Trent Richardson powers new Browns offense
Image source: Browns Facebook page
The hysterical talk after the week one debacle was just too much. I couldn’t listen to local sports talk, as I knew some fans would be consumed by emotion as they labeled Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden busts after just one game. It wasn’t just Browns fans, as the experts on ESPN and other outlets were having a field day with Weeden’s anemic quarterback rating. It also affected the betting lines of course, as everyone follows the crowd even when they’re into sports betting over the Internet, when instead they should be looking for ways to go counter to the emotional masses. Yes, the Browns either pushed or barely covered against the Bengals last week, but so many people thought that the Browns were finished and that they had to think about starting Colt McCoy.
Of course, things were much different on Sunday in Cincinnati, but before we get to Weeden we have to address Trent Richardson, as he’s the engine that will drive this offense. TRich was obviously rusty in week one against a very tough Philly defense, but he exploded against the Bengals and showed us everything he showed in college. A stud like Richardson gives every offense hope, and now the Browns can build an attack around Richardson, while taking some pressure off of their rookie quarterback. Look at what Ray Rice did for Joe Flacco. The same thing can happen here, and now Browns fans gave much more reason for optimism.
But we also saw that Weeden can also be a real quarterback when Richardson is running well. He rebounded from his brutal debut to post excellent stats. But this goes far beyond stats. Weeden was making throws that only the elite quarterbacks can make, and it’s no surprise that the Colt McCoy cheerleaders were quiet after this game.
None of us know whether Weeden will develop into an elite quarterback. But we saw that the Browns are correct in handing him the offense, as he has the talent that can be developed.
Now let’s see how fast this duo can make progress. The Browns are 0-2, but they face a Bill team at home that’s very beatable. Hopefully they can take that next step.
Posted in: Cleveland Browns
Tags: betting odds, Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy, football betting lines, football lines, football live lines, football odds, football spreads, live lines, live sports lines, NFL betting lines, NFL lines, NFL live lines, NFL odds, NFL spreads, sports betting, sports betting odds, sports odds, sports wagering odds, Trent Richardson, TRich
Weeden and Browns make their debut in Detroit
After a long and eventful offseason, the Browns finally took the field last night in Detroit for their first exhibition game. Here are some first impressions.
- Brandon Weeden came out firing and hit a couple of beautiful throws. He clearly looks like an NFL quarterback. Then he went on to make some typical rookie mistakes and finished with a pedestrian stat line. He threw one ball that should have been intercepted and another that was intercepted. The key for Weeden will be how he learns from mistakes so we have a long way to go in figuring out how successful he will be in the NFL. I love the kid’s demeanor, however. He doesn’t hang his head and he seems to thrive on the challenges in front of him. He offers a refreshing contrast to Colt McCoy who often looks like he’s sulking on the sidelines.
- Travis Benjamin and Jordan Cameron stood out as potential weapons for Weeden. Benjamin flashed his speed and quickness and had no trouble catching the ball. Many have assumed that he’ll just be a slot receiver due to his size, but Benjamin showed he can play on the outside as well as he blew past a defender to catch a long pass from Weeden up the sideline. Cameron also showed his athleticism. He’s big and fast moved easily in space. Let’s hope his back injury isn’t serious. He was smiling as he left the field so it didn’t look too bad.
- I feel terrible for Mohamed Massaquoi. I saw him in camp last week and he looked great, and most camp observers thought he was back from his injuries and could help the receiving corps. But he got hit in the head on his first play of the game and suffered another concussion. Now his career may be in jeopardy.
- There will be a steep learning curve for some of the rookies. Mitchell Schwartz had a tough night at right tackle. He’s been having trouble in camp with Jabaal Sheard and then had trouble last night with the pass rush as well. He’ll have to develop quickly for the Browns as they don’t really have a viable option behind him. Oniel Cousins had looked good in camp but he looked terrible last night playing left tackle with the second team, so the Browns have to hope that Schwartz can win the right tackle job.
- Josh Gordon also had an inauspicious debut. Bernie Kosar pointed out that Gordon needs a lot of work in running routes, which isn’t unusual for rookie receivers. But we saw Travis Benjamin look like a veteran last night, so Gordon needs to step it up. He’s been out of football however and it shows.
