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#HeyTony: Why did the Browns give a contract extension to Austin Davis?

Oct 03, 2015 -- 5:00pm

By Tony Grossi |



Quarterback talk always dominates conversation on the Browns. This week, someone other than Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown led the way.



Hey Tony: What in the world is up with giving Austin Davis an extension? Does that make him the highest paid practice squad player in history? What does this tell you about the Browns’ QB situation?

-- Tom, Washington, IA

Hey Tom: The Browns liked Davis a year ago and signed him when the Rams cut him in September. After a month of having him in meetings and on the practice field, they decided they wanted him to be part of their future and signed him to a two-year extension. He was never on their practice squad. This commitment tells me they consider Davis a viable backup quarterback next year. Before the year is over, I’m thinking we will see Davis play in a game. He was 3-5 in eight starts for the Rams last year.

Hey Tony: Following this team this year is reminding me of the movie Major League. The Owner is backing so many poor decisions (ugly uniforms, lousy draft picks, incompetent front office, drunken coaches, bad performances), I’m thinking he has ulterior motives. What are the chances that Haslam wants this team to perform so badly that we don’t care if he moves them to L. A. or London, or wherever? If that is the case, he is making great progress in fan apathy.

-- Nick, Tucson, AZ

Hey Nick: The Browns have an iron-clad lease in FirstEnergy Stadium through 2029, I believe. Relocating them is not an option. The rest of the stuff, I can’t explain.

Hey Tony: How is that the Browns can have two All-Pros in Joe Thomas and Alex Mack plus Joel Bitonio, who is regarded as an up-and-coming guard, and they still can't run the ball?  Shouldn't they be able to run left all day?  Or are they just not all they're cracked up to be?

-- Carl, Candia, NH

Hey Carl: For one thing, I don’t think coordinator John DeFilippo has the same commitment to running the ball as did Kyle Shanahan, his predecessor. Also, trying to emulate the scheme put in by another coach often doesn’t work as well as it did with the originator. The Browns are made up to run the wide zone scheme that Shanahan installed and plays off the linemen’s athleticism and mobility. They don’t have road-grader blocking types.

Hey Tony: Do you think you could remind Browns players, especially those on defense, that talk is cheap and pass along to them that fans have grown weary of witnessing their on-field product fall far short of their tough talk?  Perhaps they don't even realize their trite mantra "words into action" is just more hollow rhetoric, but someone should remind them that people who are truly confident and good at what they do don't have to tell others how good they are and how confident they are; they just go out and prove it.

-- Mark, Columbus, OH

Hey Mark: I’ll pass it along.

Hey Tony: Any peeps heard (plays made) on the field yet from either Xavier Cooper or Nate Orchard? They got good press in training camp. Are the Browns rotating too much on defense so that players aren't getting enough reps to get into the flow of the game?

-- Tom, Santa Monica, CA

Hey Tom:  Cooper should get more reps in San Diego as a result of Desmond Bryant’s inactive status. Orchard played about 20 snaps in the Oakland game but wasn’t very productive. All I can say is it is very early in their rookie seasons.

Hey Tony: I've watched a lot of terrible football in my life and have read a lot of your recaps of the terrible football filled with quotes from players explaining what went wrong in the loss.  Reading the player quotes after Sunday's debacle struck me as lacking any emotion as if the players just don't really care that they're squandering what could be a great opportunity to make noise in the division.  You're closer to it but do you see the same thing with some of the players not caring as much as the fans/media/front office?

-- Jeff, New York, NY

Hey Jeff: I guess the explanation for players not venting after losses like the rest of us is that they can’t get too high after wins or too low after losses. They try to keep an even keel over the long haul of a season of ups and downs. I know sometimes I Ieave games wondering if they care as much as the rest of us, but I truly believe that they do.

Hey Tony: From your view on the front line what would it take for the Browns to entertain trade offers for Mr. Manziel in the current chaos of management and emotions? As a start, I can imagine a certain Cowboys owner may be growing tired of the Brandon Weeden Experience.

--Josh, Sydney, Australia

Hey Josh: Although I have seen previous Browns regimes execute trades for Charlie Frye, Colt McCoy and Brady Quinn, I don’t foresee a trade of Manziel. Dallas already has traded for Matt Cassel. Part of the reason that Stephen Jones over-ruled his father and turned a cold shoulder to drafting Manziel was that management didn’t want to create a circus atmosphere with home-grown Manziel joining the Cowboys as Tony Romo’s backup. That feeling still exists.

Hey Tony: Any chance that Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, or Kyle Shanahan could be behind the recent report of locker room controversy related to Josh McCown and Manziel?

-- Dan, Sylvania, OH

Hey Dan: Banner? No way. Shanahan? No way. Lombardi? … Naw.

Hey Tony: We are in year two of the Pettine/Farmer regime and I think it’s time to move on.  Here is what I am basing my opinion on: 1) The defense is terrible and there are no signs of improvement.  While some of the blame falls on Pettine, I think at a minimum, a change at defensive coordinator position is required -- someone from outside the organization. 2) I am unsure about Pettine and don't know if he can be a good head coach.  The good news is that I haven't noticed any Shurmur-like moments from Pettine and he seems prepared to be a head coach in the NFL but he needs to figure out a way to get more out of his team. 3) I have not been a big fan of Farmer from day one.  He comes across as an arrogant, stubborn person who refuses to learn from his mistakes. Whenever I hear or read his interviews, he sounds like a person who thinks he knows it all and knows how to run a NFL team.  But I have not seen any evidence of that yet and I haven't seen him correct his mistakes: he continues to skip pro days, he undervalues the quarterback and receiver position (maybe this is partly due to the fact that he played cornerback), he has failed at evaluating cornerbacks and running backs.  He has his fingerprints on the roster and there isn't a single difference maker on the team.  He has been in charge of the draft last two years and has drafted over 15 players and not a single player puts fear into the opposing team.  He made a good trade for the punter Lee and has signed some good undrafted players but that's about the only positive thing I can say.  I don't see things improving with time. What are your thoughts and what do you think it will take to get the Browns moving the right direction?

-- PD, Dallas, TX

Hey PD: It struck me when the Browns announced their “final” roster in September that this team in Year 2 of the Farmer-Pettine regime is no better – or barely marginally better – than the team they inherited. And don’t forget, they inherited about $60 million in salary cap room and a boatload of draft choices. Those opportunities to make sizable gains were largely squandered.

