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#HeyTony: How does the new NFL drug program affect Josh Gordon?

Sep 13, 2014 -- 6:00pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/USATSI

Confusion about the new NFL drug program and how it affects Josh Gordon and questions about last week’s Browns’ loss in Pittsburgh highlight this week’s column.

Hey Tony: If the amount of time Josh Gordon is suspended changes under the new policy, why doesn't the amount of THC in his urine fall under the new guidelines? 16 nanograms is less than the 35 needed for a positive test under the new agreement. Why is Josh considered to have failed a test under the old guidelines, but the amount of games he is suspended comes under the new guidelines.? This doesn't make any sense.

-- Nick, Tucson, AZ

Hey Nick: Of course it doesn’t make sense. There could be other facts involved that the NFLPA refuses to disclose. Thus, the two sides failed to correct one of the flaws of the old policy – lack of transparency. All those fans who buy NFL merchandise and who participate in fantasy leagues – some of which are sponsored by the NFL itself or its partners – deserve to know why a player is suspended. But they withhold that information under the guise of “confidentiality” in the substance abuse program. And then when they bend their policy for one player and not bend it for another, there is no explanation.

Hey Tony: In Sunday’s game against the Steelers, from your vantage point in the press box, did it look like Brian Hoyer was overlooking some wide open receivers? It's in particular when the running backs flare out into the flat, does it appear Brian isn't seeing these guys at all?

-- Greg, Middletown, OH

Hey Greg: In the first half, that may have been the case on occasion. Mike Pettine said that sometimes Hoyer speeds things up too much – his reads, his pocket awareness, his mechanics. Things seemed to settle down better for him in the second half.

Hey Tony: First let me say you do great work. I've been a follower of yours for years. Question: Have you altered your expectations of this Browns team after the Pittsburgh game? After seeing the 1st half against Pittsburgh my thoughts were, "same old inadequate offense and glass jawed defense". In the 2nd half I was completely stunned for an hour. I couldn't believe how the offense was moving the ball. The running game was so effective I thought I was dreaming. And as a result the defense played much better and nearly pitched a 2nd half shutout. Is it possible fans and media are under-estimating this team?

-- Ronnie, Chapmanville, WV

Hey Ronnie: I had the same feeling after the game as you. However, if they lay another egg in another home opener, I will return to my previous thoughts about the season.

Hey Tony: Enjoyed the piece on Gilbert. In him, I see a humble, hard-working guy who is a project and will eventually be solid.  Until the time comes, though, why not use him at returning kicks? By my count, he returned 11 kicks for TDs in college (6 his senior year), and one of the benefits of drafting him was that he could seemingly make an impact on special teams immediately. This would also help get his confidence up and give him a better feel for the ball. Is there any talk that this may be an option?

-- Brian, Chicago, IL

Hey Brian: Gilbert actually had six career kickoff return TDs at Oklahoma State. I think Mike Pettine is reluctant to use him on kick returns because: 1. He wants him to devote all his mental and physical energy to the cornerback position, and 2. He doesn’t want to risk injuring him on the play that the NFL now considers the most dangerous play in football.

Hey Tony: I heard you mention on the radio that admire Roger Goodell for trying to “help restore the hurt from the Modell move” as Tagliabue’s point man 15 years ago. What was some of his involvement here?

-- Brad, Westlake, OH

Hey Brad: After the NFL realized it could not stop Modell from taking his team to Baltimore, Goodell was the point man in helping to forge a “global agreement” that formally allowed Modell to take the Maryland stadium deal in exchange for leaving the Browns’ name, colors and history in Cleveland and paying millions to break his lease with the city. Goodell understood that Cleveland’s NFL void needed to be repaired, and he became a driving force within the league to convince owners to add an expansion franchise when it wasn’t popular to do so. Goodell also drove home the point to Cleveland politicians and business leaders that a new stadium had to be built for a new franchise to return. Now, Goodell also was pivotal in the selection of the Al Lerner-Carmen Policy partnership to own the new franchise at a then-record pricetag of $530 million.

Hey Tony: Call me crazy but I feel that coming up short in Pittsburgh last Sunday will turn out to be a good scenario for the Browns moving forward. Why you ask? Because the taste of victory being so close will drive them to play at the level of the second half team from the start this Sunday. They showed themselves that they can stand toe to toe against anyone in the NFL. I say lookout WhoDat Nation because the Browns are going to come out from the start this Sunday as a high powered, disciplined and motivated team. Do you think I'm on to something or are you calling me crazy?

-- Mark, Myrtle Beach, SC

Hey Mark: I wouldn’t say crazy. Hopeful. Not crazy.

Hey Tony: We think of QB competitions in pre-season to be about the QBs competing, but do you think another facet is an OC competing over what offense he wants to install; especially if the two QBs have different skill sets? Lack of playing time, chemistry with the first team is the usual explanation for the risk of a QB competition, but, based upon your knowledge, should we include a lack of commitment by the head coach and OC to one specific game plan tailored to one of the quarterbacks? Steelers, Ravens and Bengals had the luxury of game planning an offense designed for a QB they knew would be their starter. Did Pettine and Shanahan suffer from having to juggle two separate game plans and not just two separate quarterbacks?

 -- Chris, Winhall, VT

Hey Chris: Game plans have to be constructed to fit the skill set of the quarterback. In the case of Brian Hoyer v. Johnny Manziel, they are so different that, yes, a so-called competition is going to complicate things for the coaches and for the other 10 players on the unit. The coaches consistently conceded this, but they also pointed to the variety in Shanahan’s system as to why they felt he could easily accommodate both quarterbacks. However, I believe the supporting cast had difficulty adjusting to each QB’s skills.

Hey Tony: A couple of things perplex me with the recent discussions about suspensions. First, why all the uproar and reaction over the recently released Ray Rice elevator footage? Yes, it's troubling, but the first video was damning enough with him dragging her out of the elevator unconscious. What did they think happened to her for her to go unconscious (and for them to suspend him in the first place)? Did they think she simply passed out with euphoria of being alone in an elevator with her fiance? He got off much too light to start with, but the newest video simply confirmed what was assumed to have occurred. Secondly, how can the NFL impose a sanction prior to due process as is being discussed about DWI and DUI? What ever happened to the American justice ideal of being innocent until proven guilty? Roger Goodell is a lawyer and should know better and the NFLPA should insist on allowing a player first have his day in court. Thanks for your continual good insights on the Browns and the NFL.

