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Five Reasons Why Eric Mangini Should Be Fired

Published: January 4, 2010

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On Tuesday, Mike Holmgren will meet with Eric Mangini to discuss his future. If retained, this would be an odd marriage.

In pro football, there are two big family trees. There is the Walsh tree, which Holmgren is part of, and the Parcells tree, which Mangini came from via Bill Belichick.

This writer was never a big fan of Mangini’s hiring in the first place, but I do have to give him credit where it is due. The way the team finished was really good. They never quit on him and that is credit to him as a coach.

However, at the end of the day, he made some decisions that caused a lot of head-scratching and most did not work out for the best. He was known to be a control freak. The players rebelled early. One player got fined thousands for a bottle of water.

Looking at it objectively, there are five reasons why Holmgren should part ways with Mangini and look elsewhere.


1. The Quarterbacks

Last night on NBC’s Football Night in America, Rodney Harrison said Mangini should be brought back because of how the team finished. Harrison also said Mangini can’t be blamed for the inefficiency at quarterback. As much as I respect Harrison, I have to respectfully disagree.

The decisions Mangini made were all contributing factors as to why both quarterbacks had their struggles. For starters, keeping them both and making it a competition was the worst thing to do. The reps in offseason drills with the starters are huge in a young quarterback’s development.

Reps were being split at almost every position, therefore it was very difficult to develop any kind of chemistry between the quarterbacks and receivers.

Instead of making a commitment to one and saying this is the guy we are going with and sticking with through thick and thin, Mangini allowed doubt about both quarterbacks to be magnified. The decision to bring in Brett Ratliff, which ended up being about nothing, didn’t help matters any.

Whether you wanted Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson, most Browns fans would agree that the team should have committed to one and made a deal for the other. 


2. Trading Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards

This was the worst decision he made. Granted these guys were apparently problems in the locker room and Mangini said early on he didn’t want to deal with malcontents. But I wonder if the fact was, he knew he couldn’t deal with malcontents. I also wonder what he considered a malcontent. I am guessing it was anyone who disagreed with him.

Problem players or not, Winslow and Edwards were the two best playmakers on offense. If you get rid of players like that, at least replace them with other quality receivers. Robert Royal was a huge downgrade at tight end and it wasn’t until late in the season when Evan Moore was discovered.

Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, and Chansi Stuckey are all talented but are nowhere near the playmaker Edwards is at this point.

These decisions have had a strongly negative impact on both Quinn and Anderson.

With this in mind, Harrison’s idea that Mangini can’t be blamed for the inefficiency at quarterback holds less water.


3. Offensive Line

This is another reason why both Quinn and Anderson struggled early on. This offensive line was just awful for most of the year. The left side was pretty solid. That included Eric Steinbach and Joe Thomas. Both are holdovers from Romeo Crennel.

The right side of the line was awful. Floyd Womack was previously part of a very good Denver Bronco line. It turns out he was an average player on an otherwise good line.

John St. Clair wasn’t even average. He was just downright awful. He reminded me more of an el matador than an offensive tackle.

Mangini’s first pick was center Alex Mack. To be fair, Mack had a pretty good rookie season. However, he was nowhere near as dominant of a rookie as Thomas was.

The deficiencies on the line were guys Mangini brought in. It gave Quinn and Anderson no time to throw.


4. Brian Daboll

I’ve always believed Mangini knew he was not a good evaluator of talent when it came to quarterbacks. That is why he held both hostage. He didn’t want one to go elsewhere and make him look dumb.

It is understandable because Mangini’s specialty is defense. Therefore, logically, what he should have done was to hire a proven offensive guru and let him make all the offensive decisions.

Instead Mangini brought in Brian Daboll, a rookie offensive coordinator—and Daboll ran the offensive like a rookie. You only hire a rookie coordinator if a) he is on the side of the ball you specialize in so you can teach him properly, or b) there are a lot of older, veteran players. The Browns had neither.

As a result, Daboll looked clueless and called the most conservative plays I have ever seen.


5. Jerome Harrison

Nothing helps a young quarterback more than a good running game.

This area was basically nonexistent for most of the year. In fact, no running back had a rushing touchdown until the Pittsburgh game. Jamal Lewis was getting the carries for most of the year and his age was really showing.

Then when Lewis went down, Chris Jennings got a look. He showed some bright spots, especially against Pittsburgh, but still looked very raw.

