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Countdown to The Draft

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Kosar responds to replacement as member of Browns broadcast team

Apr 24, 2014 -- 10:53am

By ESPN Cleveland Staff |


CLEVELAND — Less than 24 hours after being dropped from the Browns' preseason telecasts on WKYC Channel 3, Bernie Kosar responded, describing the move as "unfortunate."

Kosar concluded that he was replaced on the television call, in part, because of slurred speech that, as Kosar explains, is a result of repeated concussions received during his playing days.

Kosar's full statement is below:

Bernie Kosar:  “I was informed yesterday by the Cleveland Browns and WKYC that I have been replaced as a 2014 preseason game day color commentator.  I believe that this decision stems from my slurred speech impairment, which is a direct result of the many concussions I received while playing in the NFL.  This is very unfortunate, as I believe my football acumen and ability to describe what is happening on the field, has been well received by Cleveland Browns fans.  I love to put the personal touch, pride in the Browns, and pride in our Cleveland community into the broadcast. Being able to share these preseason games with my fellow Cleveland Browns fans is truly one of the remaining joys in my life.  I would hope that WKYC would reconsider utilizing my in-game talents and overlook my concussion-induced impairment.  I want everyone to know that I still bleed Brown and Orange.”




Browns open '14 season at Pittsburgh, play once on national TV

Apr 23, 2014 -- 8:01pm

By ESPN Cleveland Staff |


CLEVELAND -- The NFL wasted no time in introducing Mike Pettine to the AFC North.

In his first regular season game as an NFL head coach, Pettine will lead the Browns into Heinz Field to take on the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

“Browns at Steelers in Week 1, in your first game as an NFL head coach? It doesn’t get any better than that," Pettine said. "I love this division."

The league released the 2014 regular season schedule for all 32 teams on Wednesday night. The Browns' slate is highlighted by a primetime Thursday night match-up at Cincinnati on November 6, a game that will be televised nationally on NFL Network.

The entire schedule for the 2014 Cleveland Browns season is listed below:

Sun., Sept 7@ Pittsburgh SteelersHeinz FieldCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Sept 14vs New Orleans SaintsFirstEnergy StadiumFOX1:00 p.m.
Sun., Sept 21vs Baltimore RavensFirstEnergy StadiumCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Sept 28BYE WEEK   
Sun., Oct 5@ Tennessee TitansLP FieldCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Oct 12vs Pittsburgh SteelersFirstEnergy StadiumCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Oct 19@ Jacksonville JaguarsEverBank FieldCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Oct 26vs Oakland RaidersFirstEnergy StadiumCBS4:25 p.m.
Sun., Nov 2vs Tampa Bay BucsFirstEnergy StadiumFOX1:00 p.m.
Thurs., Nov 6@ Cincinnati BengalsPaul Brown StadiumNFL Net.8:25 p.m.
Sun., Nov 16vs Houston TexansFirstEnergy StadiumCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Nov 23@ Atlanta FalconsGeorgia DomeCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Nov 30@ Buffalo BillsRalph Wilson StadiumCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec 7vs Indianapolis ColtsFirstEnergy StadiumCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec 14vs Cincinnati BengalsFirstEnergy StadiumCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec 21@ Carolina PanthersBank of America StadiumCBS1:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec 28@ Baltimore RavensM&T Bank StadiumCBS1:00 p.m.




Browns announce preseason schedule

Apr 23, 2014 -- 7:53pm

The Cleveland Browns announced their 2014 preseason schedule on Wednesday night. The four-game slate features a nationally-televised Monday night match-up with the Redskins in Washington, D.C., on August 18th:

Sat., Aug. 9@ Detroit LionsFord Field (Detroit)WKYC7:30 p.m.
Mon., Aug. 18@ Washington RedskinsFexEx Field (Wash., D.C.)ESPN8:00 p.m
Sat., Aug. 23vs St. Louis RamsFirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)WKYC8:00 p.m.
Thurs., Aug 28vs Chicago BearsFirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland)WKYC8:00 p.m.


Why would Alex Mack view Jacksonville as desirable?

Apr 10, 2014 -- 7:32am

By Bruce Hooley |



Alex Mack’s likely signing of an offer sheet from the Jacksonville Jaguars forces the Browns to either match the contract or lose the two-time Pro Bowl center without compensation.

It also forces Browns fans to ponder why Mack, who has been a fixture in the lineup without complaint, would opt for a future in Jacksonville over Cleveland.