-- Erol, Stony Brook, NY

Hey Erol: 1. Yes, the first video was troubling. But one of my thoughts originally was, ‘Did she just pass out, or what?’ The second video was chilling evidence of what actually happened for those of us who didn’t read the prosecutor’s report. 2. Just because the NFL puts something on a negotiating table doesn’t mean it will be approved. However, if the players union agrees to waiving “due process,” that’s on them. Ultimately, that provision was not included in the final agreement tentatively approved on Friday. The new agreement assesses a two-game suspension for players convicted of or pleading to an alcohol-related driving offense.

Hey Tony: Where has Miles Austin been?  Since he's been with the Browns you hardly even notice that he's on the field.  I don't understand why the Browns are starting him, if he's not going to contribute more to the team.

-- Steve, Georgetown, TX

Hey Steve: In Pittsburgh, Austin was on the field for 38 plays – 57 percent of all offensive snaps. He was targeted three times and caught two balls for 20 yards. I have a feeling he is on the field that much because of his experience in the league. I think Austin’s play time will reduce as the season goes on and younger receivers develop.

Hey Tony: To simplify things, I believe that the zone-blocking technique is block the man in your area. And take him whichever way he wants to go while your running back picks out a hole and cuts. If that is the case, why do you need 15-20 words to call the play! I still think the passing game is built on the 9-point tree. That can't be that difficult to convey. I find it hard to believe that we boiled things down when in the hurry up, but had to slow it down otherwise.

-- Rich, Schaumburg, IL

Hey Rich: Shanahan’s offense has a lot of pre-snap shifting and motion. Those specific instructions eat up a lot of words in a call, from what I understand. Shanahan defends his longish play-calls by saying he would rather have everything spelled out in a call than require players to memorize code words for and risk them messing up the plays. He also said wordy play-calls have never been a problem in his years as an offensive coordinator with other teams.

Hey Tony: I enjoy your analysis and love my Browns. Question: in light of the Ray Rice ban, how can I in good conscience support the Browns' continued employment of Jim Brown as a "special adviser?" He was my father's favorite athlete of all time and someone who has also done commendable things in the inner city through his Amer-I-can program as well as speaking out against racism and poverty. He is a mixed bag to say the least when you consider all the good and then you just have to take a look at the LONG list of accusations of violence against women. How would you compare Brown and Rice?

-- Ryan, Akron, OH

Hey Ryan: Call this a cop-out if you like but I am not going to compare the transgressions of Brown v. Rice. You look into your own conscience and decide which players you want to support.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

#HeyTony: Scenarios for Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel

Sep 06, 2014 -- 6:00pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photos/Getty via ESPN

It’s the first week of the regular season and Browns fans are asking mostly about Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel.

Hey Tony: This may seem a bit redundant but why would Roger Goodell go from tarnishing what reputation he did have with the leniency on the Ray Rice fiasco, then hammer Josh Gordon with a year-long suspension and not allow him any contact with the Browns, only to allow someone criminally charged and convicted of intoxication manslaughter in Josh Brent to return towards the end of the season to practice and play?

-- Brandon, Marblehead, OH

Hey Brandon: I have made my thoughts on the NFL’s inconsistencies in player discipline well known. I consider the NFL’s oft-conflicting disciplines contained in the policies of substance abuse, performance-enhancing drugs and personal conduct to be morally repugnant. The league is involved in negotiations with the players union to rewrite its policies in hopes of coming to an agreement on testing for human growth hormone. It is my opinion that HGH is a more serious detriment to the game than recreational drugs.

Hey Tony: Now that training camp and preseason is behind us, I want to get an update on your draft perspective regarding Manziel. Do you agree that moving up and drafting him when the Browns did was entirely Haslam's call? Did he as owner totally bypass the knowledge and wishes of both his GM and head coach? The narrative now seems to be that although jersey sales, ticket sales, and Browns PR have skyrocketed, there is a strong feeling that Manziel may not make it and become another noteworthy bust.

-- Tim, Ladera Ranch, CA

Hey Tim: I don’t agree with your last statement, that Manziel will become another noteworthy bust. As for drafting Manziel, I’m not sure if it was entirely Haslam’s call, but everyone in the building knew that Haslam liked Manziel. I thought GM Ray Farmer favored Teddy Bridgewater, but it’s possible he didn’t like him enough to put his neck on the line for him. That’s OK if he really felt that way. Maybe Farmer had very similar ratings on Manziel and Bridgewater and was OK with either quarterback, and the owner’s fondness for Manziel made it a safer pick. Manziel is good for business, and that could have been the tie-breaker. I actually don’t think it’s wrong for the owner to weigh in on such a franchise-changing issue. Obviously, it would be a problem if the football evaluators had a much higher grade on another quarterback.

Hey Tony: You’re killin’ me! You’re predicting a 4-12 season? I know you believe the NFL is a QB-driven league. Last year we had Weedon and Cambell starting. This year we could have Hoyer and Manziel. You have to agree our QB situation is better than last year, right? And it wouldn’t be too far of a reach to say our defense will be just as good and probably better (a lot better?). So how can the Browns not improve on last year’s record? Wait … did I just answer my own question?

-- Jeff, Denver, CO

Hey Jeff: The only thing I will say about my 4-12 prediction is that I have over-rated the Browns’ record about five years in a row and I am tired of being let down. I would rather be wrong and the Browns do better than I expected than be wrong and they do worse than I expected. I really believe a lot of things have to go right – a lot – for the Browns to make up ground and get over the hump of double-digit losing seasons.