- Montario Hardesty looked solid subbing for Trent Richardson as did the other running backs. The Browns should be able to establish a running game this season assuming Richardson’s injury heals as expected, and Hardesty gives them a solid one-two punch.
- I like what I saw of Brad Smelley. He’s not a devastating blocker, but he’s a real receiving threat out of the backfield. Owen Marecic has to show something in order to keep is job.
- The run defense looked terrible last night, but keep in mind that Ahtyba Rubin didn’t play. I watched the d-line closely and the tackles looked much better when Billy Winn and John Hughes were in there. There’s legitimate concern with the injury to Phil Taylor, but if these two rookies develop the line has a chance to be decent.
- They weren’t in there long, but Joe Haden and T.J. Ward looked fantastic last night, which makes the rumored suspension of Haden even that much more disappointing. But from a talent level the secondary has serious upside. Unfortunately, Dimitri Patterson left the game last night with an injury. Let’s hope it’s not serious.
- Colt McCoy had a nice night as he was able to move the ball with his feet and he made some nice throws. But we also saw some of the typical dumpoffs on third down. Overall I like him as one of the backups if the Browns decide to keep him, and frankly I’d be comfortable with Seneca Wallace and Thaddeus Gibson as well. Gibson looked good in garbage time as he drove the Browns to victory in the fourth quarter.
Overall, it was a sloppy game. There were plenty of hysterical reactions on Twitter, most notably from certain radio talk show hosts that were probably off their meds again. But I like the potential of this team and the young players, and I’m anxious to see what they look like when Trent Richardson rejoins the lineup.
Posted in: Cleveland Browns
Tags: Ahtyba Rubin, Bernie Kosar, Billy Winn, Brad Smelley, Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy, Joe Haden, John Hughes, Jordan Cameron, Josh Gordon, Mitchell Schwartz, Mohamed Massaquoi, Oniel Cousins, Owen Marecic, Phil Taylor, Seneca Wallace, T.J. Ward, Thaddeus Gibson, Travis Benjamin
Pat Shurmur names Brandon Weeden as the starter at QB
It was just a matter of time of course, but Pat Shurmur made it official today. Brandon Weeden will be the starting quarterback.
Weeden has looked very good in camp, though he’s obviously a rookie and he’s going to make his share of mistakes. But his big arm and his willingness to look downfield makes him a huge upgrade over Colt McCoy.
Speaking of Colt, he wasn’t very happy, and he made some smartass remarks about expecting a real competition and the fact that he took no reps with the first-team offense. But he would have gotten reps had he miraculously started throwing the ball like Weeden. Frankly, he just looks like a backup compared to Weeden.
Of course this doesn’t ensure a successful career for Weeden, but we’ve seen in camp that he has the tools and the temperament to be a good one.
What will the Browns do with Colt McCoy?
Is the Colt McCoy era over in Cleveland? The Browns drafted Brandon Weeden last night with the 22nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, so now they have a quarterback that they see as “the guy” in Cleveland. Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmer made that clear with their comments last night, and then they went even further as they suggested they could be trading Colt McCoy.
Let’s deal with Brandon Weeden first. Some Browns fans are concerned about his age, but most scouts agreed that Brandon Weeden has first round talent. He has a great arm and he has the size at 6′ 4″ to play quarterback in the NFL. He’s a gunslinger, which is the opposite of Colt McCoy. Will he need to work hard and develop, given that he’s mostly played in the spread offense in the lame Big 12? Of course? But the kid is a player, and you can be sure that the handicappers on the sports betting sites will be giving the Browns more respect this season. I was hoping the Browns would grab him in the draft, and while they may have reached at bit at #22, they got the guy they wanted.
All of this is important because Colt McCoy was a huge disappointment last year. Yes, he had to learn a new system without an offseason, and for that reason he probably deserved another chance. But the Browns couldn’t afford to wait, mostly because Colt’s size and arm strength were obvious limitations. Watching Colt get thrown around like a rag doll didn’t inspire much confidence when we face the Steelers and Ravens.
