Tag:Mike Holmgren
Posted on: November 5, 2011 1:58 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 1:58 pm
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Browns could let Peyton Hillis walk after season

Peyton Hillis at the Madden 12 photo shoot during the offseason. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

For a guy who has only played four games this season, Browns running back Peyton Hillis sure is in the news a lot. Whether it's a nagging hamstring injury, whinging about a new contract or no-showing at a Boys and Girls Club Halloween event, Hillis' 2011 season has a series of off-field missteps.

This comes a year after Hillis was one of the league's best running backs, rushing for 1,177 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns. Things were going so well that he landed the Madden 12 cover this offseason, and as recently as two weeks ago, the Browns front office sounded like it had every intention of re-signing the centerpiece of their offense.

Here's team president Mike Holmgren on October 20: “There was no way I was going to trade Peyton Hillis.”

On Saturday, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer Mary Kay Cabot writes that, according to NFL sources, the Browns are at the end of their rope with Hillis and are prepared to let him hit the bricks after the season.

"It's one thing after another, and what's been out there isn't even the half of it," one source said.

And that's not hyperbole. It really has been a nonstop comedy of errors for Hillis this season. Friday, we wrote that his teammates held a sit-down with the running back (via Yahoo.com's Michael Silver).

The peculiar saga of Peyton Hillis
"By Wednesday, a group of about eight Browns veterans had summoned Hillis into a meeting room for an intervention-style, air-clearing session designed to restore his focus. After a breakout season in 2010 that vaulted him to national prominence, including a spot on the Madden NFL ’12 cover, the 25-year-old back’s consuming desire for a new contract has become a locker room distraction that numerous teammates regard as an impediment to cohesion and collective success."

Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace confirmed to Cabot that some Browns players weren't particularly excited that Hillis flew to Arkansas last Tuesday to get married instead of coming in for treatment.

"Of course we're going to be a little upset if Peyton's not in there getting his treatment," Wallace told Cabot. "We're a team, and we rely on each other. But if he felt he wanted to go get married that day, that's his business. You never really know what a person is going through. You don't know what type of influences a person might have. I don't know the stuff that Peyton has going on in his life."

It's unclear what Hillis' end game is here. Yes, he deserves a raise for his performance last season. But in the last eight weeks, not only has he burned through any goodwill he had with the organization and the fans, he's cost himself millions -- plural -- of dollars. Not only in Cleveland but around the league. Teams aren't in the habit of signing malcontents, particularly running backs -- the easiest position to replace on the roster. Right, Chris Johnson?

And at this point in the proceedings it probably goes without saying, but, yeah, Hillis has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Texans.


Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans will host Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they take a look at this matchup. Watch the game at 1 PM ET on CBS.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:28 pm
 

No Hillis, West Coast scheme means predictable O

A former coach can predict the Browns' offensive play call 95 percent of the time. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Browns got off to a promising start, winning two of their first three games. They've since dropped two of three and head to Houston this weekend to face the AFC South-leading Texans. And it looks like they'll do it without running back Peyton Hillis, who reinjured him hamstring at Friday's practice.

Hillis, one of the league's best backs a season ago, hasn't been a factor in 2011. Partly because he's been injured, but also because he's looking for a new contract. Things have apparently become so acrimonious that some Browns' players held an intervention of sorts for Hillis.

Details via Yahoo.com's Michael Silver.

"By Wednesday, a group of about eight Browns veterans had summoned Hillis into a meeting room for an intervention-style, air-clearing session designed to restore his focus. After a breakout season in 2010 that vaulted him to national prominence, including a spot on the Madden NFL ’12 cover, the 25-year-old back’s consuming desire for a new contract has become a locker room distraction that numerous teammates regard as an impediment to cohesion and collective success."

Hillis has played in just four games this season, rushing for 211 yards on 60 carries. According to Football Outsiders, the Browns' running ranks 30th in 2011 after finishing 15th in 2010.


Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans will host Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they take a look at this matchup. Watch the game at 1 PM ET on CBS.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” one Browns veteran told Silver. “Last year, Peyton was such a positive, inspirational force on our team – but now he’s like a different guy. It’s like he’s in a funk that he can’t get out of, and it’s killing us, because we really need him. And we’ve told him that. But we’re at the point where we just don’t know what to do.”

Also not helping the Browns: predictable play-calling. Second-year quarterback Colt McCoy has struggled after showing potential in 2010. He has a lower completion percentage than his rookie season (57.0 vs. 60.8), lower yards per attempt (5.7 vs. 7.1), and his scrambling totals are down (3.3 YPC vs. 4.9 YPC).

But that might not be all on McCoy. NFL Network's Mike Lombardi explains that the Browns are so married to their offensive philosophy that people half-paying attention can tell you what's coming. We're not joking.

"Writing about the Browns offense leads me to a game I play every week at NFL Films. I sit in my office in Mt Laurel, N.J., put the Browns offense on my screen and call a friend who was a coach in the league, but is now in between successes. I tell my friend the personnel group, the formation, where the ball is located on the field and what hash mark and describe the motion -- if there is any -- and ask him to tell me the exact play that will be run," Lombardi writes.

"He is correct about 95 percent of the time. No lie. The Browns are so integrated into the West Coast system that their predictability is becoming legendary around the league."

So Cleveland either has to score a ton of points on the five percent of plays the opponent can't readily identify what's coming, or they need to change up their offensive strategy. Given that the Browns have been outscored 140-107 seven games into the season, we're guessing the former isn't working.

Lombardi adds that Cleveland "needs more playmakers and a better quarterback," and it's hard to dispute that. You know what else might help? Peyton Hillis.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Hillis reinjures hamstring, game status in doubt

Whether it's the Madden curse or bad luck, Hillis is injured again. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It could be nothing. Or it could be the latest in a never-ending stream of mishaps to befall Browns running back Peyton Hillis. The face of Madden 12 left Friday's practice after reinjuring his hamstring. According to CBSSport.com Rapid Reporter Marty Gitlin, "He took a handoff before pulling up lame. He tossed the ball and his helmet angrily and limped to the sideline before walking off with a trainer. He is now very unlikely to play Sunday."

Through eight weeks, Hillis has played in four games and rushed for 211 yards with a paltry 3.5 yards-per-carry average. It hardly resembles his 1,177-yard, 4.4 YPC output from a season ago.

The struggles with injuries are frustrating enough, but Hillis' off-field issues have possibly alienated him from teammates and raised doubts about his future with the team.

In the last year of a rookie contract that pays him $600,000 in this season, there were rumors that Hillis missed a late September game against the Dolphins not because of strep throat but because he wanted a new deal. A few weeks later, head coach Pat Shurmur and team president Mike Holmgren said they had no intentions of trading Hillis. Then, Hillis missed a Halloween event for the Boys and Girls Club in Cleveland, prompting former Browns center LeCharles Bentley to tweet: "Peyton Hillis looking for 10mil guaranteed from Browns and can't show up to kids charity event? #ManPlease."

Hillis later apologized.  "If I had known the full depths of it I would not have missed it," he said. "Still, I'm truly sorry and there's no excuse."

To reiterate: there is no Madden curse. Uh huh.


Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans will host Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they take a look at this matchup. Watch the game at 1 PM ET on CBS.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 9:51 am
 

Peyton Hillis isn't going anywhere

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The trade deadline has come and gone, and still, running back Peyton Hillis remains in Cleveland. It’s unclear what his role will be going forward, but one thing is certain: Mike Holmgren wasn’t going to let him go. After his agent announced that he had told Hillis not to play when he was sick, Hillis hasn’t had much of an impact in the previous two Browns gameplans, and it seemed like he was on the way out.

Obviously, he wasn’t. But why?

What's up with Hillis?
“There was no way I was going to trade Peyton Hillis,” Browns president Mike Holmgren said, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer."Why would I trade one of our best players?"

