Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi
This week, John of Delaware lowers the boom on Colt McCoy and Feraas of Cincinnati asks about veteran defensive tackles available. After being silent for a week, Mike of Dover sent in a batch of vituperative tirades. We used only one. Please remember to include a city with your name for your question to be used. Also, time is running out to contribute to our special project. Visit www.tonygrossi.com for information.
Hey Tony: I've always appreciated your perspective and I have a multi-part story idea that would be perfect for your new ESPN venue. What if you went through each of the post-1999 Browns QBs (at least the major ones) and summarized how and why they failed in Cleveland? You could pay particular attention to the ones the Browns drafted but failed to develop, reflecting on the critical decisions leading to their demise. I'm sure Phil Savage and Chris Palmer would be happy to reflect on this as part of the piece, and maybe even Eric Mangini. Whether or not they could admit it, I guarantee the history lesson would be useful to the current Browns administration. If nothing else allowing them to empathize with the Browns suffering fan base. Keep telling it like it is Tony!
-- Pete Yehl, Danville, CA
Hey Pete: I touched on the failure to develop quarterbacks in a column prior to the draft, when I listed the five worst QB decisions made by the franchise since 1999. It’s such a painful story to read, I’m not sure it would be worth reliving again. I would just remind the Browns of the demise of their last first-round QB, Brady Quinn, who never had the complete backing of everyone in the organization and ultimately got chewed up and spit out.
Hey Tony: You've recently said Colt McCoy deserves better than the treatment he's received from the Browns. I don't understand this. He was given a chance to start half his rookie year and all of last year though he was only a 3rd round pick and probably wouldn't have started for any other team. In these starts he did not perform well. He has no pocket presence or poise (as soon as a defender gets anywhere near him he tucks the ball, puts his head down and does that little panic dance) his throws were wobbly and inaccurate, he's physically fragile and therefore injury prone, he's too short, he displayed poor decision making, and to top it off he has a daddy who scolds the team in the media for hurting his precious baby. Basically, he's Ken Dorsey with some mobility. Why is he owed anything? I understand the running game imploded last year and the receivers were subpar but doesn't a good quarterback make the players around him better? Aren't the fans the ones who really deserve better, namely good quarterback play?
-- John, Delaware
Hey John: I think you’re summarizing many points I’ve made in two years covering the team, but in somewhat harsher tones. I agree the Browns needed to do better at the position and have been clamoring for a bigger, more physical QB for a while. Still, I believe McCoy got a raw deal here.
Hey Tony: Nice to see you found a good place to land. My question is this, on your blog post of 5/23/12 on the Browns receivers you note that Josh Cribbs appears to be on the decline with the coaching staff. Last season Cribbs finally appeared to have made real progress as a receiver. I believe he had the most plays on the team over 20 years on offense. Do you think the Browns are giving up on Cribbs too soon? I really question if Mohamed Massaquoi is going to regain his form after his injuries. How does he look in practice? If Massaquoi doesn't come back they are going to need Cribbs or at least another receiver and the Browns are allergic to Free Agents, it seems, so that leaves in house as the only solution.
-- Michael, Western NY
Hey Michael: I just have the impression that Pat Shurmur views Cribbs as a dynamic special teams player first, and a receiver second. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t expect Cribbs to climb up the depth chart at the WR position unless, as you state, there is no one better. I only have seen on Browns OTA practice and can’t make a judgment on Massaquoi’s improvement.
Hey Tony: “He is an outstanding player at corner.” OK, now that I've stopped laughing at that asinine remark re: Sheldon Brown ... are they blind or ignorant? And where is your snide remarks? Oh, that's right it wasn't Mangini that said it so you can't possibly say anything contrarian. Recall I asked you about Tony Pashos and Browns in the middle of last season. Your reply was something like ..."unfair assessment of a veteran player” or some nonsense thereof. Guess I'm right again.
-- Mike, Dover, OH
Hey Mike: Welcome back, Sunshine.
Hey Tony: Is there any news on Reggie Hodges and how his recovery is going?
-- Jonathan, Cleveland
Hey Jonathan: Hodges is fully recovered from his Achilles tendon injury of last August and was back at his punting job on the first day of OTAs, the only practice open to the media.