Hey Tony: Time to call out the defense Tony. All that talk in the preseason of being an elite defense is nothing but hot air. Coach Pett's "words into action" motto needs to be changed to: "shut up and leave it on the field" motto. Poor execution, lack of passion killed the fans in the stadium and those watching at home. To take a page from one of your articles where you were spot on, they need to play angry. Look at the Patriots (Sunday), they have nothing to prove to anyone and could have coasted their way through that game. Instead, they played angry yesterday and never let up against Jacksonville. It's a mindset that starts at kickoff and doesn't end until the final whistle. Good teams play like that. I haven't seen that out of this defense, let alone the rest of team as a whole. Also need to call out the O-line, they haven't nearly lived up to the good press they've received prior to the season. Alex Mack has looked pedestrian. Fans (myself) might start to call for Cam Erving to start over Mack with the way Mack has been playing. Browns fans will respect, back the team, and forgive players for mistakes when they hustle, play with passion, and anger. Some players have earned that this year, but the team as a whole hasn't. Some people blame the coaches, some the players. I believe it's both, and they have to work together to fix it and make it work. Am I off base here Tony? Or do my feelings sum up how other Browns fans are feeling?

-- Bill, East Hartford CT

Hey Bill:  Benching Mack is not the answer to the offensive line woes. It has been affected negatively by the loss of coordinator Kyle Shanahan and the departure of line coach Andy Moeller. The defense has myriad issues, but has enough talent to play much better than it has shown.

Hey Tony: If Haslam doesn't fire Farmer something smells in Berea. That odor may be the residue of Haslam instructing Farmer to set this year's team up to purposely fail in order to be able to draft a QB high next year. The 2015 Browns are a smelly mess at the top and Pettine is up to his neck in it. What do you think?

-- Dale, Barberton, OH

Hey Dale:  They aren’t losing on purpose to set up the next draft. Haslam has been criticized heavily, and rightfully, for pulling the trigger too quickly on previous regimes. So now he is trying to exercise patience and give the current one time to show progress. Sadly, his patience is not being rewarded.

Hey Tony:  Is Jimmy Haslam's vision for the Browns the same as Ray Farmer’s? Let's hope not. How can the Browns not have any offensive playmakers, or defensive playmakers?  The Browns also lack size, are the Browns the smallest lightest roster in the NFL? For wanting to be a dominant, control the ball team on offense, defense, we seem to be to built for finesse, not brute grind it out, wear down the other team ball.

-- Kevin, Green Springs, OH

Hey Kevin: You’re right. The makeup of the line, for example, does not suit a philosophy of controlling the game on the ground. Other than Travis Benjamin, who was drafted three regimes ago, there is no playmaker on offense. And the only ones on defense that approach that category were Tom Heckert-era acquisitions Joe Haden and Tashaun Gipson.

Hey Tony: We aren't just a QB away.  Both our lines get pushed around.  Our "skill" players on offense don't scare anyone.  The linebackers and DB's are best.  To top it off, I don't think the coaching staff is getting through to these guys either. In the 100 Years War...victory is theirs.  Your thoughts?

-- Craig, Atlanta, GA

Hey Craig:  A transformative player at the quarterback position would make everyone better, in my opinion. But I don’t know if there is one in the draft.




Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




#HeyTony: Will the Browns move on from Johnny Manziel after this season?

Sep 26, 2015 -- 5:00pm

By Tony Grossi |



The benching of Johnny Manziel after his first career win resulted in a record volume of questions to the Hey Tony inbox. As an aside, I am going to request that questions be more brief. I’ve allowed them to go way too long.

Hey Tony:  I have never been the biggest fan of Johnny Manziel, but after last week's win I did see some hope and was interested to see if he would be able to build off the success moving forward, but, as we know now, the coaches have decided that they feel more comfortable with Josh under center this weekend. My question is, does this move by the coaches tell us that they already have their minds made up on what Johnny is and are ready to move on to the next savior of the Browns?

-- Brandon, Winter Haven, FL

Hey Brandon:  As usual, everything with Manziel is open to speculation and interpretation. I’m willing to take Mike Pettine for his word: He thinks Josh McCown gives the team the best chance to win. Manziel is improving, but not ready to take the starting helm. The natural course of the season will give the Browns enough opportunity to evaluate him long-term. In the meantime, the personnel staff absolutely must fervently evaluate the QBs in the 2016 draft.

Hey Tony:  Would it be an accurate assessment to liken the debate over playing Manziel now vs the veteran QB McCown to the one Bill Parcells dealt with in Dallas with Tony Romo? Cowboys fans were SCREAMING for Romo to play, and Parcells kept him on the bench to keep learning in favor of Drew Bledsoe. Parcells told the Dallas Morning News: “If I had put in Romo in his first year and just let him play, he would have been out of football in a year and a half. He was just a gunslinger. He was indiscriminate. And he would do (expletive) that you just can’t succeed doing. But after a year or two of practicing in the preseason, getting his (reps), you could see he had a real good chance to come along.” To me, that sounds very familiar.

-- Mike, Cincinnati, OH

Hey Mike:  Parcells had a tremendous feel for quarterbacks. He brought out the best in them and he won with different ones. For the most part, they generally were physical, strong-armed passers (Phil Simms, Bledsoe, Vinny Testaverde, Romo). I wish the Browns had a quarterback “guru” on hand to manage this process. That said, I would point out that Romo was an undrafted free agent – not a first-round draft choice like Manziel. His competition at Eastern Illinois did not adequately prepare him to jump in as an NFL starting QB in a year or two. If Romo had played an SEC schedule like Manziel, Parcells might have played him sooner.

Hey Tony:  I think your article on the pressure Josh McCown will face as the starter in front of an improved Manziel was great.  However, I'm not so sure that all of the players want McCown to start.  A QB problem like this will divide a locker room.  It won't matter that McCown is a nice guy.  Players know McCown's past record and poor QB stats.  If McCown starts out slowly, he'll divide the locker room quickly. Remember, he has no positive history with the Browns and is 0-1 as a starter this year.  Manziel is 1-0 as a starter.  Pettine, on the other hand, is tremendously biased toward McCown.  He made excuses for McCown's failed leap into the end zone and subsequent fumble and was critical of Manziel not sliding soon enough when he was hit by Skrine.  I thought McCown's leap was reckless and stupid.  You could just feel all of the life sucked out of the Browns after that turnover.  Pettine had the perfect opportunity to start Manziel.  If McCown struggles, it's all on Pettine.  Pettine owns McCown as much as Farmer owns Manziel.  Tony, is this starting to feel like the Jay Gruden and RGIII situation between Pettine and Manziel?  It seems that Pettine even compliments Manziel through clenched teeth.