In the meantime, Jerome Harrison was on the bench for most of the year. He got extensive action in one game early in the year and went more than 100 yards. He also showed skill on screen passes against San Diego.

It wasn’t until game 14 when Harrison got the start against Kansas City and had the record day. Harrison was a big part of the winning streak to end the year. He followed with good games against Oakland and Jacksonville.

It is obvious Mangini didn’t evaluate this position well since his best runner was on the bench for most of the year until the last three games. Needless to say, that could have helped the quarterbacks if the right runner was in from day one.

In spite of the run at the end of the year, Mangini needs to go. He did do a good job with the defense, but the decisions he made on offense speak for themselves. The fact is, a key player in the late season run was on the bench for most of the year. That is not good talent evaluation.

In the end, the idea that Mangini can’t be blamed for the quarterbacks holds no water at all.

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Based On History, What Will Mike Holmgren Do With Brady Quinn?

Published: January 1, 2010

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As we ring in the New Year, folks in Cleveland wonder what Mike Holmgren will mean to the Browns. Fans wonder about a lot of issues.

One of those key issues is how will he deal with the quarterback situation. While nobody really knows, everybody like to make their own prediction about what Holmgren will do.

To predict what he will do, you really have to look at what he has done with this situation in the past.

Dr. Phil is famous for saying that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. Since Holmgren’s method has gotten him to Super Bowls with two different teams, why would he deviate from that now?

Based on that, it is a good news/bad news situation for Brady Quinn. For those who think that Quinn will be replaced next season by Sam Bradford, Jimmy Clausen, Colt McCoy, etc., that probably won’t happen. Holmgren has never gotten his starting quarterback from the draft.

When he took over in Green Bay in 1992, he inherited a quarterback by the name of Don Majkowski. Majkowski was in and out of the lineup under Lindy Infante due mainly to injuries. Mike Tomczak finished the previous year as the starter when Majkowski was injured.

Holmgren began the 1992 season with Majkowski as the starting quarterback. However, that only lasted a few games as Majkowski got injured once again. Holmgren inserted this second year player who he acquired from Atlanta, Brett Favre. The next year Majkowski was out.

After a great run with the Packers which included two Super Bowl appearances and one World Championship, Holmgren moved northwest to the Seattle Seahawks in 1999.

There he inherited a quarterback by the name of Jon Kitna. Kitna had previously served as the backup to Warren Moon but did end the previous season by starting the last few games. Once again, Holmgren gave the guy he inherited a chance to show what he had.

Kitna led the Seahawks to a 9-7 record, which was enough for an AFC West title and a wild card appearance. Unfortunately, it was a quick exit as the Miami Dolphins led by Dan Marino took care of business.

The playoff appearance bought Kitna another year as the starter. However, he threw four interceptions in the season opener. That year Kitna was in and out with Brock Huard.

The following season, Kitna’s contract was not renewed and Holmgren went out and got a guy named Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck was unknown to many, but Holmgren had a feeling about him. A few years in, the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl.

What does all this mean for Brady Quinn? Again, it is a good news/bad news situation.

The good news is that Holmgren will probably give him a chance as the starter again in 2010. That is what he did with Majkowski and Kitna.

The bad news is that Holmgren hasn’t shown any long term loyalty to the quarterbacks he inherits. Therefore, Quinn has to stay healthy and produce results.

If Quinn fails after that, don’t look for Holmgren to get his quarterback from the draft. He never has. He has always gotten his guy in a trade and both times it was an unknown, unproven backup. Both times, it worked out.

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Cleveland Browns Need Improvement from Wide Receivers

Published: December 29, 2009

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Make no mistake about it, the key to build a winning team in Cleveland is by building a strong running attack. Having said that, the Browns still need to have enough of a passing attack to keep the defense honest.

There is no doubt that the Browns passing attack needs serious work. That is an indisputable fact. However, fans sometimes forget that there are two parts of the passing game. There are the guys throwing the ball and the guys catching the ball.

This season, most of the fingers have been pointed at the guys throwing the ball. Calling this objectively, we really can’t say that either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson did a good job. However, we can argue that both did the best they could with what they had to work with.

The receivers have had a problem all year with dropping passes and not helping their quarterbacks out. In one game Anderson was just 2-for-17. When you first look at that, you think what a horrible job by the quarterback. Then when you actually watch the film of that game, you see that the receivers were just as much to blame, if not more so.

