ESPN Cleveland - Cleveland Browns, 850 AM & 1540 AM
ESPN Cleveland - Ohion State, 850 AM & 1540 AM

Recent Stories

  • Page 1 of 203
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • ...
  • »
  • »»

Browns receivers are a study in frustration from top to bottom

Aug 22, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

The Morning Kickoff …

Browns held hostage: Is Friday the day Josh Gordon learns his fate from the NFL marijuana police?

Speculation early in the week was a judgment was close on Gordon’s appeal of an indefinite suspension for a scantily positive marijuana test – by one billionth of a gram! on one sample, and a negative reading on the second sample -- while in Stage 3 of the league’s byzantine substance abuse program.

The Peloponnesian War was fought and won in shorter time than it’s taken the NFL to digest the volume of evidence dumped on its bench by Gordon’s team of lawyers. OK, it’s only been 17 days since Gordon’s appeal hearing. But that’s stretching the “reasonable period” timetable for a decision, as spelled out in the purposely ambiguous league substance abuse policy.

The league may be weighing the validity of its terribly flawed, though collectively bargained, policy against a potential lawsuit brought by Gordon.

Or it may simply be trying to craft an exit strategy that is the least disastrous public relations-wise while the league pushes a stronger policy against future Ray Rice-like domestic violence episodes and looks the other way from Colts owner Jim Irsay’s serious chemical dependency issues and league violations.

Meanwhile, Gordon, who reportedly flunked one marijuana test of over 70 taken in the past year, appears to be a basket case, evident by his lackluster play in the Washington game and at practice on Thursday.

“I think it’s human nature,” coach Mike Pettine said. “It’s definitely weighing on him. He, like all of us, wants to know and wants to get on with it and move forward.

“Just kind of being in limbo for so long, I think it can be draining. I think he made the comment the other day (on his Twitter page) that the football field is where he feels most at home. It’s important to him. He’s responded. We discussed what happened in the game, and he’s responded and has had some good practices for us. I just think, like all of us, it’s only natural that he’s frustrated.”

More frustration: Frustration is the common theme of the Browns’ receiving corps at Pettine’s first Browns training camp.

If Gordon is suspended for any length of time, it would leave the Browns with a group of receivers that would be the greatest argument of all time for turning back the clock and playing 1980s-ish Martyball (i.e., hand off, hand off, hand off, punt).

On Thursday, Pettine identified Miles Austin, 30, and Andrew Hawkins, 28, as the only receivers he feels comfortable with.

There are some young guys who have shown snippets of promise – the strapping Charles Johnson coming back from ACL surgery and learning the NFL game for the first time; Ball State’s prolific Willie Snead, who has been inconsistent; and Taylor Gabriel, the pride of Abilene Christian – all 5-7 and 167 pounds of him – who is 6 for 6 on passes thrown to him in two preseason games.

Then there are Travis Benjamin, aka, Rabbit, also recovering from ACL surgery, and Anthony Armstrong, 31, who has actually played in the Kyle Shanahan offense.

Pettine is hoping for somebody to rise up in the third preseason game Saturday so that Brian Hoyer can start working on chemistry in the passing game.

“I think it’s a big night for them,” Pettine said of the receivers. “We’ll see who can step up and make some plays. I talked yesterday about how the NFL is all about being productive and making plays. The third game is typically one that’s game-planned a little bit. It’s as close to the regular season as you’re going to see. I think we’re all looking forward to the guys going out there and competing.”

Assessing the most maligned position group of the team, receiver Nate Burleson said, “This is why we have preseason. The little things that happen in a game or at practice, we can fix. I guarantee whatever we’re not doing well will be fixed by the time the season starts.”

About Nate: The theme of frustration brings us to Burleson.

The 33-year-old receiver was signed to a one-year contract to reprise his role of a solid No. 2 to a big-play No. 1. He has benefitted in the past from playing alongside Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson. Attention to Gordon, coming off his NFL breakout season, presumably would help Burleson post decent numbers.