-- Rick, Shreveport, LA

Hey Rick:  My read is that the locker room is staunchly behind McCown, but players were pleased to see the improvement in Manziel on and off the field. I don’t think the change back to McCown was nearly the issue internally as it’s been externally. As far as Pettine’s attitude toward Manziel, I think you’re reaching. Pettine clearly does not feel Manziel is ready to take over a team, yet he compliments him any chance he gets.

Hey Tony:  I don’t understand the infatuation with starting Manziel. All McCown did is take the Browns 17 straight plays against one of the best defenses in the NFL that just shut down Andrew Luck. Meanwhile the Titans game did nothing but cement in my mind that one team that day had a legitimate potential franchise QB who was tough, made some plays, but basically has no support, while we have a fragile QB who has fumbled 4 times in 2 games, and except for 2 big plays against a terrible defense, engineered 5 possessions which were 3 and outs through the entire 2nd, 3rd, and half the 4th quarter. Did you see anything last Sunday that would have you not trade our whole last draft for Mariota? Why does everyone think that Manziel gives us such a higher chance of winning or even the same as McCown.  Clearly the staff seemed petrified of the fact that they were forced to start him against the Titans. I don’t understand why people were so excited when he was drafted, then thought he was a total bust, now think he is the Browns savior. He is still a 5-10, underweight quarterback who is going to get crushed some day, although I do think he has made quite a bit of progress compared with last year.

--Tom, Chapel Hill, NC

Hey Tom: Manziel elicits amazingly passionate reaction from one extreme to the other. As a quarterback, I have always questioned whether he has the physical attributes to succeed in the NFL. While he has made progress in staying in the pocket to read defenses, I feel he has a long way to go. In the meantime, he’s always capable of making improvisational plays like the 50-yard bomb to Travis Benjamin.

Hey Tony:  I am wondering what your thoughts are about Ray Farmer. One of the biggest issues I feel the Browns have had since we came back in 1999 is that we have had no consistency.  We fire the GM, which leads to firing the HC, which leads to firing the offensive/defensive coordinator.  We then hire a new GM and he hires his HC, who then hires new Coordinators and we revamp the roster to fit the new scheme.  Should we be more patient with Ray Farmer.  We are thought to have a stout defense this year.  Shelton, Starks, Dansby, Solomon, T. Williams, and Whitner are all starters this year that Farmer has brought in or drafted.  I know there are question marks on some of the players drafted but that is a reason why we need to be patient and give it time, we don’t know what we have yet.  And was Gilbert not Pettine’s choice and Manziel Haslam’s choice?  I am not sure how much credit I would give Farmer for those two picks. 

--Ken, Simpsonville, SC

Hey Ken: I’ll just say I disagree with Farmer’s philosophy of building a team. Just look at the main players on offense at the skill positions. The only ones drafted by the Browns are Travis Benjamin and Duke Johnson. You can include Manziel in that group, if you’d like. As for the lack of continuity, it seems whenever the Browns press the “blow it up” button -- and this goes back to the Lerner ownership – they ALWAYS fire the GM AND the coach, instead of keeping the GM to maintain the philosophy in place. In fact, they have never allowed a GM to pick his own coach. The trend in the NFL for some time has been for the owner to hire a coach and then pair him up with a GM. I’m not sure that works well.  

Hey Tony:  Long-time fan, I always enjoy reading your work.  By starting Josh McCown, Mike Pettine is clearly angling to try to help his win/loss record to earn a 3rd season at the helm.  My question is 2 parts - 1) Since 99, has a Browns Head Coach or GM seen a 2nd contract with the team and 2) When is the last year the Browns weren't paying at least 2 Head coaches?

--Joe, Columbus, OH

Hey Joe:1. Butch Davis, who was represented by the estimable Marvin Demoff, deftly finagled a contract extension from Randy Lerner prior to the 2004 season. Then, prior to the 2008 season, Lerner gave contract extensions to Phil Savage, Romeo Crennel, and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. They could all thank Derek Anderson’s fluke 2007 season for that. 2. Chris Palmer was the first coach of the expansion-era Browns. Since he was fired after the 2000 season, I don’t think the Browns have ever been in the position of paying only one head coach.

Hey Tony: Ray Farmer is clearly correct that receivers only influence a few plays per game. I only counted 3 plays Travis Benjamin contributed against the Titans. Practically non-existent. So do you think the Browns should try to trade Benjamin now while his value may be a little higher? Maybe they could get a 4th or 5th round pick for him.

-- Scott, Cleveland, OH

Hey Scott: The fact is Benjamin will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. You can probably predict how this ends.

Hey Tony:  Considering the investment in the front seven (financially and draft picks). We were told that second year in the scheme, players would know their roles and make plays. Why is the run defence still so poor? Is it the outside backers falling to set the edge, is it the line men failing to tie up blockers, is small inside linebackers or is it the scheme

--Gerard, Cork, Ireland

Hey Gerard:  The Browns brought in linemen Danny Shelton and Randy Starks to upgrade the run defense. But they did nothing at the outside linebacker (edge) position. Second-round draft choice Nate Orchard was a sack specialist at Utah. Frankly, I’ve never been a fan of the 3-4 defense.

Hey Tony:  I am considerably worried about our defense, particularly our run defense. It has been since 2011 when Mike Pettine was responsible for a good rushing defense. Ever since then, he has ranked 32 (this year), 32 (last year), 28 (Bills), and 26 (Jets). Not only that but it’s not like when he left those teams the defenses suffered. The Bills defense is actually better and when he left the Jets their defensive rank improved by one. Do you think we may be overrating Pettine as this defense genius?

--Eliot, Cape Coral, FL

Hey Eliot:  Your facts are hard to dispute.

Hey Tony:  What are your thoughts on trying Barkevious Mingo at one of the safety positions?  It appears that he'll never be the thud-buster at linebacker at 240 pounds, but what about safety?  Yes, he's a little "over weight" but which would be better -- weak or strong safety? 

-- Sal, College Park, MD

Hey Sal: This year, Mingo looks thinner than ever. You can’t try a major position switch at this point. He is what he is.





Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




#HeyTony: Does Browns owner Jimmy Haslam have buyer's remorse?

Sep 19, 2015 -- 5:00pm

By Tony Grossi |



A 31-10 loss to the New York Jets in the season opener brought out the pitchforks and torches among Hey Tony readers. Several questions were dropped from the column because they dripped with venom and vitriol.

