In the end, the [Cleveland Browns] 2012 season ended like so many others since 1995 - double digit losses.
The Browns finished 5-11, marking the 12th time in 15 seasons that the team finished with 10 or more losses. Yeah, it has been that bad. Of course, each offseason brings renewed hope. A decision here, a move there and the Browns could turn it around. Other teams have done it. When will it be the Browns turn?
What decisions or moves could change the Browns from a 5-11 team to a truly competitive team this fall?
For a team as young and as poorly coached as the 2012 Browns, 8-8 would have been a respectable finish. And within reach. Think back to the opener against Philadelphia, or the road games at Indianapolis and Dallas.
The Browns were so close to a victory, but one play - typically a mistake by a young player - cost the Browns that victory. In the end, the season finished with the ever-consistent double-digit loss total.
There is some talent on this roster, as evident by how the Browns were competitive in most games last season. Now, add a new front office and [coaching] staff, the Browns are in position to be one of those teams who transform from worst-to-first.
Before you start inviting Mike Holmgren to your playoff tailgate, these five things must happen.
Change [in Coaching] Mindset
This seems simple, but the last two years really drove the point home that coaches need to adjust their system to their players. Forcing [Brandon Weeden] to play as a West Coast quarterback simply doesn’t work. For years, the rookie quarterbacks struggled in the NFL because coaches forced their offensive system upon the player.
Now, with more dynamic quarterbacks entering the league, coaches are finding they need to adapt to their skill set and first-year quarterbacks are thriving. [Mike Shanahan] did it with [Robert Griffin] III. [Pete Carroll] did it with [Russell Wilson]. Rob Chudzinski did it with [Cam Newton]. Shurmur did not do it with Weeden.
Now, Chudzinski has an opportunity to bring what appears to be the right way to [coach] in the NFL to Cleveland. Hey, it’s a start and it brings us to the next thing that must happen…
Solve QB Question
Who will it be? Brandon Weeden? [Joe Flacco]? [Derek Anderson]? [Colt McCoy]? [Case McCoy]? Brad McCoy? At this point, just pick a quarterback and go with it. Weeden seems the obvious fit to Chudzinski’s penchant for downfield passing, but his age coupled with his inexperience could seal his fate in Cleveland.
Whoever the Browns go with as the starter in 2013, the good news is the Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will develop an offense around his skill set. As mentioned before, that mindset has been lacking around Berea in recent seasons.
Cleveland has been a quarterback graveyard because of the mentality that a player must fit to a system. Now that the Browns have in place the idea to tailor what they do offensively to their players. A door may have finally been opened where, standing on the other side, is a dependable Browns quarterback for many seasons to come.
Veteran Wide Receiver
When not dropping balls or running poor routes, [Josh Gordon] and [Greg Little] appear to be a nice one-two punch for any quarterback. Gordon is the deep threat any offense would love to have. Little’s size and strength create the potential for him to be a go-to possession receiver.
But the Browns lack a veteran presence in the receiver room. He doesn’t have to be dynamic, just a pro’s pro. He needs to be someone who is dependable on and off the field and can provide an example to Gordon and Little on how to be an NFL wide receiver.
Capable Corner Opposite Haden
In today’s pass-happy NFL, it only seems proper to - if possible - have two solid corners.
The Browns need to find a replacement for the corner position opposite Haden, giving the defense an even greater advantage.
Even more localized, the AFC North features strong No. 1 receivers in [Mike Wallace] (Steelers), A.J. Green (Bengals) and Anquan Bolden (Ravens). In the past few seasons, those wide outs have primarily been Haden’s responsibility.
But as was evident over the course of the last few seasons, the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers have success in the air because they have multiple weapons. The Browns need to counter with two solid corners, not one really good one and Buster Skrine.
New owner. New CEO. New coach. New stadium name. New uniforms (coming soon). All these ancillary things add up to a movement toward culture change in Berea. Those are all nice, but the biggest factor in a culture change is to win. Sounds simple, right?
