonnie Timmons III / The Plain Dealer