Hey Tony:  Do you ever think Jimmy Haslam regrets the decision to purchase the Browns franchise? Prior to owning the team he was a respected businessman, he helped get his brother elected Governor of his home state of Tennessee, and he was a BILLION dollars richer. Since buying the Browns, his business faced a federal investigation & was nearly ruined, his reputation was greatly tarnished, he barely avoided jail time, he looked foolish firing a hometown head coach after one season, and looked even more foolish firing his hand-picked team president & GM after only one full season. And, his current GM is not exactly setting the league on fire. All that, and the team is still a loser with no real hope of a turnaround in sight. Anything can happen, but after week one this season looks bleak. One could argue the Pilot Flying J investigation would have happened anyway, but coming after buying the Browns just feels like the curse of the Browns strikes anyone associated with the team. Not to mention Jimmy's home state team looks like it might have just drafted a franchise savior. It's got to hurt.

-- Ted, Longmeadow, MA

Hey Ted: Haslam bought the Browns for $1.005 billion in 2012. Recently, Forbes set the franchise’s value at $1.5 billion. And the Browns ranked only 25th out of 32 teams on the list. In other words, much room to grow in value. If you were a businessman, would you regret that purchase?

Hey Tony: How can so many of us Browns fans be surprised by what went down in New York?  I'm not.  This defense is strong … only because the organization had hoped it would be.  Gipson is the only guy I see as a playmaker.  Our offense is out of the Stone Age.  In my opinion there is a bright side, we lose and lose big.  We need to get out of that 7-12 range in the draft and with a horrible record we can.  We need one of the QB's coming out next spring.  We also need to get Ray Farmer and Pet out.  Farmer spends a lot of Jimmy's money with absolutely no return.  Pet, I see nothing to make me believe that the guys buy in.  Cheer up, Browns fans!  This needed to bottom out before it can get truly better.  We need to hire an EXPERIENCED GM that will command respect from the word go.  No price should be too high.  Your thoughts, Tony?

-- Craig, Atlanta, Ga.

Hey Craig: Here’s the problem with your conclusion: Given the recent history of regime blow-ups and perceived meddling by non-football types, attracting an experienced GM is not as easy as you make it sound. Hence, Haslam has been limited to Mike Lombardi and Ray Farmer in his two GM hires.

Hey Tony: When is the Browns OC gonna go to the upper press box to see the real & full effect of the football field? He can not see over gigantic players on sideline. He is guessing in the plays!

 -- Kenny, Saybrook by the Lake, OH

Hey Kenny: Every coordinator is free to call the game from where he feels comfortable – upstairs or on the field. Some like it up, others like it down. John DeFilippo prefers to be on the field to be able to speak face-to-face with his quarterback during timeouts, etc. There are enough coaches upstairs to identify coverage trends, etc., to DeFilippo prior to making a call.

Hey Tony: With Josh McCown looking iffy at best for Sunday, and Ray Farmer being on suspension for a few more games, could you see Pettine working with Bill Kuharich to make a trade with Houston to bring Hoyer back to Cleveland where he belongs? 

-- Josh, Galena, OH

Hey Josh: Shortly after receiving your question, the Browns announced that McCown had a setback during concussion protocol and was ruled out for Sunday’s game. I couldn’t resist using your question solely to give my answer: I wish I’d have thought of that first.

Hey Tony:  To me, the sloppy play that was exhibited on Sunday is a sign of poor coaching. I have had high hopes for Mike Pettine and hope he succeeds but when you see multiple penalties, unimaginative play calling (how many times should you keep sweeping to the right for 1 yard gains before you try a different direction?), and poor tackling (which is nothing new) it tells me that the coaching staff is not going to succeed. We have coaching staff members running afoul of the law. There are multiple first round draft choices who aren't starting. This organization is not working and I do not know when it will as long as candidates for coaching, managerial positions, and players view the Cleveland Browns as an organization they do not want to be a part of. It appears Mike Pettine was hired because he was one of the few people willing to take the job. Ray Farmer took over as general manager by default when the former team was fired. What is the solution to this mess? On one hand if they tear down and start over they'll be in the same shape the Browns are in now where quality candidates do not want to come to Cleveland only to be fired in 2 years. If they stay the course then I have low expectations that the Browns will improve. I'm 59 years old and hope to live to 100. If I live that long would I have reasonable expectations of the Browns making the playoffs before I die the way things are now?

 -- Glenn, Melbourne, FL

Hey Glenn: I always answer this question the same way: Smoker or non-smoker?

Hey Tony:  1.  Remember Ray Farmers first "big" decision as general manager was to use the transition tag on Alex Mack?  This mistake allowed Alex and his agent to add the player option to the deal, language I assume the Browns would not have agreed to include. If the mistake of using the transition tag ultimately led to the pick of Cam Erving, is this another wasted first round pick by Ray Farmer?  (in other words if Farmer never used the transition tag, Alex would be locked in to ac.ontract for several more years and he could have picked a different position/player for the 19th pick). 2. If the Browns only have a win or two at the trade deadline I propose they trade Alex Mack (he will opt out at the end of the season anyways). This will get Cam Erving valuable experience and also something in return for the soon to be gone Pro Bowler. My question is what could the Browns get for Alex Mack?  Any other players north of 30 that could have trade value in this doomsday scenario?  Maybe Whitner and Dansby could get some late round picks?

-- Ryan, Strongsville, OH

Hey Ryan:  Financially, Farmer’s transition tag strategy actually has saved the team money. Barring a multi-year deal, the Browns would have had to apply the franchise tag to keep Mack in 2014, and then re-apply it in 2015. That would have guaranteed Mack salaries of $11.654 million and $12.954 million. Under the offer sheet from the Jaguars that the Browns elected to match, Mack received salaries of $10 million in ’14 and $8 million in ’15. However, the “opt out” clause after ’15 was the primary reason the Browns drafted Erving, in my opinion. Further, Mack also protected himself with a “no trade” clause. So when you take everything into consideration, the transition strategy was not something I would classify as brilliant.

Hey Tony:  Curious about our # 1 draft pick from the 2013 draft – Barkevious Mingo.  With Pettine's "always be a mismatch from a weight standpoint" comment, it seems to me that with all the technology involved now in weight training/core development and nutrition, why haven't the Browns been able to fully develop this highly drafted athlete? Mingo the outside linebacker was drafted to rush the QB, but now plays drop pass coverage and has to set the edge.  Clearly, he has some of the same weaknesses that he had 24 months ago.  Where is the player development and "coach him up" at?

-- Tim, Ladera Ranch, CA

Hey Tim:  Bottom line is genetics. Some players simply can’t be built up – no matter what. The day Mingo I was drafted, I asked why he did not do the bench press at the NFL Combine or at his pro day. Nobody thought it was a big deal. Maybe he was concealing lack of strength.