There were more dropped passes in that game than we can count and that is no way to help your quarterback and to build his confidence that he can lead the offense.

Coming into the season, there was a lot of concern over the lack of playmakers at receiver. It all began with the trading of Kellen Winslow, who was replaced shortly after with Robert Royal, a move which ended up being a major bust.

Then came the incident with Donte Stallworth and the release of Joe Jurevicous, leaving the Browns with two fewer receivers. Meanwhile, Braylon Edwards was on the trading block for most of the offseason and was finally traded several weeks into the regular season.

When it was all said and done, the Browns were left with a young and inexperienced group of receivers. Joshua Cribbs has helped out, but most will agree that he is not at his best at wide receiver. He is better suited as an all purpose guy.

Mike Furrey was brought in as a veteran wideout. However, he has been an average receiver his whole career and he gave the Browns more of the same.

The Browns tried to upgrade the position through the draft, selecting Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi. After having a great career at nearby Ohio State, Browns fans were excited to have the former Buckeye playing for their squad. But other than the San Diego game, he hasn’t really made an impact.

Massaquoi has had a decent rookie season, but it will never be mentioned in the same sentence as Randy Moss’ rookie season. Few players will ever have rookie campaign’s like the one Moss put together, but Massaquoi has shown the ability to get open down the field and make the big play.

There is one thing that bothers me a little about Massaquoi though, which is is that I haven’t really seen him make an unbelievable catch in traffic.

One play that stands out came against Kansas City.  Massaquoi was double covered and Quinn under-threw him and the ball was picked off. While it was a horrible throw by Quinn, Massaquoi did fall down on the play.

And while the interception was Quinn’s fault, I have seen Tom Brady make that same horrible pass into coverage, But I have also seen Randy Moss reach over top of the defender and take the under-thrown pass from him or at the very least break up the interception.

Chansi Stuckey, who came over in the Edwards trade, has really done well as of late. The highlight of his season came on a 40-yard touchdown against Detroit. Although Stuckey has been a positive for this unit, I don’t see any defensive coordinator losing sleep over preparing for him.

Evan Moore was a late addition to the team. Playing against San Diego, he showed that he can be the pass catching tight end that the Browns were missing when Winslow left. And while Moore has been a pleasant surprise, there was one play in the second half against Pittsburgh that bothered me.

It was a third and long and the ball was slightly overthrown, but it hit his hand before it landed incomplete. I was at the bar for this game and I heard somebody say, “that is a tough catch, but an NFL tight end has to bring that one in.” What a true statement that was. A tight end in the NFL has to be able to go through the middle and catch those one-handers.

Adding to the Browns problems is that they don’t really have a good pass catching back. They need a guy who can take a screen and turn it into a huge gain. Cribbs is the closest they have to that, but he will never be confused with Kevin Faulk.

The Browns could also use a guy like Wes Welker, who can take a quick slant and turn it into a huge gain.

And let me reiterate again, they need a guy who can take a ball in traffic away from the defenders, something I haven’t seen much of, it at all, this year. The best catch in traffic was made by Quinn, and that is just not good enough.

The thing to remember though is that this unit is still very young and needs more time to gel. One thing Mike Holmgren will have to consider is whether he want to reactivate Donte Stallworth. That is a dangerous road but it may be worth the risk.

Looking ahead into the draft, Golden Tate or Jordan Shipley would be good choices for Cleveland to consider.

Like I mentioned in the beginning of this article, it is important to remember that there are two parts of the passing game. If you want to critique the guys throwing the ball, that is fine. However, just be fair and look at the whole picture, including who is on the receiving end.

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Cleveland Browns Have Always Won By Running The Football

Published: December 28, 2009

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Who is the first name you think of when you think of all-time Cleveland Browns?

That is easy for most. The answer is Jim Brown. Brown was arguably the best running back of all time.

Do you even know who the quarterback was when Brown was there?

Apparently it was Frank Ryan and Milt Plum at different times. It really didn’t matter though, because the offensive game plan was; give the ball to Jim Brown.

In the ’80s and early ’90s, the Browns were consistently playoff contenders. They played in a memorable game that featured a series that would later be dubbed, “The Drive.”

Although the Browns lost, it was a great game in Browns’ history. The star of the game was Ernest Byner. Unfortunately for Byner, he did fumble late and let John Elway be John Elway.