The Browns were a few plays away from an 8-8 season in 2012. Add these aforementioned moves and the chances of the Browns winning on a more frequent basis will occur and that’s when the culture change will be complete.
Unlike the NBA or MLB, the NFL small markets have the advantage when it comes to today’s athletes. The equal playing field means if you have a franchise that is going about things the right way, players will want to play for your team.
Do you think a multi-millionaire in his early 20s wants to live places like Green Bay or Baltimore? If you have that winning culture, those places can compete in the NFL.
Many past regimens have failed to change the culture, but in the few months Jimmy Haslam has owned the Browns, it appears to be changing and changing for the better.
Those are five changes I would make. What are yours? Let us know in the comments below.
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Give new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam credit for one thing, he recognizes quickly when he’s stepped in it.
He created the impression he was going to be another absentee owner when he reclaimed his old role as CEO of Pilot Flying J, the family truck stop business.
That was after stepping aside from that job when he bought the Browns, creating the impression he’d be invested beyond finances.
So Haslam did a round of interviews to try to emphasize that, telling ESPNCleveland.com’s Tony Grossi he was still going to have a hand on the wheel, unlike previous owner Randy Lerner.
“The main reason for doing these [interviews] is to communicate that [nothing’s going to change],” Haslam said. “We’re going to be just as involved as we said we were. The proof’s in the pudding. I think everybody will see that there is going to be no difference.
“We feel a tremendous responsibility as owners of the Browns to turn this thing around and turn it into a winner.”
Haslam resigned as CEO of his company in September.
“I thought about that a lot myself,” Haslam said when asked why he gave up his old job. “It all transpired [buying the Browns] pretty quickly. The NFL mentioned in June there might be a team [for sale]. I met Randy in July. And then we just bought another company [Maxum Petroleum]. At the time, I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed. And the opportunity to get a man like John Compton to run our main company seemed to make a lot of sense.
“But sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. Not that this went awry, but I just had a change of heart and decided I missed it.”
So instead of leaving that guy in charge of the truck stops, Haslam’s giving more responsibility to Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.
“The demanding part [is] that it’s so high profile,” Haslam said. “Everything you do and everything you say is just magnified way more than it should be. You just have to be careful in what you say. That’s just the way it is.
“You know, we’ve lived in Knoxville all our lives, we own a pretty big company there, but . . . I’m much better known in Cleveland than in Knoxville and that’s because of the Browns. But we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
As Haslam said, the proof is in the pudding. If his hand-picked guys can’t steer the team into smooth waters, those Browns fans will naturally assume he’s content in a Tennessee truck stop, and that nothing has changed.
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Texting for Seniors as follows:
BFF - Best Friend’s Funeral
BTW - Bring the Wheelchair
BYOT - Bring your own teeth
CBM - Covered by Medicare
CUATSC - See You at the Senior Center
DWI - Driving While Incontinent
FWBB - Friend with Beta Blockers
FWIW - Forgot Where I Was
FYI - Found Your Insulin
GGPBL - Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low
GHA - Got Heartburn Again
IMHO - Is My Hearing-Aid On?
LMDO - Laughing My Dentures Out
LOL - Living on Lipitor
OMMR - On My Massage Recliner
ROFL..CGU - Rolling on the Floor Laughing…Can’t get Up!
TOT - Texting on Toilet
TTYL - Talk to You Louder
WTP - Where are the Prunes
WWNO – Walker Wheels Need Oil
By: Will Burge
Fredrick Douglas once said, “if there is no struggle, there is no progress.” This quote may in fact be the key to the quarterback position in 2013 for the Browns.
New rumors have emerged that the Browns brass are interested in trading second year QB Brandon Weeden. Less than one year after the old regime spent the 22<sup>nd</sup> overall pick on him, it seems as though Lombardi, Banner and company want to move in a different direction.
