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Hey Tony!

Jun 16, 2012 -- 8:30pm

By Tony Grossi

As expected, there were several questions about the Browns’ ongoing quarterback saga in this week’s inbox. Other subjects of interest were Mike Holmgren’s announcement to be more accessible this year and the two-part interview we had with Brad Childress.

Hey Tony: Suppose the Browns decide to keep all three quarterbacks on the roster. If Thad Lewis then goes to the practice squad and stays there all year, does he acquire a year of service just as an active player would? What would the benefits be down the road if he rolled up 10 years of service?

-- Mike, Copley, OH

Hey Mike: A player does not accrue a year of service while on the practice squad.

Hey Tony: Salaries aside, which quarterback would you say is the better backup to Brandon Weeden -- Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace? I read some quotes recently and Wallace was pretty candid saying he thought either he or Colt wouldn't be with the team when all is said and done. Do you agree?

-- Doug, Orange, CA

Hey Doug: I felt all along that the drafting of Weeden meant the end of McCoy in Cleveland. I believe the Browns see Wallace as the backup quarterback. Their skill-sets are very similar, but Wallace holds an edge with his experience in the West Coast system.

Hey Tony: Do you think management talked to Wallace before camp this year and told him he MUST mentor Weeden and get him ready to be the starter without him whining like last year with Colt?

-- Braden, Port Clinton, OH

Hey Braden: No, I don’t think that happened. Mike Holmgren has said he didn’t want his quarterback to have a mentor when he was the coach. I think the whole mentor role is pretty overblown.

Browns OC Brad Childress

Hey Tony: Pat Shurmur has put together a staff that seems heavy with former head coaches. After talking with them, what is your impression of their thoughts of Shurmur? He didn't exactly have an auspicious first season, but I think it speaks well of the guy that he has included so many former heads in his staff. Is this just another Browns-fan's-hope, or does this speak to his leadership?

-- David, Joelton, TN

Hey David: In the NFL coordinators usually fall into two groups – young up-and-comers who are on a path to the head coaching ranks, or fired head coaches whose expertise on one side of the ball are still in demand. Dick Jauron and Brad Childress fall into the latter category, of course. It’s a good mix to surround a young head coach like Shurmur with experienced coordinators. Another former head coach on Shurmur’s staff is Ray Rhodes, who is a senior defensive assistant.

Hey Tony: My first time writing in. I love you in this new forum on ESPNCleveland.  Great piece of work with Childress, the interview is my favorite piece of work done on the Browns this year. Speaking of Childress one quote really captured my attention "Sure. Are you on board with that? Yeah, a thousand percent. Yep.”  Boy, does that tell a story behind this QB "competition." My question(s) is this then: Why is Colt still with the team? Why is there this silly illusion of a QB competition? I can't envision a scenario where Colt and Seneca are with this team next season and based on Childress' at length comments on McCoy it sounds like he is giving us the organization's true opinion of Colt and not the fluff we hear from Holmgren i.e. "I really Love Colt, he's a great kid..."  Thoughts?

-- Neal, Cleveland, OH

Hey Heal: I think if the Browns could have traded McCoy, they would have done so by now. Rather than simply releasing him, they wanted him to compete in the offseason and minicamp practices. Will this continue through training camp? I say no, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they bring McCoy back just for insurance in case of injury to the other QBs.

Hey Tony: I see you've manufactured a 'man crush' for Carlton Mitchell. Is that your modus operandi, pick a player or coach and nonsensically build them up or beat them down? By the way, I heard No. 18 was not looking too good during OTA's, can you confirm?

-- Mike, Dover, OH

Hey Mike: Asked to name a player who might surprise at this year’s training camp, I chose Mitchell. So sue me. As a matter of fact, Mitchell looked great during OTAs. If he were an Eric Mangini draft choice, would you have sent this question?

Hey Tony: It's early fourth quarter in a mid-season, home game.  Browns are down by 10 points at their own 30 yard line. Fine looking rookie QB Weeden goes down with sprained ankle and can't return for the day. Who gets the call and what opportunity does it present for that backup? Also, before ESPN, you used to take some well-earned "down time" about this time of year until start of camp.  Will that still be the case?

-- Mark, Branford, CT

Hey Mark: Well, the backup quarterback would come in and finish the game and I imagine, at this point, it would be Seneca Wallace. If Weeden is healthy for the next game, he would return as the starter. My down time indeed is well-earned and will be taken in the coming weeks, per usual.

Hey Tony: This is my assessment on why the Browns don't want to bring in players from the free agency. When you have all rookies and draft choices for three years, they come in with little baggies and a positive attitude. Where as free agents usually have baggies and negative attitudes from their past experience playing the game. The Browns while building a team from through the draft wants a positive attitude in the locker room. What is your take on this??

