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Throwing a flag on all NFL policies

Sep 17, 2014 -- 12:13am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ESPN

The Morning Kickoff …

Policies run amok: I’m mentally exhausted trying to process the possibility of Ray Rice coming off suspension before Josh Gordon. Conceivably, it could happen.

Rice, the pride of the Baltimore Ravens, cold-cocked his future wife in an Atlantic City, NJ, casino hotel elevator, knocked her unconscious and dragged her out on her belly.

On Tuesday, the NFL players union formally appealed Commissioner’s Roger Goodell’s indefinite suspension of Rice. The union’s appeal is based on the fact that Goodell originally suspended Rice for two games and then cranked it up to indefinite when video of Rice’s beat-down of the woman become public and Goodell admitted he messed up.

The league is now scrambling to assemble a new domestic violence policy before a few beer companies adopt their own policy and pull their NFL sponsorships.

J.G.’s plea: Meanwhile, Gordon’s original indefinite suspension for testing positive for marijuana eventually will be reduced to 10 games when the league’s new, eternally flawed drug policy is ratified. Maybe Gordon flunked 100 marijuana tests, for all we know. The fact that it is even a point of conversation that Rice could have his suspension lifted before Gordon’s is obnoxious.

To complicate matters, Gordon on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated stemming from an arrest in Raleigh, NC, on July 5. It is believed Gordon accelerated this plea to avoid an automatic two-game suspension contained in the league’s new substance abuse policy.

As part of the pending new agreement, players with outstanding DWI’s had until November to resolve their offenses and be disciplined under the former policy, which was more liberal for alcohol-related offenses. Under the old policy, Gordon could be fined two game checks for the DWI. Or he could face a suspension, based on previous substance abuse violations, of which he has four or 400, depending on your source.

So it appears that Gordon’s positive marijuana test will be disciplined under the new substance abuse policy and his DWI under the old policy. But if Gordon’s marijuana results were judged by the higher limits in the new policy, he would not have tested positive.

Upon further review: Then there is Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who reportedly beat at least one of his 4-year-old sons with a tree branch, and possibly another. Peterson’s case will be judged under the NFL’s personal conduct policy – which doesn’t have any language about beating one’s own children.

All of which leads me to state my new policy on NFL policies. I’m done with them. I don’t understand them, don’t trust them. Don’t believe they are effective. Don’t feel they are consistent or credible.

The NFL’s policies on player misconduct and substance abuse and performance-enhancing substances make the league’s tie-breaker procedures seem clear by comparison. They make their instant replay rules seem plain and simple. They are more inconsistent than their roughing-the-passer rulings, more questionable than their pass interference penalties.

The NFL needs a massive instant replay review of all of its policies.

 

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

 

 

 

Tony Grossi's Scouting Report: Baltimore Ravens

Sep 16, 2014 -- 2:26pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens

                        Sunday, 1 p.m., in FirstEnergy Stadium

Record: 1-1.

Last game: Defeated Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-6, Sept. 11, in Baltimore.

Coach: John Harbaugh, 63-35, seventh year.

Series record: Ravens lead, 22-8.

Last meeting: Browns won, 24-18, Nov. 3, in Cleveland.

League rankings: Offense is 9th overall (13th rushing, 12th passing), defense is 15th (8th rushing, 23rd passing) and turnover differential is plus-1.

Offensive overview: New coordinator Gary Kubiak was Kyle Shanahan’s mentor in Houston, so the offenses are near facsimiles. The zone stretch running scheme is similar to the Browns’. In fact, running backs Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett have almost the exact same per carry average (5.08 yards) as Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell (4.98), but only one touchdown compared to three. What’s a bit different, though, is the passing game. Joe Flacco is not as adept in the bootleg passing game. He’d rather drop back in conventional style, so Kubiak has had to scale back some of the throws on the run that are made so effective by the zone stretch runs. Flacco is a very able play-action passer, however, and he has top-five arm strength. The big acquisition is veteran receiver Steve Smith, who adds toughness and meanness to the unit. While speedy wideouts Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have taken a back seat, Flacco is utilizing tight ends Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels in intermediate areas.

Defensive overview: They’ve already gotten a big play out of rookie CJ Mosely at weakside inside linebacker. The first-round pick from Alabama forced the fumbleby Heath Miller in the fourth quarter against the Steelers drive to open the game.They really need to keep box safety Matt Elam close to the line of scrimmage to help in the run defense because they are a little light at the linebacker positions. The pass rush has been ratcheted up yet, though designated rusher Elvis Dumervil has two sacks. Terrell Suggs has only one sack since the loss to the Browns in November. The secondary could be bolstered by the return of cornerback Lardarius Webb from a lower back injury.

