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Category Archives: Front Office/Coaching

Updating the Cleveland Browns

Updating the Cleveland Browns

The Latest News Coming from Cleveland

Well, there are other things going on in the world of sports – outside of the NBA Finals.  The Browns are making moves both by acquisition and departure, hopefully they were the correct ones.  Meanwhile, a possible issue could be looming for one of the team’s better players.

The Trade (Heard Round the World?)

I am being a tad facetious when I mention the swapping of underachieving athletes between the Browns and the Jets.  The Browns sent linebacker Demario Davis to his former club and agreed to take Calvin Pryor (the former first round safety from the University of Louisville).  I am hoping that Pryor can fill in at the strong safety role for the orange and brown – while rookie Jabril Peppers plays a hybrid linebacker/safety role.  It’s a boom or bust proposition made by the Brown; a gamble I would prefer over Demario Davis.

Potential Contract Dispute?

It will be interesting to determine whether running back Isaiah Crowell will be on the roster for several more years or just though the 2017 campaign.  The veteran signed a restricted free agent tender a couple months ago, guaranteeing his spot on the club this year.  What will happen after this occurs?  The Browns have Duke Johnson and newly acquired Matthew Dayes to compete at the running back position.  I would venture that the team would add another talented runner to this group if they wanted to get rid of Crowell.  I would prefer the team keeps the veteran on this team, but that is the nature of the business – anywhere the team can upgrade, they should do it.

Latest Release

Before he could even put the pads on and get ready for training camp, Tyvis Powell was let go by the orange and brown.  Personally, I would have liked for him to compete on the gridiron to see what will be the best combination of safeties for this franchise.  However, the team did not agree with me and they will go the other direction.  I sincerely hope that Derrick Kindred and Ed Reynolds step up and provide solid play at that position.  Anything similar to what we saw in 2016 and the Browns are in trouble this fall.

Conclusion:  There were some under the radar rumblings for the Cleveland NFL franchise at this point in the season.  I firmly believe they will be improved from a year ago – but am far from confident that they are making all the correct decisions.  Hopefully the team has taken to the new leadership (especially on defense) and fans will see an up close difference during next month’s practices.

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Latest News with the Browns

Latest News with the Browns

Newsworthy Browns Notes

The stories are not as enticing as they were during the NFL Draft, but the Browns are still grabbing headlines. First they added a new man to bring in talent for the franchise; meanwhile there has been some backlash by the media regarding both veterans and rookies alike.

Another Addition to the Front Office

A few days ago, the Browns announced that Ryan Grigson was added to the staff with the title of Senior Personnel Executive. I must admit that I have mixed emotions regarding this decision. On one hand, the franchise added a solid scout who has had a respectable track record in that department. However, Grigson is coming off of a stint as a general manager of the Indianapolis Colts that left much to be desired. The draft misses, trading for Trent Richardson, and inability to surround quarterback Andrew Luck with a reputable supporting cast come first to mind. I guess I will give the new hire a break, but do not to expect that he will do anything of significance while being with the orange and brown.

Brock Osweiler Banter

The veteran quarterback was peppered with questions following the recent OTAs practice sessions – a majority of these were of negative tone imitating that the signal caller will not be the “guy” for the Browns. Regardless of what last year’s film says – Osweiler will get his shot with the team to prove he can handle the duties on Sunday. Personally, I don’t know what was gained by a reporter being combative at this point of the year. Perhaps this will be a driving force for the newly acquired quarterback?

Early Injuries?

Of course fans and media alike are making gigantic deals of Myles Garrett and Jabril Peppers not practicing due to minor injuries in May. The pair of first round draft selections will be made or broken in the fall, not whether they are 100% full go four months prior to the regular season beginning. If Howard Wilson’s injury should have taught us anything, it’s that people can be sidelined at any point in the season. Therefore, I am ok with Hue Jackson taking precautions during spring practices.

