Josh McDaniels Early Favorite In Browns Head Coach Search


Sources have told DPN that Josh McDaniels is the Cleveland Browns inside favorite to take the reigns as the new Head Coach, in the wake of the sudden dismissal of former Head Coach Rob Chudzinski.

McDaniels has connections to both Browns GM Michael Lombardi and Joe Banner, and sources inside the Browns front office tell us that he is their hands down favorite.

That being said, the Browns cannot interview him until after January 5th, and could have to wait longer due to the Patriots playoff games.  Also, there are rumors that McDaniels may not be interested in the job in Cleveland.

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Report: Browns Will Fire Head Coach Rob Chudzinski


According to our sources, Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski will be fired after Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The reason I’m hearing is the complete collapse down the stretch the second half of the year. Look for the announcement either late Sunday or early Monday morning.

One Big Post: Stay Patient, Browns Fans


I feel like we’ve been here before.

It can’t all feel this familiar for no reason, can it?  A new coaching staff, a busted bubble on what we thought our roster was capable of producing, another season at the bottom of the division.  Another season closer to a number one draft position than a playoff position.  Another season come, another season that has slipped past any hope of redemption.

It must be Cleveland in December.

If this all feels like deja vu, like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have.  We’ve been here over and over again, a coaching carousel, a quarterback carousel, a roster that looks to be ready for a break out season that falls painfully short.  Even the verbiage that we hear from the front office sounds exactly the same.  “We’re growing”.  “We’re improving every week”.  “This is a process”.

It must be Cleveland in December.

We’ve been here before, and we’ve run those previous guys out of town in an average of about 2.7 years.  In some cases, they deserved it.  Shurmur should have never been hired, Romeo Crennel couldn’t hack it as a head coach, Chris Palmer deserves to be on that list as well.  But, while hiring the wrong people has been a part of the problem, the other part of the problem is that we, as fans, expect a new coach to equate in to immediate success.  The reality of the situation is that it’s not always going to work out that way, as the Browns since 1999 prove.  Continuity does wonders for an NFL franchise long term.  A front office and staff shouldn’t be judged off of one draft, but the weight of multiple drafts.  They shouldn’t be judged off of one season, but the body of their work.  We don’t ever get that far, because we’re so mad about the weight of total failure all these years, that we’ll be damned if we wait around on these guys to waste another 3 years boobing the whole thing up.

It must be Cleveland in December.

I’m not saying there aren’t things to question.  There are.  This front office missed opportunities for mid-late round value in last years draft for the sake of this draft.  Alonso, Matheiu, Trufant, Bernard, all available with those picks we traded to Pittsburgh, all making an impact on their respective teams.  Some of Chud’s game management (read: times outs, clock utilization, QB rotation, coin toss) leave me thinking that he’s over thinking the game.  Norv’s refusal to try and run, even when that’s exactly what we should do when our QB has a rib injury that makes throwing the ball 50+ times a game in a Cleveland winter, leaves me questioning his judgment.  Ray Horton’s inability to come up with a real answer (other than “LOOK AT THESE STATISTICS”) about why his defense fails to show up on 3rd down and in the 4th quarter, and the at times predictable nature of his unpredictable blitz scheme make me ponder why he hasn’t made adjustments.  Chris Tabor owes us an explanation as to why his special teams unit has cost us at least 3 games by my count.

These things should be questioned.  They should be corrected.  But as Winter is here, and as surely as another Winter will follow next year, remember this:  If we want to see our team Rise, we need to be willing to give this front office and coaching staff time to get the players they want, install the systems they want, and give adequate time to see if it all works.  If once they have had time to draft/sign the guys they say they need for the systems they want to run, and we can clearly see those offensive and defensive schemes in full effect, then we can rightly judge the situation.  The fact is, it’s not this year.  It’s probably not next year.  Probably not even the year after.  That’s life in the NFL.  It can be a tough pill to swallow, because we just want to see our team not be a joke around the league.  God knows that’s what I want.  If that’s what we want though, we have to give these guys the time to see it through.

So remember, if you want to see another coaching change and front office turnover, if you want to start from scratch again in 2.7 years, fine.  But don’t bitch and moan when you get exactly that.

It must be Cleveland in December.

 

5 Reasons Why Next Year Should Be Better For The Browns


It’s that time of year on the shores of Lake Erie.  Football season is winding down, the Browns have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and assured another double digit losing season.  All hope on this year is extinguished, so we turn our weary eyes to the coming draft and the chants of “Next Year!” begin to come together in a collective wave of hope.  Or something like that.

