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.
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.
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.
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.
I spent some time listening to Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan on the NFL Network yesterday from Browns camp, and both guys were pretty impressed with what they saw. Kirwan has an article on CBSSports.com today with a detailed analysis of what he saw at camp and what he thinks of the Browns roster.
Now that I can access Sirius NFL Radio on my computer I can take more breaks from listening to local sports talk, which should be a big help for my sanity and my blood pressure.
Meanwhile, Peter King was in town as well, and he’s not quite as high on Brandon Weeden, basically saying he doesn’t think Weeden is the answer. I like King’s reporting as he has great access, but I’m starting to question his analytic skills. Kirwan saw what many of us are expecting – that Weeden is well suited for Norv Turner’s offense. King on the other hand seems concerned about Weeden’s accuracy, but doesn’t really provide much analysis beyond that.
Peter King’s new football site, MMQB, takes a looks at the latest reboot of the Cleveland Browns under Joe Banner. It’s a good read, even if the story is pretty familiar by now in Cleveland.
One topic involves the decision-making structure under Joe Banner. Many media types and fans were very concerned at first when it was reported that Banner would be involved in football decisions, but it seems like fans have begun to rally around the decisions made under Banner’s “consensus” approach to decision making. The fact that he listened to his coaches and decided to give Brandon Weeden another real shot at the QB position was a testament to Banner’s management style.
Jason La Canfora created quite a buzz in Cleveland last week with a column that basically ripped the personnel decisions of Tom Heckert. Here’s the most damning paragraph in the article.
So, while the previous brain trust in Cleveland — president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert — received praise (some in the local media took Heckert’s departure particularly personally), the reality is this: Aside from center Alex Mack and left tackle Joe Thomas, the new regime didn’t inherit one above-average offensive talent. No one has proven he is, as training camp looms, a standout skill player.
Yes, from a personnel standpoint, it really is that bleak.
On it’s face this quote seems ridiculous. When one considers whether a player has “talent,” most interpret that as having the physical tools and skills necessary to have significant upside in the sport. With that in mind, the young Browns offense is loaded with talent, with Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden, Mitchell Schwartz, Greg Little and Josh Gordon. Now, La Canfora can rightly point out that none of these guys are proven talents, but that’s not what he said in that blurb above.
Later in the article, he does address the players I mentioned. He calls Greg Little an “inconsistent but talented receiver.” He says that “Gordon clearly has talent.” So which is it? You can’t say they have no players beyond Mack and Thomas that are above-average talent players, and then turn around and point out that Little and Gordon have talent.
As for Richardson, sure there are questions about injuries and whether he was drafted too high at #3, but many pro scouts called him the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. La Canfora may not agree with that, but his argument that Richardson isn’t even an “above-average talent” seems ridiculous.
He does lay out the challenges facing the Browns on offense, but he completely misses the mark on the nature of those challenges. The Browns have plenty of young talent. The key is developing that talent and overcoming the inconsistency issues that plague most young players. La Canfora is confusing the issues of talent and youth.
When a team loses consistently for years, it’s hard for fans and members of the media to be rational about anything. Everyone wants instant gratification, and any attempt to take the long view about a team’s roster is met with emotional outbursts about how people are tired of waiting for a winner.
I was waiting for this draft before making any kind of judgement about the new Browns regime. Like most I’m tired of the revolving door in Berea, and I wasn’t thrilled with some early comments from Joe Banner and his team that suggested they might blow up the roster, particularly at quarterback.
With that said, I’m very happy now that the draft and the first phase of free agency are completed. The biggest plus has to do with what the Browns didn’t do. Banner always said he would listen to his coaches regarding personnel and needs, and it’s clear that both Chud and Norv Turner told Banner and Lombardi that they thought they could work with Brandon Weeden. So, the Browns resisted any impulse to reach for a quarterback, and all the rumors about Geno Smith going to Cleveland turned out to be BS. That alone makes this draft a success.
