April 25, 2014

D’Qwell Jackson’s free agent tour stops in Miami

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If D’Qwell Jackson is looking for a new NFL team that has more continuity and less dysfunction than the Browns, he might barely be achieving that in Miami. Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel reports that D’Qwell visited with the Dolphins yesterday afternoon after the team re-upped Brent Grimes for four years and $32 million with $16 mil guaranteed. I’m sure D’Qwell wouldn’t mind having some version of that deal if he could get it in Miami.

The Dolphins could likely use a leader of D’Qwell Jackson’s caliber on their team. For all the teeth gnashing in Cleveland about Jackson’s slightly-above-average play, there was never a doubt about the quality of the man and his impact on the locker room or in the community. On the heels of Richie Incognito’s reign in Miami, D’Qwell Jackson would be a good addition to that team.

We’ll continue to watch with interest to see where Jackson goes. While it made tons of sense for the Browns to part ways, it wasn’t a fun or easy goodbye for most fans and commentators.

Jackson has also visited the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans.

[Related: The Browns have a lot of money, so why not just spend it all?]

Browns add Dowell Loggains to the offensive fold

The Cleveland Browns have hired former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, though his official title is not yet known. The initial report comes from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

Dowell Loggains

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has confirmed Rapoport’s hire, and adds that Loggains will “at least” serve as the team’s quarterbacks coach. The Browns interviewed former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Wedensday and followed this up with an interview of Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach John DeFelippo on Thursday.

Rapoport is led to believe that the team has “moved on” from Shanahan, but others have reported that the interview on Wednesday went well and that the young coordinator wishes to move out of the shadows of his father, Mike.

The 33-year-old Loggains is a relative unknown as he served as the Titans’ offensive coordinator over the final five games of 2012 and all of 2013. If named to the Browns’ offensive coordinator spot, he would easily be one of the youngest offensive minds in the game. Tennessee fielded the league’s No. 22 offense, finishing 14th in rushing and 21st in passing. Known as a QB guru, Loggains did seem to be making strides with an erratic Jake Locker before injuries cut short Locker’s 2013.

This all said, it appears that Loggains, a proud member of #TeamVisor, is coming aboard as a highly recommended coach from former Titans head coach Mike Munchak who interviewed for the team’s once-vacant head coaching job earlier this month.

(AP Photo/Joe Howell)

Ray Horton to join Tennessee Titans as defensive coordinator

Ray HortonAs rumored yesterday, the Tennessee Titans have now reportedly hired Ray Horton to be their new defensive coordinator.

Today’s confirmation was first reported by the Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot. On Friday, the rumor that Horton was the Titans’ preferred choice was shared by The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt.

In Tennessee, Horton will reunite with new head coach Ken Whisenhunt, a three-time interviewee over the past two seasons for the Browns opening. Horton was Whisenhunt’s defensive coordinator in Arizona from 2011-2012. They both have a background of working for the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

Horton, 53, had a difficult year in Cleveland. Despite his reputation as a very good coordinator with an attacking hybrid defense, the team’s unit was one of the NFL’s worst in the second half of the season, the second half of games and in third-down situations. The pass rush — bolstered by new additions Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant and rookie Barkevious Mingo — regressed mightily down the stretch.

Throughout the process, the Browns were letting Horton interview for any position, even lateral moves. Two weeks ago, he interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings vacancy. That position was later filled by Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. They then brought on former Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who also spent only one season in Cleveland..

Including those two, the Browns have now reportedly lost five members of its coaching staff from 2013. The other three: DL coach Joe Cullen to Tampa Bay, OLB coach Brian Baker to Washington and TE coach Jon Embree to Tampa Bay.

[Related: The Demographic Debate: Which Browns fans have it worse?]

Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Lions hire Jim Caldwell; Jim Tressel to follow?

jim caldwellThe Detroit Lions are set to hire Jim Caldwell as their new head coach and Jim Tressel could be on his way to Michigan as well.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the news about Caldwell shortly after noon on Tuesday. Other confirmations continue to flow in.