Hey Tony:  I get that Farmer and Pettine are a forced marriage and may never be best buds and I don’t care if they ever are. Like most people I think that Pettine is doing the best he can with the hand that he has being dealt. Unfortunately it seems like it is Farmer dealing the hand, I could nearly give Farmer a pass for his first draft and being “forced” to draft Johnny but he has nearly turned over the whole roster and yet the Browns seem no closer to a winner. Is Farmer on the hot seat or will Haslam give him a bit more time to build an offence (a franchise QB cures all ills).

-- Gerard, Cork, Ireland

Hey Gerard: I am afraid that seats of both men are getting hotter with each loss.

Hey Tony:  I might be in the minority but I’m surprised media and fans alike have already labeled Browns 2014 first round pick Justin Gilbert a bust. Granted you would like to see him paying dividends by his second year in the league but I’ve often read that college to pro CB is one of the more challenging positional transitions to make.  I understand he certainly didn’t endear himself to coaches and fans by his antics last year, but Gilbert was very productive in college and is a highly pedigreed athlete, even more so than Joe Haden. What do you think the inside view is on Gilbert?  Are the Browns still optimistic that his ceiling, once developed, is a shutdown corner opposite of Haden or are there fundamental flaws in his ability that might relegate him to nickel back at best?

-- Arturo, Utica, MI

Hey Arturo: Honestly, I think patience with Gilbert is wearing thin inside the building. This was supposed to be the year he showed the biggest improvement in his career. Yet, it appears he is nowhere close to getting on the field, much less competing for a starting job. He came out of the gate slowly in training camp, was abused by Buffalo receivers at the joint workout in Rochester, and then suffered a hip injury. Then came the road rage incident. As long as Pettine is coach, Gilbert has a chance of making it. Pettine might be his biggest advocate.




Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




#HeyTony: What's really behind the Browns' release of Terrelle Pryor?

Sep 12, 2015 -- 5:00pm

By Tony Grossi |


Fans were generally baffled by the release of Terrelle Pryor after investing all of training camp into converting him to wide receiver. They took out their frustrations primarily on GM Ray Farmer. And so another Browns season kicks off.

Hey Tony:  What do you make of Terrelle Pryor being suddenly cut?  I know you reported on the move, but I found it to be a strange move after all of the time invested in him.  What are your thoughts?

-- Rich, Columbus, OH

Hey Rich:  Mike Pettine said they couldn’t pass up the chance to claim Seattle running back Robert Turbin. That’s where the explanation breaks down. Turbin has a high ankle sprain and won’t be available for four weeks. By then, maybe the Browns’ running back situation will be in its typical chaotic state. If not, he’s No. 3 on their depth chart. They did similar things last year claiming Shaun Draughn and Glenn Winston after the last roster cutdown. Then they drafted Duke Johnson. Then they traded Terrance West. Constant turnover at one position with still no feature back. I was looking forward to seeing Pryor perform as a specialty player because of his phenomenal athletic skills. Maybe he never makes it, maybe he will.

Hey Tony: The release of Terrelle Pryor reeks of "while the cats away the mouse will play"...  Is there any way that Ray Farmer and the coaching staff can work together beyond this year? It appears that major power shift toward the coaching staff has taken place. How can you explain releasing Pryor, for a running back that's hurt? Pryor was clearly not a favorite of some teammates and the coaches seemed indifferent. He was Ray Farmer’s guy. This seems like a thumb in the eye of Farmer. What happens if a running back gets hurt before the running back they picked up gets healthy?

-- Tony, Clinton, MD

Hey Tony: Pettine said that he and Farmer talked about picking up Turbin before Farmer left on suspension. So they are in agreement on him. The question is whether Pryor was the most expendable player to make room on the roster. I never considered Pryor a Farmer-type player – too athletically talented, too self-centered, not a lunch-pail kind of guy. I always felt Pryor’s biggest allies were Pettine and coordinator John DeFilippo. Pryor clearly had his detractors in the locker room who were put off by a perceived “diva” attitude. Whether those veteran players vented their disapproval to Pettine to influence the decision is not known. Pettine said the Pryor decision was made by the front office and the coaches, who considered him the 53rd player on the roster. We can debate that, but clearly Pryor didn’t do enough to win everybody’s confidence. It was always based on “a leap of faith.” In the end, Pettine lost the faith.

Hey Tony:  Will it ever end? Will the Browns ever have a winning season? The latest mud on the fans’ faces: cut Josh Lenz to keep Pryor, cut Pryor to sign an injured Turbin and pay a wide receiver a guaranteed $9 million who has not caught a touchdown pass in over a year. When will it end? I believe coach Pettine is doing a great job with what he has. GM Farmer seems to be out of his league. My question finally, do you see Coach Pettine staying and Ray Farmer going? I know continuity, but he does not seem to get it. I know the owner has had his hands in some of these picks, but his out-and-out refusal to get someone for any QB to throw too is all on him and now has in my opinion doomed this team to yet another losing season.

-- Dan, San Diego, CA

Hey Dan: Dwayne Bowe clearly is part of Farmer’s record, and the record is trending down. On the other hand, Andy Moeller clearly is on Pettine’s record. He hired the now-suspended assistant coach with a history of alcohol-related offenses. So, you see, neither man is exactly seizing the advantage in what I have termed a tug of war for influence with the owner. I think the season record will determine the fates of both Farmer and Pettine. Both may stay. Both may go. Or one may go and the other may stay. Anything is possible.

Hey Tony:  I have been a long time reader and now podcast listener of your for years.  Kudos on the great work and bit of a suggestion as a lifelong Browns fan.  As the media, you and your colleagues represent the voice of the fans. In my opinion, the Cleveland media have been way too nice to the Browns Coaching staff, Head Office and Ownership. The media do not ask the hard pressing question other reporters in other cities do. Why doesn’t it happen in Cleveland?  Why doesn't the media hold the Browns ownership responsible for the failures we have seen since 1999? This team continues to make the dumbest draft choices year after year after year and the media sit there and eat that hot garbage during every press conference. Ask more probing questions, if they dance around the question, keep pressing until you get an answer. I’m sick and tired of failed experiments. Press the issue a little more and demand excellence from the Browns organization. You have my blessing to tear them a new one. If you don’t who will?  The fans are way too supportive. We sell out the stadium every game so ownership has no reason to put a better product on the field. I have watched a Seattle Seahawks team go from the bottom of the NFL to becoming an elite team in less than 5 years. We Browns fans are still sitting here with our thumbs up our ... you get the point! Tony, if you don’t hold them accountable, who will?