But Burleson missed much of OTAs and minicamp practices when he needed a surgical re-set of a previously broken arm. And in this camp, he has been stricken by a strained hamstring, a product of “these old, dehydrated muscles.”

Burleson has not played in a game and has seldom practiced. He said it’s killing him because “it’s not in my character or makeup as a professional athlete to sit out practice or games. I’m too much of a competitor.”

On a list of the league’s all-time personable, media-friendly, good players, Burleson ranks high. He is a future star network analyst. The thought of his roster spot being in the slightest jeopardy has me in a state of apoplexy.

A sampling from his virtuoso, 16-minute interview session on Thursday:

* “They brought me here for a reason. That’s to add a sparkplug to this offense and make plays when the ball’s thrown to me. No new guy wants to be on the sideline. I know that firsthand.”

* “First impressions to me are a big deal. If I’m 80 percent (healthy), that might not be the best impression. I want to give Cleveland what they deserve, and that’s Nate at 100 percent.”

* “They cut the check for me to make plays and be a leader … I’m that guy that celebrates the first downs. I’m that guy that barks and screams. I’m that guy that challenges in the huddle.”

* “I want to do something special here. I want to be able show these young guys you can age with grace and still make plays. And that’s my plan. I’ve got a lot of selfish intentions to the season.”

Good luck, Nate. We’re all counting on you.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns cite running game and expected continuity going forward as reasons to expect offense to improve

Aug 21, 2014 -- 4:03pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ESPNCleveland.com

Notes, quotes and observations from Browns practice …

* Looking for optimism: The No. 1 offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in roughly 2 ½ quarters of preseason games. Players are not panicking for the following reasons: the quarterback competition made continuity and chemistry impossible, and the running game will be more influential when game-planning takes over from position tryouts and battles. “I’m pleased we made a decision early (on the quarterback) so that we’re going to get a couple more weeks before the Steelers prep starts of getting good, solid practices with Brian (Hoyer) as the starting quarterback,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “I wouldn’t say relief, but it’s nice to have consistency in the guy taking snaps with the first team. That’s how you get better. It’s difficult switching between guys because you never really gain that consistency with the guys you’re playing with.” The horrendous offensive performance v. Washington game was taken with a grain of salt." Center Alex Mack said, “Consistency … (is) the thing we need to improve on. Plays were there. It’s just one guy here, one guy there. That’s typical of preseason games. A bunch of different people working on a bunch of different things. Short prep week; we have only two days this week. Your ability to do a full game plan is limited. Different guys rolling in, rolling out. As those things go on, you’d expect to see more consistent, more honed in play.”

* The running game factor: Thomas singled out running back Ben Tate as “one of the bright spots on offense … He’s the only guy on this team that’s been in this offense and has experience running the wide zone stuff. His knowledge and leadership in that regard has been invaluable.” Thomas said that Tate has tipped the linemen how to use that moving fence scheme to work best for a running back. “The big thing in the zone system is having the offensive line and the running backs on the same page, on the same landmarks, on the defenders,” Thomas said. “If you don’t have a running back on the same page with the offensive lineman, specifically in the wide zone scheme, it can’t work and our blocks don’t even make sense. So we talk a lot about having the running back bring the defenders and linebackers to the offensive linemen based on the track and how they’re running and pressing the ball towards the sideline. If you don’t have that, you can’t have a scheme that works.” Thomas said Tate also has been an invaluable resource to the other backs running in this scheme for the first time.

* Now it can be told: Thomas, 29, enjoyed at least five days off from practice in the first two weeks of camp. He said the down time is a concession to age. “Age brings me down and the days off bring back up to where I should be,” he said. “I think the main thing is giving me a little time for my body to heal so that week 15, 16, 17, I’m able to suit up because of any number of issues. I barely practiced at the end of last year because I was pretty beat up. The idea is I’ll be able to consistently practice a little less throughout the year instead of every day until the last 5-6 weeks when I couldn’t practice at all.”