Conclusion: Unfortunately, there was not a bunch of positive news for the Cleveland Browns these last few days (unless you think the Grigson hire was a home run). The doldrums of the NFL calendar march on, and we have just under two months until the team hits training camp in stride. In the meantime, we should expect less than ideal stories surrounding the team.

 

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NFL Scouting Combine – First Reaction

NFL Scouting Combine – First Reaction

What’s Going on During the NFL Combine – Early Negativity

On the first day of on the field competition, no one really stood out as performing exceptionally well on the gridiron.  Instead, there were medical or physical issues with multiple guys that could lead to evaluations that might hurt their draft stocks.  Obviously (whether that happens or not), that will be up to front offices and how they react/value this information.  Also, a couple of athletes will not be participating due to injury or illness.  Let’s take a deeper look into these situations.

Everyone Doesn’t Love Reuben

Linebacker Reuben Foster – billed as a top ten draft selection since last season ended, was dismissed from the combine after an altercation with a hospital employee (presumably during his medical assessment).  This is clearly not a good look for two reasons; it shows a bad side of his behavior and not being able to control his emotions.  Additionally, did Foster have something to hide regarding his health?  I still think he will be a fine investment, but he will likely slide in the first round of April’s draft.  Personally, I don’t feel that the Browns should go for him with the twelfth choice.

Leonard Packing on the Pounds

Many were surprised at running back Leonard Fournette weighing in a 240 pounds as a running back.  Despite this (and explaining himself as retaining water weight) he ran the forty yard dash and drills pretty well.  I cannot confirm that teams will drop him as a result of him “not being prepared” for the combine – but perhaps he drops below Dalvin Cook as an option.  Running back is not a position of need for the Browns – unfortunately they do not have the luxury of loading up there.  Thus, Fournette will not be an option for the orange and brown if still on the board (during their second pick).

Hooker is Hurt

These injuries occurred prior to the combine, but now they are coming ahead for the former Ohio State safety.  Malik Hooker had shoulder and groin surgery several weeks ago – causing the star to miss time prior to the draft.  Will clubs see this as a guy who is injury prone?  Or will they see it as Hooker trying to be fully healthy before entering the league?  I would be on board with taking the star at number twelve, provided he drops that far.  The Browns need a tremendous safety for their defense and Hooker fits that description.  His injuries do not worry me at this point.

Barnett’s Unavailability at Indy

Just coming down is the news that pass rusher Derek Barnett will not be performing due to him being sick.  That should obviously not affect his draft status, as these things happen.  I would not be surprised to be an exceptional player in this year’s draft – but assuming the orange and brown select Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, they will not take Barnett with their second choice.

Conclusion:  I am eager to see the signal callers and wideouts perform in today’s action.  The Browns need to improve in these areas and I would like to hear about positive news coming from Indianapolis.

 

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The New Guy – Gregg Williams

The New Guy – Gregg Williams

Gregg Williams Press Conference

The Browns have had a history of coaches with exemplary opening press conferences, only to be followed by disappointments on the field – leading to the coach being fired.  New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams recently had a tremendous opening conference; I understand this will mean little if the Browns start out 1 -10 next year but there were some solid takeaways from his time with the media.

Pulling Back the Curtain

Williams spoke about many parts of the job that his predecessors have not disclosed.  He mentioned (on several occasions) how others are willing to come in and steal an incumbent’s job on a daily basis – be it a player or coach.  Coach Williams also let us in to his psyche, that he is extremely organized (to the brink of O.C.D.) and each day is a brand new one.  By which, this means that evaluations will occur for players daily and no one is able to rest on past successes.  I believe his style of motivating will be a huge positive for this defense.  I anticipate a jump in performance, but there are many variables that can determine how large of rise from 2015.