--Darrick, Cincinnati, OH

Hey Darrick: I disagree with your central theme, of course. I feel I – and many others in the Cleveland media – are constantly hammering the Browns for their mistakes. It’s not always in hindsight, either. I questioned the trade down with Atlanta in 2011 that passed up Julio Jones the very day it was made. The prevailing reaction was: Shut up, you’re never happy. I questioned the trade with rival Baltimore that passed up Haloti Ngata in 2006. The reaction was: Shut up, You rip everything they do. I wrote three scathing columns questioning the hire of Mike Lombardi as GM in 2013. The reaction was: You have a personal agenda. I questioned the selection of Johnny Manziel the day they fell for him. The reaction was: There he goes again. (Strangely, the times I have agreed with major Browns’ decisions, they have blown up, too. Case in point was the selections of Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden.) I won’t stop giving my opinions; it’s my job. But please don’t infer that nobody is questioning the Browns on their repeated blunders.

Hey Tony:  If you were running the Browns front office now would you rather have the Browns' present group of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers or Ohio State's present group of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers?

-- Tim, Akron, OH

Hey Tim:  I would only go so far to say that I would take Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliot over any quarterback or running back, respectively, on the Browns’ roster.  I wouldn’t make a blanket judgment on the entire position groups. Frankly, I don’t know enough about Ohio State’s receivers at this time to make a judgment on that position.

Hey Tony:  Would love to see the Browns blindside the Jets on Sunday and open with a six O-line front including Cam Erving lined up as an extra tackle. The Browns aren't going to pass on that secondary, so why not play to their strength at offensive line? Throw in E.J. Bibbs at H-back and let the Jets decide to pull Buster Skrine to stack the box, let Josh McCown have some fun with his mighty mites. Can a man dream?

-- Pete, Danville, CA

Hey Pete: I did see Erving line up as a tackle-eligible on occasion in training camp. Interestingly, what you suggest is how Eric Mangini produced a folk hero in Peyton Hillis in 2009. Yes, that team could run the ball. But it won five games. You may say the Browns’ defense is better in 2015 than it was in 2009, but I just don’t think you can compete now without a better-than-average passing game, too. Joe Thomas agrees with me.

Hey Tony:  I'm old enough to remember when being a Browns fan was a source of pride. I honestly wish I could not be one now. I don't think things will change until we get rid of Ray (Farmer). I'm a coach Pet fan and I understand that changing GMs (again) could mean Pet goes but it has to be. Does Ray do background or character checks? Terrance West, Justin Gilbert, Johnny M, to name a few. The guy is in WAY over his head.  We need to cut bait and change it out ... again.  I'm not getting any younger and would like to see this team win.  Your thoughts? 

-- Craig, Atlanta, GA

Hey Craig:  I think owner Jimmy Haslam gave Farmer a free pass for the 2014 draft debacle because Farmer was rushed in as GM after Haslam blew up the Joe Banner-Mike Lombardi regime unexpectedly after they had hired Pettine as coach. After the draft, Farmer proceeded to hire a network of seasoned personnel executives to correct the vetting process that torpedoed the 2014 draft. So, probably in Haslam’s mind, this is Farmer’s first real year to be graded as a draft guru.

Hey Tony:  Could you explain the numbers to me. The Browns originally kept 1 extra lineman when you start 5 on the offensive line and I think they later added another. But they kept 4 tight ends when you only start 1 maybe 2 if you include an H-back and 8 defensive linemen when you only have a 3 man line. Why did they stock so many extras at some positions but just a few on the o-line?  Is this what other teams do?  Are there studies that show certain positions get injured more than others?  I would guess running backs get hurt the most just because of the nature of their roles.  Are the Browns better or worse off with Ray Farmer suspended?  The obvious answer is worse but from what I've seen of some of his moves I almost think they're better off without him.  I always enjoy your articles.

-- Glenn, Melbourne, FL

Hey Glenn:  The odd makeup of the original “final roster” goes back to Pettine’s decree that they would keep “the best 53” regardless of position. But he and Farmer also knew that the bottom of the roster would continue to be turned over for possibly a few weeks. We’ve already seen the D-line reduced, the O-line bolstered, and another running back added. What sticks out now is the four tight ends, which really expands to five when you consider fullback Malcolm Johnson had more experience as an H-back in college.

Hey Tony:  I read an article on Vice Sports, which focused on the absurdity of punting the ball. To back up its argument, it cited statistical evidence. This isn't the first article of its kind that I've read, and I recall recently reading a feature on ESPN about a high school coach who rarely has his team punt. In spite of this statistical evidence, NFL teams routinely punt the ball, even when it’s only a couple of yards short of a first down. What do you think the chances are that in the near future NFL coaches will adopt this more aggressive approach?

-- Kevin, Chicago, IL

Hey Kevin: Progressive coaches like Chip Kelly and Bill Belichick will punt less, partly because of confidence in their offenses. Some coaches no doubt will copy them – until going for it backfires. Still, the majority of NFL coaches staunchly believe in using the punt to tilt the field in favor of their defense – and live for the next offensive possession. The Browns didn’t trade for Andy Lee to eschew the punt as a strategic weapon, believe me.




Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




#HeyTony: Is Johnny Manziel's sore elbow a mountain or an ant hill?

Sep 05, 2015 -- 5:00pm

By Tony Grossi |



Two body parts that became the subject of Hey Tony inquiries this week: Johnny Manziel’s elbow and Terrelle Pryor’s hamstring.

Hey Tony:  I can't wait for start of the season and look forward to reading your coverage. I've read a lot about Johnny Manziel's sore elbow and I think a mountain has been made out of an ant hill, simply because he's Johnny Manziel. Some articles point to the fact that he had roughly half the amount of throws in 2015 training camp vs. 2014 training camp, but overlook the fact that he's had a full offseason of training, OTA's and minicamp which he didn't have a year ago. The tendonitis is also associated with tennis or golf elbow. Since Johnny has gone from swilling drinks in clubs to swinging clubs on golf courses, maybe his elbow just needs some R&R (rest & rehab -- no pun intended). Since the Browns lost Connor Shaw for the season, is it not unreasonable for the coaches to err on the side of caution to make sure we have two healthy QB's to start the season? Or am I over-rationalizing my thinking?

-- Bill, East Hartford, CT

Hey Bill:  The problem with resting Manziel’s sore elbow is that it cost him valuable snaps in two preseason games. We’re not talking about a seasoned professional quarterback here. Manziel needed the reps to continue his development. I do think it’s unusual for a 22-year-old quarterback to need so much time off to rest a sore elbow. We’ll see if the problem persists.