Mack’s true feelings won’t be known unless and until he expounds on his logic, but here are a few possible reasons he may judge the Jaguars a gamble as good or better than a continued future with the Browns:

Stable ownership – Jimmy Haslam’s uncertain status as federal officials investigate Pilot-Flying J gives the nod here to Jacksonville’s owner, Shahid Khan.  Khan ranks No. 122 on the Forbes list of the 400 richest people in America with a net worth of $3.8 billion. Haslam comes in at No. 369 at $1.5 billion.

Program development – Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley has the full buy-in of his team after rallying them from an 0-8 start to a 4-12 finish. That’s four wins in their last eight games, including a 32-28 win in Cleveland. The Jags lost their last three, so their momentum isn’t cresting, but Bradley has a stable one-year foundation under him in Jacksonville.  While Mike Pettine’s message to the Browns has been solid, he’s selling concepts at this point.

Quarterback – It’s impossible to know what Jacksonville team officials told Mack about their plans at No. 3 in the draft, one spot ahead of the Browns. Perhaps the Jags have two quarterbacks in the draft that they love, likely assuring them of getting one. Or, perhaps Jacksonville is comfortable with veteran Chad Henne at quarterback. That’s easy for Browns fans to laugh at, but Henne has started 51 of 60 career games, so statistically, at least, his numbers are superior to the four starts of Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer.

Playoff proximity – Mack may be tired of the Browns’ perpetual back-seat status in the AFC North, where Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati are perennial playoff teams. Jacksonville toils in the AFC South, which looks more inviting with only Indianapolis established as post-season-worthy in a division that also includes Houston (2-14) and Tennessee (7-9).

Fresh start – While the Browns’ future appears bright to Browns’ fans because of the free-agency signings, abundance of draft picks and the net gain of jettisoning Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner, Mack may simply be worn down by the constant change here. In five seasons, he’s never played for the same regime from year-to-year. The coach, the GM, the president, the owner or some combination has been new every fall. Jacksonville, even with its recent struggles, may seem inviting by comparison.


Bruce Hooley hosts "Hooley & Jerod" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. He is the author of, “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”

Email Bruce

Follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz




The safest pick at No. 4 overall might make Browns fans groan

Mar 20, 2014 -- 11:10am

By Bruce Hooley |



Everything about the Browns’ six free agent signings screams that owner Jimmy Haslam plans on drafting in the Top Ten for the last time this year.

The contracts of Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby and Andrew Hawkins are heavily weighted toward 2014 and 2015, while running back Ben Tate’s deal expires after that term.

So what might the Browns’ targeting of the playoffs the next two seasons say about the team’s plans with the first of two choices it has in the NFL draft or those seven selections over the draft’s first four rounds?

Would it make sense for Haslam to issue a, “Win now,” order to general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine, then devote the top of the draft to planning for the future.

Maybe yes, maybe no.

The most successful franchises in the NFL (sorry, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are great examples) use rounds three and down to select players who contribute immediately on special teams or as backups and then quickly advance to dependable starters.

The Browns have had enough trouble picking starters at the top of the draft. There are few success stories in lower rounds like Pittsburgh had with Larry Foote (4), William Gay (5) or Willie Colon (4), or like Baltimore had with Dennis Pitta (4), Le’Ron McClain (4) or Dawan Landry (5).

Farmer hopes to change that narrative, but the most important picks he must get right are Nos. 4 and 26 overall.

The Browns, in case you haven’t heard, need a quarterback of the future. But investing the fourth overall choice in a QB who isn’t Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III – a walk-in starter from Day One—conflicts with the urgency the franchise demonstrated in free agency.

The more draft vultures pick over the flaws of Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortels and Teddy Bridgewater, the more going in a direction away from quarterback appears to make sense for the Browns.

Sammy Watkins’ obliteration of the Ohio State secondary in the Orange Bowl, and intoxicating temptation of paring the Clemson wide receiver with Josh Gordon in a Flash and Sizzle wide receiver set, has most Browns fans on board with that scenario.

But does Watkins make the most sense for the Browns, given Gordon’s presence already, and a draft deep in wide receivers who would come to Cleveland clearly playing second fiddle to him?

The Browns could likely get a quality wideout with one of their two third-round choices, or perhaps with one of two selections in the fourth.

So if not a quarterback and not Watkins, then what?

How about tackle Greg Robinson of Auburn?