That doesn’t change the fact that it was the running game that allowed the Browns to be competitive. Other runners in that era were Kevin Mack and Eric Metcalf. Both were guys that were the difference makers on that team.

Bernie Kosar was the quarterback at the time and will always be a Browns legend. However, if you are looking at all-time NFL great quarterbacks, Kosar won’t be anywhere on the list. He was one of those quarterbacks who didn’t have the best arm, but was smart and wouldn’t kill a team with interceptions.

Although Kosar wasn’t an NFL great, he was still perfect for the Browns. He was able to provide enough of a passing game to compliment a great rushing attack.

Right before the original Browns left, they brought in Vinny Testaverde to back up Kosar. Unfortunately, we all know what happened. Every time Kosar made a bad pass the fans wanted Testaverde to play. It was constant back-and-forth between the two.

One comment that stood out in this process was made by Mike Ditka in a pre-game show. He said; “why are they worrying about who is playing quarterback? Give the ball to Eric Metcalf.”

The Browns got away from what always worked for them and they started losing as a result.

Kosar was soon out. The Browns drafted Eric Zeier and the quarterback controversy between he and Testaverde was the focus for the year. The Browns never got back to doing what they always did, running the ball. Then the team moved to Baltimore shortly after.

When the Browns re-entered the league, their focus has been finding that franchise quarterback and it has failed miserably. From Tim Couch to Brady Quinn, they are still looking.

This whole year the controversy between Quinn and Anderson has really been the focus. The Browns have had two good passing games all year, against Detroit and San Diego. Those were exciting games, yet both were losses.

For most of the year the running game was put on the back burner to try and see who can be the franchise quarterback. Only in the last three games has the plan been to run the ball, regardless of who is under center. Joshua Cribbs and Jerome Harrison have been magnificent.

There hasn’t been much from the passing game, but the Browns have won three-straight.

Now there is talk about what Holmgren will do to address the quarterback situation. The problem is that the franchise has wasted the last decade finding that, instead of focusing on how you really build a winner in Cleveland.

Cleveland is off the shores of Lake Erie and lake shore winds make it cold and windy from November through January. That is why the running game has always been what works in Cleveland.

Chicago went out last year and made the blockbuster trade for Jay Cutler to get a franchise quarterback. The Bears paid a big price for him and it looks like they made a bad deal. Chicago is just like Cleveland, in fact, it is called the Windy City. That has also been a team that has won by running.

So this coming off-season, maybe the Browns should change their approach. Understand that neither of the two quarterbacks may ever be the franchise quarterback. However, also understand that that is never how the Browns have won.

Therefore keep the guy who best compliments the running game. That is the guy who will turn it over less and can run play-action and bootlegs off of the run. We all know which of the two better fits that mode.

Then the real focus needs to be on continuing to build on the running game. The first way to do that is fix the holes in the line. That means this Sunday should be John St. Clair’s last game as a Brown.

Then you turn the focus to Harrison and Cribbs and how to best compliment them. There are many Browns fans who still like James Davis and Chris Jennings, but for whatever reason this writer just isn’t feeling it with those two.

Toby Gerhart or CJ Spiller would be nice additions to the running game. Also Lendale White as a short yardage specialist can, and should be, looked into for the Browns.

That is how the Browns can build a winner. The good news is Holmgren understands things like this.


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Brady Quinn Compared To Other Young Quarterbacks

Published: December 26, 2009

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The idea for this slideshow was sparked by a statement I saw earlier this week that said quarterbacks who have been in the league less time than Brady Quinn have shown more potential already.

When I first saw that statement, I immediately thought how many times have these other quarterbacks been allowed to run a no huddle. That is something Quinn has done all year and got better at it every week.

I was positive that the statement was based soley on passing stats. Needless to say, my curiosity got the best of me and I had to research this.

I looked at Quinn’s stats and also considered other factors that don’t show up on your typical stat sheet. Then I compared him to three other quarterbacks. I did not include Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco in the comparison. I know those are two of the guys the comment referred to.

However, Ryan and Flacco have started for almost two full seasons and that is just not a fair comparison. I decided to focus only on other first year starters. Yes, I do know that Quinn started three games last year. However, we know he was only healthy for one.

Therefore, this was really his first year that he started for most of the year. The guys I am comparing him to are Chad Henne for the Miami Dolphins, Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets, and Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions.

In these comparisions the evidence will show that while Quinn is slightly behind in some areas, he is significantly ahead in others.

So here we go.

