Bewildered in Berea
The mess in Berea reached comical levels yesterday with the abrupt firing of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi by an owner who acknowledged he pretty much screwed up the first year and a half of his ownership. I’m really not sure how to react to all of this, except to say that Jimmy Haslam may have finally stumbled into a situation that has a chance of working, with competent football people coaching the team and running the front office. None of us really knows whether Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine can work well together, let alone turn the Browns into a winning franchise. But both seem to be hard working and well respected in their fields, so at least that’s a start.
As Browns fans we’re all numb to this nonsense at this point, and the Browns continue to be a laughing stock as fans and reporters chronicle the decades of futility along with the past 14 years to complete turmoil. In the end, however, all that matters is whether Haslam has finally put together an organization that has a chance to succeed.
The most troublesome part of the organization, however, is Haslam himself. It’s clear now that he and Banner were a poor fit, and adding a toxic character like Mike Lombardi to the mix only made things worse. Banner and Lombardi obviously made some smart moves, like bringing in Brian Hoyer and parlaying a disapointing Trent Richardson into a first rounder, but the coaching fisacos trumped all of that along with some very questionable personel decisions.
But we’re also hearing troubling reports about Haslam. Reportedly he listened to glowing reports from Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer about Greg Schiano and was very impressed with him after a pointless interview while Banner stewed and basically refused to participate. How could anyone want to consider Greg Schiano after his disatrous tenure in Tampa? I don’t care if Vince Lombardi’s ghost recommended him. He clearly was in over his head in the NFL, and from a PR perspective even talking to him made the Browns look like clowns. The fact that Haslam’s braintrust couldn’t stop him from seeking out Schiano drives home the point that Haslam had lost confidence in Banner and Lombardi. The main job for Ray Farmer now is controlling his owner, who seems to seek advice from everyone who has a big name in the NFL and changes his mind constantly.
Meanwhile, Banner seemed obsessed with repeating his self-proclaimed Andy Reid triumph, looking for every young coach that was building a reputation. The idea of putting so much stock in Adam Gase seemed absurd. Meanwhile, Mike Lombardi was apparently angling to bring in Josh McDaniels, someone who had a reputation of being just as toxic as him. Looking back, it shouldn’t be surprising that the coaching search looked chaotic, as the Browns had three guys with diverging agendas involved in the search.
Somehow, however, this “braintrust” settled on two solid candidates with Mike Pettine and Dan Quinn, though we now know that Haslam and Banner had different ideas on whether to wait for Quinn.
So where does this leave the Browns? On the one hand, we have an owner that looks like a poor imitation of buffoons like Daniel Snyder. On the other hand, the revolving door of people running the Browns have somehow managed to leave the franchise in a position to improve dramatically heading into this offseason. Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert certainly made some mistakes, but they cleared out an old roster and started a youth movement while protecting the team’s cap situation, leaving the team with young stars like Josh Gordon, Jordon Cameron and Joe Haden. Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi spent more money but still have the Browns in a favorable cap situation with multiple picks in the first round following the Richardson trade. The team has some young stars and is poised to draft a potential franchise quarterback in a draft stacked with talent.
Now it’s up to Farmer and Pettine to take the next steps. Farmer is respected around the NFL, but he’s a first-time GM and he faces some huge decisions on resigning players and picking a quarterback. Then we’ll see if first-time head coach Pettine can take the team Farmer assembles and starts winning.
If the Browns hit on a good quarterback and Pettine turns out to be a good coach, fans will be able to laugh about the drama of the past several years. But if things don’t pan out, how can anyone have confidence that Jimmy Haslam can fix the situation? Let’s hope he’s found a GM and coach that can stay in the job for a while.
Posted in: Cleveland Browns
Tags: Daniel Snyder, Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, Joe Haden, Jordon Cameron, Josh Gordon, Mike Holmgren, Mike Lombardi, Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer, Tom Heckert
Cavs acquire Luol Deng
This season has been quite a mess so for the Cavs, but the acquisition of Luol Deng for the failed Andrew Bynum experiment has the potential to save the season. I’m worried a little about his injury issues this season, but if he can play he’s exactly what the team needs. The three position has been a disaster, the Cavs need a second scoring option to compliment Kyrie, they need outside shooting and every team can use Deng’s defense. It seems to be a perfect fit, so the season suddenly became exciting again.