* Play time plans: Coach Mike Pettine said play time for the St. Louis game on Saturday will be affected by his intention to also play the first team for the final game against Chicago five days later. He said his tentative plan is to play the first team “in the neighborhood” of one half against St. Louis. “The plan now is we will play some against Chicago,” Pettine said. “Therefore, I don’t know if there’s an absolute need for us to play into the third quarter coming off the short week.”

* Brownie bits: Like every coach, Pettine is happy team practice squad rosters have been increased to a maximum of 10, up two spots from previous. The two extra spots are designated for players with up to two years experience. Previously, practice squad spots were reserved only for rookies or first-year players with fewer than nine games experience on a game-day roster. “It’s a ‘win’ for everybody,” Pettine said … The Browns will have a walk-through in FirstEnergy Stadium Saturday morning to acquaint all the new coaches and players with their home stadium. None of the new coaches and players have even seen the locker room.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

With Browns' QB competition closed, attention diverts to finalizing roster spots elsewhere

Aug 21, 2014 -- 7:31am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Browns

The Morning Kickoff …

Turning the page: Now that the quarterback debate is over, the page turns on this Browns preseason. I asked coach Mike Pettine what’s the next priority.

“Chemistry is a big part of it – getting guys out, playing together, starting to narrow the package down to fit what we do well and then start to get a little more opponent specific,” he said.

“We’ll do that this weekend with the St. Louis game. Then you’re always kind of looking at the season in chunks. We did some good work as a staff in the offseason on Pittsburgh and New Orleans and Baltimore. I think it’s getting to the point now with camp broken, where we need to go ahead and start to look ahead to that first part of the season.”

And to finalizing the roster. So here is an update on that.

Quarterback

1. Brian Hoyer, 2. Johnny Manziel. Rookie Connor Shaw did a great job at the end of the Washington game, but it’s doubtful he will unseat Kyle Shanahan-confidante Rex Grossman. However, Shaw is worth preserving on the practice squad.

Running back

1. Ben Tate, 2. Terrance West. Pettine said, “I think that competition is still wide open for that third running back spot.” Chris Ogbonnaya’s versatility gives him a big edge. Rookie Isaiah Crowell’s potential puts him next in line. That leaves Dion Lewis and Edwin Baker. Lewis lost a fumble in Detroit, but scored the team’s first touchdown against Washington. The Browns fear if they expose Crowell to the practice squad, they will lose him. That will be an interesting choice. Fullback Ray Agnew appears to be in competition with hybrid tight end MarQueis Gray for a spot.

Wide receiver

Uh, boy. First, the givens: 1. Josh Gordon likely will miss some portion of the season, if not all, because of a league suspension. 2. Andrew Hawkins is the slot receiver. 3. Miles Austin, as long as he’s able to stay on the field, will be one of the starters. Everything else is up in the air. Currently, Taylor Gabriel, the 5-8, 167-pound pride of Abilene Christian, is the leading receiver in preseason with six catches for 67 yards. Charles Johnson and Willie Snead have had their moments. Anthony Armstrong had his in June. Travis Benjamin is a No. 4 or No. 5. And the big question is whether Nate Burleson will make the team. I can’t remember the last time Burleson (hamstring) was in full uniform and running routes.

Tight end

1. Jordan Cameron, 2. Gary Barnidge, 3. Jim Dray. Shout-out to Emmanuel Ogbuehi, No. 5 on the depth chart, for corralling the rebound off Snead’s arms on the Shaw Hail Mary at the end of the game against the Redskins.

Offensive line

The starting lineup is set: Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, Alex Mack, John Greco, Mitchell Schwartz. There is no indication Schwartz is under scrutiny after two hands-to-face penalites v. Detroit and apparently allowing two sacks v. Washington. Top backups appear to be Paul McQuistan (guard and tackle) and Garrett Gilkey (guard and center).

Defensive line

Desmond Bryant, who didn’t do much after heart problems surfaced in Game 5 last year, now will be sidelined the rest of preseason after wrist surgery. He won’t be ready for the season opener, but Pettine said he is not a candidate for injured reserve. Phil Taylor will take over one end spot. The other one may go to Armonty Bryant, who started ahead of Billy Winn v. Washington and made a few more plays. The nose tackle position is capably handled by starter Ahtyba Rubin and backup Ishmaa’ily Kitchen. John Hughes is a solid backup at any position. Calvin Barnett, an undrafted free agent from Oklahoma State, is an intriguing prospect.

