By Tony Grossi
Emailers already are taking sides in the Brandon Weeden v. Colt McCoy debate. They also want to blame somebody for the Phil Taylor weight-lifting injury. Please remember only questions with a name and city will be answer. Also go to www.tonygrossi.com to contribute to our children’s book on the Browns.
Hey Tony: While I don't necessarily hate the pick, I truly believe that we could've gotten Brandon Weeden in the 2nd round or traded up from our third pick at a marginal cost. Wasn't final say on personnel and draft decisions part of the deal to get Tom Heckert to come Cleveland? If so, why does Mike Holmgren have a trump card over him? Also, any idea what direction Heckert wanted to go if the Walrus didn't intervene? Obviously nobody knows for sure, but if management had any skills then they would've taken one of the promising pass rushers at 22 and moved up for Weeden after.
-- Hòa, Los Angeles (via Cleveland Heights)
Hey Hoa: Everybody has to answer to someone and in Heckert’s case, it’s Holmgren. Once Kendall Wright was taken by Tennessee at No. 20, Holmgren did not want to get aced out of Weeden also, and that’s why he made the call to take him at No. 22. I’m not sure if Heckert had anyone in mind other than Weeden after Wright was taken.
Hey Tony: Is a torn pectoral muscle a common injury or is this improper weight training. D’Qwell Jackson and now Phil Taylor. Was Taylor supervised or was this clowning around. If it was supervised, heads should roll.
-- Dennis, Mentor, OH
Hey Dennis: Torn pectorals are very common injuries among athletes, particularly when lifting weights. Jackson’s successive torn pectoral injuries occurred on the field – during a game in 2010 and during a training camp practice in 2011 – and had nothing to do with lifting weights. Another Browns player, Emmanuel Stephens, also suffered the same injury last year during a game. I wouldn’t blame it on the strength coach.
Hey Tony: Nice to see you back. Re: Colt McCoy, you may be right, but as Holmgren says, this is the big boys league. The NFL ain’t for wimps like me. Plus, I’m sure lots of non-QBs in the league get treated just as badly, or worse, and we never even hear about it. I agree that it’s a tough deal for McCoy, but he had to know going in this is the type of thing he might face. Plus, it’s not like he wasn’t given a chance to succeed. At least the organization is trying to do something. Keep writing. You are my main point of contact for the Browns down here in Cincy.
-- Kevin, Cincinnati
Hey Kevin: Regular readers know that I didn’t think McCoy was capable of taking this team far. But I also believe he got a very raw deal.
Hey Tony: Earlier this week, Cris Carter admitted that he would throw a few bucks to an offensive lineman for watching his back on the field. The example he used was a tackle or guard going after a defender who was taking cheap shots. In light of those comments, what's your take on the lack of retaliation against James Harrison? Over the past couple of years he's taken out three Browns with devastating head shots. Is the lack of retaliation just a reflection in how the NFL culture has changed, or is it because the Browns O line lacks an enforcer?
-- Kevin, Chicago
Hey Kevin: The way the Browns have allowed Harrison to run roughshod over them, nobody can accuse them of running a bounty system. I agree that somebody should have laid a lick on Harrison by now.
Hey Tony: Really enjoyed your article on Nick Sorensen! Browns special teamers from 2009 and 2010 were some of our favorite players because of their intensity and enthusiasm – Blake Costanzo, Ray Ventrone, Sorensen and Josh Cribbs! In fact we kind of viewed Cribbs and Sorensen as bookends on the coverage team. If one of them wasn't making the stop, the other one was. Anyway, on to my question. Does the CBA change you mentioned in the article, salary levels rolled back three years, affect journeyman players like Sorensen who might have had two or three year deals? Will they have to take pay cuts to keep playing under a new deal? Or, are we likely to see all vets like Nick phased out in favor of younger, cheaper players?
-- Steve Sanders, Bealeton, VA
Hey Steve: I think your last comment is the trend. Even at NFL minimum salary levels, teams can save a few bucks against the salary cap by replacing 10-year veterans with incoming rookies or first-year players. And if the position is devalued because of the new kickoff rules, it makes sense to GMs to phase out those players. Sorensen believes that he and Cribbs might not even be in the NFL if they were just coming into the league now.
Hey Tony: The Browns make good on their promise to surround McCoy with some weapons and see what he can do. McCoy is marginally better but still the Browns finish in the top 5 of the 2013 draft. Matt Barkley, Landry Jones and the next Griffin are waiting for them. If the Browns are in a position to draft a TRUE franchise quarterback next year, do they have the guts to do it?
-- Jim, Bay Village
Hey Jim: I don’t think so. That’s why they drafted Weeden.
Hey Tony: How much has the Browns' reputation around the league and with agents been damaged by how they've handled their QBs? To me, the only person who acted with class in the Colt Concussion debacle was Colt. He deserves better from this team regardless of whether he's starting caliber. This seemed like a bungle by Holmgren and he sent Shurmur out to toe the company line. By the way, to keep question short, I didn't add that Trent Dilfer, Jeff Garcia, Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, and Derek Anderson all seemed to end with acrimony and hard feelings -- not just poor play.
-- Steve B, Chicago
Hey Steve: This is why I have tagged Cleveland the City Where Quarterbacks Go to Die.
