By Tony Grossi
Browns fans are predictably infatuated with Percy Harvin and Anthony Gonzalez and just about any receiver that does not wear the Cleveland uniform. Obviously, nobody has any confidence in the Browns’ receiving corps other than the front office and coaching staff. There is also a valid question about my “inconsistent” comments on Colt McCoy.
Hey Tony: An obscure Browns question for you. What happened to the Berea training facility following the Browns move to Baltimore? Did Al Lerner have to purchase it from Art Modell? Did the league take ownership of the facility? Wasn't able to come up with anything through my own research. Thanks for the help.
-- Jeff, Tulsa, OK
Hey Jeff: The Browns facility in Berea was maintained by the NFL during the Browns’ three-year respite and then transferred to the Lerner ownership group as part of its purchase of the expansion franchise. During 1996-98, the league staged a few youth football events there and paid for its upkeep and maintenance. The Lerner family then sunk millions of dollars to improve the facility upon taking ownership of the team.
Hey Tony: After what seemed to be a decent few seasons with the Colts I was surprised to hear Anthony Gonzalez was released after moving to the Patriots via free agency. Since the Browns receiving corps is nothing to get excited about I thought maybe the Browns might go after Gonzalez. Do you know if he's signed on with any other team yet?
-- Bill, Canton
Hey Bill: Gonzalez has not signed with any team. He has had trouble staying healthy. A receiver, or player at any position, who can’t stay on the field is a player that is not going to get many offers. At his best, Gonzalez is a smart, possession receiver with neither great size nor speed. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, size and speed are in greater demand than smarts.
Hey Tony: Since you once wrote that your dog Bella could draft better than Eric Mangini, I was wondering how Tom Heckert stacks up to Bella’s draft acumen.
-- Mike, Dover
Hey Mike: You’ve mischaracterized one of my most quoted Hey Tony answers. The question was specific to the infamous second round of the Browns’ 2009 draft – Mangini’s first and only draft -- which produced Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi and David Veikune. I facetiously answered that my dog Bella could have done a better job with those selections. Everybody knows that 2009 draft, particularly the second round selections, set back the Browns’ development at a critical time. And, yes, Heckert has done a much better job at picking players in the draft. Bella, a Golden Retriever who just celebrated her 2nd birthday, has turned the page and is looking forward to the 2013 draft.
Hey Tony: Is there any chance the Browns try to trade for Percy Harvin? Isn’t his speed and ability to break the big play exactly what you look for in a West Coast wide receiver?
-- Alex, Chicago
Hey Alex: There is zero chance the Browns try to trade for Harvin. 1. The Vikings will not trade him; 2. He carries some baggage that the Browns don’t want to add to the locker room; 3. Harvin and offensive coordinator Brad Childress were not necessarily kindred spirits when Childress was Vikings coach.
Hey Tony: I was wondering if you could rate the importance of the ability of a QB to throw these passes in the West Coast offense the Browns are trying to run and which one will be the go-to pass on third down? 1. The 20 yard sideline fade pass. 2. The TE pass up the seam. 3. The flair to the back in the flats or, 4. The back shoulder timing pass.
-- Stuart, Branchville, NJ
Hey Stuart: I think you are missing two passes that are more important than the four you describe. One is the quick inside slant and the other is the fade pass to the corner of the end zone. In truth, a quarterback has to make all these throws to force the defense to cover the entire field from sideline to sideline.
Hey Tony: Have so enjoyed reading your straightforward observations on the Browns over recent years and so glad you now have excellent platform to carry on doing so. My question falls into 2 parts: As a Brit who has supported the Chelsea soccer team for over 40 years, I feel somewhat qualified in identifying good soccer players. I don’t need stats for this – my eyes tell me. I have seen players with less skill than others maximize their talents and become invaluable to the team, but also players with tons of natural ability and/or potential who don’t because something is lacking (heart, desire, injury, bad luck etc). 1. As a close follower of the Browns over the last decade, which players over this period best fall into the two categories I describe? 2. Of the players on the current roster, and with the use of the Grossi Crystal Ball and what your eyes are telling you in watching the OTAs, who do you foresee as going on to be invaluable to the team over a number of seasons? Cheers.
-- Andy Armstrong, Glasgow, UK
Hey Andy: 1. Some players who maximized their abilities: Josh Cribbs, Daylon McCutcheon, Ryan Tucker, Andra Davis, Brian Russell, Dave Wohlabaugh, Eric Steinbach – to name a few. Some who didn’t: Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Brady Quinn, Braylon Edwards, William Green, Brian Robiskie – to name a few. 2. Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden.
Hey Tony: Your OTA coverage thus far has been fantastic- clearly a function of the fan base’s die hard addiction to anything that even looks remotely brown, orange or white. I usually serve as the team’s unofficial talent scouting critic, but I’d like to change the narrative to a rarely spoke about topic this week. Considering the current state of undeniable frustration from this franchise’s fan base - why doesn’t the team consider a dance team or cheerleader squad like almost every other NFL team? You have been covering this team for almost as long as I’ve been alive, so I’d love to hear about any history of one, and/or current talk of a future one. I’m sure there’s a few exceptions, but I’d have to imagine almost all other 31 teams feature both a respectable men’s football team AND some sort of female dominated ‘dancing’ program - yet we get neither? I’d have to imagine a furious, male dominated season ticket holding base would appreciate something finally worth watching on the field.