Brady Quinn’s 2009 stats

Games Started: 9

Completion percentage: 136/256 53%

Passing yards: 1339

Yards/Game: 149

Longest pass: 59 yards

TD/INT Ratio: 8 TDs/7 INTs +1

Passer Rating: 67.2

Rushing Stats: 20 carries, 98 yards, 4.9 average, 1 TD, Long run= 24 yards

Number of times he ran a no huddle: 52

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Brady Quinn: He Did Improve As The Season Progressed

Published: December 23, 2009

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This article is a response to recent articles by Daniel Wolf and Steve Tater. Both are writers that I have the utmost respect for even when I respectively disagree with there points.

It does get tiring defending Brady Quinn. Here is a quarterback where the opinion on him is split. If we were in court, this would be a hung jury. That is okay though because to me, he is a player worth fighting for.

Although I have never met him, I have family who went to Notre Dame who did. Everybody who I talk to say he is just a stand up guy. I would be shocked if Quinn were one of those athletes we hear about on the news for a bad reason when his playing days are done.

The kid is already working on his law degree. With all he has been through in Cleveland he still maintains a strong faith in the lord.

So I am sorry I root for a player like that, but if believing in Brady Quinn is wrong than I don’t want to be right.

Having said all that, I do get that it is the NFL and he has to produce on the field regardless of the kind of person he is.

In regards to Brady Quinn, I have come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of fans. There are those who believe in him and those who don’t understand. People are afraid of what they don’t understand.

I constantly hear from those who don’t like him that they don’t understand what is the big deal about Quinn. His tangible skills are nothing special and his arm is nothing to get excited about. I certainly understand those sentiments because it is exactly how I felt after his sophomore year at Notre Dame.

Then in his junior year I saw something about him that is rare. He has something that is more important than tangible skills. He has the ability to see things before they happen. That is why he was able to lead the Irish as far as he could in spite it not being that great of team.

There are still some who don’t give him credit for the player he was in college because they are still hung up on the tangible skills. I remember his senior year against Michigan State in the rain. Nothing was working offensively until Charlie Weis allowed him to go no huddle.

Think about that, Weis is known for his massive ego. Yet this offensive genius allowed a college kid to call the plays at the line. The rest of the year the no huddle was a regular part of the offense. He was so effective with it because of his ability to see what the defense was doing before they did it.

I don’t ever remember a college quarterback being allowed to run a no huddle with such frequency. I am sure there has been some, but I don’t remember who.

The funny thing is many think Jimmy Clausen is a better quarterback than Quinn because of his superior arm. I love Clausen and do think he will be a great pro, but he can’t even compare to Quinn at Notre Dame. I only remember Weis allowing him to run a no huddle three times.

Yet, people think Clausen is way better despite only going to the Hawaii Bowl. It is because he is an easy one to understand. He has a great arm. That is easy to measure.

Quinn brings things that can’t be measured on a stat sheet. His ability to run a no huddle is the main one. Yes, he still has much to improve on at the NFL level.

However, he did improve on alot throughout the year. He did throw well against San Diego and Detroit. Then his stats weren’t that good against Pittsburgh. Most gave him a pass on that one because of the weather conditions which were cold and had winds up to 35 MPH. The word was that he managed the game well.

Then against Kansas City, we expected a better passing effort from him. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it. So the Quinn haters and doubters came out. Sure you like to see better stats and Quinn himself would have liked to have better stats.

However, there are factors that might have contributed to it. The running game was working better than it has all year. When it is working that well, stay with it. Isn’t also possible that the reason the running game worked so well was because the Chiefs were defending against the passing game that had improved in recent weeks?

Maybe the reason the passing game was off was because the Chiefs were defending it. His two interceptions were the result of defenders sitting back in the coverage. That doesn’t excuse the throws, that is something he has to learn and that is the next part of his development.

It isn’t that crazy to think that the Chiefs were geared at stopping the pass since the running game was nonexistent for most of the year. Sure Jerome Harrison had 285 yards on the ground and that is a monster game. However, for the season he has 587 yards. That means for the rest of the season he has only 302 yards.

The next highest rusher is Jamal Lewis with 500 yards and he is on injured reserve. It is not that far of a reach to think that the Chiefs didn’t respect the Browns running game.

This reminds me of a scenario when I was in basketball in junior high. We had one really good player that carried our team the whole season. We had only lost twice. Then we had a tournament at the end of the year. In the finals the team double and triple teamed our star player.