Hey Tony: I can't argue with most of your predictions. I would like more than four wins, but I wouldn't bet the house on it. THE most important prediction is whether Manziel can become the QB of the future that the Browns can build around.  Otherwise, they'll have to use those two picks, probably in the first four, to find a QB. The scary thing is that so many knowledgeable analysts and former players think he'll never make it. Since you've seen him at practice, what do you think? Is he impressive? After what you've seen in his early development, would you have selected him? The easy answer is to say it's too early to tell, but my gut says the Browns got it wrong! I'll keep my fingers crossed that he proves me wrong!

-- Rick, Shreveport, LA

Hey Rick: Before the draft, I said Manziel was the Evel Knievel of the draft. Everyone wanted to see him jump Snake River Canyon, but nobody wanted to ride that rocket with him. I guess I was in that group. So the Browns did jump on the rocket and now we are all on that rocket with him and all we can do is hope he gets across that canyon. I see a lot of positives in him – incredible competitiveness, intense passion for the game and will to win, real capacity to learn and be coached, innate leadership skills, tremendous charisma, flair for the dramatic, good arm, quick feet, a second gear to accelerate on the run, a nice slide that may keep him from a big hit, the knack for turning a bad or broken play into a positive play. I have concerns about his size, his ability to make plays from the pocket, his ability to read defenses, durability, and ability to perform in December in the cold and wind. I also think the Browns have to fully commit to a spread offense for Manziel to function at his best. I’m not sure that’s the right offensive style for their location and division.

Hey Tony: Is there still a league rule that any veteran with a number of years in the league who is on a roster the first week of the season has his contract guaranteed for the entire year? Could Burleson and Grossman have been cut because the Browns did not want to guarantee their full year salary because of injury concerns (Burleson) and need concerns (Grossman) with the hopeful development of Manziel and possibly Connor Shaw? Could both of these players be back on the roster for week two when their salaries are no longer guaranteed for the year?

-- Paul, Crescent Springs, KY

Hey Paul: Yes, that rule/provision of the CBA is still in effect and dictates a lot of roster moves around the NFL. I expect to see Grossman back at some point, but not Burleson. The Browns wound up paying Burleson $350,000 in bonus and salary guarantees and cut him, anyway. I would have taken a chance on him, but I think that ship has sailed in the minds of the Browns.

Hey Tony: Loving your coverage here in Chicago, and by the way, there are no less than 6 bars in a 4 square mile radius here that are dedicated Browns bars.  My question deals with your opinion on the leadership qualities shown thus far in the free agent signings, notably Whitner and Dansby. There was an apparent emphasis in bringing in winners to help out the clubhouse. Are these guys living up to your expectations?

-- Brian, Chicago, IL

Hey Brian: Whitner has been much more vocal and appears to be loving his role as the defensive leader. Dansby has been somewhat of an enigma to me because he wasn’t very prevalent in the preseason. We will soon see the payoff on these two headline free agents.

Hey Tony: After reviewing the 53 man the Browns will go to Pittsburgh with, I have to admit, I was surprised to see 22 undrafted players. This reminds me of Pat Shurmur's inaugural season. Haven't we seen this show before?

-- Michael, Cincinnati, OH

Hey Michael: The rash of undrafted players – rookies and veterans – is a result of constant regime change and poor drafting. Every new regimes brings new scouts and coaches and they have different opinions than their predecessors on what they need and what they like.

Hey Tony: What do you think the chances are that the Browns are shrewd enough to hold off on playing Johnny Manziel this season, and working a heist of Jerry Jones in the offseason by trading Johnny Football to the Cowboys? They would have to hold him out, because if he plays poorly his trade value goes down, or if he plays well the fans will revolt if they attempt to trade him. It will take discipline. Reports say Jones is mad about passing up Manziel, and we all know Jerry wants what he wants, and usually gets it. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Jones would deal his 1st round pick in 2015 for Johnny, and maybe even his 2nd or even 1st in 2016 as well. The Browns would then own THREE first round picks in the 2015 draft, probably all within the top 16 picks. If the Browns don't have the 1st overall pick they would have more than enough ammo to acquire it, and draft Marcus Mariota or whomever is the consensus top QB. Plus, they might even be able to draft a top WR that can be relied upon to actually be available to play. Yes, I am sadly already looking toward the next offseason. What say you?

-- Ted, Longmeadow, MA

Hey Ted: I don’t consider your scenario a possibility at all.

Hey Tony: Please answer this puzzling question for me; I am wondering about the FO thought process specifically re the recent offensive line/WR roster developments. How could the Browns sign numerous players that go through OTA's, minicamps, training camp, etc ... invest 4-5 off-season months on these players ... and then waive the majority of them (reserves) and replace them with other waiver pickups? All that investment of time wasted and now the new folks ... who I speculate will not be up to speed for another month or two, have to learn the playbook, develop chemistry, etc. This revolving door makes absolutely no sense to me. Special team players, I get it. A serious backup who can get in the game at any moment, I don't get.

-- Joe, Parma, OH

Hey Joe: Again, it stems from a new regime in charge of player evaluation.

Hey Tony: I moved to South Carolina 10 years ago and really appreciate your columns to keep me updated on the Browns and anchored to my roots. Naturally, I am a big Connor Shaw fan after watching him win here for the last 4 years. He has heart as big as Lake Erie and can turn a game around coming off the bench (See Missouri-S. Carolina game 2013). I don't see him as a "franchise" NFL QB because he does too much with his legs, much like Manziel, to be counted on for 16 games a year. Neither will likely last a full year as starter at this level, so backups are important. I think Connor would be a great backup and can definitely win us some games so I hope they groom him on the practice squad to promote him up to the active roster later this year or next. So my question is this, what is a typical contract for practice squad guys (or Shaw's specifically). What are the basic rules for keeping / protecting players there ... and for how long?

-- Mike, Chapin, SC

Hey Mike: Practice squad players make a minimum of $6,300 per week. Teams can pay a practice squad player as much as it likes and some do get more. If another team offers a practice squad player a regular contract, the player must be on that team’s regular roster for a minimum of four weeks. The player could elect not to accept any offer and just stay with his previous team.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

#HeyTony: Everyone wants to talk about Josh Gordon

Aug 30, 2014 -- 6:00pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ESPN

The NFL threw the book at Josh Gordon on Tuesday and suspended him for the season. It assured Gordon of being the No. 1 topic (again) in the Hey Tony mailbox.