Hey Tony: To your knowledge, have the Browns ever looked at upgrading or simply making small improvements to the game-day experience at the stadium? Going to away games it's especially noticeable how the in-game production (video, music, scoreboard, replay) is far superior to what the Browns stadium offers. As a season ticket holder since '99, they've played the same ACDC song during kickoff each season. Switch it up a bit. It’s very stale and boring. How do they pay these people season after season and not seek fan input? Many fans I've spoken to tend to agree. Thanks.
-- Bryan, Raleigh, NC
Hey Bryan: Making the game day experience better is a major directive from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The league is concerned that fans are becoming too comfortable and content with watching games on TV rather than attending them. I’m sure the Browns are making a thorough review of their game day experience as a result.
Hey Tony: You mention it's a good idea to bring in a veteran to replace Phil Taylor. Who are some 'options' that are free agents at that position (three-technique)? Any that are appealing? Thanks!
-- Feraas Suleyman, Cincinnati
Hey Feraas: Since you sent your question, Browns GM Tom Heckert was quoted as saying he is fine with the defensive tackles already on the roster and didn’t expect to add a veteran. If he changes his mind, the list of unsigned veteran tackles he might consider might include: Anthony Adams (formerly Bears), Ikaika Alama-Francis (Dolphins), Kentwan Balmer (Redskins), Rocky Bernard (Giants), Alfonso Boone (Chargers), Howard Green (Packers), and Tommie Harris (Chargers).
Hey Tony: With all this talk about our WR corps, that they will be demolished by the likes of the Steelers and Ravens, especially James Harrison, I started thinking back when I was a kid watching the Browns. One game comes to mind back in 76 when we were playing the Steelers at the stadium. If I recall correctly, the Steelers defense knocked Brian Sipe out of the game. So my future hero, Turkey Jim Jones repaid the favor. I know these kids today don't think like the guys did back then but just once I would like to see one of our D-ends give Ben and Joe a little something for their trouble. With all that being said my question is this, Where is Jones these days? Maybe the Browns can get him to come and talk to the defense on how to play D in our division. I believe you have to be a little nasty, but play within these current flag football rules, what's your take?
-- Will Slater, Montgomery, AL
Hey Will: The Browns repaid the Steelers for Harrison’s cheapshots with a legal hit on Ben Roethlisberger, jointly applied by Scott Paxson and Brian Schaefering, that caused a high ankle sprain the ultimately affected Pittsburgh’s early exodus from the playoffs. That’s the way to do it – with fair, legal, hard hits that impact a game.
Hey Tony: FYI, the Browns don't have specific 1- or 3-tech roles for the DTs. They play left-right not weak-strong so on a given snap either guy could be playing 1 or 3. Check some recent comments by Dick Jauron on the subject. Jauron defenses always have had just two big dudes in the middle without a classic 3-tech penetrator. So Billy Winn isn’t necessarily the best-suited guy to fill in for Taylor (who obviously isn’t a classic 3-tech himself). (Same deal with the OLBs – either guy needs to be able to play on the TE side, as they don’t switch.) Regards.
-- Tom McCarthy, Wilmington DE
Hey Tom: Thanks for the lesson.
Hey Tony: In your first point about OTA's this Monday, you mentioned the Browns need to decide what roles Sheldon Brown, Usama Young and Dimitri Patterson will play on the defense. I am wondering if you know who will make that decision. Is this Shurmur, Jauron, or Heckert's call?
-- Ben, Athens, OH
Hey Ben: After you sent you question we were told by the Browns that Brown will stay at cornerback, Young will compete at free safety and Patterson will stay as the third cornerback, at least initially. I believe specific playing roles are discussed equally among Shurmur, Jauron and Heckert.
Hey Tony: In my opinion the most important thing a head coach NEEDS is to be a strong leader. That's what separates the good coordinators from good head coaches. Guys like Mike Tomlin, Harbaugh (both), Jon Gruden and even Mike Holmgren seem to ooze it. Along with poor personnel choices over the years I think the Browns have really blown it in their choices of head coaches since coming back. Romeo seems like a good defensive coach but I wouldn't follow him across the street. I actually think the best choice up to this point was Butch Davis. He couldn't pick players but I thought early on he inspired his teams to play their best. My question is, in your opinion, do you feel like Shurmur is just another good coordinator who is over his head as head man or a true leader that can have real success?
-- Craig, Atlanta
Hey Craig: I hope the answer is the latter, but I honestly can say I don’t know at this point.
|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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