I don’t support the idea of tanking again. It’s time for the Cavs and Kyrie Irving to make a playoff run.
Will the Browns consider Jimmy Garoppolo in the draft?
Some just asked Tony Grossi and interesting question on Twitter – will the Browns consider Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2014 NFL Draft? Grossi thinks he can be a developmental QB picked in the middle rounds. Digging a little, I found this article that has a great background on Garopollo and some interesting peices of information:
Garoppolo’s performance against San Diego State led to this proclamation from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who watched tape of the EIU-San Diego State game before his team faced the Aztecs early in the season: “Eastern has really one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even know who he was until I watched him. He’s a great player.”
His production is unrivaled at EIU, which has a storied QB history. The school’s single-season TD record had been 34, held by former EIU star Tony Romo. Garoppolo has 116 career TD passes, 31 more than Romo’s previous school record. In addition, Garoppolo passed New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton to become the school’s career leader in completions this season.
That’s quite an endoresement from Urban Meyer, even if Meyer is probably a better evaluator of college quarterbacks than NFL quarterbacks. Still, EIU also produced Tony Romo, so there is certainly precedent for picking a quarterback from this school.
Mike Lombardi seems like the kind of guy who likes to find hidden gems in the draft. With Garopollo standing at 6′ 3″ and 222 pounds, he certainly has the stature to be considered. Let’s see how he does at the combine and how that affects his draft stock.
Josh Gordon continues to dominate
On a day when the Browns found even more interesting ways to lose a football game, Josh Gordon erased any doubt that the Browns have one of the best receivers in the NFL. Gordon can do anything on the field, and he gives the team a lethal weapon can can carry this offense for years.
In another season marred by quarterback injuries, it’s easy to get depressed about a loss like this one versus the Jaguars. But as one fan pointed out on Twitter, the Browns lost being led by a quarterback that isn’t a part of the future. Brandon Weeden had his moments out there, but his meltdown before the half was comical. I had hoped he had the tools to develop as a good starting quarterback but reality set in a while ago.
Watching Gordon gives me hope that this offense can be pretty good once the new regime adds some more weapons and a quarterback. We should come away with an excellent receiver and a running back in the early rounds of the next draft, and I’m hoping Brian Hoyer can start next year so we don’t have to push a rookie to start before he’s ready.
After having recent “meaningful” games turn into nightmares, it’s obviously disappointing that we’re now stuck thinking about next year . . . again. But the Browns have some young talent led by Gordon, and now we’ll see if the new regime can add the necessary pieces to finally make them a contender.
Big Ben and the Steelers come to town
The Browns have been riding a roller coaster this season with all the changes at quarterback and the inconsistent play by the team. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that this is the new norm in the NFL. Few teams are consistently good, and then there are several that are consistently terrible. With everyone else, the quality of play varies dramatically from week to week. With teams like the Browns we’ve seen mini streak where everything seemed to go well and others where everything goes wrong.
The bottom line is that you can never read too much into one or even several games. After two starts it looked like Jason Campbell might save the season for the Browns, and expectations were high heading into yesterday’s Bengals game. Unfortunately, Campbell’s miserable performance was coupled with a special teams’ meltdown, completely wasting the opportunities provided by Joe Haden and the defense and the lame performance by Andy Dalton. Everything went wrong yesterday.
Now the Steelers are coming into town. The Browns are two-point favorites, which means this is essentially a pick em’ game since the home team usually gets the benefit of three points. The Steelers were left for dead at the beginning of the season, but Big Ben is still one of the best in the NFL, and if he gets some protection he’s still very dangerous. Many of us were looking forward to a Browns beat-down of the old and declining Steelers, but all of a sudden the matchup of Jason Campbell vs a resurgent Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t look so great.
This game seems impossible to predict. Which Browns team will show up? Which Steelers team will show up? You can’t read too much into yesterday’s games as I pointed out above, so this one might not be your best bet if you’re looking to pick games against the spread this week. You can do all the research you want on this game and find a good site for your picks by checking out this site which does independent ranking based on customers and reviews. But you might be better off passing on this one in favor of another game.
McCarron vs. Mettenberger – The Browns will be watching!
The Alabama – LSU matchup tonight has huge implications for the BCS Championship game, and plenty of Ohio State fans will be watching as they root for LSU to pull the upset. But the interest in Northeast Ohio goes beyond the implications for the Buckeyes, as both AJ McCarron and Zach Mettenberger will likely be getting plenty of scrutiny from Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.