Special teams overview: Kicker Justin Tucker, who made the Pro Bowl last year, is one of the best in business. He is 5 of 6 in field goals, missing from 55 yards, and co-leads the league with 10 touchbacks. Punter Sam Koch is 12th in gross average (46.5 yards) and is 25th in net average (36.8). Jacoby Jones is a dangerous returner. He is fourth in punt return average (12.3) and third in kickoff returns (27.3). Jones had a muffed punt v. the Bengals. The coverage team has allowed a 45-yard punt return.

Players to watch:

1. Quarterback Joe Flacco: He lost to the Browns for the first time last year after 11 straight wins as a starter. He is still getting used to the Gary Kubiak offense and appears to miss dropping back and heaving the ball vertically.

2. Wide receiver Steve Smith: Highly emotional -- almost combustible, at times --he gives the offense a toughness and meanness, and, at 35, can still make plays.

3. Linebacker Elvis Dumervil: A designated pass rusher who maximizes speed and leverage, he leads the team with two sacks.

Injury report: CB Asa Jackson (concusion) could be limited. CB Lardarius Webb (lower back) missed the last two games, but is expected to return. LG Kelechi Osemele (ankle) is day to day.

Small world: General Manager Ozzie Newsome was a Browns first-round draft pick in 1978 and played tight end through 1990 and was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 … George Kokinis, senior personnel assistant, was Browns GM in 2009 and was fired after eight games … fullback Kyle Juszczyk was born in Medina and attended Cloverleaf High School.

 

 

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 proves again that the Browns are his team

Sep 16, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

The Morning Kickoff …

Nothing is given, everything is earned: Remember the Great Quarterback Competitions of 2014?

Yes, I said competitions -- plural.

There was Johnny Manziel v. the Browns’ playbook.

And there was Brian Hoyer v. his repaired ACL … Hoyer v. the Kyle Shanahan offense … Hoyer v. Johnny Football -- the man, the myth, the legend.

Now for an update.

Manziel, understandably, is still engaged in his competition, and will be for the forseeable future. Playbook is winning that one.

Hoyer, on the hand, has hurdled the mental barrier imposed by an ACL surgery. He has conquered the Shanahan offense; the Browns are fifth in total points after two weeks (thanks in part to a Tashaun Gipson Pick 6). And as for Johnny Football, Hoyer didn’t even watch the three plays on which Manziel appeared against the New Orleans Saints. Hoyer was too busy preparing for his next play on third down – the money down.

Not every quarterback could swallow the task of leaving the field to make way for a rookie phenom project so gracefully.

And then to come back and do what Hoyer did – move his team from the 4-yard line 85 yards in the final 2 ½ minutes for a field goal to pull out the Browns’ first win in a season home opener in 10 years – that takes a pretty good dose of mental toughness.

“We talk about, ‘If you’re going to be a great player, you need to make great plays when your best is needed,’” coach Mike Pettine said on Monday. “He certainly did that for us. That’s when you gain respect. Respect can’t be manufactured that way. It can’t be artificial. It just has to be earned, and it has to be earned through his play, through his actions. I thought he handled himself real well (on Sunday).”

Mentally tough: There’s a cliché about a football team taking on the personality of its coach. But in the case of these Browns, they are also taking on the best characteristics of their quarterback.

When Pettine talks about “play like a Brown,” you might as well substitute “play like Hoyer.”

He embodies the mental toughness the Browns have lacked at the quarterback position for a long time.

“Dealing with the adversity throughout the game, the ups and downs,” Hoyer said. “And really playing till the clock says zero. That’s what we were able to do.”

For the whole game, Hoyer was without the team’s only Pro Bowl playmakers on offense – receiver Josh Gordon (suspended) and tight end Jordan Cameron (injured). And the Browns outscored the vaunted Saints (again, thanks to Gipson’s TD).

On that 85-yard winning drive, Hoyer completed passes to Miles Austin, Taylor Gabriel, Gary Barnidge and Andrew Hawkins. Undrafted, undrafted, fifth-round draft pick, undrafted.

“I trust those guys with all my heart,” Hoyer said. “For me as a quarterback, I will go with a group of guys that works their butt off, knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, gives everything they have, over a group of guys that are super-talented any day.

“Because I think guys like that – like Hawk, like Gabriel, like Travis (Benjamin), like Miles – we’ve all been overlooked, myself included. And when you have that mentality, you put the extra effort in and you make sure you’re on top of everything. And I think sometimes that overcomes talent.”