Hey Tony: With Josh Gordon, everyone says he has no recourse because of the collective bargaining agreement. That seems wrong to me. An individual doesn’t sign away his basic rights when he agrees to be employed by an organization with a collective bargaining agreement. Those agreements are accepted with only a majority vote, not unanimity. And besides, you cannot give up your basic rights in America.One of those rights is the right to try to earn a living in your chosen profession. The NFL is a monopoly. So it’s not possible to seek employment from a competitor, or even a similar company. If you want to work for IBM and don’t like one of their internal rules, you can choose to go elsewhere. In football, there is no real alternative. Because of their monopoly status, the rules in the NFL should be subject to tests of reasonability. And its marijuana rule is pretty clearly draconian compared with the rules from similar sports associations, and with their own rules governing other behavior. A court should be able to toss that rule out, reinstate the player, and instruct the league to develop a more reasonable standard. Gordon has top shelf legal advisors. Perhaps they are considering this angle, on its own or in some combination with other reasons for an appeal. Can you offer any insight on the legitimacy of this type of appeal? I know you’re not a lawyer, but perhaps you have access to some that would provide insight.

-- Ed, Vancouver, Canada

Hey Ed: The Gordon camp threw up a Hail Mary in its appeal of his suspension. That failed, but there remained one more tick on the clock. Time for another Hail Mary, which would be a lawsuit. I say, “Go for it.”

 Hey Tony: How can the NFL suspend a player over an inconclusive drug test? If the results of Josh Gordon's drug test were inconsistent: 13 ng/ml and 16 ng/ml with the average still falling below the league's 15 ng/ml limit - Why wouldn't the NFL simply consider the results inconclusive? That would have given everyone an out, including the NFL and how long it took them to make their decision.

-- Josh, Brooklyn, NY

Hey Josh: Under the guidelines of the NFL substance abuse policy, which was collective bargained with approval from the players union, a player’s second test sample must only show the existence of a banned substance to verify a positive first test. It is just one of many reasons the NFL drug policy is terribly flawed and in need of complete revision.

Hey Tony: If the NFL agrees to increase the threshold for a positive drug test, is there any chance they could back date the new rule and change the Josh Gordon ruling in the future?

-- Josh, Galena, OH

Hey Josh: No chance of that, sadly.

Hey Tony: How can the Browns stop Josh Gordon from playing in Canada by saying he is "under contract"? From a legal standpoint that is almost laughable.  They aren't paying Gordon, but tell him he isn't allowed to make a living because he's under a contract. I thought slavery has been gone for 150 years.

-- Steve, Georgetown, TX

Hey Steve: Because of an informal working agreement with the NFL, the CFL doesn’t want to raid players from the NFL or offer them “playing asylum.” So the CFL closed a loophole in their rules and made it impossible for an NFL player under contract to play in the CFL. If Gordon were released by the Browns – which isn’t going to happen – he would be free to play in the CFL.

Hey Tony: Your "Only in Cleveland" article about Josh Gordon was missing the most important person to blame: Josh Gordon. I agree with you that the Browns butchered the draft by not selecting a WR and that the league unnecessarily dragged this appeals process out. But none of this happens if Josh Gordon doesn't continually put himself in jeopardy. It's quite clear to me that Gordon has been coddled throughout his young life because of his superior athletic ability. And he's grown accustomed to getting out of trouble because he of his athletic prowess.  Gordon has had zero accountability for his actions and then had the audacity to criticize the NFL's "judgment" Both you and Josh Gordon have conveniently overlooked the fact that Gordon's poor judgment has landed him in this jackpot.  Why are we not saying "shame on you" Josh Gordon for not making the most of your God-given talents? To compare Gordon's talent to Jim Brown is an insult to Jim Brown and other Browns greats. Right now, Gordon should be compared to Steve Howe, Lawrence Phillips, and Darryl Strawberry. Time will tell if he can overcome his demons and revive his career similar to Josh Hamilton, Michael Irvin, and Cris Carter. We all make mistakes and everybody deserves a second chance. But Gordon had problems at both colleges he attended and has at least 3 infractions at the NFL level. That's a minimum of 4 second chances for a guy who is 23. I don't feel sorry for him. He has placed his career in jeopardy. Josh Gordon is at a cross-roads in his life. As Bill Belichick famously said, "I can only go by what I see." I see a talented player with a serious problem. If Gordon doesn't change, he'll be dead or in jail by age 30. 

-- Dave, Cleveland, OH

Hey Dave: Your final conclusion was actually spoken to me a year ago by a person who knows Gordon. My take on Gordon was made from a purely selfish stance. I simply love watching him play.

Hey Tony: Add Josh Gordon’s agent Drew Rosenhaus to your list. With the Browns failing to help Gordon, do you know of any efforts by Rosenhaus to help keep Gordon straight? Would it have been unusual for him to pay for people to help Gordon?  As we see too often in sports, agents have an opportunity to serve and mentor their clients. But in the end, most only serve themselves. Rosenhaus deserves a lot of the blame, in my opinion.

-- Chris, Denver, CO

Hey Chris: I can't disagree with you.

Hey Tony: What was Josh Gordon's first strike against him? Was it that he smoked weed in college? Because if I remember correctly, he was kicked out of two schools for it -- isn't that punishment enough? Tell me if I am wrong, but he voluntarily entered the drug abuse program? Do you really think the Browns wouldn't have taken him if he hadn't entered the program? Who advised him to enter the program?

-- Kevin, Boston, MA

Hey Kevin: The NFL drug policy states that a player can be admitted into Stage One of the substance abuse policy without committing a violation. For instance, getting thrown out of Baylor and Utah would give the NFL reasonable cause for putting Gordon in the drug program.

Hey Tony: One of the things I hear from year to year when I follow the preseason football games is to not get to excited when someone has a really good outing, like Conner Shaw. We fans are cautioned that these are only preseason games, teams are using vanilla defenses, personnel are shuffled in and out, the first strings are sometimes not even in uniforms etc etc. So my question is, what about a player, in this case Brian Hoyer, who I feel didn't look very good in preseason. At least that's my opinion, I don't feel against the Lions, Redskins, and especially the Rams no one really looked that good but I feel, particularly the quarterback position, didn't look very sound. Sense the vanilla defenses gave the Cleveland offense such a hard time should Cleveland Browns fans everywhere be concerned about the 2014 season?

