By Greg Brinda | ESPNCleveland.com
Once again for Browns fans it's our annual venture into a quarterback controversy.
This is so not new. We've come to expect it. And this just didn't start a few years ago, or since the Browns came back in 1999.
This goes way back. So let's start in the early 1960s when Jim Ninowski and Frank Ryan were battling to lead the Browns.
But it was different back then. There were just a couple of TV and radio guys and two newspapers. There was no social media, no blogs, no sports talk shows on radio, and no sports networks that could play up the battle ad nauseum. If you wanted to share an opinion you talked to your neighbor, went to the neighborhood bar, or wrote a letter to the sports editor of the paper. That was it.
Now it's a 24-hour blitzkrieg of information, discussion and opinion.
The Plain Dealer did an excellent story a few weeks back on how Ninowski thought he was going to be the QB in 1964. We know how that turned out.
Ryan led the team to the Championship. Cleveland's last one. Fifty years ago.
The quarterback situation remained calm until the mid 70s when fans got tired of Mike Phipps and his poor play and started clamoring for anyone else, including Brian Sipe.
We know how that eventually worked out with Sipe taking the team to the playoffs in the Kardiac Kids season of 1980.
But even Sipe couldn't hang on as coach Sam Rutigilano started going to Paul McDonald more in 1982 and 1983.
McDonald had 84 season all to himself because Tom Flick proved to be no challenge.
A unified fan base finally came to fruition when Bernie Kosar came along in 1985.
But like anything all good things come to an end
Bill Belichick dismissed Kosar in 1993 citing diminishing skills. There's no doubt Kosar had lost some mojo because of the pounding he had taken throughout his career. Problem was that no one better was around to take his place.
Vinny Testeverde played decently until the Browns left for Baltimore after the 1995 season. The fans, though, never bought into Testeverde.
When the Browns came back in 1999, Tim Couch assumed the reigns. But by 2001, fans weren't seeing a whole lot of progress and started pressing the team to play Kelly Holcomb. And when Holcomb played admirably in the 2002 Playoff game against the Steelers, Couch was finished according to popular opinion.
The top subject on sports talk radio in 2003 was the Couch-Holcomb debate, every day, every hour.
Holcomb's cache didn't last long and he was gone by 2004 when Jeff Garcia took over. He left after one year and Trent Dilfer took over followed by Charlie Fry and then Derek Anderson.
Three years followed with a very vocal fan-induced Anderson-Brady Quinn debate. It was as popular and heated as the Couch-Holcomb argument.
2010 saw the three-headed monster take form. Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace all appeased our quarterback debate appetite. The McCoy-Wallace debate lasted into 2011.
By 2012 the fans got a new whipping boy in Brandon Weeden. And we know how long that lasted with Brian Hoyer making a great play for the job last season.
So here we are in 2014. Johnny Manziel mania took off pre-draft, crescendoed on Draft night and still holds a huge place in some Browns fans hearts.
For some Hoyer needs to be perfect. For some Manziel should be the QB right now. There is a loyal Hoyer fan base however.
The battle rages on. It's a week-to-week fight.
The only way the battle subsides is if Hoyer and the Browns keep winning.
If not? We will carry on with what we are used to.
1964 seems like an eternity ago.
By ESPN Cleveland Staff | ESPNCleveland.com
On Friday, the NFL and NFL Players Association released an updated and revised policy on substance abuse. As part of the agreement, the NFL has reinstated Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon and has announced that his suspension will run a total of 10 games. Gordon -- and others who run afoul of the league's new policy -- will now be allowed inside of the team's facility to engage in team meetings.
After missing the Browns' first two games of the season, Gordon will next see the field on Sunday, November 23, in Atlanta against the Falcons.
In response to the new policy, Gordon released a statement through the Players Association:
“I’m happy that the NFLPA and NFL worked hard to agree on a new Substances of Abuse policy. I’m very thankful to my union for fighting for a significant reduction in my suspension. I’m glad I can go to the facility during my suspension. I look forward to going to meetings, working out individually, and learning from my coaches and teammates. I can’t wait until game 11 to get back on the field!”
By Jason Gibbs | ESPNCleveland.com
BEREA --The Browns are counting down to the team's final preseason game just two days away, which also means that we're closing in on the final roster cuts before the regular season opener on September 7th. Below is a round-up of the best quotes from Tuesday's practice.
HEAD COACH MIKE PETTINE
On how many roster spots are up for grabs:
“There’s a few. I think the wide out position needs to kind of shake itself out still. We’ll get some quality reps with those guys. Inside backers are another one for maybe the last spot or the last two spots. Even the defensive line, some of those young d-linemen – looking forward to getting them some extended playing time, as well. Safety I think is important for those guys to go out there and compete. There are more than a few, I would say, that are unsettled. That’s why we’re looking forward to get those guys some more game experience.”