Hey Tony:  I know you feel the idea that the Browns have given up on Johnny Manziel is a preposterous conspiracy theory, but you've also said that the Browns would seek a new quarterback in the 2016 draft and that they were doing early research on Connor Cook. Don't those two ideas conflict with each other? I find it hard to believe the Browns would spend a high draft pick on a QB if they thought Johnny was their franchise QB.  And if they did do that, then I think they would have a situation similar to Washington where they drafted both RG3 and Kirk Cousins and have had a continuous QB controversy ever since. It seems to me that one view excludes the other: Either Johnny is their franchise QB and they will not draft a QB, or if they do draft a QB, then Johnny's out.

-- Rich, San Diego, CA

Hey Rich:  I have no doubt the Browns will be in the market for a quarterback in the 2016 draft.

Hey Tony: Do you think the Browns have intentionally hid Terelle Pryor by exaggerating his hamstring injury? It seems like after the beginning of training camp he only practiced away from the media and scouts. No one has ever mentioned him limping or looking out of sorts and he looked fine health-wise in the fourth preseason game. After not being targeted last night no one has a good scouting report on him as a receiver. Are the Browns masking his true abilities to spring him on the Jets or is he just not ready to play wide receiver in the NFL?

-- Tony, Washington, DC

Hey Tony:  I think the Browns were disappointed Pryor did not play in the first three preseason games. The hamstring injury was real. However, the silver lining would be that the Jets have no real read on Pryor. Then again, neither do the Browns.

Hey Tony:  You're right about the orange numerals on the brown shirts being hard to see. It also kind of blurs into the color of pumpkin pie. Since they have to wait to change the numerals to white, which I guess would be a little step backward, but might look classy, my question is whether anyone from the Browns has commented on the orange on brown difficulty and how many seasons do they have to wait now to fix anything they aren't happy about (even if it's something else)? 

-- Keith, Sandusky, OH

Hey Keith:  I’m told the coaches themselves were not happy with the orange numerals when they reviewed the coaches tape of the Tampa game. They had trouble identifying players. It’s hard to believe that after two years of research on all the uniform combinations that Nike could not detect a problem with that particular orange on brown combo. From what I recall, the uniforms can’t be changed for five years. They can just refrain from wearing the orange-on-brown.

Hey Tony:  I'm so tired reading about the bad trade with Atlanta for Julio Jones.  It was a great trade for the Browns. The trade wasn't the problem!  The problem was how they utilized the 5 picks! I would never give up 5 picks for a WR.  Atlanta couldn't even win in a division without a team with a winning record in their division last year. This year they are having offensive line problems and defensive problems. You can't get the ball to Julio Jones if Matt Ryan is on his back.  The only position that I would give up 5 picks, including two firsts, would be a QB.  In 2011 the Browns passed on Dalton and Kaepernick and in 2012 they passed on Tannehill and Wilson. All those QBs aren't great, but they were available without giving up extra picks. Remember, Julio has already been hurt for a good portion of a season and now a lot of cap space is tied up in one player that the Falcons can't afford to have injured.  I hope the Browns take that trade every year unless they take a QB with the selection. However, Farmer must improve his player evaluation, especially at QB.

-- Rick, Shreveport, LA

Hey Rick:  My initial criticism of the trade when it was made was that by trading down, the Browns passed on adding an elite player to their roster. They traded quality for quantity. You win with elite players, athletes who win their one-on-one matchups by running faster or jumping higher than their opponent. Bodies are always available. Elite athletic talent is not.

Hey Tony:  Stop me when I go off course: Though it wasn't this regime, the organization invested a 1st-round pick in Phil Taylor. Wide-body defensive linemen are tough to find. Taylor's salary for 2015 is guaranteed, so whether he's in Cleveland or elsewhere, the Browns will be paying him. Taylor seems to still be nursing a knee problem, and may not be ready to play any time soon. So why didn't the Browns just put him on I.R. for the season rather than release him? What am I missing here?

-- Mike, Cincinnati, OH

Hey Mike:  There was a report that Taylor asked for his release and the Browns complied. A club spokesman declined to confirm or deny it. A source said the Browns believe Taylor needs further surgery on his ailing knee. Effectively, they didn’t think he’d ever play for them again. The drafting of Danny Shelton was the tip-off, of course, that Taylor’s days in Cleveland were numbered.

Hey Tony: I am trying to make sense of Trent Richardson's collapsed career. I understand draft busts happen, injuries, work ethic, skills don't translate, etc. but Richardson had a successful rookie year and no major injuries in year 2 when Browns unloaded him. However he has just been awful since then, and likely run out of chances.  Any idea what happened?

-- Jim, Hudson, OH

Hey Jim:  Richardson’s demise is baffling to everyone. I’m sure not even Joe Banner, who traded him, saw Richardson’s career disintegrating like it has. I have no theories on what happened. I thought he had a fine rookie season in 2012.

Hey Tony:  Have you seen Jimmy Garoppolo play at all during this preseason? The Browns should make a fair trade offer to New England for him right now. What's the downside?

-- Greg, Frederick, MD

Hey Greg:  Garoppolo is New England’s backup and the heir-apparent to Tom Brady. Why on Earth would the Patriots trade him?




Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




#HeyTony: Could Johnny Manziel's elbow injury signal his demise with the Browns?

Aug 29, 2015 -- 5:00pm

By Tony Grossi |



Johnny Manziel’s elbow injury the week of the third preseason game brought out conspiracy theories that rivaled those of the JFK assassination. Only thing missing was a Zapruder film.

Hey Tony: Since Johnny came back from rehab, my feeling that the Browns have given up on him has grown stronger and stronger. He was immediately designated as the 2nd string QB, given no reps with the 1st string, the coach kept saying Johnny still has things to work on when asked if he might start, and when it started to appear people were beginning to think he had a chance to start, they squelched that by shutting him down for something others (Couch) have played with. I think the whole portrayal of Johnny being developed to eventually become the started was a façade to disguise the fact they intended to draft another guy next year and get rid of Johnny. By that time they could legitimately say they had given him a chance to develop and he just hadn't done it.

-- Rich, San Diego, CA

Hey Rich: Conspiracy theories are on the rise as a result of Manziel’s mysterious sore elbow injury. To debunk yours, coach Mike Pettine said the plan was for Manziel to play with No. 1 offense in the second quarter in Tampa before his elbow injury sidelined him. In truth, Manziel was never close to challenging McCown for the starting job. That was a figment of national media companies who see only Manziel as a Browns storyline. I have consistently maintained the Browns would seek a new quarterback in the 2016. This week, it was reported the Browns were doing early research on Michigan State’s Connor Cook, who attended Walsh Jesuit High School.

