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Hey Tony!

Jan 05, 2013 -- 6:00pm

By Tony Grossi

As the hiring of Oregon coach Chip Kelly appeared imminent, contributors to Hey Tony had questions about the Browns’ quarterback situation and the organization restructuring made by CEO Joe Banner. There also were a number of questions about our Browns player rankings.

Hey Tony: It seems the new regime trusts the head coach to make draft picks, free agency, trades and approving the general manager. We’ve done that before and it’s never worked out. I think it’s easy to fire a head coach with no repercussions on the president. If I was the owner, I’d have the president hire the general manager before the head coach. In this way, you can fire the president along with general manager. I think Banner has found a job security because he will fire the head coach with no reflection on him. I hope I’m wrong, but right now it looks like this. What do you think?

-- C. Ronald, Milan, OH

Hey C. Ronald: Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner explained that they preferred to have the head coach hold more authority than the GM or, more likely, player personnel director. The Browns would hardly be the only team to have that organization structure. But I agree that Banner “sold” this structure to Jimmy Haslam as the right way because Banner wants to dabble in duties usually reserved for the GM.

Hey Tony: If Chip Kelly comes to Cleveland (I hear on the radio he wants to come to a young team opposed to a more veteran team with players set in their ways) ... as you mentioned, we will need quarterbacks on the roster. Can Josh Cribbs run the zone read?

 -- Mike, Vacaville, CA

Hey Mike: I confess to not being a Chip Kelly-ophile, but I would not automatically assume that every college running QB in modern times is a candidate to 1. Run Kelly’s offense, and 2. Win at the NFL level in it. I don’t expect the Browns to bring Cribbs back.

Hey Tony: Please don't tell me that if the Browns land Chip Kelly that he'll call the plays much like Pat Shurmur did. If we hire him as a head coach then he should act as a head coach.

 -- Steve, Austin, TX

Hey Steve: Much of the appeal of Kelly as head coach is his innovative offensive system. I can’t see him entrusting play-calling duties to somebody else. But you’re right. It’s the same thing Shurmur was heavily criticized for.


Browns QB Colt McCoy

Hey Tony: With Chip Kelly favored to be the next Browns coach and the team needing a different type of QB to fit the system wouldn't Colt McCoy fit better with Kelly’s offense and wouldn't Collin Klein fit the bill? I know you want McCoy gone but he is much better suited for that offense than Weeden and Klein might be an ideal Kelly fit.

-- Alex, Orlando, FL 

Hey Alex: You’re right. McCoy’s improved mobility fits Kelly’s offense better than Weeden. At his introductory press conference, Kelly is likely to be deluged with questions about his quarterback plans.

Hey Tony: My question relates to our coaching search and if it’s really the coach who is a good coach or if it’s the players who make the coach look good. For example, when Bill Cowher retired and Mike Tomlin was hired was Mike Tomlin made to look like a better coach because it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers or is Mike Tomlin that good of a coach. Would Mike Tomlin be as good of a coach if say, he were hired by the Cleveland Browns and not the Pittsburgh Steelers? I look back at some of the fired coaches over the past years and wonder if the coordinators-turned head coaches simply weren’t ready or if they were just put in bad situations and then looked not to be read. Everyone would prefer to coach Pittsburgh, New England, or any of the other powers who continually contend but those jobs rarely become available.

-- Matt, Grafton, OH

Hey Matt: In the example you cite, I disagree. True, Tomlin inherited a good team with good players. But I think he has proved to be a great coach in his own right. There are instances, however, of a new coach reaping the benefits of a coach’s work who proceeded him. I would say Barry Switzer did this with the Dallas Cowboys and Bill Callahan did it with the Oakland Raiders. Switzer inherited Jimmy Johnson’s two-time Super Bowl team in 1994 and in his second season rode it to another championship. Callahan took over a playoff team created by Jon Gruden in 2002 and steered it to the Super Bowl his first season. He lost, ironically, to Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Neither Switzer nor Callahan sustained the success created by the coaches who proceeded them.

Hey Tony: In your season-end player rankings, your comment about Colt McCoy was that the season ended with harsh words with Coach Shurmur. I never saw this on TV and never heard about it in any news or game recaps. Can you elaborate on this? Thanks.