-- Greg, Middletown, OH

Hey Greg: Prior to the Chicago game I would say “yes.” But I do think the offense showed signs of life and improvement in the fourth preseason game and I would change that to “probably.”

Hey Tony: Seriously, who in the Browns front office thinks the brown pants look good? Why do they insist on taking one of the NFL's classic uniforms and ruining them?

-- Mike, Cincinnati, OH

Hey Mike: How do you account for tastes? I’ve come to like the brown pants as a change-of-pace look. A completely modernized Browns uniform ensemble is in the final stages of being chosen and will be unveiled in April 2015. In the meantime, enjoy the classic look. It will soon be relegated to “throwback” status.

Hey Tony: Suppose you were GM for a day and Doug Whaley came to you offering Sammy Watkins for the return of their #1 pick next year, would you do it?

-- David, Joelton, TN

Hey David: Yeah. Probably. But it wouldn’t be an immediate no-brainer. I liked Mike Evans better, but there is an obvious need in the wake of the Josh Gordon suspension.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

#HeyTony: Now that the Browns' QB competition is over, fans are unimpressed and wonder if it was a waste of time

Aug 23, 2014 -- 6:00pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

Now that the Browns’ quarterback competition of 2014 is over, fans are unimpressed and wonder if it was a waste of time.

Hey Tony: Is it my imagination or are defensive coaches predisposed to mishandling the QB position? Every Browns fan knows that treating the QB position like every other position never works. QB competitions don't bring out the best in one guy, it brings out the worst in both. Inevitably, both guys struggle, and the season is spent going back and forth piling up losses along the way. Why not pick Hoyer from the very beginning (like everyone knew he would) and give him the vast majority of time with the starters, and a better chance to succeed?  Meanwhile, groom Manziel, giving him time to learn from the veteran and avoid being ruined by playing him too early. What possible positive can result from this sham of a QB "competition"?

-- Tony, Bowie, MD

Hey Tony: Now that you mention it, the coaches involved in Browns quarterback competitions since 1999 all have been from the defensive side – Butch Davis (Tim Couch v. Kelly Holcomb), Romeo Crennel (Charlie Frye v. Derek Anderson), Eric Mangini (Anderson v. Brady Quinn) and Mike Pettine (Brian Hoyer v. Johnny Manziel). I think in this case, the public wanted to see Manziel play and the Browns succumbed to that sentiment. Was it counter-productive? Absolutely. Did it bring out the best in the quarterbacks? No. Has the team gained anything from the competition? Yes, it learned that Manziel is not ready.

Hey Tony: Thanks for all the work you do. I know it might be partly speculation, but can you comment on the relationship between Hoyer and Manziel? It does not appear to be adversarial but it does not seem like they get along. Thanks.

-- Dave, Lyndhurst, OH

Hey Dave: I don’t think they are going to socialize. That’s understandable when you consider their personal situations. Hoyer, 28, has a wife and two kids. Manziel, 21, is single and party-prone. On the field, they have been competing for the same spot. I would expect them to develop a better working relationship now that their roles are more clearly defined.

Hey Tony: Glad Hoyer was finally named the starter, it was the best decision for the present and future of the club. However why is it every new coach of the Browns fails to learn the lessons of the past coaches? How many QB 'competitions' have we had since the Browns came back? All of them failed. The best chance a QB has of success comes from a full offseason as the unquestioned starter. Why do smart coaches do such dumb things when they just need to look at the failures of previous coaches to know better? Is it ego? Do new coaches think that somehow it will be different for them? With your extensive experience being around all the failed QB competitions and ex-coaches why do you think the coaches never understood the idiocy of these QB competitions?

-- Este, San Francisco CA

Hey Este: One reason for this particular competition might be that the new coaches “inherited” Hoyer and they “selected” Manziel. So, naturally, the coaches want to give their chosen one a chance. Overall, though, the reason the Browns have had so many quarterback “competitions” is because they never have any continuity on offense. They change head coaches every two years and change offensive coordinators and systems almost every year. No quarterback ever has a chance to establish himself.    

Hey Tony: Some things seem inexplicable to me. Case in point, Josh Gordon playing into the 4th quarter of the last game. Do you think the coaches were concerned about his effort level at that time and decided to teach him a lesson or was this just stupidity?

-- Jeff, Denver, CO

Hey Jeff: I have no idea. The one guy on the roster who can catch and they have him taking extra reps. Mind-boggling. Teach him a lesson? The head coach said he sympathized with Gordon because of the uncertainty of his suspension and understood why he would be unfocused. The reps would have been better served going to the receivers who may play in Gordon’s absence and need the work.

Hey Tony: Why do some fans and certain media claim that the special and defense teams won those three games (with Brian Hoyer at starting quarterback last season)? If that the case what happened when Weeden and Campbell  was the quarterback? Didn't they have the same special and defense teams? Also don't they listen? I remember coach Pettine said if both quarterbacks are equal or close he would pick the veteran.

-- John, Laughlin, NV

Hey John: Hoyer was hurt in the third game and left with the Browns losing, 10-0. So, realistically, you can’t give him credit for that win. But his 2-0 record makes him the only Browns quarterback with a winning record since 1999.

Hey Tony: Can we read anything into the continued delay in the decision regarding Josh Gordon's appeal of his suspension? Seems really unfair to the Browns if the full year is actually upheld. Prediction?

-- Tom, Gulfport, MS

Hey Tom: Yes, we can read indecision on the part of the NFL while it gauges which way the wind is blowing. If it lowers the boom on Gordon, it will incur the wrath of the public for going light on Ray Rice and not disciplining (yet) Colts owner Jim Irsay. If it doesn’t suspend Gordon indefinitely, it will have to explain why it did not follow the guidelines set forth in its collectively bargained substance abuse policy. If it suspends Gordon for less than a year, it will have to explain why it made an exception for Gordon.

