July 31, 2014

WFNY’s State of the Browns: Safeties


Browns Training Camp is now in full swing. The team is in the process of installing Mike Pettine’s new defensive scheme. He wants his defense to be physical and tough in order to compete in the AFC North. In order to do so, the Browns added several players who fit this qualification, one of which was strong safety Donte Whitner. Within the last 24 hours, they also added Jim Leonhard to add more depth to this position. The safety is asked to contribute heavily in the run and pass defense. This position could improve just because of the improvement in the cornerback group. The safeties can focus on other areas if the corners can cover in one-on-one without much help. The defense will be looked upon as the backbone of the Browns and if these safeties can play well, the team will have a solid secondary.

Let’s take a look at the safety position for the 2014 Browns. [Read more...]

Let Free Agency Commence!

What do the Browns have cooking today?

What do the Browns have cooking today?

I have no idea what the Browns will do with free agency this year, but I have some clear ideas about what I think they should and shouldn’t do. Despite the massive amount of money and the ever growing list of players available, I still think it’s a bad idea to build a team too much through free agency. This Browns team, despite their struggles of a year ago, is still a relatively young team and improving from a player experience level standpoint. My biggest preferences are for overpaying for continuity and continuing the Banner trend of grabbing guys in their 20′s as opposed to their 30′s.

So let’s start by going through some of the rumored players linked to the Browns. [Read more...]

Animated: Geno Smith’s flag-drawing flop

It would have been easy for the Browns to avoid the personal foul penalty at the end of the first half that gave the Jets a field goal try. That try, you will remember, was converted so the Jets could tie it up at 10 after going scoreless for all but the last two minutes or so of the first half. The Browns could have avoided that penalty by just not touching the Jets’ QB as he ran out of bounds. That would have been too easy. Whether or not it was a penalty is also not without doubt though after you see this replay of the giant flop.

So you think this was a personal foul

It’s also noteworthy that the official closest to the play recognized the flop and was standing his ground that it wasn’t a penalty. The other official flew in from further away, possibly influenced by Rex Ryan’s enormous hissy-fit, to throw the flag for fifteen.

There’s very little doubt that this activity would draw a fine in the NBA where it’s illegal to trick referees and make them look stupid by flopping.

[Related: NFL Rumors: Alex Mack and TJ Ward to test free agency]


(Image was linked and unattributed at MMQB this morning)

Cleveland Browns Game 14: Winners and Losers

Who caught your eye? Did someone stand out? Who blew it? That’s what were interested in this morning. Winners and losers.


LOSER: Fans. Let me be clear about this one: I’m not calling the fans losers. I’m saying that we lost. Again. The Browns finished the home slate with a 3-5 record this year. It could have been worse I suppose. The Browns could have won all four of their games on the road. The Browns made a big deal this year about improving the fan experience. In some ways they did, but at the end of the day I think fans will remember a dismal season more than wiener dog races and giant inflatable corn hole games.

WINNER: Tashaun Gipson. When Ray Horton called Gipson the defensive MVP a few weeks back, I admit that I laughed it off. I’m not laughing anymore.

Gipson had a pair of interceptions including a 44-yard return for a touchdown. He also had a pair of tackles for loss and several good plays in the passing game. His ability has given the Browns the freedom to use T.J. Ward as a Troy Polamalu-type player, blitzing and playing the run almost as an extra linebacker. [Read more...]

NFL News: Bills center takes offense to Browns’ post-injury reactions

“The hit was fine. What ticked me off was the way they acted afterwards. I hope our defense never acts like that when they injure an opposing quarterback because, you know, you’ve got to show some class in that situation. There’s a few guys over there that obviously didn’t.”

– Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood, as quoted by the Buffalo News, in response to the Cleveland Browns’ reactions following Tashaun Gipson’s hit that knocked Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel out of Thursday’s game. Wood also said shared that Browns safety T.J. Ward had warned up-and-coming Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso, “I told you to warn him that we were going to get him [Manuel].” Ward and Alonso were teammates on the Oregon Ducks defense from 2008-2010. Overall, those are pretty strong words following Cleveland’s dramatic 37-24 victory. We’ll see if the buzz continues about this very back-and-forth game. Ward later denied the accusation to the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich.

[Related: Leaders emerging in Cleveland Browns locker room]

Key Browns Under The Radar

211-20130726-0546_600Trent Richardson. Brandon Weeden. Joe Haden. We know these guys are absolutely critical to any progress the Browns can hope to have this upcoming season. That much is obvious. But, what about the not-so-obvious? As we get ramped up for Miami on Sunday, after watching the four preseason games, reading press conference transcripts, and having a lot of time to think, here are five guys that I’m keying in on as being quiet keys to the Browns’ improvement.
[Read more...]