On if Browns QB Brian Hoyer has to get over a hump and if he is stuck right now:
“I don’t think he’s stuck. I just think he can’t press, that he just needs to keep it simple. Do your job. Good things will happen. Go out there be confident, and hopefully the rest of the offense that they’re functioning well around him. As I’ve said that a bunch of times, probably 30 of the quarterbacks in this league are so much of a product of what’s going on around them that there’s very few that can transcend their supporting cast. I think that certainly applies here. For Brian to look good, for Johnny to look good, for (Browns QBs) Rex (Grossman), for Connor (Shaw) – for any of our quarterbacks to look good we need to play well around them.”
On if he liked QB Blake Bortles coming out of college:
“Yeah. We liked him probably even more after we visited with him because he just kind of has something about him that I think what we thought of him was elevated after we got a chance to go down there and work him out privately.”
QB BRIAN HOYER
On WR Nate Burleson returning to practice:
“It’s good; it’s great to have Nate back out here. Obviously, we got to see him out here earlier in the spring and to have him back out here another veteran guy who knows what he’s supposed to do. I was able to throw a touchdown pass to him in one of the periods today so it’s good to get another guy back out there who is experienced. Nate has had a great career, to have a guy like that around us is only going to benefit us.”
Whether upcoming roster cuts can be a distraction in the locker room:
“Yeah, I think for me it was. There was a few nights where you toss-and-turn a little bit so it’s definitely understandable, but I think this is the business that we chose. We chose to get into this business so you put yourself in that situation and you just hope for the best and try to go out and perform the best that you can and kind of let the chips fall where they may.”
What advice could he offer a young player like WR Willie Snead who might be on the bubble:
“Anyone who is in that position, I think you tell those guys ‘look, they bought you here for a reason. Go out and just do what you’ve done your entire life playing this game. Have fun.’ I think sometimes you get so caught up in the situation that you don’t realize how fortunate we are to be playing this game for a living. Just because you get cut, if you do get cut, that’s not the end of the road. There are so many times where, I look at myself for example, just because one team doesn’t want you doesn’t mean 31 others might not want you. You just go out and, its hard-it is, it’s hard but just try and focus on what you can control because there’s so many things going on around you that usually when you do that things will take care of themselves.”
QB JOHNNY MANZIEL
If he’s looking forward to there potentially being a package for him down the road and what he thinks that could do for the offense:
“Yeah, I think (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) is obviously a very innovative guy who is extremely creative, so whatever is put on my plate or asked of me, I’m absolutely happy to do and would be extremely excited to get on the field and help this offense in any way I can.”
On how he would compare and contrast how he was at the beginning of August to where he is now three preseason games into it and how far he needs to go to be where he thinks he should be:
“I think I still have a ways to go. At the same time, I feel like I’ve definitely covered some ground on making up on some things that I didn’t do very well during OTAs and then coming into August at the very beginning. I think I’ve honed in on some things and continued to get better, and I still think there’s a ways for me to go. I’m excited to get into the season and see how the schedule is going to be week to week – how the work schedule is going to be, how the film and everything is going to go and how it is preparing for an opponent in the NFL. I’m pretty excited for that. I think it will be good to get a couple weeks under my belt and see how that goes.”
What advice he might have for the freshman quarterback that will be starting for Ohio State since the injury to QB Braxton Miller:
“First and foremost, it’s tough to see a friend like Braxton…I mean, it’s rough. I don’t wish that for anybody. I don’t wish that for him especially. Hopefully everything in that situation works out for him. I hope he can get a medical red shirt and be able to play because first and foremost, I’m a fan of Braxton. I think he’s incredible for college football. I think he’s incredible for Ohio State and the state of Ohio.
"Ohio State is obviously a very big deal, but a true freshman coming in and taking over for a program like that, I think he’s got a good situation with (Ohio State Head) Coach (Urban) Meyer being there and being able to put him in situations to be successful. I think more than anything, he needs to depend on him, Coach Meyer, who’s been through it all. There quarterbacks coach is a very creative guy who is a standup guy as well. I would say lean on those guys. Lean on the older players that have been there. They have a lot of playmakers, so you get the ball to those guys in space and they can really do a lot with it. Don’t try to do too much. I would say rely on your coaches. Rely on what they’re telling you, and most of all, have fun and go out and play football like you did in high school and like you’ve been doing your whole life. Man, I really wish them nothing but the best and I hope Braxton is OK.”
TE JORDAN CAMERON
Can you say why you were absent from practice yesterday:
“Nope. It’s all good though, everything is fine. Coach excused me and there’s nothing really to talk about.”
SS DONTE WHITNER
Clarifying his comments he made to Peter King a few weeks ago about the locker room being divided over who should start at QB
“Well I think some guys like Johnny and I think some guys like Brian. You know its pick your poison. Pick who you like. You know so that’s what I meant, I didn’t mean we were divided you know but some guys like who they like. Some guys probably don’t like me at strong safety and they probably like my back-up in there so…I don’t know but no we’re not divided or anything based on that comment you know, just some guys like what they like.”