This is familiar territory for Browns fans, isn’t it?  We’re left clinging to hope that somehow, our fortune may change and we’ll have a chance at respectability next season.  You’ve been down this road before you say?  Yeah, me too.  But, there are reasons why I’m hoping that next season will finally be better.

1.  The Draft

In the mind of a Browns fan, the NFL Draft is like what normal people envision Christmas to be like.  You wait all year, you’re a good fan, you go to games, you watch on TV, you buy jersey’s that you later regret.  You support the team in the face of nay-sayers at home and abroad.  You save up all that good karma in hopes that when draft time comes, they’ll finally draft the player (read: Quarterback) that will finally turn this thing around.
Unfortunately for Browns fans, the gap between what the draft usually is and what we hope for is about as far apart as what we dream of Christmas to be and what it actually is.  Usually our presents suck, we can’t return them, and our relatives are annoying.  Fights break out over the egg nog, and the kids are ungrateful little bastards.  Sounds about right, yes?  Well, this draft could very well be different.  Here’s why.
I gave the Browns front office a pass on last draft, mainly because they were forced to use the old regime’s scouts and rankings, since they had almost no time to install their own people.  This draft is the first where they’ve had a full season to evaluate their own needs and the talent available.  They wisely stocked picks in this draft, culminating in the Trent Richardson trade, which looks better and better all the time.  Now, all that will mean nothing if they blow it.  But, I feel mildly comfortable in Joe Banner and Ray Farmer’s ability to discover talent, and Michael Lombardi got big points for finding Brian Hoyer.  So, let’s give them a little bit of hope that they’ll get the right guys to fit the team and what we need.  There are good quarterbacks in this draft, and if Brett Hundley declares for the draft I believe they’ll find their QB.  There are three very good WR’s (Watkins, Evans and Lee), and we should be able to get at least one of them with our second 1st round pick.  There are also enough decent running backs that we should be able to score one by the 2nd-4th round.  Also, we’re stocked on 3rd and 4th round picks, where there should be a ton of value in this draft.

2.  Free Agency

The Browns have the most available cap space coming in to this off season of any team in the NFL, per overthecap.com.  This means they should be able to re-sign free agents TJ Ward and Alex Mack, or sign adequate replacements.  Additionally, the Browns are likely to lock up shut down cornerback Joe Haden to a long term deal in his prime.  Outside of that, look for them to pursue a Running Back (Ben Tate), as well as a few offensive linemen.  Outside of that, they may well add more depth to their already dangerous front seven, and could shore up their secondary a bit, all while having money left to spend on Josh Gordon when his rookie deal expires in 2016.   The books are clean, and the Browns are in great condition from a cap perspective.

3.  The Defense

While the defense has regressed a bit down the stretch, they are still a top notch, creeping on elite unit with playmakers everywhere.  Mingo, while he perhaps hasn’t hit lofty expectations of a 6th overall pick, has been consistent and performed well compared to many past Browns top 10 picks.  The front seven, for the most part, are effective in creating pressure on QBs and stopping the run.  They’ll likely need to upgrade over Craig Robertson and possibly DQ, but the money is there, as well as draft options.  The secondary could use some depth, but with Haden and Skrine returning, as well as McFadden developing well, they’re not in bad position.  If they re-sign Ward and Gipson continues to play big, they’ll be fine.  The depth on the defensive line is incredible, and likely to return in good form.

4.  The Play Makers

It’s hard not to ponder what may have been this year if Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron had a viable QB throwing them the ball, isn’t it?  I don’t need to beat a dead horse, but Josh Gordon is pretty damn spectacular.  He might be the best player I’ve ever seen in a Browns uniform.  Cameron has seemed to vanish, but he’s still top 5 in terms of yardage and receptions for tight ends this season.  If the Browns can add a stable receiver opposite Gordon, it will go a long way to getting Cameron back into situations where he can create mis-matches with opposing secondaries.  Gordon already does so, getting open at will, and having Cameron get open or overmatching defenders will create a nightmare for opposing defenses.  The pieces are young, and ready to break out next year.  Now to find that Quarterback…

5.  The Coaching Staff

I ding the Browns coaches at times for bad play calling, both on offense and defense.  In fairness to them, Norv’s offense has been one dimensional because Willis McGahee is terrible, and Oby is not a running back.  With Dion Lewis coming back, and the Browns likely to grab a back or two in free agency and/or the draft, the offense should have some semblance of balance next year.  The defense, which at times I’ve picked on for being predictable in the pass rush, should get better with an off season to really learn the finer points of Ray Horton’s defensive scheme.  And Chud, in my mind, is still a very good head coach.  He’s got an eye for talent, and is aggressive enough to keep opposing coaches guessing.  He found creative ways to win early in the year with limited time to prepare.  That, and I don’t see Jimmy H and Joe Banner making rash moves to appease the fans who may eventually call for the coaches to be fired.  They’re likely to give them adequate time to get things on track, which in the end is a good thing.