Sunday Six Pack: Reasons to stay optimistic following loss to Colts

Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts

With the Browns disappointing 27-6 loss to the Colts we’re likely to be left with a bad taste in our mouth leading all the way up to the opener on September 8th. The “dress rehearsal” was  a sobering reality check that  predictions of 11-5 and playing of “Bernie, Bernie” may have been a bit premature. Worst of all, I lost a bet on the game that will force me to be clean shaven for a full two weeks. So as we wake up Sunday morning dealing with the effects of a Browns’ hangover, the fastest way to feeling better is to start drinking once again — which is why we immediately crack into Sunday’s Six Pack  looking to bring back feelings of two days ago when life couldn’t be better for Browns fans.

Paul Kruger is a force.

When Kruger signed his $40 million deal this off season, many questioned if Banner and Lombardi had overpaid and whether Kruger’s success would translate to Cleveland without another pass rusher like Terrell Suggs to take the attention off of him.

But so far, so good. The man who had two sacks in last February’s Super Bowl was in Andrew Luck’s face all first half long on Saturday. Kruger had success bull rushing his man deep into the backfield, collapsing the pocket, and forcing Luck to move from his spot (which Luck does very well). On the Colt’s third play of the game, Kruger stuck right tackle Gosder Cherilus back on his heels with a strong jab, then blew by Cherilus on an inside move, dove and got enough of Luck to bring him down for the sack.

The 5th year pass rusher out of Utah was also responsible for Luck’s only pick of the night, getting the pressure that forced Luck’s errant throw. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… The Free Safety Battle, More On Bullpen Woes, and Friday Night Lights

While We’re Waiting is the daily morning link roundup that WFNY has been serving up for breakfast for the last several years. We hope you enjoy the following recent collection of yummy and nutritious Cleveland sports-related articles. Anything else to add? Email us at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Leading off, Fred Greetham of Fox Sports Ohio talks about the free safety position for the Browns and its two main contenders for the starting role, “It is obvious Gipson has impressed both Chudzinski and new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, so far.“I’ve been pleased with Tashaun,” Chudzinski said. “He’s showing a lot from a coverage standpoint. The last couple of days just watching him, obviously we put the pads on tomorrow, so we will get a chance to see all the guys pop. From a tackling standpoint that’s where we will get to see some of the physical things and we will get a little bit more of a chance to evaluate some guys.”” [Greetham/Fox Sports Ohio]

Next up, Michael Hattery at IBI talks more about the bullpen struggles of late, “However, Smith’s ground ball percentage kind of sticks in your eye. Smith is a guy who was tremendously ground ball prone because of the life on his fastball. Smith has a heavy fastball because of his release point and the arm action/spin imparted. Smith has had over a 10% decrease in groundballs which are the backbone of his success as a pitcher. Add in an inflated HR/FB and you see how destructive the increased fly ball rate has been.” [Indians Baseball Insider] [Read more...]

NFL News – Nate Ulrich on Tebow coverage, Browns position battles, Josh Gordon suspension, contract extensions and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-14

WFNY Podcast LogoAlways good to catch up with the Browns observations with Nate Ulrich from the Akron Beacon Journal. Here’s all that we discussed.

  • How good do you feel not having to talk Tebow?
  • Bill Belichick out to prove he doesn’t have to talk about anything.
  • Gregg Popovich and how he just defies everyone to do what he wants.
  • Ray Horton’s new attacking scheme and how evident it might or might not be at this point
  • T.J. Ward in the box a bit more, maybe like Troy Polamalu?
  • Ray Horton’s Phoenix radio station and how it was going to mirror that of the Steelers
  • Maybe Horton’s change in tune is to avoid player comparisons from Pittsburgh
  • Josh Gordon and the league’s CBA that limits the fact-finding
  • Dawgs by Nature post about changing to Drew Rosenhaus and the timing with the change
  • Joe Haden and his change to Drew Rosenhaus as well
  • Davone Bess and his ability to fill in for Josh Gordon
  • Davone Bess replacing Josh Cribbs as the leader of the wide receivers
  • Fullback and Cleveland Browns and Vonta Leach
  • Leach’s agent talked to Mike Lombardi but no visit was scheduled
  • No real interest on the Browns’ part
  • Owen Marecic’s future and Brad Smelley’s future with the Browns
  • Browns had two backs in the backfield a lot including Ogbonnaya and Hardesty together
  • The Brandon Jackson signing and how weird it was
  • The injury history of Trent Richardson and at the RB position in general
  • If there was one position group where the Browns might supplement the roster, which one would it be?
  • Chris Owens, Buster Skrine, Leon McFadden all battling it out opposite Haden and in the nickel
  • Brandon Bogotay and his competition with Shayne Graham
  • Expected player extensions and why we haven’t seen any just yet
  • Mike Lombardi said it was “a little early”
  • Moving training camp to 4-6:30 PM and how packed camp has been anyway
  • Fan experience and how important it seems to be to the new regime