On Monday night, Sirius XM’s Adam Caplan shared that if Caldwell were to land in Detroit, that we should watch out for Tressel to be named as his offensive coordinator. The two worked together when Tressel served as an Indianapolis Colts consultant in 2011.

Caldwell, 58, is most well known for his role as QB coach and offensive coordinator in Indianapolis from 2002-2008. After Tony Dungy retired, he was the head coach from 2009-2011. His final season was the team’s 2-14 season in between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck.

The coach landed back on his feet in Baltimore, where he again served as QB coach and offensive coordinator for the last two years. He earned his second Super Bowl ring last season with Joe Flacco and company.

The Lions appeared to be an enviable opening in the NFL landscape because of the presence of quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson. They appeared to be the favorite to land Ken Whisenhunt, but the former Chargers coordinator decided to become the head coach in Tennessee.

Tressel was once a rumored candidate in Cleveland, but that never materialized. As of last reports, he had been interested in NFL jobs, but has not been contacted yet. The Caldwell-Tressel connection seems obvious—it’s just a matter of whether the 61-year-old Ohio State legend will make the job from University of Akron administrator to NFL assistant.

The Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings positions remain as the only two head coaching vacancies in the NFL. The Browns appear willing to wait until the Denver Broncos season is finalized so they can interview Adam Gase.

[Related: I want to be The Earthquake]

Photo: Kenneth K. LAM, Baltimore Sun

Tennessee Titans hire Ken Whisenhunt as head coach

NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at San Diego ChargersThe Tennessee Titans have hired three-time Cleveland Browns interview candidate Ken Whisenhunt as their new head coach.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen first reported the news on Twitter at about 6:15 p.m. Monday. Within the next hour, the Titans officially confirmed the move.

Whisenhunt, 51, had just finished his lone season as the San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator on Sunday in the AFC Divisional Round. He had been the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2007-2012.

Last year, during the Browns coaching search, Whisenhunt interviewed for the position twice. Initially this time around, the Cleveland front office announced they wouldn’t be re-interviewing any repeat candidates. But as announced in the news on Thursday: The two sides met on Saturday in San Diego for Whisenhunt’s third and final interview of the week.

It had been assumed that the former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant was likely headed to Detroit for their head coach opening. The Lions have Matthew Stafford at quarterback and Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, making them a possibly enviable destination for a veteran head coach.

Additionally, Tennessee’s firing of Mike Munchak — also a reported new Browns interview target — was a bit suspect. The team was requiring their three-year coach to axe some of his assistants. But Munchak had spent over 30 years with the organization as a player and coach and was unwilling to do so. He was fired on Jan. 4.

Whisenhunt had moderate success with the Cardinals despite a rotating crew over at quarterback post-Kurt Warner. In Tennessee, he inherits a 7-9 squad that barely missed the playoffs. Young QB Jake Locker showed some signs of success this past year. The organization will have the No. 11 draft pick in April.

[Related: The Dude, Michael, and Joey…who loved bowling]

Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Free Agency: Wimbley signs with Titans for five years up to $35 million

Kamerion Wimbley is headed to Tennessee to do what he should have been doing all along. Presumably, that means he will finally be an all-time defensive end. Adam Caplan reports by way of PFT

Adam Caplan reports that the Titans and Wimbley have agreed to terms on a five-year, $35 million deal with $13.5 million guaranteed and $11.5 million in the first season.

I know Browns fans dreamed of bringing Wimbley back to play opposite Sheard now that the Browns are playing a 4-3. It was my instinct all along that Wimbley was going to get paid. It isn’t a superstar deal, but it is a decent deal. In the end, not unmanageably high though.