Hey Tony: First I want to say that you do a great job reporting on the Browns.  I really appreciate your insights and thoughts on what is going on.  It is always a pleasure reading your articles. Question for you: What ever happened to the coffin corner punt? It seems that every punter aims for middle of field and hopes for a lucky bounce. My rough tally is that half of these end up in the end zone.  Why don't they target their punt to go out of bounds at the 5 yard line or so?

-- Giulio, Avon, OH  

Hey Giulio: The coffin corner punt is a lost art. Coaches don’t seem to even teach it anymore. I’m not sure the reason, but I intend to look into it.

Hey Tony: How much do you think alternating series affected the QBs performance this past Monday? I suspect it made it more difficult to get in sync.  Also, do you think the Browns’ front office has started to regret drafting Johnny Manziel rather than Teddy Bridgewater or someone else?

-- Glenn, Albuquerque, NM

Hey Glenn: There’s no question that alternating the quarterbacks after two series affects not only their performance but that of the entire offensive unit. One or two bad series, and the other one goes in? Not enough time there to establish rhythm with anyone – especially with everyone learning a new offense together for the first time. As for Manziel v. Bridgewater, I think the Browns realize it’s way too early to second-guess that one. I don’t believe Bridgewater would have had the instantaneous impact on ticket and jersey sales as did Manziel, I know that.

Hey Tony: Now that we finally established our number 1 starter at QB, do you see Connor Shaw possibly battling Manziel for the backup spot? Or would the politics of picking Manziel at 22 in the draft prevent that from happening? Also, does it make sense now to let Rex Grossman take up a roster spot and possibly lose Shaw off the practice squad?

-- John, Tampa, FL

Hey John: I think Grossman can serve a role as a mentor to both Hoyer and Manziel in the Kyle Shanahan offense. Shaw is now officially the most popular quarterback in town because he completed a Hail Mary TD pass at the end of the Washington game. Please don’t call the sculptor for a bust in Canton just yet.

Hey Tony: When are the Browns going to wake up and hire Bernie Kosar as a QB coach?

-- Joel, Orlando, FL

Hey Joel: Kosar has never expressed the desire to be a full-time quarterback coach. Fans always clamor for it, but he has never shown interest in pursuing the job.

Hey Tony: After two pretty dismal preseason performances are we already at the point where we can see the 2014 season going down in flames? Neither QB can manage to move the ball, and that is WITH Josh Gordon on the field. Aside from a few nice plays, what has been touted to be a top 10 defense looks slow, and unable to tackle at all. This was supposed to be the bright spot on the team. Maybe it is just preseason vanilla play calling? I sure hope so. Tell me why we should hope for anything better than another 4-12 season, because right now this team looks like it would struggle to even achieve that.

-- Ted, Longmeadow, MA

Hey Ted: My official prediction will come the week before the opener. I always start training camp on a positive note. By the time the opener rolls around, reality hits like a bucket of ice water over my head. This year is no different. I am trying not to overreact. I was having positive thoughts after the first two preseason games last year, and that season went down the tubes. Maybe the opposite will happen this year.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

#HeyTony: Johnny or Hoyer? Hoyer or Johnny? It's all about the QBs in the inbox

Aug 16, 2014 -- 6:22am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty via ESPN

As the Browns prepare to name the winner of their quarterback competition, it’s all quarterbacks 24/7 in the Hey Tony inbox.

Hey Tony: When viewing the national sports networks, it’s obvious they are pushing for Manziel to start right away. In contrast, the local perspective is more tempered and in my opinion paints a more accurate picture of the Browns’ QB situation. What is your view on the national media pressure put on the Browns for Manziel to start? Do you see this having any impact on the decision-making process thus far?

-- Michael, Estero, FL

Hey Michael: The Browns are a business. Manziel is good for business. The Browns have to decide if they are in the business of football or the business of winning.

Hey Tony: Only in Cleveland are we concerned with the status of the third and fourth stringer at quarterback for good reason. What is your eye test assessment of Connor Shaw? If Hoyer and Manziel continue to struggle with the new offense by the 3rd pre-season game, then will the Kirk Cousins trade chatter pick up again?

-- Eric, San Jose, CA

Hey Eric: I see Shaw as a possible practice squad keeper. As long as Kyle Shanahan is Browns offensive coordinator, the Cousins trade talk will resurface from time to time.

Hey Tony: I don't know the dynamics of player interaction during training camp, so this question may be completely off base, but is it possible that Rex Grossman was brought in less because of the difficulties of Hoyer and Manziel and more because of difficulties of other players, i.e. WR's? And if the system is this complex, perhaps it is contributing the some of the dropsies by draining away some attentiveness to the final part of the route-catching the ball? I am probably hoping against hope, but I am sick of 12 loss seasons and getting punked by the Steelers and Ravens. Having a great defense is fantastic but whether we lose by 3 or 30 an L is an L.

-- David, Joelton, TN

Hey David: I don’t see how Grossman can help the receivers. No, he’s here to help the quarterbacks.

Hey Tony: I know everyone has been giving Ray Farmer rave reviews for his draft, but I strongly disagree. I think it’s a classic "accountant GM" failure. The mistake of the accountant GM is focusing on value while ignoring a teams’ glaring needs which inadvertently stockpiles positions (or sides of the ball) that are already strengths while leaving open massive holes elsewhere on the roster. The accountant approach may win the spreadsheet with the best numeric value for the picks, but it doesn't win football games. Ray Farmer scored a spreadsheet victory with all his “value” moves, but this team still has 4–12 written all over it because it’s not going to score any points. Ray may have gotten great numeric value when he traded number 4 overall for a pro bowl, shutdown corner at 8 and a 2015 first rounder, but if the Browns still lose 3 of every 4 games because they can’t score any points, then so what? He should have put aside his value charts and picked a receiver, probably multiple receivers high in the 2014 draft BECAUSE THE BROWNS NEEDED THEM. Instead we have some nice defensive upgrades and 10 picks in 2015 that won't make a bit of difference in the 2014 win/loss column. Sheesh.