Yes, whatever would give us that idea? How about the fact Hillis is only averaging eight carries and 30 yards during the past two games? How about the fact that, during a weird sequence in last Sunday’s game, the Browns said Hillis was on the bench because of a coach’s decision before saying he had a hamstring injury before he went back into the game(!)?

Even though it’s appeared that the Browns and Hillis are on the outs, Holmgren still talked about the potential contract extension that started this mess in the first place. He also told Hillis on Wednesday that the Browns want to keep him around.

“No one has called off contract negotiations,” Holmgren said. “Things are kind of quiet right now. Let's let the dust settle and see what happens.''

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:17 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Living Legends

Bum Phillips is a living legend (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With the death last Saturday of Raiders owner Al Davis, we got to see a side of him that most people under 35 never got to experience. When Davis was an innovator, a kick-ass coach and owner, a fighter against The Man and one of the most important figures in NFL history. It was nice to be reminded of that with tributes all over the Internet, newspapers and in NFL stadiums on Sunday.

Maybe we didn’t think about it in terms like this, but Davis, though largely reclusive to the public, was a living legend, and in the final years of his life, we probably didn’t appreciate him as much as we should have.

That said, here are 10 other living legends who hold (or who should hold)  a special place in the league’s heart. No matter what they’ve become today -- those who are outspoken for and against their old teams, those who spend their time behind the scenes, and those who have disappeared for now -- it’s not too late to show them our appreciation for all the good they’ve done and the lives they’ve led.

10. Ron Wolf: Another of Davis’ protégés, Davis gave Wolf a job as a scout for the Raiders in the early 1960s, and after helping the Raiders to a plethora of wins, he helped set up a 1979 division title in Tampa Bay before moving on to Green Bay as the general manager. He hired Mike Holmgren as the head coach, traded for a backup quarterback named Brett Favre, revitalized that franchise that led to Super Bowl riches and restored the name of a storied organization that had fallen into disrepair.

9. Mike Westhoff: The only man on this list who’s still active in the game, you might remember Westhoff from his turn on Hard Knocks where he played the Jets awesome special teams coach. It wasn’t much of a stretch, because Westhoff has been an awesome special teams coach. Aside from that, he’s a bone cancer survivor (he had to have nearly a dozen surgeries to get rid of it), and he’s one of the most respected working coaches today. But he won’t be around much longer. After 30 years of coaching, he’s said this season will be his last.

Kramer8. Ray Guy: Last year, I made him my No. 1 former player who deserves be in the Hall of Fame, but since he probably won’t ever get to Canton, that list and this one will have to suffice. Once Shane Lechler’s career is over, he’ll be considered the No. 1 punter of all time (maybe he’ll have a chance at the HOF!), but Guy was the one who showed the NFL how important a punter could be to his team.

7. Jerry Kramer (seen at right): He was a better football player than Jim Bouton was a pitcher, but both opened up the world of sports that fans had never seen before. Bouton’s tome, “Ball Four,” is a masterpiece that shocked those who had watched baseball and thought of players like Mickey Mantle as pure of heart. Kramer’s 1968 book, "Instant Replay," was a diary he kept of the 1967 season in which he gave glimpses of what life was like inside the Packers locker room under coach Vince Lombardi while chronicling some of the most famous moments in Green Bay history.

6. James “Shack” Harris: He was the first black player in the NFL to start at quarterback for the entire season in 1969, and in 1975, he led the Los Angeles Rams to an 11-2 record and an NFC West division title. He wasn’t a dominant quarterback in his day, but he was a trailblazer. And after retirement from playing, he was the head of pro player personnel when the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2001. He’s currently a personnel executive with the Lions.

5. Chuck Noll: We don’t see much of Noll -- who’s rumored to be in declining health -- these days, but his impact is unmistakable. He won four Super Bowls as head coach of the Steelers in the 1970s, and Al Davis thought so much of him that he once tried to sue him (the two were on the same staff in San Diego in the early 1960s). And he was the first coach to allow his team to take baseline concussion tests -- which, as we know today, was a pretty important development.