Assuming Wimbley got a decent signing bonus, call it at least $8 million, that means his cap number for the first year of the deal is somewhere in the ballpark of $3 – $5 million or roughly what the Browns ponied up to bring in Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker combined.

Maybe Wimbley had no interest in coming back to the team that mishandled the earlier part of his career even if none of those same coaches are here anymore. With the Browns having $20-some million under the cap, it is hard to believe that Wimbley’s cap number was a big problem.

[Time Machine: Wimbley was "shocked" by his trade to Oakland]

Holmgren Speaks… to Seattle Radio Station

Mike Holmgren broke his silence today as he spoke to Mitch in the Morning on KJR 950 in Seattle.  Here’s what he said…

Mitch: How long you going to do this?  In 10 years are you going to be the President of the Cleveland Browns?

Holmgren: Well, you know it’s hard to tell for sure.  I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be 10 years.  We still have our home in Seattle.  The kids are there.  The grandkids are there.  I don’t think they’re going to be moving anytime soon.  Our vision is to get back into that area at some point.  Exactly when that is?  I’d like to see improvement here and lay the foundation here so that they can feel good about the team again before I make any changes.

Mitch: What kind of team are the Seahawks going to face this week on Sunday?  Is it a good football team?  Is it an O.K. football team?  What’s your honest assessment of what kind of Browns squad you’ve got over there?

Holmgren: You’ll watch us play, and you know we’re a young football team.  You combine the youth we have on the team and a new coach and at times we kind of look young out there.  And then at other times we actually play pretty well.  I think we play pretty good defense.  Dick Jauron, who’s the defensive coordinator, is doing a heck of a job.  Ray Rhodes is on the staff who you know.  They’re doing a great job. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Film Room: Week 4 Covering the Tight End

Each week this season, we’ll take a seat in our very own WFNY Browns film room and break down a little tape from the previous week.  Do enjoy.

Well, you knew that no subject I picked this week would look pretty on film after that game. The Browns were torched on Sunday by the Titans’ tight ends. Torched to the tune of 105 yards and 2 TDs. In fact, for the season the Browns have seen tight ends catch 15 passes for 225 yards and 4 TDs. That’s a 15.0 yards per catch average from the tight end spot. Even if you took away the 80 yard TD from Sunday, opposing tight ends would still be averaging a first down per reception (10.4 yards). This is just not going to work. (By the way, Cleveland has given up 7 TD passes total this season.)

Let’s take a look at the first score:

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Micro-Analyzing the Armond Smith Pitch

Everyone knows I was high on Armond Smith coming into the season.  This has nothing to do with that.  I fully realize that Smith wouldn’t have made this roster if not for the Brandon Jackson turf toe injury.  He fumbled the ball away in the pre-season and showed flashes of explosive play, but he would have been on the outside looking in.  Smith was involved in one of the more controversial play-calls from yesterday’s disaster, but I want to defend the playcall just a little bit.

Ultimately it is a fool’s errand to defend a playcall that fails.  I also will recognize what some of the critics, most notably Dustin Fox, were saying that Montario Hardesty should have been on the field instead of Armond Smith.  That might be true, but let’s look at a couple things.

First, here’s the 3rd and 1 play that got blown up by the Tennessee defense.

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Browns Embarrassed by Titans Heading Into Bye Week

I debated whether or not to wait for the final score to post this recap.  The game was that over that early.  Don’t let a fourth quarter of Browns offense against the prevent defense fool you.  The Browns were schooled on Sunday.  They were schooled so badly that there was a Jake Locker sighting after Tennessee had already put 31 points up on the board.  The Browns defense managed to give up plenty of those and Colt McCoy and the offense gave one away as well.  In the end, I did wait for the final score, Titans 31, Browns 13, but I really shouldn’t have bothered.