Knowledge and Experience

The defensive coordinate mentioned all the stops that he has been to (in the NFL) over the past few decades.  He also referenced how he was able to turn our defensive units in as little as one year.  Personally, if Gregg can bring his usual tenacity his players play with – then he will have done his job.  No matter whether it was against the Tennessee Titans (in the early 2000s), the New Orleans Saints (in the late 2000s), or the Saint Louis/Los Angeles Rams (in the middle 2010s) it was always a long day against a Gregg Williams led defense.

Effort, Effort, Effort

There was a tremendous amount of references to players working hard each and every day for its entirety.  Fighting through pain or fatigue in the fourth quarter appears to be a foreign concept to the Cleveland Browns over the past few seasons.  Hopefully this mentality will be altered – as the coach noted that he wants all of his players to be in shape and ready to go in spring practices.  The Browns’ youth should surely help with this, as fresh legs late in contests appears to not be a problem.

Conclusion:  The ultra competitive coach sounds like a smart hire for the Cleveland Browns.  The defense (and the franchise as a whole) is in desperate need of an attitude adjustment; the Browns must be mean and nasty and not willing to put up with poor performances.  I am eager for the 2017 already but there are many more things that must occur prior to this.

 

 

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2016 Cleveland Browns and Beyond

2016 Cleveland Browns and Beyond

What’s Next for The Cleveland Browns 

Tearing down the roster, implementing multiple rookies and younger veterans into the lineup, and witnessing injuries a-plenty.  That is the summation of the season that the Cleveland Browns season in 2016.  The team lost fifteen of its sixteen contests, but it can be argued that the Browns can be looking up beginning with this season.  Instead of another miserable, sad commentary about what went wrong – we look towards the future.

Senior Bowl

For the first time in fourteen years, the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staff will be leading one of the two Senior Bowl roster.  Several have scrutinized the franchise as they chose not to attend the event in Mobile (when an opportunity was present) – thus missing critical time that could have been spent with potential draft picks.  I hope coach Jackson and company make the most of their time, as their draft needs to be excellent for a change.  Coaching the Senior Bowl will likely be felt in the middle rounds of the draft, as many seniors are chosen draft weekend.  Meeting up close with these athletes can give the Browns an advantage that other teams will not have.

Coaching Changes?

It has been floated out in the media that there might be at least two changes to Hue Jackson’s coaching staff.  The first relates to defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who has been rumored to be replaced in the near future.  For the second time since 2013, I will continue to say this – Horton seems like a nice guy but cannot get the most out of his defense.  Frankly, I’m tired of seeing opposing tight ends run wild against the Browns’ defense, as well as witnessing opposing signal callers leading their offenses with ease.  Add to the fact that Horton was not Hue Jackson’s top candidate as defensive coordinator and a change makes sense.  I don’t expect the Browns’ to have a dominating defense in 2017, but a mediocre one would be a welcome sight.

Additionally, quarterbacks’ coach Pep Hamilton could be on the move as well.  The former Stanford assistant appears to want to join his ol’ buddy Jim Harbaugh and desert the orange and brown.  If that is indeed the case, I wish him all the best – but I cannot feel a sense of loss.  Hamilton, in my opinion, did not do a ton to improve the play of the quarterbacks on this team.  Jackson could replace the departed coach and an improvement would not be out of the question.

Conclusion:  This long offseason could have not come soon enough; I am over their terrible campaign and am already looking towards the future.  The front office must make the correct decisions in coaching hires, free agency, and obviously the draft.  I will put blind faith that the team will get it right (for the time being) – however that can change in the coming months.  One of these years I would like to actually write about the Browns participating in the playoffs (in January and possible February).

 

 

 

 
 

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Breakdown of Believeland

Breakdown of Believeland

Believeland Review

Cleveland finally got their airtime a week ago, as ESPN continued its series known as 30 for 30. It chronicled the city’s rise and fall in the past fifty two years or so, as well as the performance (or lack thereof) by its professional sports franchises. I came away with three main points after sitting down and watching this film.

