Don’t Be Shocked To See The Browns Pursue Mark Sanchez


Before you start throwing things at me, I’ve got to tell you why I won’t be surprised if the Browns decide to pursue free agent quarterbacks Mark Sanchez.

1. Mike Pettine Knows Him

While more often than not, I hear this as a negative, I actually think it might be a positive. Very few people know for certain what caliber quarterback Sanchez is as well as Mike Pettine. They spent decent time together in New York, and that type of familiarity is desirable in the NFL. While there are obvious questions as to Sanchez’s is serviceability, Pettine should have a general idea. He coached the defense on that New York Jets team during Mark Sanchez’s is best years. They were a part of multiple deep playoff runs, and contrary to popular belief, Sanchez did not play bad in most of those games.

2. Not landing Matt Schaub was not part of the plan.

I firmly believe ,based on the reports that I’ve gotten, that the Browns would have signed Matt Schaub if the Texans had cut him. I believe the Browns wanted be ability to restructure Schaub’s contract. And, I don’t believe the Browns thought that the Raiders would be willing to take on Matt Schaub’s 10 million dollar contract. I hear you, the Raiders have a lot of cap space, but the truth is that they are extremely cash strapped. There is a real reason why they let so many of their young, quality players walk away in free agency. Their owner is not doing well financially. Regardless, I believe that the Browns planned to sign Matt Schaub and let him compete with Brian Hoyer for the starting job. Obviously, that plan has to change.

3. There are no more viable starters left in free agency.

I still believe that the Browns wants to bring in a quarterback that can push Brian Hoyer in camp. I believe that this is why they haven’t signed Rex Grossman yet. At the end of the day, Grossman would be a player that the Browns realize can never be allowed to take a live snap in game. He would be signed to be a mentor and pseudo coach, not true backup quarterback. Based on that, who would be competing with Brian Hoyer to start? The odds of a rookie getting the nod over Brian Hoyer seem fairly long in my opinion. So if we are to believe that the Browns intend to have a legitimate competition for the role of starting quarterback, who is left to compete? The only answer last is Mark Sanchez.

Shawn is the Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer for Dawg Pound Nation.  He’s also an Army Sergeant, married to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three and aspiring Browns Writer.  You can follow him on Twitter @ShawnMStarr or @DawgPoundNews, as well as on the Dawg Pound Nation Facebook Page.

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What The Browns Are Saying About Their QB Situation


As we approach the 2014 NFL Draft, there is an absolute ton of speculation on which, if any, of the “Big 3” quarterbacks the Browns are interested in taking.  While there is certainly plenty of time for speculation, we should also be interested by what the team is saying about the quarterbacks currently under contract with the team.  While it’s almost a given that veteran backup Jason Campbell will likely be cut (partly due to simple cap savings), the status of fan favorite Brian Hoyer and the much maligned Brandon Weeden remains less clear.

First, let’s talk about Brian Hoyer.  In a recent round of media questions about the Browns quarterback situation, Head Coach Mike Pettine said two words.  Brian Hoyer:

From the Boston Globe:  “Brian Hoyer,” were the first words out of his mouth. “We’re looking forward to getting him back to where at least he’ll do some limited work in the spring. I’ve always admired Brian from afar. He’s proven he can be successful in the NFL, but at the same time, you’re always looking to make the team better and that’s the most important position.”

Now, Coach Pettine also didn’t rule out the possibility of the Browns drafting a quarterback, in the first round or otherwise, but that certainly sounds like a vote of confidence in Hoyer heading into the Draft and official opening of the NFL off-season.  Coupled with these remarks that Coach Pettine made about Hoyer:

I think he’s a winner,” Pettine said of Hoyer, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I think the intangibles with Brian are off the charts. I think he’s a football junkie and I think you can tell he loves the game. He came from a system where he learned from the best in the game and that showed on the field. A lot of people based on his background kind of fall asleep on him a little bit.

“I think he’s a winning quarterback in this league.”

Now, none of that will mean much if Hoyer isn’t healthy again come training camp, coming off an ACL tear suffered in Cleveland’s Thursday night game against Coach Pettine’s former team, the Buffalo Bills.  But, as DPN has reported numerous times, Hoyer has been ahead of schedule most of the time throughout his recovery.  What is Hoyer’s mindset?

“My goal is to be the starting quarterback again,” Hoyer said Thursday, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “That’s what every day I come in here and work towards, and it’s definitely a motivation for me.”

“I feel great,” Hoyer said. “I’m doing a lot of things. I’m going out and throwing everyday, dropping back. Started running the last couple of weeks. Doing a lot of strength training.”

From Browns GM Ray Farmer, he said he won’t necessarily draft a quarterback, but that he wants quarterback Brian Hoyer to have competition.

“There’s an opportunity for some curveballs.”  “I’ll stand (by the positive comments I made) earlier, I definitely believe in the traits Brian Hoyer has demonstrated,” Farmer told the media via Ohio.com. “Nevertheless, competition drives this league. When you have guys that push the guy in front of them, that’s when the football team gets better. Every position on this team is definitely up for competition.”