Check out this episode

Cabot, Grossi: Gipson And Bademosi Will Battle For Starting Free Safety

In their customary Sunday morning “Hey, Tony!” and “Hey, Mary Kay!” columns, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland and Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer give some insight from a pressing issue for Browns’ fans, just who is going to start at free safety opposite T.J. Ward in the secondary.

Hey Tony: One of the more intriguing reports – in my opinion – that I’ve heard coming out of OTAs is that Chudzinski and Horton are giving Johnson Bademosi a look at the free safety spot. He’s certainly got the motor to cause some disruption in the secondary, and as a corner by trade his coverage skills should be respectable. Do you think there’s a realistic chance that Bademosi could make noteworthy contributions at free safety in 2013, or am I just desperately searching for a diamond in the rough?

– Josh, Bethesda, MD

Hey Josh: Bademosi’s physical traits and work and study habits are intriguing to the new coaches. I am planning an update on Bademosi very soon. He is being given an opportunity to challenge Tashaun Gipson at free safety and could work his way into much more playing time on defense.

Hey, Mary Kay: The Browns have done basically nothing to address the safety position except draft somebody in the sixth round. Is this not a concern? – Angelo Costanzo, Cleveland

Hey, Angelo: Second-year defensive back Tashaun Gipson has the early lead on the starting free safety job, and sixth-round pick Jamoris Slaughter (Achilles) will be worked into the mix when he gets healthy. The Browns are working second-year DB Johnson Bademosi at safety instead of cornerback this year.

Hey, Mary Kay: Do think the release of Eric Hagg points to the Browns signing Kerry Rhodes? Or do they believe Johnson Bademosi can transition to safety to provide depth behind Tashaun Gipson? – Matt Douglass, Lima, Ohio

Hey, Matt: The Browns have had months to sign Kerry Rhodes and haven’t done so; it’s probably not in the cards. I do think they believe Bademosi can serve as a backup to Gipson. They like his size (6-0, 200) and the big hitting ability he’s shown on special teams.

With Eric Hagg and Usama Young being released this offseason, it was believed that the Browns may try to address the free safety position via free agency. As mentioned above, given the new defensive coordinator Ray Horton connection, Kerry Rhodes was a frequently dropped name. Rhodes will be 31 by the start of next season. Last season, he totaled 67 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, and 11 passes defended  in 15 games.

Gipson played as mostly a reserve safety last season, starting 3 games out of the 10 in which he played, amassing 33 tackles, 1 pass defended, and 1 interception. Bademosi played some spot duty at corner due to injuries at the end of the season but was primarily a star special teams contributor for all 16 games, accounting for 20 tackles and defending 1 pass. Jamoris Slaughter, the team’s sixth round selection last month in the draft, will also compete if he is recovered from his Achilles injury.

Related: Cleveland Browns Hit Reset Button On Media Relations

Massaquoi, Gipson Ruled Out for Colts Game

The Browns sent along the latest injury update this afternoon affecting the team’s receiving corps and secondary:

Please be advised that the Cleveland Browns downgraded DB Tashaun Gipson (knee) and WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) to ‘Out’ on their Saturday (10/20) injury report.

The Colts have been one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league this season, so while Gipson hasn’t played extensively, his injury certainly doesn’t help the team’s nickel unit. Massaquoi is out for his fourth week in a row, as Josh Gordon continues to get more work.

[Related: WFNY Podcast – 2012-10-20 – Talking Colts with a Colts fan]

Undrafted Free Agent Recap: Browns Look for WR, OL and DB Help

According to Pat Shurmur after the draft, the Browns planned on adding roughly about 15 new players to the roster via undrafted free agency. We all know now about the drafted players that the team picked up over the last few days, so let’s look at the various players that reports are linking to Berea.

Adding up the positions, it appears the Browns have nabbed three more WRs, four more OLs and three more DBs. The remaining positions are one DE and two LBs. Looking back at the team’s main pre-draft needs — QB, RB, OT, WR, DB, OLB — this makes perfect sense.

Here’s the current list of 14 according mostly to www.mockingthedraft.com: [Read more...]