The rest of us got more easy lay ups than I can count. We won. Our coach told him afterward that it was his best game of the year. Although he only had four points, the attention he drew made him just as important as he would have been if he scored 30.

Sometimes we get way to caught up in stats in determining a player’s value. Stats are one way to measure value, not the only way.

Hockey has this thing called a plus/minus rating. To me that is a very valuable tool. What it is is that everytime a your team scores a goal with you on the ice you get a plus. When your team gives up a goal with you on the ice, you get a minus. That is a good indicator if more good or bad things are happening when you are in the game.

Along those same premises, did the overall offensive production increase after week eight? We know the answer to that. Prior to week eight the team had six touchdowns. Since week eight they have 14. Offensive production increased tremendously since Quinn has been back in.

Another thing to look at which can’t be measured with stats is the no huddle. I mentioned that earlier about how he was effective in college. This season the Browns have used it more regularly as the season progressed.

Last Sunday, it was featured a lot. That means Quinn was calling many of the plays at the line of scrimmage. That means he would read the defense and call the play based on what they were going to do. That means he was the one who saw the running game was open and he called it at the line of scrimmage.

I am sure coaches did tell him to feature the running game before going on the field, but he still was the one calling the plays in the no huddle.

He could call a ton of passing plays in the no huddle to boost his stats but he chose to take what was there. Doesn’t that tell you something about him?

I am not saying Quinn has arrived. He still has a lot to improve on and he will have to consistently put up better stats. However, you can tell by watching him both on the field and in interviews that he just looks more comfortable than he did early on.

It is important to remember that the receivers also contribute to passing stats. The reality is that there is talent among the receivers but they are very inexperienced. That has to be considered too.

I know Holmgren is a very good evaluator of offensive talent and we don’t know what he will do with Quinn. He did say that you don’t judge a quarterback until he has 48 starts. That could be good for Quinn, at the same time it could be good for Derek Anderson.

The future for Quinn is unclear, but let me tell all you doubters that I will admit I was wrong about him when and only when he is running an offense that isn’t completely outmatched by the defense every week and he still puts up inconsistent numbers.

In the meantime, I hope Anderson plays decent these last two games so the Browns have some leverage in trades.



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Minnesota Vikings: Brad Childress Stands For Nothing

Published: December 22, 2009

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I have coached at the junior varsity and Pop Warner level. In no way is that the same as coaching in the NFL. I am not pretending it is, however, when I would tell a player to sit on the bench, he sat on the bench.

Of course some would be upset about getting taken out; so would their parents. I did appreciate the competitiveness and desire to play. However, when I made a decision to take a player out I thought it was the right thing for the team and I would stick to my guns.

Does that make me a great coach? No! That is what any coach who values any kind of respect from his players would do.

When I heard the story of how Brad Childress wanted to take Brett Favre out of the game and Favre refused, I was just blown away.

I certainly wasn’t surprised that Favre didn’t want to come out. I have considered him a selfish jerk for awhile. You will never see me at the front of a line to join a Favre fan club, however, this is not on Favre.

Childress knew what he was getting when he signed Favre. Although he will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, he cares more about himself than the team. His actions on Sunday confirm that. Apparently, this isn’t the first time it happened this year.

If you are the head coach of a football team and you feel that taking a player out (no matter who it is) is the best thing for the team, stick to your guns. Giving into that player, kills all the respect you have from the players.

Childress tried to save face the next day by saying he appreciated Favre’s desire to keep playing. There are a couple problems with that. His decision wasn’t really a sense of benching Favre, but more of keeping him from getting hurt. Favre had been getting hit all night.

Childress could have said, “Brett, I appreciate your competitiveness, but I need you healthy for the playoffs. Go sit down.”

The other part that doesn’t add up, is that players have said he ripped into Favre after the game. Why would he do that if he really appreciated Favre’s desire to keep playing; it just doesn’t add up.

Favre may lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl. That will be good for Childress’s resume. He had better hope he succeeds this year. That is the only way he can save face with the Vikings. Even still, he would have paid a high price for victory and in the long run, it may be too high of a price.

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Mike Holmgren: What Does He Do Now?

Published: December 21, 2009

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After weeks of speculation, it’s official. Mike Holmgren is now the president of football operations for the Cleveland Browns.

Holmgren comes in with a proven record as a head coach. That should be good experience for him to be successful in the front office as well.