On Brandon Weeden, the talk is a lot less direct, which in fact may be more telling.  Farmer said on Weeden:

“We are only going to talk to Brandon and his agent directly. If they decide to tell everyone else where they are at then that is in their court,” said Farmer. “I will not tell the media what I will do. Those will come out in time. We will deal with Brandon and his agent and he will release that information when he feels that is appropriate.”

“When we grade players, we grade players on what they’ve done in the NFL,” said Farmer. “The college draft is a projection. Once you are in the NFL, you get graded upon your performance. We have a grade on Brandon and in time his agent and he will both know where we stand.”

That is a very different sound bite than the ones on Hoyer.  Frankly, it almost sounds as if Farmer is a father scolding a young child, which leads me to believe that Farmer is none too pleased about the comments Weeden made in regards to his future in Cleveland:

I want to play football,” Weeden told the Oklahoman. “I don’t care. I just want to play football and be at a place where it’s enjoyable and we can compete and win games. That’s really what it’s all about.”

“I understand the business side of everything that’s going on,” Weeden said. “It’s kind of out of my control, because I’m still under contract. The ball’s kind of in their court, depending on what they want to do and do with me going forward. I kind of have no control over it. It is what it is, and things will work out.”

This was in response to a report from NFL.com’s Mike Silver that said

“Given the turmoil with the coaching staff and lack of public support from the most recent front office, he’s interested in a fresh start with a clean slate and an opportunity to compete to show he has the talent to develop into a productive player in the league,” Silver reported Tuesday on NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access.”

What does it all mean?  Likely that Hoyer has the inside track, the potential for the Browns to not take a QB seems to be real, though it could be a smoke screen.  And for all intents and purposes, Browns fans are likely to get their wish to see the Browns part ways with Brandon Weeden.

Shawn is the Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer for Dawg Pound Nation.  He’s also an Army Sergeant, married to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three and aspiring Browns Writer.  You can follow him on Twitter @ShawnMStarr or @DawgPoundNews, as well as on the Dawg Pound Nation Facebook Page. 

Draft Guru Mike Mayock Weighs In On The Top 3 QB Draft Prospects


In case you missed it, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock gave some really quality insights into the Top 3 Quarterback Draft prospects yesterday (Bridgewater, Manziel, Bortles).

Mayock started off by saying he thinks any of the three could play in Cleveland.  “I think all three of those top-rated quarterbacks could play for the Cleveland Browns,” Mayock said Tuesday during a conference call. “Bortles is kind of a bigger, stronger guy. People think he’s got the biggest arm. I’m not sure if he does or not. I want to see him live. But I also think he’s the least developed of the three. I think Bridgewater is the most ready-to-play NFL-style quarterback in this draft. And I think Manziel’s got that ‘it’ factor where I don’t think it matters if it’s Cleveland, Seattle, Dallas, warm weather, cold weather, whatever, I think he’s just going to be who he is.”  While Mayock seems to lean towards Teddy B, the odds are that the Browns will have their decision simplified by two of the teams in front of them, as the Texans and Jaguars are likely to each take on of the Quarterbacks.

That said, Mayock believes that all three have risks.  “None of these guys are Andrew Luck,” Mayock said. “None of these guys are Peyton Manning. None of these guys [make you say], ‘It’s a slam dunk. This is an easy one.’ … I can pick apart all three of them. I could not pick apart Andrew Luck.  When it comes to Johnny Football, Mayock cautions that a team will need to fit their system and personnel to his skills; “Manziel is a different kind of evaluation [because of his scrambling style], and you’ve got to buy in and embrace what he does. I love the kid. I love watching him. I think you’re going to have to teach him, and I think he’s going to have to be open to listening and learning. Your team is going to have to change how they play and embrace his style. Bridgewater and Bortles I think, can both be good quarterbacks, but I’m not ready to say either of those are all-pro quarterbacks.”  Mayock believes that Bridgewater is the most NFL ready, followed by Manziel, then Bortles.  “The reason I think [Bridgewater is] the most ready to play in an NFL-style offense is he was under center, he was in pistol, he was in shotgun, his offense, they threw the ball short, intermediate and deep,” Mayock said. “He understands three-step, five-step [drops]. He reads more than just half a field. So you can put the tape on and watch him do things and say, ‘Yeah, that translates to the next level.’ He’s not as much a wild card as Manziel, and I think he’s more developed in his reads and throws than Bortles.”