Feeling for Earnest Byner 

The seminal moment for the program was around the 1987 AFC Championship Game and the fumble that prevented the Browns an opportunity to win over the Broncos. This was by running back Earnest Byner, who appeared as a man who is remorseful and still not over his mistake. I speak for all Browns’ fans when I say – Ernest gave 100% effort each and every play. It sucks what happened, but it’s just a game (nearly thirty years ago) and one play should not define a career (nor a man). Clearly, a championship will help erase the negative feelings – but he should not be the face of “not getting it done”.

No Change for Modell

David Modell, the son of the deceased former owner of the Browns, appeared on the program. And as expected – he came across as an ignorant moron. The man said we did not “lose the team” but it was more of a “pause without a team”. Obviously, the ill-informed guy is forgetting the coaches (like Bill Belichick), players, and executives (like Ozzie Newsome) who went to new places and found success elsewhere. Clearly the likes of Chris Palmer, Dwight Clark, and Carmen Policy are the same as the guys they replaced. And the long, sustained success of the past seventeen years is apparent – right David?

Exercised the Demons? 

I really hope this document got everything bad that happened (in the past fifty years plus) out in the open and is part of the healing process for fans, players, and management alike. I obviously forgive Ernest Byner, heck I’ll even forgive LeBron James for his decision. The last part of the story is to get that title and collectively move forward. I would not be surprised if Believeland is the beginning of good things to come for this sports town. 

Conclusion: I really enjoyed watching the film from ESPN last week. Sure it had its high and low points – but it was accurate and emotional. Outsiders should understand where Cleveland fans are coming from (and if not, I frankly don’t care). Meanwhile, the raw emotions from former athletes and fans alike – makes you feel more of a tight-knit group as a supporter of the Cavs, Indians, and Browns. Good things are on their way, and sooner than some might expect.

 

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Another New Coach for the Browns

Another New Coach for the Browns

On to the Next One – Cleveland Browns’ Coach

Well the next Browns’ head coach has been announced to be Hue Jackson, the former offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. I am in “wait and see” mode and am far from excited, but I am willing to give him a chance. I must admit that Hue’s personality comes across much better than his predecessor’s. Jackson appears genuine, friendly, personable, and eager to attack this new opportunity.

Quarterback Whisperer 

A positive that could possibly come with this new coach, is that he actually knows how to groom signal callers. Andy Dalton is a pretty good example; while not one of the most talented athletes in the league, the quarterback has improved over the past few years and was exceptional this season (prior to his hand injury) while leading his team to another divisional crown.

Here in Cleveland, fans are used to quarterback controversies and poor play at this position on an annual basis. I’d like to believe that the Browns will take their franchise quarterback with the second draft pick, provide him with great leadership, and see him bloom into an All Pro and a multi Super Bowl champion.

Chasing Greatness

It’s extremely early but this looks to be the new theme of Hue Jackson and the Browns’ locker room. Is it better than “Play Like a Brown”? I suppose, but like anything else with this franchise – I just want to see some wins first before I get excited about new players, coaches, or mantras.

Maybe the word greatness can rub off on players, which will allow them to fight harder day in and day out – towards excellent output. Heck, we need any sort of hope at this point.

Done it Before

Another thing that Jackson has gone though that Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, and Mike Pettine have not is prior NFL head coaching experience. Granted it was for only one season and he finished with a modest record, but many feel this will help in 2016 and beyond.

Hopefully the head coach will be able to use what he learned in Oakland and improve upon that in Cleveland. Jackson ought to know that much more goes into being “the man” on the sidelines as opposed to a coordinator position. It all comes down to getting everyone on the same page and executing the way they should be.

Conclusion: Who knows what will happen with the hiring of Hue Jackson in Cleveland. The head coach faces an uphill battle and will encounter many challenges (hopefully none of which are internal) with his job. Yet, it would appear that it was a good hire by Jimmy Haslam – something that has rarely been said since he’s owned the team. Now the Browns need to surround the coach with excellent assistants as well as guys who can play the game at an exceptional level.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Front Office/Coaching, Offseason

 

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