-- Ken, Flower Mound, TX

Hey Ken: I agree with your points about GMs too often worrying about value. In fact, it was one of my complaints about the Joe Banner-Mike Lombardi regime, of which Farmer shared some part. But in the case of bypassing Sammy Watkins for Justin Gilbert and a 2015 No. 1, I believe Mike Pettine should share the credit or blame. He prioritized cornerback over receiver. Farmer deferred to Pettine’s sentiment, and Buffalo’s generous offer convinced Farmer to take the deal. Ultimately, though, you are correct: if the Browns lose 12 games again, the deal was a failure and they will be in the same boat again in 2015.

Hey Tony: Did Phil Taylor ever pass the conditioning test or did the Browns give him a pass? I have heard very little about his camp. Is Taylor excelling, Tony, as I believe he is in his contract year?

-- Tim, Ladera Ranch, CA

Hey Tim: Taylor has been practicing for more than a week now and he played in the first game in Detroit. Taylor is highly thought-of by the new coaching staff. Taylor is not in his contract year; he is signed through 2015, as the Browns picked up his final option year in June.

Hey Tony: With Brian Hoyer in place and the addition of Rex Grossman, are there any possibilities that Johnny Manziel could be used in a gigantic trade that would give the Browns multiple first round picks and a few extra stud players including a great receiver? I know Johnny is a gamer and this isn’t the traditional time to be thinking “Trade” but if you view Johnny as only a possibly solution that lacks the ideal height and arm strength while playing in a cold weather environment then maybe it a great time to take advantage of a desperate GM or meddling Owner.  How about that guy in Texas, that has to be thinking twice about passing up on Johnny during the Draft and how he might be able to insure that his team has a Quarterback this year, that can play and maybe more importantly, sell tickets? Realistically, with Johnny’s type of play, how long do you think he will last in the AFC North? Would you trade Johnny for maybe 4 - 5 very good players? The Browns have gain greatly by drafting Johnny including the media hype and the season tickets sales just to name of few.  But maybe the greatest gain could be if we could fleeced an owner wanting the blossoming, “Johnny Football.”

-- Terry, Shanghai, China

Hey Terry: Dallas owner Jerry Jones is banging his head against the wall for passing on Manziel. It was a natural fit and Jones deferred to his football people fand selected offensive lineman Zach Martin. But forget about a trade. It’s not going to happen.

Hey Tony: Thanks for keeping all us Auslanders posted on the Browns.  All the buzz is the competition between Manziel and Hoyer--it is a relative comparison.  How do you see each of them in an absolute sense, as quality, if not franchise, QBs?

-- Claude, St. Louis, MO

Hey Claude: I saw Hoyer pull together a deflated locker room and win two games in two starts last year before his knee injury. I see no reason why he wouldn’t pick up where he left off. He does not have an extended track record, however, and we don’t know if he can be a consistent winner or if defenses will catch up to him and curb his game. Manziel is an intriguing prospect with a flamboyance that attracts teammates to follow him. The question is whether his physical talents will carry him as he learns the complexities of the pro quarterback position.

Hey Tony: You wrote in your article about the hiring of Rex Grossman was "primarily to help Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel make bigger strides in grasping the ultra-complicated offense installed by Shanahan. Neither QB has been able to post a touchdown in the team scrimmage and first preseason game in Detroit, and the offense has regularly been pummeled on the practice field by the defense." Don't you think another perspective could be the vast improvement of the Browns’ defense, which got scored on a lot last year?  (Granted the offense failed to get a TD against the Lions.)

-- Erol, Stony Brook, NY

Hey Erol: I’d like to see this defense play a regular-season game against a good offense (Saints in Week 2?) before enshrining it in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hey Tony: We are finally in agreement regarding the quarterback position. For the last two training camps, you gave Weeden the benefit of the doubt and thought he could be a franchise quarterback. I knew he had no chance. But now, we both agree that Hoyer can be a franchise quarterback and should be the starting quarterback for the Browns on game one. In my opinion, Manziel is not ready and will probably never be ready to be a franchise quarterback. His game will not translate. Have you seen anything from Manziel that tells you he is likely to be a franchise quarterback? Has your opinion changed since the draft? Also, why is Hoyer (who is younger than Weeden when he was drafted) given no chance by the press and fans to be a franchise quarterback and the leader of the Browns for years to come?

-- Sean, Magnolia, TX

Hey Sean: I never said or thought Brandon Weeden could be a franchise quarterback. I never said or thought Hoyer could be a franchise quarterback. I never said or thought Manziel could be a franchise quarterback. I will say that Hoyer gets very little respect from the national media as a starting quarterback. He has a chance to change a lot of misperceptions about him.

Hey Tony: I am concerned that the recent momentum for Johnny Manziel to start week one is based off ownership and the front offices dollars and cents motives (see: ratings) and not necessarily football driven. I watched every moment of the Detroit game, and this worries me. I don’t see any reason for Manziel to start against a Dick LeBeau defense week 1 on the road unless he is CLEARLY better. I don’t see how anybody watching can say he is right now. I have been extremely optimistic about the Farmer/Pettine regime thus far, I would hate to see them botch this critical decision so early on. What do you think?

-- Joshua, Fullerton, CA

Hey Joshua: I trust they will make the right decision.

Hey Tony: I continually here the Shanahan offense referred to as "complex". Can the same be said for the Kubiak offense currently being installed somewhere in Maryland? Can we just state what it is at this point in camp? The Browns’ offense has looked as offensive as ever? I think the tackling was equally awful in Detroit. I seem to have more faith that the tackling will improve. How about you?

-- Michael, Blue Ash, OH

Hey Michael: The offense will take more time than the defense. That doesn’t mean it won’t eventually come around.

Hey Tony: Taylor Gabriel had a standout performance in Saturday's preseason game. If he has a repeat performance against the Redskins I expect him to secure a roster spot. However, I was surprised little was mentioned of Gabriel's week 1 preseason performance from anyone that covers the Browns. Do you think Gabriel has a reasonable chance of making the team and if not why?