Why Brian Hoyer Should Be The Browns Starting QB Heading In To Camp Next Season


Many believe that the Browns will head in to next season with an open QB competition between Brian Hoyer, Jason Campbell, and whichever QB(s?) that they draft in this upcoming draft.  Many, myself among them, expect the Browns to release Brandon Weeden shortly after the season ends, and either put Alex Tanney on the practice squad or release him directly as well.  So, that leaves Hoyer and Campbell as the incumbents to duel it out, and you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think a Top 10 draft pick at QB isn’t going to have a real shot at starting immediately, regardless of what we all may want.
Now, that being said, I’ve been a vocal supporter of Jason Campbell’s from the second the Browns signed him.  I felt he should be given the starting job over Weeden immediately.  Though he’s had some bad breaks in his career, Jason Campbell has often been a very good quarterback on very bad teams, particularly with the Redskins, where he spent the majority of his career.  And, during his time with the Browns, he’s shown moments of great skill and dependability (vs the Chiefs and vs the Patriots both spring to mind).  Jason Campbell, despite what his critics may say, is a starting caliber quarterback, hands down.
That being said, I’m going to get on record early as saying that I think Hoyer should get the nod next year.  I just want to be clear that it’s not a snub to Campbell, my saying he should be the back up.  The difference in results is pretty clear.  The Browns were 3-0 in games Hoyer started, and are 1-9 in all other games with every other QB.  There is a reason for that that I think is deeper than the numbers indicate (Hoyer’s stat averages are similar to or behind Campbell in most categories).  Think back to those two full games Hoyer played, against Cincy and Minnesota.  The feeling of the entire team was different.  It was more urgent, more pressing, almost more desperate.  Not desperate in a bad way, desperate that in every series, offensive or defensive, the entire team felt like it was playing a two minute drill.  Whatever it was, the offense and defense both responded with vigor every time Hoyer was starting.  They played like there was something on the line.  While I like Jason Campbell a lot, his cool, calm demeanor seems to put the rest of the team too much at ease.  Hoyer was playing for his shot at a real opportunity to be a starter, he was playing against everyone who’s passed on him or cut him, and very much competing against the other QB’s on the roster as well as the other team on the field.  You could feel it, and the rest of the Browns clearly felt it.  The pushed.  They played with more intensity and more effort, and it translated in to wins.

A lot of Browns fans make the case for Tim Tebow by stating that he has some magical x-factor that translates to winning.  I would counter by arguing that we have that guy on our roster right now.  Brian Hoyer has something that, for whatever reason, urges the rest of the team to play well around him.  It could be his personal passion.  It could be the way he includes everyone in his offense.  To that point, while it has been a lot of fun to watch Josh Gordon explode these past 4 weeks, it hasn’t translated to wins.  When Hoyer was playing, everyone, including guys like Greg Little and Davone Bess, got involved in the offense.  They made plays.  Jordan Cameron made plays.  Travis Benjamin was making plays outside of returns.  Hoyer elevated them.

And, for whatever the reason, the defense played its best when Hoyer was running the offense.  Remember when he got hurt against the Bills?  I posted on our Facebook page to watch for the retaliation on E.J. Manuel.  I had a feeling that the defense was going to make a statement by putting Manuel in some serious pain.  A few series later, TJ Ward and Tashaun Gipson put him out of the game.  Not that I’m saying they were targeting, but rather, you could see them get angry and you just had to know they were going to start laying guys out.

So, basically, Hoyer gives the Browns the best shot to win, which is always how you should determine your starter.  Not because he’s some statistical giant, but because the Browns, for whatever reason, play better around him.  The offense, the defense, every series, they play like it matters when Hoyer is on the field or sidelines.  They trust him.  And, when it matters, they step up when he’s there.

Long live HoyerNation.

Shawn Ranks The Browns QB Draft Prospects


I get this question a lot, so I figured I would write something up to give a source to my readers.  Let’s take a look at my favorite Browns QB Draft Prospects.