“Overlooked” is an understatement when it comes to Hoyer. The national networks consider him a speed bump in the way of their round-the-clock obsession with Manziel.

When Pettine officially named Hoyer the season starter, CBS pulled its No. 1 announcing crew of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms off the Browns-Steelers game. In the Heinz Field press lounge prior to that game, I conversed with ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio about the prospects of Manziel appearing in that game.

“He better,” Sal Pal opined. “I mean, why are we here?”

As Hoyer sputtered throughout the first half of that contest, CBS cameras gave Manziel on the sideline more air time than a presidential candidate.

“I understand the skepticism,” Hoyer said. “I’m a guy who was cut three times. I played a little bit last year, had some success, but when you come off a major knee surgery, I think a lot of people doubt even the greatest coming back from that. I understand. To me, I don’t concern myself with it. All I’m really concerned about is this building, this locker room and then when we go out and play on Sundays.”

It’s his team: Sometimes it takes an opponent to state the obvious.

In Baltimore on Monday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Hoyer, “He’s the best quarterback they’ve had in a number of years. He’s playing great.”

Hoyer now has started five games in a Browns uniform.

In his first start in Game 3 last year, he overcame three interceptions and conducted a winning drive at the end to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in the din of the Metrodome. That was the week the locker room was rocked by the stunning trade of Trent Richardson and thought the old front office had thrown in the towel to stock up in the draft for the next season.

In Hoyer’s second start, he engineered touchdown drives of 95 and 91 yards to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in his first-ever start in his hometown stadium.

In his third start, he tore his ACL early in the home game against the Buffalo Bills. After that game, Hoyer received a letter from then-Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine commiserating his injury and commending him for being such an under-rated quarterback.

In Hoyer’s fourth start, the opener this season in Pittsburgh, Hoyer battled from a 27-3 halftime deficit to tie the game, only to lose, 30-27.

And in his fifth start, Hoyer led his hometown team to its first win in a home opener in 10 years.

So Hoyer has yet to lose a game in FirstEnergy Stadium in a Browns uniform. As a visitor, he lost here with the New England Patriots in 2010 and with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012. But those weren’t really his teams, were they?

 

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 learn how to celebrate a win and move on

Sep 15, 2014 -- 5:33pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/USA Today

Extra Points …

Celebration time: This week’s coaching point: How to handle success.

September has been a cruel month for the Browns in recent years, of course. Since 2006, the Browns were 7-21 in the theme-setting first month of the season prior to this year. Now they are 1-1 after their first win in a home opener since 2004.

When he brushed off the effects of celebrating his first coaching win the night before, coach Mike Pettine talked to his team about “how to handle its business.”

“We very easily could be 2-0. Probably even more likely we could be 0-2,” Pettine said. “Remembering that feeling in the locker room. Just the sheer joy those guys had celebrating afterwards. There’s no’s substitute, no drug in the world that can make you feel like that. Fear of failure is one of our motivators, but that feeling is another. But understand there was a heavy price paid to get that feeling.

“Handling success is important. They need to understand the phrase. You don’t want one loss to run into two. We don’t want a big win to be celebrated too long and turn into a loss. We talked about compartmentalizing, being able to celebrate.

“I celebrated probably as much as any of them did last night. (I was) feeling it a little this morning.”

Johnny Package update: Johnny Manziel made two appearances in his NFL debut. The first resulted in a handoff to Isaiah Crowell, after which he trotted back out. The second consisted of two plays – another handoff to Crowell for a 2-yard loss, and then a pass to fullback Ray Agnew, which was mishandled after a hard hit by safety Jairus Byrd.

Pettine said that even if Agnew had held on to the second-down pass, it was scripted for Manziel to leave the field.

“It wasn’t going to be consistent (play time), just small doses to keep them off balance,” he said.

After Brian Hoyer’s winning performance against New Orleans, the future of the Johnny Package is up in air, based on opponent, game plan, etc. Now that Manziel is on a game tape, Pettine feels every opponent has to devote some time to it in its preparation, and he feels that is an advantage enjoyed by the Browns.

Hoyer completed 15 of his final 19 throws after Manziel’s appearance.

“The way he responded, we should play Johnny the first play of the game,” Pettine joked.

“You weigh the pros and cons when you do something like that. Forcing an opponent extra time to prepare for that … now they have to worry about some of the zone-read element of a game plan, which opens up a whole box of issues defensively. You have to weigh that against how does it affect the starter. To me, you get the best of both worlds if the starter can handle it.”