Scouts say Robinson is the surest thing in this draft, even more so than Jadaveon Clowney, whose worth ethic gives teams some concern.

At 6-5, 327 pounds, with a sub-5.0 40-yard dash and 32 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press, Robinson stole the show at the NFL Scouting Combine.

His film shows a versatile blocker in zone or man schemes, and demonstrates a nasty streak that would give Tate a people mover to run behind.

Robinson could play on the right side now, giving the Browns a bookend with Joe Thomas and perhaps a pair of Pro Bowl tackles. In a few years, Robinson could slide over when Thomas retires and protect the blind side of the QB of the future the Browns draft this year at No. 26 or in Round 2.

There’s a lot that’s logical and likeable about Robinson with the No. 4 overall choice.

If only he weren’t a tackle, right?


Bruce Hooley hosts "Hooley & Jerod" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. He is the author of, “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”

Email Bruce

Follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz




Signings show Haslam isn't kidding about winning now

Mar 12, 2014 -- 7:39am

By Bruce Hooley |



The first-day signings of free agents Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby lend legitimacy to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s oft-stated self-description as among the most impatient men in the world.

Whitner, a Glenville Tarblooder by way of Ohio State, the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, comes home to take the place of strong safety T.J. Ward, who soon afterward signed with the Denver Broncos.

Dansby arrives from the Arizona Cardinals to claim an inside linebacker spot that D’Qwell Jackson had owned, aside from 1 ½ seasons lost to injury, since 2006.

It’s impossible to know how former CEO Joe Banner or ex-general manager Michael Lombardi would have attacked free agency had they not been fired by Haslam.

But it’s clear that when the Browns’ owner told fans during the coaching search for Mike Pettine, “We are prepared to wait as long as necessary,” that represented the limits of Haslam’s patience.

Signing older, more-experienced veterans Whitner and Dansby shows new general manager Ray Farmer a quick study in adopting Haslam’s win-now philosophy.

It’s doubtful the analytics-loving, young-beats-old approach Banner and Lombardi favored would have brought Whitner and/or Dansby to town.

While Banner and Lombardi were willing free-agent spenders of Haslam’s money, they preferred to visit most of it upon Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant, a pair of then-27-year-old defensive players, both of whom had only four seasons of NFL experience.

Whitner, 28, has played twice that long already, is 14 months older than Ward and has four more years of NFL wear on his body.

Whitner, though, has proven more durable than Ward, missing just 12 games in eight seasons compared to Ward’s 10 missed games in four years.

Likewise, that’s where the 32-year-old Dansby’s resume trumps that of Jackson who at age 30 was presumably too old for the Browns to justify the $4 million roster bonus he was set to make this week.

Dansby’s decade in the league gives him 3 ½ more years of service than Jackson, who missed 10 games in 2009 and all of 2010 to injury. Jackson has since played every game over the last three seasons, but so has Dansby, and he’s never played fewer than 14 games in any season.

Comparing age and durability in the Whitner-for-Ward and Dansby-for-Jackson exchanges likely obscures the main motivation behind the Browns’ decision to go forward without two defensive staples.

Pettine clearly believes he’s upgraded at strong safety with Whitner, who the Browns paid more (4 years, $28 million) than they offered Ward, who settled for less in Denver (4 years, $23 million).

Were Whitner a different style safety than Ward, perhaps the case could be made that Pettine preferred a coverage safety to the more physical style Ward employs.

But Whitner is among the hardest-hitting safeties in the league, as evidenced by his five unsportsmanlike conduct penalties last year. And though he improved measurably in coverage, yielding only two touchdown passes in 2013 after surrendering 12 in 2012, Whitner is far from a coverage specialist.

The Browns clearly don’t believe Whitner is a different type of safety than Ward, they just believe Whitner is a better safety than Ward.

The same is true of the 6-4, 250-pound Dansby compared to Jackson, who is four inches shorter and 10 pounds lighter.

The Browns needed a better coverage linebacker who can cause havoc in the backfield. Dansby’s 6.5 sacks, 19 pass break-ups and two interceptions fit the bill.

With Day One of free agency behind, it’s hard to know if the Browns will continue to be as pro-active or as veteran-smitten.

But what’s clear so far is that if guiding the franchise to the “sustained success” Haslam often trumpets remains “a process,” it better be a fast one.


Bruce Hooley hosts "Hooley & Jerod" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. He is the author of, “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”

Email Bruce

Follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz




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