Holmgren will have many key decisions to make this offseason, two of which will get the most attention: do you bring back Eric Mangini and do you bring back Brady Quinn?

Looking at these decisions, I think Holmgren will need to keep his options open. Starting with Quinn, many think he is a good fit for a West Coast offense that could come with Holmgren. Being that Holmgren won’t be coaching, the west coast style may or may not be in Cleveland next year.

The reality is that Quinn does have experience in a West Coast offense; but he was very mediocre in it. He really excelled under Charlie Weis. Therefore, I think what makes the most sense is to bring Quinn back and bring in Weis as offensive coordinator. But more on that later.

Certainly regarding Quinn, Holmgren has to keep options open. If he gets a good trade offer for him, he should look at it.

At the end of the day however, I still think it best to bring Quinn back. Reason being, he has improved as the year has progressed. While he may not have had a good game throwing on Sunday, he did contribute in running the ball. He looks more comfortable out there now than he did at the beginning.

Holmgren also has to consider who else is out there. Michael Vick will be available and should be looked at. However, odds are he will want to go somewhere else. 

Besides Vick, who else will be available as a veteran? Chad Pennington will be, but his past injuries raise red flags. Also, Cleveland may not be appealing to veteran quarterbacks.

Looking at the draft this year, the best quarterback available is apparently Jimmy Clausen. He has played in a pro-style offense, so he could fit. But at the end of the day, Clausen is just not a fit for Cleveland. The reason is that he has to go to a team with an established line.

He is not a runner at all and isn’t very elusive. He couldn’t escape a rush against Navy. How would he do against the Steelers, Ravens, and Bengals with the holes in this line?

Clausen has a great arm, but it wouldn’t matter if he were on his back.

The other choices would be Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, or Tim Tebow. These guys were all great in college systems but converting them to the pro game will take time. Vince Young and Alex Smith are examples of that.

Therefore, the Browns should bring Quinn back to see if he can develop further.

I know that will cause some to scratch their heads, but remember Drew Brees after his third season in San Diego? He was horrible. Now look at him.

People do forget that although he has been around for three years, Quinn will still have less than a full season of playing at the end of this year.

That is not to say Holmgren shouldn’t draft a quarterback at all. He should in the middle rounds. That would serve as a plan B if Quinn doesn’t pan out next year. The perfect choice would be Dan LeFevour out of Central Michigan; another one who was great in a college system.

Lefevour can throw the ball. He won’t be ready right away, but that’s okay since Quinn would still be there. Lefevour is also athletic enough that he could move to a different position if Quinn were to work out.

As for Mangini, most know that I was not a fan, right from the start. However, I have to give credit where it is due. The team is playing hard for him and it is definitely starting to come together.

Holmgren has to look at the whole picture with Mangini. That includes his tenure with the New York Jets and this season in Cleveland. Mangini has shown he knows how to find players on the defensive side of the ball.

The Jets now have one of the young and upcoming defenses in football. Mangini did help bring some of those guys in. The guy that stands out is Darrelle Revis.

Looking at the offensive side of the ball, that is where the concerns are. For starters, he can never pick a quarterback. He was constantly back and forth with Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens. Then he couldn’t build an offense with Brett Favre. 

We saw more of that in Cleveland when he had Quinn and Derek Anderson compete for the job rather than just naming one. It does sound good to make a guy earn the spot, but the problem is that when you split reps, you don’t really give either the chance to develop chemistry with the receivers.

Looking beyond the quarterback position, he has been very indecisive with the running backs as well. It was stated on ESPN earlier that the Browns have had a different runner get the bulk of the carries in four straight games. Jerome Harrison was on the bench most of the year, but look what happens when he plays.

The linemen Mangini brought in just stink, especially John St. Clair. The jury is still out on Alex Mack.

The decision to make Brian Daboll the offensive coordinator has just been an epic failure.

So with all this information, what should Holmgren do? If I were him, I would recognize that the most important hire I have is not the head coach, but the offensive coordinator. In doing that, I wouldn’t settle for anybody not named Charlie Weis.

I would tell Mangini that I am bringing him back under these conditions: Weis would come in as offensive coordinator/assistant head coach; he would have complete control over the offense and would bring in his coaches and players; most importantly he would decide who is under center.

If Mangini is okay with those terms, I’d bring him back. If not, then there’s the door.

Bottom line, Holmgren should bring both Quinn and Mangini back but with conditions attached.