More problematic, however, has been Colt’s reactions to adversity. Now I know the whole concussion fiasco was not his fault, but his father didn’t make things easier with his comments, and Colt never came out to discuss it during the offseason to diffuse the situation. Then yesterday, after the Browns selected Weeden, either Colt or someone from his camp leaked to Adam Schefter that the Browns told him to his face that they would not be drafting a quarterback in the first round. I know he may be upset, but why try to embarrass the organization? Then they put out word that Colt hasn’t requested a trade.
There’s a bit of a pattern here. Remember past year when reports came out about how Brian Daboll was mistreating Colt? Most of the public reaction was to have sympathy for McCoy. Was this intentional? Is Colt acting like a prima donna?
On one level I don’t care. But I wonder about keeping a guy like this around. It may be time for him to go.
Peyton Hillis leaves Browns and signs with Chiefs
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.
Browns hire Brad Childress
Other than a few angry people masquerading as “experts” on sports talk radio, most people seem satisfied with the decision by the Browns to bring in Brad Childress as the new offensive coordinator. The guy is clearly an expert in the West Coast Offense, and he’s been a part of very successful teams with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings over the years.
The perpetual critics will always be able to point to something in his record that supports their assertion that this hire is a “disaster.” He’s also known as “Chilly” for his sometimes tough demeanor. That, of course, misses the point. Pat Shurmur worked with him in Philly, so he obviously feels the two can work well together.
None of us know whether this will work out. Sometimes a young, innovative coach is the answer. Other times, an experienced guy like Childress who also has head coaching experience can be a great fit. Fans, writers and radio big-mouths will all have their opinions, but at some level it’s appropriate to give the organization the benefit of the doubt, even if they are coming off a bad season. Organizations take time to build, and I see Mike Holmgren putting together a good group of professionals who are all on the same page. Some might scream about irrelevant facts, like how these guys all share the same agent, but I don’t care about that at all if these guys can build an organization that is built to last.
Andy Reid is biased of course, but Mary Kay Cabot got some good quotes from him on this situation:
“Pat’s a heck of a play-caller, and Brad’s a heck of a play-caller, and I think that’s a heck of a combination,” Reid told The Plain Dealer. “Both of them can bounce things off of each other. That’s what Brad did here with me, and that’s what Pat did here with me. So, whether I was calling the plays or they were calling the plays, we had an open communication where we could talk and make the best of whatever situation there was.”
Childress, a former Minnesota Vikings head coach, was hired by the Browns on Friday to be the first offensive coordinator under Shurmur, who called his own plays last season. Shurmur and Childress spent seven years together under Reid in Philadelphia, going 70-42 in those years with four trips to the NFC Championship Game and one appearance in the Super Bowl, a loss to New England.
Shurmur will retain play-calling duties for now, but the two will have plenty of discussions about that, and nothing has been finalized yet, an NFL source said. Shurmur said during his season-ending news conference that he’d relinquish the play-calling duties if the right person came along.
“They were a great combo for me here, and we sure won a lot of games with those two at the helm of my offense here, and so I wouldn’t expect anything different,” said Reid, who ran the same West Coast offense the Browns have in place. “They work very well together, and it’s a great fit. The Cleveland Browns are getting a great person, No. 1, and a tremendous football coach. He’s got a great football mind, and he has a great relationship with Pat. It’s a win-win all the way around.”
Reid cited the tremendous job Childress and Shurmur did with quarterback Donovan McNabb, who went to three Pro Bowls with Childress as quarterbacks coach and three more with Shurmur in that capacity.
“They did a phenomenal job with Donovan,” said Reid. “Brad had Donovan when he was young, and Pat had him when he was a little older, and Brad never lost his relationship with Donovan when he became the coordinator. The two of them developed him very well. He was a great player, but they did a heck of a job with him.”
Reid is confident they’ll have the same impact on quarterback Colt McCoy, if the Browns decide to stick with him.
“Both of them understand it takes four years for a quarterback to fully mature or get close to full maturing in the NFL,” said Reid. “It’s not a bang-bang thing that happens overnight. They understand how to go through that process and how to teach quarterbacks and when to be a little tough on them and when you need to back off. They both have a great feel for that.”