*Is trading Brandon Weeden a possibility for the Browns? Some around the league think so. The belief is that the new management team of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi don’t think much of Weeden, and they could try to deal him when they can get something for him.
This comes just a week after [Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that the Browns badly want an upgrade] over Brandon Weeden, whether it’s through the draft or free agency.
The two terms to look at in those reports are, “when they can get something for him” and “upgrade.”
The reality of the situation is that Weeden is not worth a whole lot on the open market. The most I could see anyone giving up for him at this point is a fourth or fifth round draft pick. In the same vein, there is not really an upgrade available on the market either. Are there QB’s who could possibly push Weeden in [training] camp? Sure, but the word “upgrade” for any of those guys, including Alex Smith, is a far stretch.
If the Browns decided that drafting a QB high is the way they want to go it would be another season of rookie mistakes and a roll of the dice to find the next Russell Wilson. Weeden already experienced the struggles of a rookie NFL season and can immediate [begin] to build off those lessons. There is no clear cut “franchise QB” in this draft. In fact, Weeden might be the best of that crop anyway.
ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper said on a conference call this week that Brandon Weeden could very well be the first QB taken in this draft if he was a part of it.
“Nobody right now is in this draft saying, 'if I’m Cleveland, I’ve got to take this quarterback even though I have Brandon Weeden.' There’s no quarterback that screams out, saying, ‘take me, even though you have Weeden because I’m that much better.’ There’s nobody,” said Kiper. “So I don’t think Cleveland’s going to be able to find that guy.''
Why is it that a rookie QB who threw for 3,385 yards (second most among possibly the best rookie class ever and only the third 3,000 yard passer for the Browns since Bernie Kosar) is being thrown to the curb as if his NFL storyline has already been written?
Is it his age?
Age is a legitimate concern, but in the new NFL where the rules protect the QB more than anyone else in sports, 29 is not that old. There is no reason to force a change that does not upgrade the position.
Maybe the Browns are looking at this the wrong way.
Why can’t they look at Brandon Weeden as a Josh Gordon type player? Gordon was selected in the second round of the NFL’s supplemental draft which essentially gave the Browns a one [year head] start working with the young man.
If Gordon was in the 2013 draft, he would undoubtedly be a first round pick and possibly one of the top wide receivers taken.
If Weeden truly would be the top QB taken in this draft, didn’t the Browns just get a one year head start on him as well? Both players struggled at times last season, but they both still had above average numbers in an offense that in no way fit either of their skill sets.
If Weeden is allowed to stretch the field, which he most certainly will be under Norv Turner, his natural abilities would be highlighted, not diminished.
To trade Brandon Weeden without a clear upgrade at the position would be a grave mistake and purely ego driven.
Winning should sit above all else on this regimes’ priority list, even if it means winning with the “last guy’s” QB.
SPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper said on a conference call this week that Brandon Weeden could very well be the first QB taken in this draft if he was a part of it.it is a very weak draft this year . if these nitwits dont give Weeds a fair shot at winning the job i might find myself in Berea pulling Banners underwear up over his bald head and kicking him down the stairs .
When it comes to the salary cap, there’s a widespread belief that, once the NFL unlocks millions in new TV money in 2014, the team-by-team spending limit will spike in 2015.
That belief seems to be mistaken.
Per a source with extensive knowledge of the design and implementation of the cap, the formula will experience a “smoothing” in the coming years, with no one year resulting in a dramatic leap. The thinking is that, if the cap shoots up dramatically from one year to the next, it won’t be fair to the players who signed a big contract in the year in which the cap was lower.
The smoothing phenomenon is more likely to unfold even in 2015 because, in 2012, money from future cap years was shifted to a year in which the cap was poised to drop, due to the revenue decreases from 2011, the year of the [lockout]. (Even though only one game was missed during to the lockout, months of uncertainty affected fan and sponsor spending during the offseason shutdown.)