Linebacker

The only battle among starters still ongoing involves Craig Robertson v. Chris Kirksey at the inside spot next to Karlos Dansby. Both have played well and Pettine has said both could be considered starters depending on the opponent’s offensive formation. The questions at this position group involve the rotation of outside ‘backers Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo. Sheard has been used sparingly in preseason and continues to be listed behind Kruger on the depth chart. We’re pretty sure that Sheard’s prominent role won’t be revealed until the regular season. If that comes true, what becomes of Kruger and Mingo? Each has one sack in preseason games, but neither looks like a dominant player. We’ll see when the real games begin.

Defensive secondary

Cornerbacks Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert will be teamed from the start. That should be a formidable pair of outside corners. With Buster Skrine (thumb) sidelined until the opener, Isaiah Trufant will be the slot cornerback. Skrine was having a very good camp on the outside, but he needs the reps inside to acclimate to the full-time role. The top backup cornerbacks appear to be Pierre Desir and Aaron Berry, both of which missed the Washington game with injuries. Leon McFadden’s roster spot is going to come down to the wire. The safety position looks strong with starters Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson, and backups Jim Leonhard and Jordan Poyer. Johnson Bademosi – now the team’s best special teamer – is in the mix as a backup.

Specialists

I don’t recall ever going through a preseason with only one kicker and one punter, but Billy Cundiff and Spencer Lanning are halfway through without any relief pitchers on hand. Benjamin hasn’t returned any kicks or punts in two preseason games, but he will handle both duties when the games start counting.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns QB job is Brian Hoyer's and won't be shared, says Mike Pettine

Aug 20, 2014 -- 4:41pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

Brian Hoyer said he felt excitement, not relief, about winning the Browns’ starting quarterback job. Johnny Manziel said he was disappointed, but the result was understandable considering how far he had to come.

But now that Hoyer has the job, how much of Manziel will we see? And how soon?

“Give me a crystal ball, and I’ll tell you,” coach Mike Pettine said Wednesday. “The NFL season is so long, so much can happen. We don’t want Brian looking over his shoulder thinking one bad throw and I’m out. But over time, if you feel you have to make a change … time will only tell.

“You could foresee a scenario where he doesn’t play this year and there are other scenarios that are absolutely possible as well. It’s hard to tell.”

Pettine said the idea of using both quarterbacks in a game, with a special package for the more mobile Manziel, is not in the plans.

“The plays that he would run if he got in a game would be more suited for him, but I don’t foresee us now, especially early, being in a two quarterback system,” Pettine said.

The coach brushed off a question of Hoyer being on a short leash.

 “This is Brian’s job. I never think of it whether it’s a leash or we want a guy to be a game manager. We want him to be confident and go out and play,” Pettine said.

For Hoyer, the decision was the culmination of a dream and of hard work to come back from ACL surgery in October. He said he wasn’t pressing, despite two preseason outings that were less than scintillating.

“The other night (v. Washington), things got a little messed up,” Hoyer said. “Bad first series, and then (having to) sit down. People want to pin that on pressure, whatever. I think we just played poorly. I don’t think it ever got to me. This is actually the most relaxed I’ve ever been in training camp in my career. It’s good to have a decision and now I’m just looking forward to St. Louis and the regular season.”

Hoyer said that throughout his lonely days of rehabbing his repaired right knee, he took comfort in and motivation from his two winning performances in 2013.

“If anything, the biggest thing last year was I proved to myself I can play in this league,” he said. “I think it’s paid dividends this year as far as my mental preparation and how I go into games.

“Did I believe this could happen? There was no doubt in my mind. But there were days rehab sucked. I knew the feeling of running off the field after we beat Cincinnati. It’s all worth it.”

Hoyer said he won’t be affected by looking over his shoulder because he’s been doing that his whole career.