Hey Tony: Believe it or not I think you are a good writer and very knowledgable. But certain things just make me laugh -- like how when you have an axe to grind on a topic, your obsession with certain players (Brian Hoyer, Lawrence Vickers) and your belief that EVERYTHING the Steelers and Raven do is brilliant. Yes, they are far better organizations than the Browns -- ridiculously better. And I think Pittsburgh signing Michael Vick is a good one, seeing that Aaron Rodgers was not available (ha ha).  But you said something like “contenders don’t wait to find insurance at QB position.” Um, this is a team that trotted Charlie Batch out as a backup QB on multiple occasions. One of which was to QB for 4 games at start of the season while Ben served a suspension. So they had the whole preseason, and the best they came up with was Charlie Batch? Not moving too quickly there.  And last year they actually had Bruce Gradkowski as their backup. They couldn’t do better than that? Oh, and they once had Brian Hoyer and then cut him. Browns are idiots for letting him go -- not the Steelers? Point is these teams do most things right -- just not EVERYTHING right. Thanks Tony.

-- Jim, Northfield, OH

Hey Jim:  In his prime, Batch was a perfect backup for Roethlisberger. There was no need to replace him. Keep in mind that when you have a franchise QB tied up with a $100 million contract, you don’t pay top dollar for a backup. Now, about Hoyer: The Steelers did cut Hoyer, who was an emergency QB for them for a couple of weeks, to add a much-needed running back in 2012. The Cardinals signed him for a few emergency starts. After the season, the Steelers wanted badly to re-sign Hoyer, but the Cardinals pulled a fast one and assigned Hoyer the second-round restricted free agent tender to block Pittsburgh’s intentions. After the Steelers signed Gradkowski, the Cardinals let Hoyer go, freeing him to sign with the Browns. I understand why Browns fans loathe the Steelers and Ravens. The fact is they are both among the top 10 organizations in the NFL.

Hey Tony: Can you envision a good year for OSU QB Cardale Jones in the Big 10 & College Playoffs and the Browns would offer a trade for T Joe Thomas or CB Joe Haden to move up into a front position in 2016 NFL to get Cardale? I would say to "mortgage the farm" for this franchise prospect? It could be a decade before another 6'5, 250 lb. QB with wheels & rifle arm could come along.

-- Kenny, Saybrook-on-the-Lake, OH

Hey Kenny: Personally, I am hoping that Urban Meyer chooses J.T. Barrett as his starting QB and Jones merely mops up in the blowout victories to come. That way, Jones may get shuffled behind Michigan State’s Connor Cook, USC’s Cody Kessler, California’s Jared Goff and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg in the draft. That would perhaps enable the Browns to select Jones without having to move up in the draft. This would be a dream scenario. Jones does not need to start or put up a big year to be the Browns’ choice, in my opinion. His skills are not going to change if he comes off the bench and plays second fiddle to Barrett.

Hey Tony:  I have a hunch. I say this offense is going to be more productive than most think.  I'm not saying 28 points per game stuff but better than we think.  I also say our defense won't be as good as people think.  Other than Gipson and Haden nobody else jumps out.  Shelton will help inside but teams will still run around the edges on us (especially Kruger's side).  I also think management knows that this is no legendary defense and with today's rules and emphasis on offense, we're not going to win much this year. Hate to say it Tony but the best I think we can hope for is 5 or 6 wins tops and also get in a position where we can grab one of the big time QB's coming out of the Big Ten next year. Your thoughts?

-- Craig, Atlanta, GA

Hey Craig:  My official prediction will come later, but I think you are on to something.

Hey Tony:  This current quarterback carousel is hysterical.  It's as if The Browns are a pitiful High School team considering forfeiting the year: It is late August and they are somehow unable to once again even field an adequate team, let alone compete in this brutal division for an entire season. McCown is a loose finger nail away from the IR and as we can all see now: sober or not, Manziel isn't a professional caliber quarterback ready to win now. Curious what you think of taking a flyer on RG3.  Despite the injury setbacks and negative attention on him currently, he finished his final game in 2014 with over 300 yds passing and 2 TDs.  Our stud O-Line could certainly keep Griffin on his feet in the pocket and he could benefit from a fresh start, away from Jay Gruden.  Staring at our current dire QB options for the 2015 campaign, should acquiring RG3 through a reasonable trade be a consideration?

-- Dan, New York, NY

Hey Dan:I would not touch RG3 with a 10-foot pole. Wrong QB, wrong physique, wrong personality for Cleveland and the AFC North.

Hey Tony: This is the first year since the Carmen Policy days that we did not have the Great Lakes Classic with the Lions!!  What gives?  Seems to me another Great Lakes team - the Bills - crashed the party!  Speaking of which, I can't recall the last time we played an AFC opponent in the preseason, can you?  GLC!

-- Mike, Boston, MA

Hey Mike:The GLC was discontinued in 2014 when the Browns-Lions preseason series came to a welcome end. In recent years, the NFL has taken over auspices of preseason schedules. Each team has one game it can schedule on its own, and in the case of the Browns it has been the preseason finale against Chicago for several years.

Hey Tony:  Ugh. Please pass the Pepto Bismol. I have a bad feeling about this season. Think about it: For the past four or five years, the Browns have followed the same predictable pattern. They survive September, then go on a win streak in October. By the first week in November, they have a winning record, which leads to national reporters writing that “now these Browns are for real.” Alas they soon “regress back to the mean” by losing out the rest of November. Let’s not even talk about December.  If the pattern holds this year, the Browns are due for their losing streak right when we have four straight AFC North games.  I repeat, ugh!  Tony, please give us some hope.

-- C, Houston, TX

Hey C: Whatever happens in the first eight games, the Browns’ season will come down to the four weeks beginning Nov. 5 and ending Dec. 6 when they play in succession: at Cincinnati, at Pittsburgh, home v. Baltimore and home v. Cincinnati. That is their season, right there.

Hey Tony:  Could Terrell Pryor make the Browns and be put on short term IR saving a spot for another healthy player while keeping his rights? I'm afraid our luck is he would get healthy and sign with another team and become a solid receiver - Browns luck says it's the Steelers or Ravens! I know you don't make the 53 on a stationary bike, but they gotta see his freakish ability and upside .... another team will take a chance on him when he heals. Also, I know trades in the NFL this time of year are rare, but could you see any position shuffling via trade?

-- Feraas, Cincinnati, OH

Hey Feraas:  It’s conceivable the Browns could use their one injured reserve/designated to return tag on Pryor. It’s unlikely, however, because teams would rather save that one designation for a front-line player. Pryor’s transition to receiver will be a season-long experiment and though he might provide some big plays, he figures to be only a role player.



Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




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