-- Sean, Gilbert, AZ

Hey Sean: I was told that McCoy exchanged harsh words with Shurmur in the heated final moments of the loss in Denver in Game 15. McCoy, and other offensive teammates, believed Shurmur should have just played out the string in a game in unwinnable circumstances. I understand that their relationship became strained initially after McCoy’s father weighed in on the mishandling of the concussion controversy in the 2011 game in Pittsburgh and worsened when the Browns sought replacements for McCoy in the subsequent offseason. McCoy also believed, I was told, that he did not receive a fair shot at winning the starting job in the 2012 training camp. McCoy, the son of a high school football coach, has never commented on these incidents.

Hey Tony: It drives me NUTS to hear "the big show" has thrown his hat into the ring for a possible HC job. Why didn't he just do that here? I guess he thought he was hired to do something else. Problem there was hiring Pat. Sure he is a nice guy but I knew he didn't have "it" from his first presser. Obviously Haslam didn't think so either when he kept saying he wants a dynamic leader ("it"). Tony, who would you guess ends up being our next guy?

-- Craig, Atlanta, OH

Hey Craig: I was hoping for Bill Cowher or Nick Saban. Since you submitted your question, it became clear that Chip Kelly would be the next Browns coach. As for Mike Holmgren’s desire to campaign for a coaching job, he’s so … 2012. I wouldn’t waste any energy worrying about him.

Hey Tony: The Pit and the Pendulum swings again, bringing us closer to another demise. The Browns are now in their third cycle between GM/Coach (Clark/Palmer; Savage/Crennel; Heckert/Shurmur) and the "strong coach" (Davis; Mangini; ???). And now Banner/Haslam want to bring in an unproven college coach who runs an updated version of the Run-and-Shoot -- which NFL d-coordinators will figure out before the Browns become competitive. Then we will swing back to the GM/coach model with more rebuilding. Other than their egos, what makes Banner/Haslam think that they are going to get it right this time? We already had the strong coach with team president (Davis/Policy), and that only gave us a brief flirtation with the playoffs, a coach quitting mid-season, and the "nicest person ever arrested". Please, Tony, talk me off of the I-480 bridge!

-- C, Houston, TX

Hey C: I’m always of the opinion that the newest regime will be the one to get the job done. All we can do is give this group a chance to prove itself.

Browns QB Brandon Weeden     Photo/Getty

Hey Tony: Haven't we seen a quarterback like Brandon Weeden before in Vinny Testaverde? A strong-armed quarterback that makes all the throws but has trouble reading defenses, is indecisive, throws a lot of interceptions and doesn't put the long hours in. A quarterback needs more than an arm to succeed in the NFL.

 -- Bill, Pepper Pike, OH

Hey Bill: I agree with you that a quarterback needs more than an arm to succeed in the NFL. But as I’ve explained in a previous column, I believe a strong arm is more essential than ever against defensive players that are bigger, stronger, faster than at any time in NFL history. The only thing I would say about your comparison is that Weeden definitely puts the hours into his game.

Hey Tony: Thanks for ranking the Browns from 1-53. It's my favorite article. I think it would be illuminating if you would rank the top 10-15 or so players on Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati. Such a ranking would clearly show where the Browns stand with their closest rivals. Any chance you could take that on?

-- John, Avon, OH

Hey John: It’s a topic I could explore at a later date, when the dust settles from the Browns’ coaching and front office changes.

Hey Tony: As always, I enjoy your analysis. I just read your player rankings. Our O-line has been called the strength of the franchise, yet you rank Shawn Lauvao 38th, well below other part-time players, with only the note that he played every snap. Please elaborate on your thinking. You must be more dissatisfied with his performance than I have seen in your writing before. Thanks.

-- Mike, Avon Lake, OH

Hey Mike: I confess to being far from an expert on offensive line play. People I’ve talked to agree that the Browns’ running game was limited because the starting guards were not athletic enough to pull on perimeter run plays. Also, this was a large reason, they say, that the Browns’ screen passing game was lacking. I think Lauvao’s strength is in straight-ahead run-blocking.

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


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