-- Dan, New York, NY
Hey Dan: I’m assuming your question was asked with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Paul Brown liked marching bands, but not female cheerleaders. That’s the history. Also, old Municipal Stadium was so cold and cavernous, and the field was so far removed from the closest seats, cheerleaders had absolutely no chance of making an impact on a game.
Hey Tony: My memory is going in my old age but I seem to remember Mike Holmgren saying in a presser last year that "if we could just catch the damn ball" (we did lead the league in drops) that our offense would be more efficient. Now last week The Big Show stated that the receivers "were open probably more than you thought and we just didn't get them the ball." Is there any way that you could clear up these conflicting comments from the Prez.
-- Confused, Concord, OH
Hey Confused: I’m sure Colt McCoy is asking the same thing. Actually, I think both statements are accurate.
Hey Tony: After Holmgren's most recent presser I do believe that he is All-In on this coaching staff. He picked a younger up and coming head coach and surrounded him with a ton of seasoned former head coaches who all speak his language (W.C.O.) Personally, I think the staff will have success and win. BUT, what if they have a disastrous 2012 season where the coach makes more rookie mistakes and only wins 4-5 games and then start 2013 with 3-4 losses? Does Holmgren A. fire Shurmur and replace him with one of his assistants, B. fire Shurmur and take over as head coach, or C. hire Jon Gruden, who has won and is also of the same WCO family? Holmgren doesn't want to tarnish his legacy. This will be his final job and final team. He will not go down without a fight. Again, BTW, I think this coaching staff will win.
-- Alex, Orlando, FL
Hey Alex: I hesitate to answer these “what if” questions anymore. What if the Browns win 11 games? Will Holmgren ride off to the sunset on his Harley? Will anyone care then? Let’s let things play out. There’s enough negative stuff going on without conjuring “what if” negatives.
Hey Tony: I understand when a player does not concede to the talents of another but, as someone who covers pro athletes, do you ever wonder why the obviously less talented ones don't just come out and say "I have been bested"? In any other profession it is admirable to tip your hat to someone in the same profession who possess more talent but it seems like in pro sports it is blasphemy to state the obvious. Thanks.
-- Eliot, Cape Coral, FL
Hey Eliot: I wouldn’t know what it’s like to possess the athletic talent and the competitive gene that it takes to be a professional athlete. Perhaps it is a passionate single-mindedness in believing oneself that prevents more athletes from saying what you want to hear. In other words, what makes them great competitors prevents them from conceding to the talents of others.
Hey Tony: Even though mini-camp is weeks away, I find myself wondering about a few Browns veterans and what the 53 man roster will look like. What do think the individual odds are that Scott Fujita, Ben Watson, Carlton Mitchell, and Ray Ventrone will be around next season? Also, do you foresee a scenario where Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Brandon Jackson, and Chris Ogbonnaya all make the 53-man team? Thanks.
-- Todd, Baltimore, MD
Hey Todd: I wouldn’t write off any of the four players you are writing off. Let’s let it play out. I really don’t see a scenario where all four halfbacks make the final roster.
Hey Tony: I have heard you float the theory that the Browns are protecting Colt McCoy's ego by keeping him on the roster and not releasing him. But you said this week on air that the Saints signed a backup QB that could have been McCoy if he had been available. How are the Browns helping him by keeping him if everyone knows he is not in his plans? If he is released, isn't he free to choose the best situation for his career going forward?
-- LD, Cleveland
Hey LD: Yes, I think the Browns would do McCoy a favor by letting him go sooner than later. At the same time, they wanted to make sure they did not shortchange themselves by doing so. The best solution would be to find a new team for McCoy in a trade. What I dread seeing or hearing is McCoy teeing off on the organization – after he joins a new team.
Hey Tony: If Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden were exactly the same age, who would have been drafted first and why?
-- Fred, Euclid OH
Hey Fred: I’m trying to recall what exactly Tannehill accomplished in his college career and can’t quite come up with it. If Weeden were Tannehill’s age, he would have been the No. 3 pick in the draft.
Hey Tony: I have been a fan of your work for years now. That being said, your recent comments and articles regarding Colt McCoy blow my mind. Few Cleveland journalists have been as critical and skeptical of Colt McCoy than you have. Fragile, weak arm, short, etc. You've covered all that. You called for the "big, physical QB". The Browns made a smart football move and drafted Weeden, and now you keep referencing this "raw deal" McCoy has gotten. This is the NFL. Great supporting cast or not, if you don't feel McCoy is a franchise (read: Super Bowl) QB, then you make other moves. McCoy was a third round pick, and was promised nothing. Disappointed in your inconsistency on this matter.
-- Joshua, Fullerton, CA
Hey Joshua: I can understand your comment about me being “inconsistent” in my comments about McCoy. You are correct: I have been critical and skeptical of McCoy from Day One and never thought his limited physical skills, particularly at but not limited to arm strength, could translate into a successful winner in Cleveland. At the same time, I can’t shrug off the Browns’ failure – as usual – to support a young quarterback. They handed him the job in 2011, without a competition, and then failed to support him with qualified receivers. And the club’s actions in the Pittsburgh game – failing to see he was severely concussed when the viewing nation could easily see it and then re-inserting him in the game after a vicious cheap shot by James Harrison – was a terrible dereliction of duty. Yes, there were unique circumstances, such as multiple injuries on the same play. But somebody upstairs watching the game – Mike Holmgren, for one – should have telephoned the sideline and ordered McCoy be kept out of that game after that hit.
|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 email@example.com
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