I love the Barkevious Mingo pick. The Browns are obsessed with developing a pass rush, and Mingo will be another impact tool for defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
I don’t know if it’s a good thing, per se, but the guy who will impact the Browns most in 2013 might not be the player they took at No. 6 overall. At No. 68 overall, they took Leon McFadden, a much-needed CB who knows how to operate on an island. As I look at the depth chart, I don’t see a reason why McFadden can’t break camp as the starter across from Joe Haden. That’s not a small deal because it also maximizes Buster Skrine, who will be able to spend more time in the slot, where he’s much better. Now, that first pick was Barkevious Mingo, a player I’m at once infatuated with as a talent, but skeptical of because of what I considered production that didn’t match up with his talent. Now, Mingo adds depth at outside linebacker, but he’s going to need some developmental work because he played with his hand on the ground at LSU. After that, there isn’t a lot here that you’ll see in 2013. Jamoris Slaughter could provide depth at safety. The lack of a second-round pick really hurt the Browns, who could have used a higher-rated guard — though I do think Garrett Gilkey has the chance to start eventually — and I thought would have been wise to add another inside linebacker. But Josh Gordon is developing and Davone Bess should provide Brandon Weeden with another solid target in the passing game. The hope is Mingo becomes a star, and McFadden can perform early. The good news is, both could happen.
I’m encouraged that the reviews on McFadden seem to be good. If he turns into a starting corner, either on the edge or in the slot, then that’s a very good pick.
Then we have the trades that brought out all the emotions from fragile Browns fans and media members. Basically, the Browns traded a 4 and a 5 and got back and 3 and a 4 for next year . . . and people complained. That’s just beyond silly. A third rounder in particular is a huge asset, as you can grab an excellent player or use it to jump up in the first round.
Our fourth round pick was also used to grab Devone Bess, which was another excellent move for the Browns. Bess gives Weeden a reliable option on third down, which was sorely lacking last year.
All in all, this draft was solid. They didn’t make the kind of headlines that impress draft graders, but who cares? Banner and company made very solid moves, and they avoided making a boneheaded move when they resisted reaching for a quarterback. Right now it looks like we can have a very disruptive front seven, and we have a young offense that has the potential to thrive under Chud and Norv Turner.
Here’s a great profile from NFL Films about Devone Bess. The Browns just added a very polished slot receiver in his prime at 27 years old. Watch this and you’ll see why everyone says he’s the consummate professional and a huge asset in the locker room. With a young and talented receiving corps, adding a veteran like Bess seems like a great move, as Brandon Weeden needs a reliable receiver than can be counted on to catch that third down pass.
The news out of Berea has been much more encouraging lately with some of the statements coming from Joe Banner and Rob Chudzinski. Both seemed to make it clear that they saw some real positives with Brandon Weeden, and it appears Weeden will get every opportunity to win the starting quarterback job in the fall. They’re seeing what we all saw last year – a QB with a great arm that can make every throw, but also a rookie who made predictable mistakes. Many “experts” thought the Browns would be a complete mess last year, but they were in every game and often covered with Weeden keeping them close, so the sports betting world learned not to underestimate him.
Of course, they also challenged Weeden to step up and really work for it, and I have no problem with that at all. I also have no problem with them bringing in competition for him. For his part, Weeden is confident he will start and welcomes the competition.
Most fans and local writers seem to get this, and now the new regime seems to understand as well, though we still haven’t heard from Mike Lombardi. Chud and Norv Turner obviously saw all of this on tape, and hopefully they weren’t shy about letting banner and Lombardi know they had a guy that could run their offense. Banner seemed to state that the Browns will not waste the #6 pick on a QB, and that’s a very positive development. Of course Banner still needs to build some credibility with the media. He says he’ll never “lie” to the media, but do any of us think that his statements that Tom Heckert would be evaluated at the end of the year were honest? In hindsight, they had made up their mind, and the early rumors of Mike Lombardi were all true. Let’s hope this time he’s telling the truth.
There’s also the bizarre infatuation with the read-option that seems to unite Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner. Let’s hope this “trend” runs its course before these two shake up the QB position by trying to find running QBs.