Peyton Hillis leaves Browns and signs with Chiefs

Cleveland Browns Peyton Hillis (40) make a cut behind the block of Lawrence Vickers on New England Patriots David Bowens during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Cleveland, Ohio November 7, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Peyton Hillis saga is finally over. It’s a shame, as Hillis was perfect for the AFC North and had the talent to be the feature back in Cleveland for years. But his 2010 success went to his head, and the Browns weren’t going to give him a big contract after the disastrous 2011 season.

The Hillis meltdown is the prime reason why the Browns offense collapsed last year. The Browns had a new system, young wide receivers and an unproven quarterback. The challenges were significant, but we had a beast in Hillis. Sure, Pat Shurmer may not have used Hillis well at first, but having him in the backfield was critical.

With all the drama and then the hamstring injury, Hillis spent too much time on the bench, leaving Colt McCoy with inexperienced backs who were terrible in blitz pick-up. The results were ugly.

The Browns will move on, and Hillis will probably do well in KC under Brian Daboll. But anyone who blames the Browns here are just looking for something to complain about. The Browns gave Hillis a fair offer last year, but he went through three agents, and then became a problem in the locker room. He’s responsible for the mess he created.

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Mike Holmgren is keeping Eric Mangini a head coach of the Browns

Photo from fOTOGLIF

I have mixed feelings about this. In one sense, Eric Mangini gets the chance to build on the progress made this year. Also, with Holmgren and a GM calling the shots on the roster, Mangini can focus solely on coaching and leave the rest of the stuff to real pros. The Josh Cribbs situation comes to mind, and obviously the draft.

On the other hand, Mike Holmgren might be wasting a year of this doesn’t work out.

One positive is that you have a team president who really understands the offensive side of the ball, and a head coach who has experience as a defensive coordinator. If they can work together, they might compliment each other.

Hopefully, Holmgren is going to have serious input going forward on the offensive strategy. I’d like to hear that he and Brian Daboll spent time together as well. Ideally, apart from bringing in a new offensive coordinator, I’d like to see Holmgren add someone to the offensive staff to help Daboll with the passing game. The Browns need to develop a quarterback, whether it’s Brady Quinn or a new guy, and right now it’s hard to have much confidence in Mangini and Daboll. If they can leverage Holmgren’s expertise, their chances of success will improve.

Brady Quinn takes a step back

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Many of us were pleasantly surprised by Brady Quinn’s impressive performance last week against the Detroit Lions. Sure, their defense is terrible, but NFL quarterbacks are expected to tear apart bad defenses, so Quinn’s performance represented real progress.

Unfortunately, reality set in this week, as Quinn had trouble hitting his receivers today in Cincinnati. Of course, the play calling sucked (the Browns abandoned the Wildcat) and several receivers dropped passes, but Quinn had serious trouble again with his accuracy. He had trouble with all his throws – short, medium and long. The long throws were laughably off target.

I’m not sure what’s going on here. Perhaps all the problems on offense are making him rush his throws and hurting his accuracy. Maybe it’s the terrible protection (by the way, why does Daboll keep spreading the field on third down when our quarterbacks often end up getting pounded) or bad play-calling. Last week was the only game so far where Quinn looked comfortable and it helped his accuracy.

He certainly needs to stay in there. The Browns need to figure out whether he can be the starter next season. If the Browns make an adjustment, they should focus on offensive coordinator Brian Daboll who is absolutely clueless.

Browns joke

Derek Anderson 4

Here’s a joke getting emailed around the web – don’t know the source.

A guy walks into a bar wearing a Browns jersey and carrying a cat that also has a Browns jersey on with a little Browns helmet on his head, too.

The guy says to the bartender, “Can my cat and I watch the Browns game here? My TV at home is broke, and my cat and I always watch the game together.”

The bartender replies, “Normally, cats wouldn’t be allowed in the bar, but it’s not very busy in here right now, so you and the cat can have a seat at the end of the bar. But, if there’s any trouble with you or the cat, I’ll have to ask you to leave”

The guy agrees, and he and his cat start watching the game. Pretty soon the Browns kick a field goal and the excited cat jumps up on the bar and walks down the bar and gives everyone a high five.

The bartender says, “Hey, that’s pretty cool! What does he do for a touchdown?”

The guys answers, “I don’t have any idea, I’ve only had him for 2 years.

Funny but painful :) Maybe things will change now that Derek Anderson is getting the start over Brady Quinn. It can’t get much worse.

Photo by Bill Moore. Copyright, LLC

Using the no-huddle offense

One of the frustrations in the years since the Browns returned has been the complete lack of imagination on offense. This was true with most of the coaches we had.

Butch Davis was probably the worst. Say what you want about Tim Couch, but he excelled when running a no-huddle offense that permitted him to move around and improvise.

Of course, Davis would never throw in the no-huddle during a game to mix things up, even if he had a QB that might excel in that scenario. Romeo was generally clueless, as he hired Maurice Carthon and then had to work with Chud. Last year it became obvious that the regime couldn’t make real adjustments on offense, and they let Jerome Harrison waste away on the bench.

Now, this season, we have Eric Mangini, who just might be more aggressive than many expect on offense. He seems to take the same approach that Bill Belichick learned after he left Cleveland – being predictable on offense gives the defense an advantage.

Here’s Mangini’s answer in his press conference to a question about using the no-huddle offense.

(On if the Browns will use the no huddle this season) – “I like to have the ability to go in and out of it at any point in a game. If you want to start off a half with it, you want to change the tempo with it, if you’re getting a team that maybe is going to disguise a lot, you want to take that away.

We’ve used it for all those different reasons. Coaching against it, as a defensive coordinator and a defensive backs coach, it does add some pressure to the defense. It forces you to think through tendencies quicker. Now it’s second-and-seven, instead of being able to look down at your sheet, get a reminder, you have your calls, you have your things you’re thinking of.

They’re getting to the line of scrimmage. You have to honor the fact they can run a play right now. It speeds that up. It speeds the communication. It speeds up the adjustment. The nice thing is, you can get to the line with 30 seconds left, 25 seconds left and then just assess, change the play and do whatever you want to do. I like it for those reasons.”

(On how the quarterbacks have done with the no huddle) – “Good, we’ve been running it, really, since the first day of OTAs and we run it every day in practice. We do different periods of it. It’s just second nature, go in and out of it, everybody’s used to it. Defensively, it’s great work, because if you face two or three teams that do that, and that’s all they do, and they do it a lot better than you do it, it’s hard.”

Can you imagine Romeo or Butch Davis giving that answer?

Mangini seems to understand the importance of creating tactical advantages. He wants to keep the defenses guessing, and he wants to be able to execute the offense from a variety of schemes, including the no-huddle offense.

They seem to be taking the same approach on defense. They’ve even discussed using the 46 defense at times during the season, including some 4-man fronts as well.

I’m starting to look forward to this season.

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