This robbing of Peter to pay Paul means that the expected growth will peter out when otherwise expected to spike.
As a result, teams that deal with current cap problems by pushing money into the future under the assumption that there will be [extra space] at some point could be positioning themselves for a perpetual cap purgatory.
Why are Browns fans all bent out of shape about Jimmy Haslam resuming his duties as CEO of Pilot Flying J?
It’s been a big talking point on sports radio and in stories and blogs in the past several days.
Probably, a key reason is because so much was made about Haslam stepping down as CEO at Pilot/ Flying J soon after being approved as Browns owner. If Haslam would’ve just kept the title all along at Pilot/Flying J, nobody would be the wiser.
Even if everything is running the same with the Browns as it was before Haslam re-assumed the title at the family business, the perception is that he is abandoning his post with the Browns.
However, digging deeper might get to the real reason.
And that is possibly a distrust in Haslam’s hand-picked management team on the football side-- namely CEO Joe Banner and Personnel Director Mike Lombardi.
Fair or not, Browns fans freshly remember former owner Randy Lerner turning over the reins of the Browns to Mike Holmgren as the de facto owner.
And how did that turn out?
Many times perception is reality. With it being assumed that Haslam was in Berea on a daily basis—whether true or not—Haslam had more of a pulse on what was going on. The fact is that Haslam has commuted quite frequently between Knoxville and Berea and I believe him when he says his involvement with the Browns will not change.
The only somewhat of a big move thus far made by the new brain trust on the football side was the release of Frostee Rucker, so there is really nothing to gauge what is running through the minds of Banner and Lombardi with regards to the football operation.
The new regime deserves a clean slate and a fresh start. But all Browns fans have to go on thus far is Banner’s reputation with the Eagles and Lombardi’s reputation with the Browns, Eagles and Raiders from his past NFL experiences.
Banner’s history was successful with the Eagles, but he was more linked to the business side of things. Since he wanted final say on player personnel matters, it can only be assumed that Banner will have a big say in the players that the Browns sign or draft.
Lombardi has not been in an NFL personnel department since 2007 and the players linked to him under his previous stints have not been overly impressive.
As I’ve said many times before, the NFL is all about talent and individual matchups and the Browns have to bring in difference makers. Former GM Tom Heckert seemed to have the Browns on the path to recovery and that is why this off-season is so critical. Will the Browns [continue] to build on what they have or will they miss on key acquisitions?
That is why it’s so important that Banner and Lombardi get it right.
The wild card in this is rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski and whether or not he is a good evaluator of personnel. If he truly has an eye for players that can play and is able to work with Banner and Lombardi to get the right players that fit his system, the organization will have a much better chance of being successful. If Chudzinski is just happy to be the coach of the Browns and lets the personnel be dictated to him, the organization will continue to be unsuccessful.
Banner said that Andy Reid showed early in his [coaching career] with the Eagles the ability to evaluate personnel and was instrumental in the successful drafts of the Eagles. Hopefully, the same will be true with Chudzinski and he will have ultimate say in who the Browns acquire.
Although Haslam has said that Banner and Lombardi are working extremely hard, we’ll soon begin to see the fruits of their labor and what they have in mind as free agency begins and then the NFL Draft arrives and the Browns roster is re-shaped.
Haslam is confident in the organization he has in place in Berea and that also might be part of his title change with the family business. He obviously trusts Banner and Lombardi implicitly to turn the fortunes of the Browns around and for now, Browns fans should give them a chance.
It’s just hard for Browns fans to be so trusting, since they’ve—as the saying goes-- been there and done that.
Yeh bluez...mentioned it before. But then Im 6'5 so anything smaller Id probly fall overI am 6 "4 220 lbs .Captn face it buddy ..ya gots big feet
Captn you have a size 15 ? ..i guess my size 12 boot pales in comparison