 

10.  Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech, 6’6″, 254 lbs

Logan Thomas, to be clear, is not a first round QB.  He’s projected to go in the 6-7th round range, so if the Browns grabbed him, it would be late and as a developmental pick.  That said, he’s got a lot to like.  The comparison is often made to him being a poor man’s Cam Newton, and it’s not hard to see why.  He’s massive at 6’6″, 254lbs.  He’s got some moves, and a good arm.

9.  Tajh Boyd, Clemson. 6’1″, 225 lbs

Tajh Boyd has fallen further than I would have imagined on my QB board.  He started the season near the top of my list, and now I’ll honestly be pretty disappointed if the Browns take him before the 4th round.  He showed that he still has the raw abilities as a QB, but he failed again and again to show up in big moments this season.  He’s still worth considering in the later rounds, but he’s not a 1st or 2nd round pick at all.

8.  Aaron Murray, Georgia, 6’1″, 208 lbs

Aaron Murray is a lot of Browns fans favorite to be their 1st take at QB.  I would hope though that the injury concerns would cause those folks to pump the brakes a bit.  He’s unlikely to be in any position to play in camp next year because of his ACL injury.  That being said, Murray has a great delivery, quick release and a great ability to move in the pocket and re-set quickly.  He lacks the size you want in the NFL though, and is often batted down at the line of scrimmage.

7.  David Fales, San Jose State, 6’2″, 220 lbs

David Fales is a better version of Aaron Murray in my opinion.  He’s got excellent speed on releases, is outstanding in pre-snap reads and field vision.  He has a great poise and confidence on the field, is unafraid to take hits and generally bounces up after contact.  He is a natural leader who shows great command on the field.  That said, he lacks elite arm strength and struggles on 15 yard plus passes, delivering more lobs than lasers down field.  He tends to be a little over confident.

6.  Jimmy Garoppollo, Eastern Illinois, 6’2″ 220 lbs

Jimmy G. has long been this drafts dark horse.  He has amazing accuracy, very quick release and good delivery.  He moves well in the pocket to avoid hits and extend plays without relying on his legs to extend plays.  He will get passed by quite a few teams because of his average arm strength, and that could be the very reason the Browns pass on him.

5.  AJ McCarron, Alabama, 6’3″ 214 lbs

There is a reason that many Browns fan feel AJ McCarron should be the future face of the franchise.  He has outstanding leadership, good arm strength, outstanding accuracy and protects the football.  He’s won big games, showed up well and not tried to force the football.  That said, the reason I drop him down is that I don’t think his arm has enough power to thrive in the Browns preferred system.  He’s a little slow in movement, and doesn’t like to take shots deep.

4.  Zach Mettenberger, LSU, 6’5″, 235 lbs

Met has a great arm and great size.  He can take a lot of punishment and still play.  He is very, very smart, can quickly learn a system and make any throw you want him to.  He’s got good step up, good pocket presence, and has improved more than any college QB in terms of keeping focused on receivers when the pocket is collapsing.  He’s hurt, and that’s going to probably drop him from the Browns first pick.

3.  Blake Bortles, UCF, 6’3″, 227 lbs

Bortles has moved from not being on my list to being one of the 4 guys I could see the Browns taking with their first pick.  He hasn’t declared for the draft yet, but if he does, there are many experts who think the Browns will take him.  He’s got a lot to like.  Prototype NFL QB size, good arm strength, good zip on delivery, Very smooth release, great mechanics, and outstanding pocket presence.  He has outstanding vision and an excellent sense of his peripheral and feel for whats happening on a play.  I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Browns took Bortles.

2.  Derek Carr, Fresno State, 6’3″, 235 lbs

Derek Carr and Brett Hundley are the odds on favorite in my eyes for the Browns top pick, with Bortles a close 3rd.  Carr has a great arm, excellent delivery and accuracy, and great pocket presence.  He can make any throw you want, move when needed, and has terrific poise in the pocket.  He only has one game with more than one interception, and has shown himself to be a true top 10 QB prospect.

1.  Brett Hundley, UCLA. 6’3″, 222 lbs

The thing that impresses me the most about Hundley, who has yet to declare for this years NFL draft, isn’t his great arm strength, accuracy or speedy legs.  It’s his ability to make plays without much in the way of an offensive line, and his willingness to take shots downfield even with defenders in proximity.  He has a very quick set up and release, and can consistently hit receivers in stride.  He has excellent quickness and feel in the pocket, often avoid pass rush and extending plays with his mobility.  He’s my favorite if he does enter the draft.