 -- Ernie, Columbus, OH

Hey Ernie: There’s some truth to what you say, but a bigger factor is that marquee free agents cost five times, sometimes 10 times, more than rookies. You are paying a premium price at a time when they’ve generally already had their greatest years. Free agency makes sense with the right player and at the right time.

Browns WR/KR Josh Cribbs

Hey Tony: I asked you back on 5/2/12 about Josh Cribbs possibly being cut. I’ve seen a ton of other people ask you similar questions. Toward end of May you wrote “Josh Cribbs appears to be fading as an integral receiving option by the coaching staff”. I personally believe Cribbs brings very little value to the team at this point. He’s had several years to try to become a decent option at WR and he has not succeeded on one of the worst WR rosters in the NFL. I love Cribbs for what he has done for us in the past but in my opinion it’s time to move on from the Cribbs era into a new Era where a Glorified Cheerleader is no longer needed b/c that’s really what he is at this point.  So now a month and half later it’s time for me to ask you again.  Do you see any chance Cribbs is released prior to week 1?

-- Kriny, New Philadelphia, OH

Hey Kriny: My answer hasn’t changed a bit. What I see happening is Pat Shurmur and the new coaching staff coming to the realization that Cribbs is invaluable – invaluable! – as a special teams player. They felt the dependence on Cribbs as a full-time receiver chipped away from his tremendous value on special teams. While I still see Cribbs being used on offense, I believe it will be in a more limited capacity, freeing Cribbs to be a dominant player on special teams once again. I repeat: If Cribbs was used only on special teams, he still would be one of the top five players on the entire team. Getting something out of him on offense is just gravy.

Hey Tony: I'm sure you heard Mike Holmgren in his presser today saying they really don't know who the starting QB is for this year just yet. Did he give the press a wink, wink as he was saying it, and do you really think that ANYONE doesn't already know that Brandon Weeden is the day 1 starter?

-- Dave, Vancouver, USA

Hey Dave: There was no wink, wink. But anyone following this thing closely can see where it is going.

Hey Tony: We’ve heard about how Greg Little, Marcus Benard, etc., have come to OTAs in shape. Are there any Browns that were considered “out of shape” or did not look like they had a great offseason?

-- Daryl, Virginia Beach, VA

Hey Daryl: There wasn’t a lot of conversation about this, and I regret not asking about it during OTAs, but it struck me that Ahtyba Rubin looked a little heavier in the gut at OTAs. That’s the only player I noticed who was bigger in the wrong places.

Hey Tony: 1. In the 1980's you were often a guest on the Pete Franklin's 3WE talk radio show. Share a couple of fond memories on working with "Uncle Petey." 2. What is the real reason that Browns GM George Kokinis was fired? I've heard everything from George having a drinking problem, to Eric Mangini simply being power hungry and only wanting a GM in title.

-- Jim Battershell, Hicksville OH

Hey Jim: 1. I don’t have a lot of stories to tell about Pete Franklin, other than that it was always an honor to be on his show after growing up listening to him and calling in to his show on occasion. 2. We’ve never heard the Browns’ version of why they fired Kokinis. Kokinis’ lawyer at the time, Jeffrey Kessler, contended the Browns breached their contract with him by demanding he be a lackey with no authority. The settlement reached by the two sides included a non-disclosure clause, so we may never hear the real story from the subjects.

Hey Tony: Great interview with Brad Childress. It sounds like they really were not sold on Colt McCoy as starter. Let’s assume Mitchell Schwartz is a strong addition to the line, Trent Richardson is the real deal at RB, and Brandon Weeden has a solid rookie season. What do you think the Browns draft focus will be in 2013 draft??  I think true #1 receiver, pass rushing DE, CB, safety and LB depth.

-- Alex, Orlando, FL

Hey Alex: Congrats. Yours is the first question about the 2013 draft I’ve elected to answer. If all your scenarios unfold, I would hope a true, game-breaking receiver would be top priority. However, never discount a stud on the defensive line or a cornerback.

Hey Tony: I agree with 99% of what you say, but the second most important player on an NFL team is the back-up QB (as the Colts found out last year). Certainly, Brandon Weeden should start, but we need a decent back-up and Seneca Wallace is unable to throw to his left (among other deficits). Unless Thaddeus Lewis is a solid “clandestine” number 2, don’t you think the Browns would be vulnerable trading Colt for (a kicking tee), in the event Weeden is injured on the first play of the game?

-- Mark, Marion, MA

Hey Mark: I believe the Browns have a higher opinion of Wallace than you or me or most of their fans. I think they feel he is their best option at backup QB.

Hey Tony: What is preventing Evan Moore from becoming a more consistent part of the offense. He has had flashes from time to time and then disappears. What gives?

-- Mike, Tallmadge

Hey Mike: I guess the easy answer is to say he needs consistency – in his catching, his route-running, his blocking, all parts of his game. Everyone expected a lot out of Moore last year. He did co-lead the team with four TD receptions. But I think he would be the first to say he can offer a lot more production.

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 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


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