“When you’re a rookie, undrafted, trying to make a team … I feel I’ll carry that chip forever. Every day, I’m just trying not to be cut. When you have that mentality, you push yourself to the limit and the pressure you put on yourself is far greater than any pressure the media can put on your or the coaches can put on you. Now that I’m the starter, you have to take that mentality into your job.”

Manziel took the decision in stride with disappointment, but not anger.

“I feel if I would have come out and played better it would’ve been a different outcome,” he said. “I don’t think I played terrible, but I didn’t do anything to really jump off the page. I made strides and got better throughout the training camp. Obviously disappointing, but at the same time I want what’s best for this team.”

He said he would not do a single thing differently in his rookie training camp and maintained his pre-training camp partying had no bearing on the outcome.

“I wouldn’t go back from the point after the draft until now and change a single thing,” Manziel said. “I’m going to live my life and the offseason’s the offseason. I’m going to travel places, go places, do things and that’s going to a have no effect. Obviously I need to do it in the proper way. But I’m still going to continue to have fun in my life and live my life. And I don’t think any of that slowed me in this competition.”

Manziel indicated it was a bit unrealistic for anyone to think he could win the job.

“I know you don’t go from playing two years in college and playing two preseason games and then say you can come out and play the Pittsburgh Steelers and their defense. It just doesn’t happen. I don’t think that should have been much of a shock saying I wasn’t ready one game into it,” he said.

Manziel said there wasn’t much conversation with Hoyer about the result.

“Me and Brian didn’t talk much about it,” he said. “It was a competition. Good for Brian, though. He’s a hometown guy. I know me being in Texas, if the Texas job were like that it would mean the world to me. So, props to him.”

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Brian Hoyer prevails in Browns quarterback competition

Aug 20, 2014 -- 8:43am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty via ESPN

Mike Pettine informed his players Wednesday morning that Brian Hoyer is the starting quarterback heading into the season.

“He was the clear leader from the beginning,” Pettine said in a story posted on the team Website and distributed via email. “We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”

As he indicated on a conference call Tuesday afternoon after the team returned from a dismal performance in Washington in the second preseason game, Pettine said that Hoyer’s “body of work” prevailed in the competition with rookie Johnny Manziel.

The coach took into account Hoyer’s two wins last season, his dogged determination to work back from ACL surgery in October, and the respect he has earned in the locker room.

“I think Brian’s been very poised,” Pettine said. “I think he’s handled the situation well. He’s had a lot of things going on.

“I think a lot of people discount that,” the coach said. “Here’s a guy coming off of a season-ending knee injury. Really, these are his first, essentially, 20-25 plays of live work back from it, and he’s only going to get better.”

The Browns play their third preseason game Saturday – first in renovated FirstEnergy Stadium -- against the St. Louis Rams. It was the target date Pettine set for naming his starting QB.

“I think it’s especially good, as an offensive unit, to go out and play and gain cohesion and chemistry,” Pettine said. “That was one of the reasons I wanted to go ahead and make the decision before this third preseason game so that (Hoyer and the rest of the starting offense) could play as a unit for a good chunk of it.”

Pettine’s only mention of Manziel came in the final paragraph of the release the club distributed.

“He’s certainly made great strides,” Pettine said. “We are pleased with where he is, and he has shown that he has come a long way in his ability to pick up the playbook, be coachable and lead an offense. We are confident that Johnny is going to have a great future, but we just felt that Brian still had a decided edge on him.”

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns have to rush to correct the errors of their flawed quarterback competition

Aug 19, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

The Morning Kickoff …

Moment of truth: The Browns’ abysmal quarterback competition should never had happened.

Brian Hoyer should have been named the starter based on what he did last year and the Browns’ coaches should have followed the lead of owner Jimmy Haslam’s “act like a backup” decree and explained that Johnny Manziel would sit and learn during his rookie NFL season.