Reid highlights many points that we all should understand. Coaching is about teamwork, and it’s critical that people can work together. Mike Holmgren stresses this all the time, and it’s also important that the coaches work well with the scouts and GM.
I want the Browns to build an organization that has continuity and that can rival the organizations in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. We’ll see how Childress works out, but he’s another expert in the system that this organization believes in. That’s a real positive to build on.
Mel Kiper talks Browns draft needs
Mel Kiper posted his thoughts on what the top 10 teams in the likely draft order need going into the 2012 NFL Draft.
Here’s his take on the Browns:
Top needs WR, DE, RB, QB
Scenarios: Greg Little has shown flashes, but the Browns could use another threat in the passing game. Jabaal Sheard has been as good as I hoped he’d be when I talked up that pick back in April, but they could really use someone on the other side of the formation to balance the pass rush. Then it gets really interesting.
I agree with Todd McShay that the Browns could be the rare team that is willing to pick a running back high in the draft, with Alabama’s Trent Richardson the obvious name. Peyton Hillis is likely to play somewhere else in 2012, and Richardson fills that hole. But besides that, there’s a real question regarding Colt McCoy and how committed to him the Browns are. Although I wouldn’t predict it now, the Browns could be in the picture for Griffin.
I agree with everything here. It all revolves around McCoy and whether the Browns want a QB in the draft with their top pick. I can see them going with Richardson as a running threat can open up the offense and take pressure off of the quarterback. Mike Holmgren had his own stud running back from Alabama with Shaun Alexander.
I think they will naturally take a hard look at Robert Griffin III, but I think he might not be there when the Browns pick.
Posted in: Cleveland Browns
Tags: 2012 Mock Draft, 2012 Mock NFL Draft, 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 NFL Draft prospects, Browns 2012 Draft, Browns 2012 draft needs, Colt McCoy, Greg Little, Jabaal Sheard, Mike Holmgren, Peyton Hillis, RG3, RG3 Browns, Shaun Alexander, Todd McShay, Trent Richardson
Browns win a squeaker over Jacksonville
It was shaping up to be another heartbreaking loss for the Browns, but the defense held on in the red zone in the final minutes to preserve a 14-10 victory over the Jaguars.
Phil Dawson tried a field goal with around three minutes left, and it looked like it was good as he sailed it over the upright. But it was ruled no good, and the Browns would have lost had Jacksonville gotten into the end zone.
The Jaguars aren’t very good, but their defense isn’t bad, and the Browns offense definitely looks like it’s improving, so that’s a good sign. Colt McCoy threw a brutal interception, but he was fairly accurate for most of the day as the Browns moved the ball consistently.
Now let’s see how they do as the schedule gets tougher.
Another tough game for Colt McCoy
Colt McCoy had another tough game yesterday. Sure, the offensive line is a problem, but McCoy is also making bad decisions and missing open receivers.
It doesn’t help that the Browns keep losing running backs. Peyton Hillis didn’t play again, and Montario Hardesty got hurt early. If the Browns can get these guys healthy and start running the ball better, maybe McCoy will get better opportunities.
Cleveland Browns defense ranked #4 in NFL
After six games, the Browns are 3-3 and have the #4 ranked defense in the NFL based on yards allowed per game. The defense is ranked 9th if you look at points allowed per game.
Given all the moaning and groaning we’re hearing from the fans, this stat might be a surprise. We’ll how the entire season plays out, particularly as the schedule gets tougher, but the Browns are seeing the payoff from drafting for defense. Tom Heckert has found excellent players in the draft, with Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard leading the way. The Browns are better this year on defense, and much younger as well.
Colt McCoy and the offense gets all the attention, but the defense is important as well. So far, it looks like the Browns are building a defense that can be a force for years to come.
Posted in: Cleveland Browns
Tags: Browns defense, Cleveland Browns defense, Colt McCoy, Colt McCoy Browns, Jabaal Sheard, Jabaal Sheard pass rush, Phil Taylor, Phil Taylor beast, Phil Taylor Browns, T.J. Ward, T.J. Ward hits, T.J. Ward safety, Tom Heckert, Tom Heckert drafts, Tom Heckert genius