One additional note: The Browns needed to make one more roster move by 4pm today to get down to the league mandated 75 player limit. They placed OL Nick McDonald on the reserve/non-football injury list. McDonald can’t practice or play until after Week 6.
By Jason Gibbs | ESPNCleveland.com
Browns' quarterback Johnny Manziel adressing the media after Saturday's practice.
BEREA -- Johnny Manziel continued his 50/50 trend on Saturday at the Browns' final practice leading up to Monday night's game at Washington.
9:28am: It’s good to be alive! Johnny is QB #4 out on the field this morning and we are underway just two days before Browns/Redskins!
9:30am: QB/Center Exchanges. Johnny is back with the two’s today.
9:38am: Stretch time
9:48am: Offensive shell drill.
9:50am: Johnny time- Johnny pitches the ball to RB Terrance West with the second team offense
9:55am: QB/WR Drills
10:08am: 11 on 11 Drill number one
10:10am: Johnny time (Numbers – 0/2 with two handoffs)
10:16am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/1 with one handoff)
10:18am: Special Teams time. QB’s go to work on agility.
10:30am: 7 on 7 Drill
10:32am: Johnny time (Numbers – 2/4)
10:38am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/2)
10:39am: 11 on 11 Drill number two (Red Zone)
10:42am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/2 with two handoffs)
10:49am: Johnny time (Numbers – 3/5 with a TD and an INT plus one handoff)
10:54am: Special Teams time. QB’s go to work on agility.
11:03am: 11 on 11 Drill number three
11:06am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/2 with one handoff)
NOTE: Around 11:10am fight time breaks out. A late shove after a play by RT Mitchell Schwartz to LB Justin Staples sets off an entire team fight. LT Joe Thomas ends up at the bottom of the pile. Coach Pettine is angry (that is an understatement) and the team runs before resuming the drill.
11:21am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/2 with one handoff)
11:28am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/2 with one handoff)
UN-OFFICIAL PASSING TOTALS TODAY FOR JOHNNY – 11/22 1TD/1INT
Manziel's Un-Official Numbers for this week: 61/122 (50%) passing
Manziel's Un-Official Training Camp Numbers: 178/347 (51%) passing (Games excluded)
By Jason Gibbs | ESPNCleveland.com
Photo/Getty via ESPN
BEREA -- It's the second-to-last practice of the week and the first practice of the week when we know that Johnny Manziel will not start this Monday night's game at Washington.
9:27am: Happy Friday everybody! Johnny is QB #3 out on the field on this beautiful morning.
9:30am: QB/Center Exchanges and Warm-Ups. Johnny is working with Alex Mack. Looks like he’s with the one’s today.
9:38am: Stretch time
9:46am: Offense Team Drill. Confirmed…Johnny is with the first team today.
9:48am: QB/RB Drills
9:56am: QB/WR Drills
10:06am: Offensive shell drill with QB’s and skill position guys
10:17am: The QB’s split up. Johnny goes to another field for TE/LB drills with QB’s throwing (Numbers not available)
10:23am: O-Line vs. D-Line Drill with QB’s and RB’s
10:26am: One on One Drill with QB’s throwing
10:26am: Johnny time (Numbers – 3/7)
10:34am: Special Teams time. QB’s go to work on agility.
10:44am: 11 on 11 Drill number one
10:44am: Johnny time (Numbers – 2/3 with one handoff)
10:53am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/3 with one handoff)
10:58am: 7 on 7 Drill
10:58am: Johnny time (Numbers – 2/4)
Play #1 – Incomplete pass to WR Taylor Gabriel
Play #2 – Incomplete pass to RB Ben Tate
Play #3 – Completion to WR Charles Johnson
Play #4 – Completion to TE Jordan Cameron
11:05am: Johnny time (Numbers – 0/2)
11:07am: Special Teams time. QB’s go to work on agility.
11:19am: 11 on 11 Drill number two (Red Zone)
11:19am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/2 with two running plays)
11:29am: Johnny time (Numbers – 1/2 with two handoffs)
11:34am: 11 on 11 Drill number three
11:34am: Johnny time (Numbers – 4/5 with a botched snap)
11:46am: Johnny time (Numbers – 2/4)
MANZIEL'S UNOFFICIAL PASSING TOTALS FRIDAY – 16-for-32
MANZIEL’S UNOFFICIAL NUMBERS FOR THIS WEEK – 50-for-100
MANZIEL'S UNOFFICIAL NUMBERS FOR TRAINING CAMP – 167-for-325 (51%) passing (Games excluded)
BEREA -- Challenge accepted.
Mike Pettine and a host of Cleveland Browns players and personnel -- including Johnny Manziel -- took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Friday immediately following practice.
Pettine even managed to add a little good-natured trash talk aimed at Rex Ryan, Pettine's former boss and the one who extended the challenge to Pettine and the Browns.