Hey Tony: Great to read your columns daily on ESPN Cleveland and also hear on the local shows. I just saw Jacoby Jones signed with the Ravens. How can teams like the Ravens and Bengals sign and draft quality WRs and the Browns just sit around and do absolutely nothing? He would have been our second best receiver. Hopefully they go after Donald Driver if the Packers release him. I wouldn't bet the ranch on it. He gets open and catches the ball.
-- Kris Kent, Canonsburg, PA
Hey Kris: Just because the Ravens sign a player doesn’t mean it will work out. They traded for Lee Evans last year and look what happened. Driver is 37.
Hey Tony: Could you please tell me the last three successful NFL quarterbacks who played in a spread offense out of the shotgun in college like Brandon Weeden? I am trying to get a read on whether these types of quarterbacks are likely to be ready for the NFL or if there college stats are a reflection of the type of offense they played.
-- Ammar, Chicago
Hey Ammar: Cam Newton and Andy Dalton didn’t have too much trouble adjusting from a shotgun spread offense last year. On the other hand, Kevin Kolb still hasn’t had much success in four NFL seasons after piling up big numbers in the spread.
Hey Tony: Now that the draft has passed and free agency is more or less over, we have a good idea what the 2012 roster will look like. Looking ahead at the schedule, do you give the Browns even a slim chance of climbing out of the AFC North cellar? The 2007 season came out of nowhere, but so far Mike Holmgren's revival plan appears just about as rudderless as every other organizational attempt to date. Year 1 was the Mangini test: Fail. Hit reset button. Year 2 was the Colt McCoy test: Fail. Hit reset button. Now we're into year 3 and let’s hope some things get rectified. My take is you have a head coach that knows X's and O's but lacks the charisma to lead. The coordinators have more head coaching experience than the head coach (backwards logic). And lastly, management for three years running insists the current receiving group is adequate when the reality is there hasn't been any downfield threats since Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow II were shipped out. Give me a reason to believe Weeden and Trent Richardson will turn this thing around because I still view the Browns offense as dysfunctional. And by the way, rooting for the Broncos is not an option.
-- Greg, Durango, CO
Hey Greg: You owe it to yourself to give this new group a chance. Richardson, Weeden and offensive coordinator Brad Childress are good additions.
Hey Tony: Although you may have never said so explicitly I think implicitly you questioned both the arm strength and accuracy of Brady Quinn and Colt McCoy based on what you saw of them at practice and realized that did not bode well for Sunday games. My question is, after observing Brandon Weeden for say a week's worth of practices, will you be able to make a judgment call on whether or not you think Weeden is a significant upgrade or not over the likes of Quinn and McCoy?
-- Rick, Colorado Springs
Hey Rick: I’m expecting Weeden to look magnificent in the “touch football” portion of the offseason. In those situations, absent a pass rush, the ball should rarely, if ever, hit the ground. When it does, it’s a sign of trouble ahead. But the only way we can truly judge Weeden is when the action is live and the defenses are in regular season mode.
Hey Tony: Glad to see you at ESPN. You have written about this before I think, but can we clarify that Bob LaMonte specializes in representing coaches and front office management? There is probably no team in the NFL that doesn't have at least one person represented by Bob LaMonte. It gets a little tiring to have people with little knowledge talk about this conspiracy with Bob LaMonte representing the Browns front office. If Randy Lerner fired the front office today, there is a good chance that anyone that Lerner would interview to be head coach (like John Gruden) or front office personnel would have Bob LaMonte as their agent.
-- EGB, Cuyahoga Falls
Hey EGB: What you say is true. But it’s unusual for one man to represent all the key executives/coaches in the same organization, e.g., Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert, Pat Shurmur, Brad Childress. LaMonte has a similar setup with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Hey Tony: Even an amateur can understand that Seneca Wallace should have been the Browns starter last year. He had the experience with the West Coast offense, so the million dollar question is, why didn’t the Browns highly paid front office understand that simple logic, make Seneca the starter last year and give Colt McCoy time to develop? Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anyone ask that hard question in the past nine months. Maybe it’s been danced around a bit, but that question needs to be asked head on. If Wallace does has favored status with Holmgren, did the Browns purposefully put McCoy out there unprotected and undeveloped to be the orange sled for last year? And even a Colt McCoy fan understands that he should have sat behind Seneca last year and been given a fair opportunity to develop his skills and learn this offense. Sure, they all want to play, says Mr. H, but that’s what Daddy Warbucks gets paid for – to be able to say “not yet” to anxious young talent and guide them through a professional development process. I’ll be very interested to see your follow up reporting on Colt’s demise. From my vantage point, between the Browns poor management and Colt’s Little League Dad, the kid didn’t stand a chance in Cleveland. When will the Browns learn how to develop a QB without making a train wreck out of it? Thanks.
-- Marianne, Columbus
Hey Marianne: I think the mentality a year ago was that McCoy had earned the starting job based on his play as a rookie. Nobody disputed that at the time. I do agree he was put in a horrible situation, but it wasn’t for the purpose of seeing him fail. Just another example of failing to develop a young quarterback. Much more to come on this ongoing issue, I would expect.
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 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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