Both McCarron and Mettenberger fit the mold of pro-style quarterbacks that tend to have the most long-term success in the NFL. Dual-threat quarterbacks are all the rage right now, but I’ll take someone who can win from the pocket any day over a quarterback who relies too much on using his legs. The pro game is just different, and when factoring long-term success the threat of injury is a huge issue facing dual-threat quarterbacks who don’t learn to go through their progressions in the pocket. Just look at RG3. Also, look at the history of quarterbacks who actually win Super Bowls. Guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning win games with their arms. Sure, some of them will scramble on occasion to pick up yardage or buy time in the pocket, but you don’t see them putting their bodies and careers at risk with designed running plays or reckless scrambling.
Both McCarron and Mettenberger are intriguing for the Browns because both of them would probably sit for a year or two under Hoyer/Campbell if the Browns take them, giving them to to develop properly. Both of course also come with plenty of question marks, and this is where Lombardi has to earn his paycheck. For example, McCarron has led a charmed life playing behind monster Alabama lines that create a real running game and also rarely give up sacks. So how does McCarron handle pressure? The Browns will need to scour the film to find out. Unfortunately with McCarron we aren’t likely to see him win a game on his own where he’s getting beat up all night. That’s one of the characteristics Ernie saw in Eli Manning when he was picked #1 in the draft. Perhaps we’ll see the LSU defense bring pressure tonight so we can see how McCarron reacts.
Mettenberger is getting plenty of love from the scouts as he’s improved dramatically this year. Let’s see how he fares against Alabama’s defesne tonight.
So I’ll be watching with interest tonight as I hope LSU gives Ohio State a roadmap to the BCS championship game with an upset. And I’ll also be watching to see if either McCarron are Mettenberger deserve serious consideration from the Browns.
Posted in: Cleveland Browns
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, AJ McCarron, Ben Roethlisberger, Browns quarterback prospects, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Ernie Accorsi, Joe Banner, Joe Flacco, Mike Lombardi, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Zach Mettenberger
Can the Browns defense step up?
Suddenly, the Browns defense doesn’t look so dominating after facing two top level quarterbacks in Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers. Now the Browns have a new starting quarterback in Jason Campbell and perhaps some hope that the offense will contribute to the effort, even against a stout Kansas City defense. But more importantly, even with the Chiefs being 7-0, the Browns ought to be able to slow down this offense. Alex Smith has played very well, but he’s not taking many chances throwing the ball downfield. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton seemed to indicate a more aggressive approach in the coming weeks, and that makes against Smith and the Chiefs. The Browns can play aggressive in order to stuff the run and press the receivers, daring Smith to throw the ball downfield. Horton also has more players back healthy which should give him much more flexibility. Let’s see how it plays out.
Brandon Weeden takes a step back
It was particularly hard watching the Browns today. Brandon Weeden came out and didn’t even look like “bad” Weeden – he looked more like a bad Brady Quinn. His accuracy was nonexistent. As the game went on he started playing a little better, but he had already dug a hole for himself, and the defense was having trouble containing Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy. Meanwhile, the receivers started dropping passes.
Weeden needs to make progress, for this week he regressed instead. It’s going to be a really long season if he keeps this up, though at some point Chud will lose patience and he’ll have to go to Campbell. There are two tough games with KC and Baltimore before the bye week, and Weeden needs to regroup and find a way to regroup and win at least one of them. If he can’t rebound soon I think the coaches may give up.
As for the rest of the game, here are some observations:
- In the old NFL, the Tashaun Gipson hit on Jermichael Finley would have been called a fumble as opposed to a ridiculous penalty. The NFL needs to think about these rules and whether the ref in the booth can overturn a penalty like this. Gibson hit with his shoulder and actually tried to avoid a helmet hit.
- It was nice to see Travis Benjamin return that kickoff, but I was disappointed the coaching staff didn’t have any set plays for him. Every game the Browns should have several plays like reverses and bubble screens set up for Benjamin. He’s a real weapon – use him!
- Josh Gordon seemed a little out of it today. I guess everyone is entitled to a sub par game every once in a while.
- I can’t blame Chud for going for it on 4th and 15. The field goal wasn’t easy from that distance on that side of the field. He rolled the dice and it just didn’t work out.