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Browns Finally Starting to Figure Out How You Win In Cleveland

Published: December 20, 2009

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Ever since the Cleveland Browns came back into the league, following the original Browns’ move to Baltimore, they have been looking for a guy to be the franchise quarterback. It started with Tim Couch. Since then, the list has gone like this: Kelly Holcomb, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, and Derek Anderson.

The current starter is Brady Quinn, who has also had his ups and downs. Why is it that the Browns can never get it right at this position?

Well, here is an interesting theory: having a franchise quarterback is not how you win in Cleveland.

If you look back at the Browns in their glory days, you will see that they have never really had a franchise quarterback. Sure, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar are Browns legends, but NFL fans outside of Cleveland barely remember them. It is not because they were bad; it is because they were the kind of quarterbacks Cleveland needed.

That is, a guy who won’t kill you with crucial mistakes and will manage the game. When Kosar was the quarterback, the Browns had a great running game with Kevin Mack and Eric Metcalf. Metcalf was also deadly in the return game. Does he sound familiar to a current Brown?

After Joshua Cribbs’ two kickoff returns against the Chiefs, he should remind us all of Metcalf.

Jerome Harrison was the star of the day, with 286 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Harrison set a single game record for the Browns in rushing yards.

The funny thing is that Quinn didn’t have a good passing game at all. He was 10-of-17 for just 66 yards. He also threw two interceptions. He did run the ball pretty well, though, gaining 39 yards that he used to convert crucial third downs.

In spite of the subpar game from Quinn, the Browns managed to put up 41 points and get the win.

Matt Cassel had a good game on the other side of the ball, yet his team still lost.

The reason for this is quite simple: When you get into December in these cold weather climates, the game isn’t about which quarterback can light it up. It is about who can run the ball the best. This game is a perfect example of that.

Cleveland is as cold as it gets, and they play many games outside of Cleveland that will also be cold. Kansas City is no exception. In those games, running the football is what wins. When they go to a warm place like Miami or San Diego, then they can let their quarterback air it out.

Looking at the upcoming offseason, it would be a huge mistake for the Browns to draft another quarterback early. This strategy has failed them in the past. Quinn may or may not become a franchise quarterback. However, he has shown the last couple weeks he can manage to not lose the game, and that is how you win in Cleveland.

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Cleveland Browns Can Make It Two In a Row Against The Chiefs

Published: December 17, 2009

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It was just one week ago when the Cleveland Browns pulled off the upset of the year. It was the first time in ten tries that they beat the arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now they prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs in a game between two teams that have won a combined five games. Certainly this is not a game that will have playoff implications in any way. However, don’t discount the importance of this game at least not to the two teams.

The amazing thing is that the Browns are actually favored to win. That is an accomplishment since the they have been ranked last in nearly all power rankings all year.

As bad as the the Browns have been most of the year, the Chiefs may be in even worse shape. They brought in Matt Cassel who had a great year in New England to be the franchise quarterback. However, they can’t protect him. As a result, Cassel has just as many interceptions as touchdowns, 13.

Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers are good receivers but it has been difficult to get it to them. They have no help from the running back at all. Their defense is ranked near the bottom as well.

The Browns definitely have a chance to win two in a row. In a way it will show they are more improved than the Chiefs. As good as that would feel, it is important for Browns to remember what is most important at this point.

That is the development of Brady Quinn and the other young players. Quinn has definitely progressed over the past month but he still has a long way to go. The big thing is that it still has to slow down for him.

The progress of Quinn has definitely rubbed off on others as well. Mohamed Massaquoi has shown signs all year of being a quality NFL receiver. The Browns are now starting to see other guys step up too. Most notably has been Evan Moore and Brian Robiskie.

Jerome Harrison and Chris Jennings have started to provide a little from the running game, but they have a long way to go. There is even talk of putting Mr. Everything Joshua Cribbs more at a traditional tailback spot as opposed to always running out of the wildcat.

On the defensive side of the ball, Kaluka Maiava has been getting better every week. He still has a long way to go but has shown the ability to be a very good linebacker in the NFL. The Browns need to see more from the other Hawaiian David Veikune. So far he has yet to really make a significant impact.

Looking at the game this weekend and the other remaining two games, it definitely softens up for the Browns and wins are more realistic than before. It is about winning but in this case the most important thing for the Browns is the continued development of these younger players, especially Quinn.

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