On Manziel, Mayock said he believes him to be  “a combination of Fran Tarkenton and Doug Flutie.” Mayock also said Manziel becomes “frustrated in the pocket,” which causes him to bail on plays early and leads to some mistakes.  “He doesn’t like being confined,” Mayock said. “He likes those open spaces and we have to evaluate him a little differently because of that. [But] I do believe he’s got the arm strength, the athletic ability, the passion for the game. … I believe in the kid. I think he’s going to be a top-10, if not a top-five, pick. But you’re going to have to live with some of the negative plays in addition to the positive ones.”  Mayock sees one possible Browns draft day scenario as passing on the top three QB’s, then taking Watkins followed by Derek Carr.  “Watkins would be awesome there,” Mayock said. “I think they can get a running back in a bunch of different places, given the number of picks the Browns have this year. [Watkins], if they took him at four, I’m all-in on that kid. He can really play.  On Carr, Mayock had some interesting thoughts for the Browns.  “I think Carr would be an interesting guy at 26. I didn’t love his USC tape in the bowl game at all, but I do believe he’s got the arm strength and athletic ability to be a starter in the NFL. I don’t think he’s a Pro Bowl-type starter, but I think he’s a competent starter. The question you’ve got to answer yourself is at 26, are you getting a significant improvement over what you think Brian Hoyer is because if you’re not, you need to move on and get another positional player.”

While the Browns draft day strategy remains deliberately mysterious at the moment, neither scenario that Mayock envisions would shock me.  I could see the Browns taking any of the Big Three at the moment, trading down picks, or taking Watkins at 4 and a QB later.

For the full teleconference, go here:  http://nflcommunications.com/2014/02/18/transcript-of-nfl-network-analyst-mike-mayocks-2014-nfl-scouting-combine-conference-call-tuesday-february-18/

Shawn is an Army Sergeant, Husband to @MrsStarr, dad to three and aspiring Browns writer. You can follow Shawn on Twitter @ShawnMStarr or the page @DawgPoundNews

Rumor: Ray Farmer May Be Leaning Towards Not Taking A QB With The 4th Pick


*** DISCLAIMER ***

This is a VERY young rumor, and very undeveloped.  I’m not terribly confident in it just yet, but there is some writing on the wall that leads me to believe there’s some merit to it, so I’m passing it along.

I’m hearing some little birds mentioning that Ray Farmer may be interested in taking a player other than a Quarterback with the #4 pick, or possibly trading down a few spots to stock more picks in this draft or next years draft.  Farmer has been rumored to be hot on Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, and with Brian Hoyer doing well in his rehab from last seasons ACL tear, the new Browns GM may be looking to next year to land his franchise Quarterback.  I’ve heard that Farmer may be interested in taking Clemson WR Sammy Watkins at 4, or possibly trading down with a team like the Raiders, who are hungry for a franchise QB themselves.  In a recent Q&A, Farmer said the

Q: The guy you have in mind, would you take him at No. 4?

A: I’d say that No. 4 is not necessarily where I would take the guy that I like. Again, it may not be the name that everybody thinks is the latest, greatest, and the easy one to spot. There’s definitely an art to selecting people in the draft and it’s finding the right name that fits who you want to be.

Which, again, could be a smokescreen, or a prep for the fan base to get ready to take someone other than a QB in the first round.

Again, this is a young rumor, so take it as is.  But, while it would be shocking I’m sure to the local media and fans, the writing is again on the wall for the Browns to shake things up.

 

Shawn is an Army Sergeant, Husband to @MrsStarr, dad to three and aspiring Browns writer. You can follow Shawn on Twitter @ShawnMStarr or the page @DawgPoundNews

Rumors: Mike Lombardi May Be On His Way Out As Browns General Manager


Rumors are starting to leak out of Browns Headquarters that General Manager Mike Lombardi may be on his way out, at least from his current position as GM.

It’s relatively easy to connect the dots on this one.  The circumstantial evidence is right there.  Lombardi has been noticeably missing from recent Browns activities, including the head coaching interviews and the recent pressers, including the firing of press conference for Rob Chudzinski, and the introduction press conference for new Head Coach Mike Pettine.  Outside of that, Owner Jimmy Haslam has been fairly silent on why Lombardi has been absent.   Tie that together with the fairly odd decision by Browns Assistant GM Ray Farmer to turn down the Miami Dolphins General Manager position recently, and the quiet whisperings of a few front office folks start to gain some interesting validity.  Why would Ray Farmer, who wants to be a GM, turn down a job that he was the leading candidate for, if he didn’t have a very good reason to stay in Cleveland?  Where has Mike Lombardi been?

The scenarios on Lombardi being out are pretty straightforward.  Either the Browns cut ties with him entirely, or they may seek to move him from the GM position by a lateral promotion to another part of the organization.  The latter seems just as plausible to me, because then they wouldn’t have the taint of another shake up within the organization.  Lombardi simply is removed from the area where he can do real damage (personnel), and is able to keep a job within the organization.

Update 1:  MF Jones Reports:

https://twitter.com/CONCEDE/status/430676341571469312

https://twitter.com/CONCEDE/status/430676537969352705

https://twitter.com/CONCEDE/status/430677370328981504

https://twitter.com/CONCEDE/status/430677493788311553

https://twitter.com/CONCEDE/status/430679182406737921

https://twitter.com/CONCEDE/status/430679368445075456

https://twitter.com/CONCEDE/status/430693079180656640

Our tweets:

 

Shawn is an Army Sergeant, husband to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three, and lead writer/publisher here at Dawg Pound Nation.  You can follow him on twitter @ShawnMStarr.  

https://twitter.com/ShawnMStarr/

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.