Manziel’s two seasons of playing at Texas A&M – without a playbook, with coaches sending in three-worded plays, without a huddle – should have signaled to coaches that a quarterback competition was a waste of precious time and counter-productive to the greater deed of preparing the entire team for the season opener on Sept. 7.

But, Pettine said on Tuesday, “We wanted to see those guys go out there and compete and put them in some adverse situations and see how they reacted.”

What happened was that Hoyer – burdened already by his own recovery from October ACL surgery and having to learn his fifth offensive system in three years – surprisingly – no, alarmingly -- crumbled under the weight of Manziel Mania.

And Manziel didn’t rise to the occasion but, rather, sunk to the level of immaturity that scared off so many NFL teams. Last week alone, he misread a schedule and missed a team meeting, and then lost his composure in his second preseason game and flashed his middle finger to the Washington bench after a broken play. Manziel very well could have earned Pettine’s “I’m a dummy” dunce cap previously fitted for quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains.

So, at the target date Pettine set for naming a regular-season starter, neither quarterback seemed worthy of even starting the third preseason game against the St. Louis Rams.

Pettine had a meeting Tuesday night with his coaching staff and, presumably, General Manager Ray Farmer, to decide whether to name a starting quarterback or continue this sham of a competition through the Rams game.

Pettine denied there was divided opinion on his coaching staff, but also admitted there was no consensus.

It is believed that Loggains leads a growing pro-Manziel faction and Hoyer’s backers may be down to Pettine. Ordinarily, having the head coach on your side should count for much. But Pettine doesn’t seem inclined to make this call on his own.

Thus, the committee held a meeting. It’s quite possible that the arguments in favor of each quarterback came down to the following:

Hoyer

Possessions: 7.

Points: 9.

Stats: 8 of 20 (40.0%), 108 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 1 sack, 57.9 passer rating.

Third-down conversions: 0 of 7.

The case for Hoyer

1. Because of his experience, he gives the Browns the best chance of winning in Pittsburgh in the opener and then in home games against New Orleans and Baltimore. His experience in preparing for NFL opponents and knowledge of the AFC North will be a great asset to a first-year coaching staff.

2. At a critical time last year after the trade of running back Trent Richardson, he rallied the locker room and proved to teammates the season was not lost by leading wins at Minnesota and home against Cincinnati.

3. A year ago he was quick with his reads, decisive with the ball and accurate with his throws. The fact he has been the opposite in this training camp could be due to post-surgery confidence issues, slow transition to the complex Kyle Shanahan offense and the weight of Manziel Mania. Naming him the starter would allow him to concentrate on the offense and establish a chemistry with a green and inexperienced receiving corps.

Manziel

Possessions: 8.

Points: 10.

Stats: 14 of 27 (51.9%), 128 yards, 1 TD, O INT, 3 sacks, 7 runs for 28 yards, 77.4 passer rating.

Third-down conversions: 8 of 16.

Fourth-down conversions: 1 of 2.

The case for Manziel

1. It is inevitable that he is the future, so why not cut to the chase and begin the developmental process immediately.

2. Statistically, he’s done a tad better than Hoyer despite receiving fewer practice reps with the first-team offensive line. His improvement would be accelerated by committing all first-team reps to him.

3. His mobility and rifle arm fit the RG3 profile that Shanahan exploited in Washington and represent the new-era quarterback type that keeps defensive coordinators like Pettine awake at night.

Conclusion: Either choice is a projection of risk v. reward. Manziel offers the greater reward, as his “ceiling” may be higher than Hoyer’s and his “star” quality is good for business. But rushing in Manziel ahead of his time could scar him and prevent him from ever reaching his potential. Hoyer is the surer thing immediately, would have the backing of the veterans in the locker room, and gives the team the best chance of avoiding an 0-3 start. Pettine should name Hoyer the starter and begin in earnest the next priority of developing chemistry and cohesion with the starting offensive unit.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

  • Page 1 of 203
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • ...
  • »
  • »»

ON AIR - LISTEN LIVE

PHOTO GALLERY

  • Recently Updated

    more

    • Northfield Park Street Team

    • BWW - Munch Trivia Night

    • Hackers