In the first half, the Browns gave up far too many big plays than they got of their own.  The defense was gashed by Matt Hasselbeck and his tight end Jared Cook who connected on an 80 yard passing touchdown.  The play was marred by bad coverage (Scott Fujita) and even worse tackling (Usama Young.)  It is the kind of play that just can’t happen.  The Browns bit hard on the draw and the completion was bad enough.  For Usama Young to take as bad an angle to the receiver is unacceptable.  He had the sideline and it should have worked to his advantage, but the big tight end evaded Young and squeezed up the sideline for the score to put the Titans up 14-6. [Read more...]

Week 4: The Browns Will Win If…

The Browns are above .500! What’s that? Their opponents to date are a combined 1-8, and that one win came against the Browns? I say it again: don’t harsh my buzz. I personally didn’t think these Browns were destined for greatness, so it’s kind of a nice surprise to see them showing that they are, in fact, NOT the worst team in the league. They’re building something for the future, and the early returns are promising. The past two years’ first- and second-round picks are all contributing. When was the last time you could honestly say that?

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Likewise, not much was expected of the Titans this year, and they are surprising a lot of people with how well they’ve played, especially largely without Chris Johnson contributing like he has in years-past. Offensively, these have been the bizarro-Titans through the first three weeks: they’re seventh overall in the league with over 300 yards per game, and are literally last in the league in rushing yards per game, with just under 52 yards per game. However, it should be pointed out that the Titans are losing their biggest receiving threat with Kenny Britt down to a knee injury. Defensively, they’re as good as ever thus far, limiting opposing offenses to 261 total yards per game (172 passing, 89 rushing). That does not bode well for the Browns’ offense. Without further ado…

The Browns Will Win If…

Cleveland Browns Tickets Available Through WFNY

An unsolicited testimonial came our way this morning from long-time reader REEPJP about WFNY Tickets:

Nothing to do with the WWW, but I used WFNYTickets yesterday for the first time and it was a breeze! Scored 18 (yes, 18) tickets to the Browns v. Titans game on 10/2 for $30/ticket….I thought this was a steal since everything else was $60+ ! Already got FedEx shipping confirmation and a tracking number. If it’s always this easy, looks like I found my new ticket purchasing tool. Great work on getting that thing to work like it does!

Thanks for that Joe. Your chance to grab tickets is just a click away.

 

 

Peyton Hillis Embraces Social Media and Supplementing His Income

I am a little bit surprised that Peyton Hillis’ contract hasn’t been a topic of conversation thus far this pre-season.  Even though we constantly hear what a nice, humble and pleasant guy Peyton Hillis is – and I’ve now seen it with my own eyes at camp – I still can’t believe we haven’t talked about his contract status.  Peyton Hillis is still on his rookie deal from the 2008 draft when he was selected 227th in the 7th round by Denver.  This season he is set to make a paltry (at least by NFL standards) $555,000.

Despite being the John Madden video game cover boy, Hillis truly is just a one-year wonder at this point.  Still, that was a pretty substantial year as Hillis was 6th in the NFL in terms of yards from scrimmage.  He had some fumbling problems as well, but let’s not pretend like he and his agent couldn’t have postured their way into forcing the Cleveland Browns to give him an extension sooner than the expiration date on his contract. [Read more...]

NFL Draft Busts Could Be a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

I have spent a lot of time on these pages talking about the need for a rookie wage scale in the NFL draft.  As a Browns fan, how could I not be obsessed with it?  The only first round pick that seems to be worth the money they have been paid is Joe Thomas and potentially Alex Mack.  I am also not the type of guy to make excuses for guys who became instantaneous millionaires after being drafted out of their colleges.  At the same time, I wonder if the giant rookie contracts aren’t something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Think of it this way.  Would Josh Cribbs be the guy he is today if he had been drafted in the top five and “made it” financially before he played even a down of football?