4. Joe Namath: The legendary Jets quarterback has become a thorn in coach Rex Ryan’s side. Namath is constantly on Twitter, exhorting or back-handing his former team, and because he’s Joe Freakin’ Namath, the media has to pay attention. With that -- and his on-air exchange a few years back with Suzy Kolber -- it’s not difficult to forget just how good Namath was as a signal-caller. He was the first to throw for 4,000 yards (in a 14-game season no less), and he boldly guaranteed victory for the underdog Jets in Super Bowl III and then went out and delivered.

3. Joe Gibbs: One of my colleagues recently called him the greatest coach of the last 40 years, and considering Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien), he’s one of the legends. His return to the Redskins from 2004-07 didn’t go so well (a combined 30-34 record), but before that, his complete career winning percentage was better than all coaches not named John Madden or Vince Lombardi.

2. John Madden: We don’t get to hear much from John Madden these days, and that’s too bad. I liked him on Monday Night Football -- his football knowledge and his enthusiasm -- and though he was before my time, you have to admire his coaching record. He took over the Raiders job in 1969 at the tender age of 33, and when he retired after the 1978 season, he had a coaching record of 103-32-7. That is a winning percentage of .763, and to go with it, he won a Super Bowl and seven division titles in 10 years.

1. Bum Phillips: The old Oilers coach -- and 3-4 defense innovator -- is still kicking around in Texas, attending Texans games, wearing his big cowboy hat and writing books about his life (OK, it’s one book, but you should check it out). He’s a fun guy to speak with, and he’s fully into philanthropy. But aside from his defensive prowess, the dude is a great storyteller. Quickly, one of my favorites: when he was an assistant coach to Sid Gillman, one of the earliest believers in breaking down film, Phillips barely could keep his eyes open one night as Gillman continued studying game tape. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Gillman excitedly claimed that watching film made him feel so awesome that it was better than having sex. Responded Phillips: "Either I don't know how to watch film, Sid, or you don't know how to make love."

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 11:29 am
 

Colt McCoy worked with Brett Favre this offseason

Posted by Will Brinson

Over the summer, NFL players weren't allowed to contact with coaching staffs. So many of them turned to other tutors in order to beef up on their respective offenses. Nothing weird about that.

But that doesn't make it any less interesting to hear that Browns quarterback Colt McCoy sought out Brett Favre for advice.

"Since I couldn’t get coached, it was a great opportunity to pick the brain of a guy who’s played in the [West Coast] system for 20 years,” McCoy said via a Browns spokesman, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. "It was a chance for me to get a lot of questions answered. We worked on footwork, progressions, reads and things like that. It was definitely a positive trip."

At this point Favre's name, in any non-retirement context, strikes fear into the hearts of NFL fans and scribes across the land. But McCoy's decision to chat with the future Hall-of-Famer actually makes a lot of sense.

Browns Offseason

For starters, Favre built his legacy under Browns president Mike Holmgren when the mustachioed legend coached the Packers. Favre is Holmgren's guy and Favre knows the system that coach Pat Shurmur is installing under the regime.

Shurmur had tremendous success with Sam Bradford, developing him into one of the more prolific rookie passers in NFL history. That wasn't because Bradford spent the year chunking the ball down the field either; he dinked-and-dunked his way to 3,512 passing yards and an NFL rookie-record 354 completions (on an also-rookie-record 590 attempts).

While McCoy is a different QB than either Favre or Bradford, he's still a talented young man who flashed plenty of promise his rookie year in the West Coast offense.

And if he wants to improve on an already pretty good shot at repeating his 2010 success, he's certainly making a smart move by seeking out the advice of the people who best understand the offense he's charged with running.