- The Packers seemed to be holding on every play. The refs only seemed to call it when it was so blatant people in the cheap seats could see it.
This season has been a roller coaster, and now we’ll see if we can get out of this valley, either with Weeden or without him.
Browns trade Trent Richardson
Now that the shock has worn off, here are some thoughts:
- So many people are analyzing this trade in the context of Richardson being the third pick in the draft and also in the context of the past 14 years of misery in Cleveland. I get it, but that shouldn’t impact the football decision this regime made.
- Richardson’s potential is hard to give up, but his production never lived up to the potential. Yes, he was injured last year, and I like many had high hopes that a healthy Richardson would be a beast this year. He hasn’t been. He still dances too much approaching the hole. He seems to lack the instinct of great between-the-tackles runners like Emmitt Smith. He has never had the explosiveness of elite backs like Barry Sanders. He’s also been very injury prone. In hindsight, I don’t think even Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert would have drafted him again at #3 knowing what they know now. So we need to put aside where he was drafted.
- Given his production, and even with his potential, the Browns definitely got more than fair value in return for Richardson. Having another first rounder in a loaded draft next year is a great asset.
- Many of us were wondering why we weren’t seeing Richardson on third down. Tony Grossi has implied that the new coaching staff wasn’t happy with his grasp of those packages. This new regime saw him play two mediocre games, and apparently they weren’t that impressed.
- I was all for drafting Richardson in 2011, but I understood the risk of taking a running back that high. So far the move hasn’t panned out that well, and I can’t blame the new regime for getting back a first rounder for a running back, particularly when they subscribe to the theory that you can always find backs in later rounds.
- Most suspect that the current regime has given up on Brandon Weeden. None of us know for sure, and he or Hoyer could potentially surprise everyone by playing great over the rest of the season, but it’s safe to say the Browns will likely need to address the quarterback situation, and they’ve certainly put themselves in a position to address that in a stacked 2014 draft if necessary.
- Because that draft is stacked, the Browns don’t have to collapse this year and “tank for Teddy” for all this to make sense. There will likely be plenty of good quarterback prospects to choose from next year, and they also have the assets to trade up if they so desire.
- This team doesn’t suddenly become a 2-14 mess like the Raiders just because they traded Richardson. The defense should be able to keep them in most games. We can’t replace Richardson’s potential, but his actual production won’t be that hard to replace. If they can get solid quarterback play from Weeden or Hoyer, they will win some games. I’d rather see the defense and offense improve so next year’s draft isn’t the start of another total rebuild project.
It’s disappointing that after only two weeks the entire season has been thrown into turmoil with this trade. I understand why some fans are reacting so negatively. But from a football perspective I think they made a good move. We’ll see how it plays out.
Chud won’t overreact to Browns struggles on offense
Fans and pundits can overreact to one half of preseason football, but Rob Chudzinski seems determined to keep things in perspective. Maybe the film wasn’t as bad as some feared. Chud initially said he would have Brandon Weeden and the first team offense get some reps against the Chicago Bears in the last preseason game, but now he has changed his mind. Weeden, Trent Richardson and the other Browns starters will sit for the game, with only guys like Josh Gordon and Oniel Cousins getting in the game. Cousins needs reps at guard to get ready for the season opener.
I would have liked to see Weeden and the offense play better against the Colts, but progress will not occur in a straight line for this young team. Last week was a setback, but it’s important to look at everything we saw in the preseason. Richardson looks ready and healthy, and it looks like Weeden can flourish in the new offense.
We won’t know anything, however, until we see several regular season games. The NFL is so unpredictable these days, and the Browns are a young team that will probably be inconsistent even if they improve dramatically. The national media types seem to be giving the new regime the benefit of the doubt, but Weeden will have to prove things on the field. This seems to be highlighted in the odds, with Cleveland’s odds to win the Super Bowl ranging from 80/1 to 150/1 at online bookmakers.
As you will guess from the name, this five reel slots game is themed around NFL football – and boasts impressive graphics depicting a typical football pitch backdrop and players, referees, football etc on the reels themselves. However where those graphics truly come into their own is in the bonus game where you are required to pass the football throughout the team to try and complete a touchdown. This is where the second half of the name comes from (the first is from the amazing size of the maximum jackpot), and it makes $5 Million Touchdown perhaps the best NFL casino game around – as well as one which you can play here at GamingClub.co.uk, or on the move thanks to mobile casino apps.