Some guys have football running through their veins, and I get the feeling that these players only think about their money in the off-season.  They love the game and the minute they get a chance to play, they put every single ounce of whatever they have into it.  For every one of those guys though, there are probably three that like football, but don’t like all the aches and pains that are associated with it.  If guys like that have already made giant amounts of money, is there much incentive for them to outperform their gaudy rookie contracts or are they going to be content to simply ride it out?  In business school they would have called this a lack of goal congruence between the NFL team and the rookie players. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Browns’ Special Teams, Second Round Talent, and Rich Rod Redux

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 in the sidebar.

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“Perhaps this is most apparent in the team’s dominant performance on special teams. Dominant is no exaggeration here. It wasn’t just the field goal block, or yet another Josh Cribbs kick return across the 50-yard line. It was the coverage units that were most impressive on Saturday, forcing and recovering a fumble, and smothering the Titans returners on every kick. Two kickoff returns were stopped at or near the Tennessee 10-yard line. We suppose special teams is as fine a barometer as any with which to gauge a team’s overall discipline, toughness, and cohesiveness. The difference between this and last season couldn’t be more stark.” [Cleveland Frowns]

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Browns vs Titans- What We Want To See

Chris Johnson

You know the drill. Third preseason game. This one is supposed to resemble an actual football game for at least a half, possibly longer. Obviously we don’t want to see any injuries, (a win would be nice as well!) but aside from that there are a few things that we (WFNY staff) would like to see happen Saturday night.   Here they are- [Read more...]

Former Buckeye Trapasso Trying to Make Name for Himself

A.J. Trapasso is the backup punter for the Tennessee Titans this pre-season after going undrafted this season.  Not thatI am truly surprised because as we know punters rarely get drafted.  Anyway, it has been an eventful campaign for Trapasso as he attempts to make a name for himself.  This week his name hit the news wire when one of his punts hit the ginormous scoreboard hanging from the ceiling in the Cowboys’ new stadium.  The stadium cost more than a billion dollars and I have read some people refer to it as the “Y’all Mahal.”  (Really.)  Check out the video. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… The Death of Steve McNair, Manny Ramirez, Livingston and Laffey

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your pleasurable viewing. Have something you think we should see and read about tomorrow? Send it to our tips email in the sidebar.

air-mcnair

Tragedy in Tennessee: “Former NFL quarterback Steve McNair was shot multiple times, including once in the head, and a pistol was discovered near the body of the 20-year-old woman found dead with him Saturday in a downtown condominium. Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron identified the woman as Sahel Kazemi, whom he called a ‘friend’ of McNair’s. She had a single gunshot wound to the head. Police said the 36-year-old McNair was found on the sofa in the living room, and Kazemi was very close to him on the floor. Aaron said the gun was not ‘readily apparent’ when police first arrived.” [ESPN.com news services]

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Bonus Giving of Thanks

As bad as it has been to follow the Browns recently, let us all remember that there are those out there less fortunate than ourselves. It could always be worse.

Let us give thanks this day that we do not, in fact, root for the Detroit Lions, losers of 19 out of their last 20 football games.

Also, after you’ve eaten your 12th plate of turkey, try not to think about the fact that we have to go on the road next weekend and play the Titans team, who fresh off of coasting the second half against over-matched Day-twah, will have had 9 days off to prepare for the Browns’ “defense” and “offense”. We don’t want any indigestion. I mean, seriously, they might run for 300 yards on us.

But don’t think about that! Just think about the blessings we DO have, one of which is not being Lions fans. Enjoy the turkey, everyone!

GAMBLOG Picks of the Week

Picks of the Week – October 4, 2008

Okay, here we go. This marks the start of a new era in the Gamblog. No longer will Matt pick his “lock” of the week. Instead the writers at WFNY will select the game of the week and a random prop bet to go along with it. This week his task is the OSU/Wisconsin game and a look at how the AFC North will fare versus some tough competition. For some reason he thinks his 12-3 record ATS is going to take a hit this week.  And, of course, WFNY does not condone gambling of any kind.  This is purely for entertainment purposes.  With that said… [Read more...]