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Browns doing 'due diligence' on Terrelle Pryor

Posted by Ryan Wilson

When asked Monday about whether the Browns might have interested in quarterback Terrelle Pryor, coach Pat Shurmur would only say, "I can't comment on that situation."

Maybe he can't comment, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot will: "The Browns are intrigued enough by former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor to do their due diligence on him for the supplemental draft, a league source told The Plain Dealer."

"Due diligence" is a start, but it's a long way from actually submitting a bid for Pryor in the NFL supplemental draft, much less making him a first-round pick as agent Drew Rosenhaus has previously proclaimed.

The doubts about Pryor as an NFL quarterback have been well documented. Putting aside Rosenhaus' assessment, the consensus among draft experts is that Pryor is no better than a fourth-round selection.

But maybe that's where the Browns envision bidding on him.

(Unlike the regular draft, the supplemental draft is an auction; teams are grouped by record and submit bids based on which round they would take a prospect. Highest bid wins).

As it stands, Cleveland has second-year quarterback Colt McCoy and veterans Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme. McCoy appears to be the favorite to win the job, and Delhomme, who the Browns inexplicably paid $7 million in 2010, could be released (although he shouldn't have trouble finding work).

Cabot writes that if the Browns think Pryor is worth pursuing, they could draft him as the No. 3 QB next season. Cabot also points out that Monday Night Football color analyst Jon Gruden is a protege and close confidant of Browns president Mike Holmgren (Gruden worked on Holmgren's staff in Green Bay in the 1990s), and he's also pretty high on Pryor's talents.

But he's not the only one. Last week, ESPN.com AFC North blogger James Walker made the case for the Browns taking a flyer on Pryor.

"Pryor is projected to be a fourth-round pick in July's supplemental draft by everyone not named Drew Rosenhaus," Walker wrote June 16. "That's a modest cost for someone with Pryor's athletic ability, big-game experience and pedigree. That is especially the case for the Browns, who have nine draft picks next year -- including two first-rounders -- following a cunning trade with the Atlanta Falcons."

Walker also notes that Pryor would have access to two of the league's best QB coaches: Holmgren and Shurmur, who have worked with Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford.

And then there's this: After the April draft, Holmgren admitted that his only regret was not taking a quarterback.

"I think, philosophically, I always like to take a quarterback in the draft late," Holmgren said at the time. "But that also had to make sense. This year, based on our roster needs and what we had and what we needed to do, we did the right thing. Now, are we finished adding to the quarterback pile? I don’t think so but maybe we are, but I don’t think so. I think we are going to try and figure out a way to get another guy in here but you do what you have to do when the draft comes up to make good decisions and Pat and Tom did that.”

Channeling Rosenhaus and Pryor: "So you're telling me there's a chance?"

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Posted on: March 19, 2011 9:08 pm
 

Potential in the Browns' backfield

Posted by Andy Benoit

If the Cleveland Browns play football in 2011, they could be featuring a potent one-two punch in the backfield. Last year, it just a potent one-punch, as battering ram tailback Peyton Hillis, with his ultra pure downhill style, rushed for over 1,100 yards.

When training camp opened up, Hillis wasn’t supposed to be The Guy. Recall that the Browns invested a second round draft pick in Montario Hardesty. The 225-pounder tore up his knee in late summer (injuries were a concern with Hardesty coming out of Tennessee).
Browns president Mike Holmgren is already fantasizing about aligning Hardesty and Hillis in the same backfield together.

"I could get real excited about that," Holmgren said via ESPN. "That's a good combination for this reason: I think they both have excellent ball skills, catching the ball and running skills. So you don't have to have one guy as the runner, one guy as the catcher, one guy as the blocker, you don't have to do that."

Obviously, lining up in the same backfield means one guy sacrificing and being the fullback. (Hillis has some fullbacking experience from his days in Denver.)

"They both have to be willing to do all those things for each other," Holmgren said. "If those are the two in the game at the same time, they have to block for each other and they have to do everything. I think they are capable of doing that. I hope I get a chance to see that."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com