-- Greg, Durango, CO

Hey Greg: The Browns are begging for a receiver to emerge. Gabriel had a good start in the Detroit game. He needs to keep improving. One setback could move him back to the pack.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

#HeyTony: Is the NFL being unfair in delaying a ruling on Josh Gordon's suspension appeal?

Aug 09, 2014 -- 7:25pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty via ESPN

The time is close for the NFL to rule on Josh Gordon’s possible drug suspension. Finally. A few more Gordon questions rolled in just before the league’s long-anticipated judgment.

Hey Tony: If Josh Gordon gets his year “indefinite” suspension in a couple weeks, from my understanding, he won't be eligible for reinstatement for a full year. If this is the case, the NFL dragging this out will cost Gordon most of next year’s training camp also. Is this true, or fair?

-- Josh, Galena, OH

Hey Josh: Yes, if the NFL follows “the letter of the law” and suspends Gordon indefinitely, he would be out a minimum of a calendar year beginning with the announcement of suspension. I think the NFL will bend on this draconian punishment. I suspect the NFL will hand down an indefinite suspension, but allow Gordon to apply for reinstatement in less than a year; say, after eight games. In this example, Gordon would have to pass numerous drug tests and personal examinations by the league’s medical director in order to be reinstated.

Hey Tony: Any chance the NFL's continued delay in the Josh Gordon ruling is because the NFL wants the Ray Rice smoke to clear a bit, hoping for less of a backlash if they suspend Gordon eight games or more?

-- Paul, Seattle WA

Hey Paul: I believe the controversially lenient two-game suspension for Rice is working in Gordon’s favor. However, I don’t believe Commissioner Roger Goodell is dragging his feet to distance himself from the Rice ruling. I think the delay was mostly caused by the volume of testimony and evidence put forward by the Gordon camp in the appeals hearing.

Hey Tony: I agree with your article that the NFL drug policy is flawed. I also think that the NFL is worried about being sued by Gordon. If they added both specimen bottles together it would be below a positive test result. I wouldn't want to be the NFL defending a one year ban on that sample. That would be like having a radar clocking you at 26 mph in a 25 zone and another clocking you at 23. However, I think everyone knows that Gordon needs help. I'm a Browns fan, but I just want the kid to get clean. I hope Gordon finds a way to get on the right track. Do you feel that kicking Gordon out of the NFL for a year would push him back to his old friends that use drugs?

-- Rick, Shreveport, LA

Hey Rick: I think the NFL will break from their substance abuse policy and allow Gordon to work out in the team’s facility during any suspension he may receive.

Hey Tony: Assuming Josh Gordon miraculously escapes any suspension for his marijuana offenses, what kind of discipline do you think he'll face for his DWI?

-- Robert Rossman, Los Angeles, CA

Hey Robert: Gordon’s DWI arrest in Raleigh, NC, on July 5 will be dealt with at a later date by the NFL. My guess is the NFL will suspended Gordon for two games on that miscue.

Hey Tony: In 1993, Belichick used Testaverde in a 'relief' role with Kosar in games in which the first team offense was not particularly effective. I remember that you felt that this was a real genius move on Belichick's part. I am not at all a fan of platooning QBs, and I'm also of the opinion that the earlier that Manziel plays in his career, the shorter his ultimate ceiling will be (rookie QBs that play often acquire bad habits, e.g. 'happy feet').  That said, I'd like to see the Browns do anything possible to win in week 1 at Heinz Field.  Although he may not be consistent and effective but because he is such a wildcard, I could see Pettine using Manziel in this way during the early part of the season. Do you think that Pettine might reserve this for the scenario if the Browns are losing in the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh?

-- M. Bluth, Orange County, CA

Hey M. Bluth: I fully expect the Browns, at some point, to package a few plays for Manziel as a means of acclimating him to the speed of the NFL regular season.

Hey Tony: There has been much written about who will be the starter between Hoyer and Manziel but have you heard anything about a potential intermittent use of Manziel should Hoyer win the starting job? I don't get a chance to follow the discussion as much as I'd like but it seems to me Manziel could be an attractive change-of-pace for a series or two per game or in a situational role due to his X-factor. Thoughts?

-- Keith, Cleveland, OH

Hey Keith: See above.

Hey Tony: Love you on ESPN Cleveland, especially the radio/podcasts.   With the Great Lakes Classic versus Detroit coming up, I wanted to know whatever happened to that trophy/sculpture of the boat that the winner got to keep for the year?  

-- Brian, Dublin, OH

Hey Brian: “The Barge,” was discontinued after former Browns President Carmen Policy left the Browns. The practice of rotating possession of the trophy to the winning team for a year is gone. It turns out each team actually has a copy of the trophy.

Hey Tony: With Manziel/Gordon taking up most of the headlines lets change it up, with some new questions for you. 1. How do you see the FB position shaping up?  It’s got to be better than last year. Right? 2. Is Mitchell Swartz catching onto the one cut blocking scheme? 3. Do you think Kruger will be worth the money this year? 4. How is Dion Lewis looking? 5. Who is your favorite to fill the #2 spot at TE? 6. Who is your surprise so far this camp?

-- John, Tampa, FL

Hey John: 1. Yes, either MarQueis Gray or Ray Agnew would be an upgrade over using halfback Chris Ogbonnaya. 2. The coaches like Schwartz a lot. 3. Kruger makes a base salary of $8.2 million in 2014. That’s pay commensurate with a 12-sack pass rusher. Kruger has never had more than 11 in a season. 4. Lewis is embroiled in a competition for one, or two, spots against Isaiah Crowell, Chris Ogbonnay, and Edwin Baker. It will be tough for him to win a spot. 5. Gary Barnidge. 6. My surprise at camp so far has been undrafted receiver Willie Snead.

Hey Tony: What are your thoughts concerning the release of Chris Faulk? Wasn't he supposed to be a potential first-round draft choice if he hadn't gotten injured?  What are your thoughts on the training camp Mitchell Schwartz is having? Didn't he struggle last season with speedier pass rushers?

-- Greg, Middletown, OH

Hey Greg: Every coaching regime assesses and evaluates players with a different bias. The Pettine regime studied Schwartz on tape and liked what they saw. His starting spot is virtually unchallenged.

 

 

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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