Brownie bits: Through two games, the Browns are one of four teams without an offensive turnover. Others are Carolina, Cincinnati and Denver. Each of those teams is 2-0 … The Browns’ rushing average of 5.1 yards ranks fifth in the league … Pettine said individual game balls were presented to Hoyer and tight end Gary Barnidge on offense, linebacker Karlos Dansby, linebacker Paul Kruger and safety Tashaun Gipson on defense, and Billy Cundiff on special teams. Also, every coach received one for the staff’s first victory … Pettine said tight end Jordan Cameron (shoulder) and linebacker Barkevious Mingo (shoulder) “made progress” over the weekend, but he won’t have an update on their availability for the practice week for the Baltimore game until Wednesday … Without Mingo, outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard logged 67 and 65 snaps, respectively, out of a total of 70. That’s too many, Pettine said. So if Mingo isn’t able to go on Sunday, Pettine said he would use reserve linebacker Eric Martin to give the starters some relief ... The Browns have three rushing touchdowns in two games. They had four in 16 last year.

 

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

 

 

 

Tony Grossi's Take: This time the Browns' defense made a play at the end, and the offense responded

Sep 14, 2014 -- 7:03pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP via ESPN

Tony’s Take on Browns’ 26-24 win over New Orleans Saints

Offense: The running game didn’t seem that effective – until Isaiah Crowell ripped off some big gains in the fourth quarter. Crowell (54 yards on 11 attempts) and Terrance West (68, 1 TD, on 19) wound up averaging a healthy 4.1. Third-down conversions improved to 7 of 16, and they were 2 of 2 on fourth downs. Brian Hoyer was 9 of 21 until crunch time. He finished with a 15 of 19 run on his last three possessions, on which the Browns scored the last 10 points of the game. Some real clutch catches on the last drive were made by Miles Austin, Gary Barnidge and Andrew Hawkins. Bottom line: Just win, baby.

Defense: The first quarter was awesome, holding Drew Brees to 12 total yards and preventing his high-octane offense from controlling the game. Then Brees went to his money player, tight end Jimmy Graham, and the Browns couldn’t stop him. Graham posted up everybody who tried to cover him. When it mattered, though, linebacker Karlos Dansby’s sack of Brees knocked the Saints out of field goal range and enabled the offense to go for a field goal for the win. “I know how to win. I’m trying to be contagious,” Dansby said. Linebacker Paul Kruger also had another strong game with a sack nearly for a safety and the pressure on Brees that resulted in a Tashaun Gipson interception and 62-yard return for a touchdown. Bottom line: They made the play at the end.

Special teams: They helped control field position early in the game, though it nearly evened out over the afternoon. Returns and coverage were pretty much a stand-off. Kudos go to them for eliminating the mind-numbing penalties on punts. Holder Spencer Lanning was unable to get the ball down on a point-after, but the snap-hold-placement were perfect on Billy Cundiff’s 29-yard game-winning field goal. Bottom line: Much improvement from Game 1.

Coaching: The use of the no-huddle throughout the game was effective. This is something the coaches surely can develop as the season wears on. The insertion of Johnny Manziel for three plays in two appearances in the second half was puzzling and ineffective. It didn’t spark the offense, but it did seem to light a fire under Hoyer, who started completing passes he was missing earlier in the game. Mike Pettine’s first victory as Browns coach – first as a head coach at any level – earned him a Gatorade dunking. Bottom line: Only the second Browns win in a home opener in 16 years.

 

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 orchestrates winning drive to end Browns' 9-year losing streak in home openers, 26-24, over the Saints

Sep 14, 2014 -- 4:13pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

Updated at 6:13 p.m.

So many players had to step up at the end for the Browns to pull out a 26-24 win over the New Orleans Saints and break their 9-year losing streak in home openers.

Chronologically, the list starts with linebacker Karlos Dansby.

His 7-yard sack of Drew Brees on third down at the Browns’ 31 knocked the Saints out of field goal range and allowed the Browns to think “field goal” on the winning drive that began at their 4-yard line with 2:46 to play.

On offense, start with receiver Miles Austin.

A key drop on third down weighed on him throughout the day. On the winning drive, the angular target had three catches for first downs. His last was a sliding grab inches from the left sideline boundary at the Saints’ 39. The play survived a replay review, after which officials tacked on seven additional seconds, leaving the Browns :15 on the clock to get closer for the field goal.

Then there was tight end Gary Barnidge.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, Barnidge’s clutch 13-yard catch and lean for an extra inch converted a third down on a touchdown drive that the Browns absolutely, positively had to have.

And then on the winning drive, there was Barnidge again, this time on fourth-and-6, crossing over the middle and holding on to a BB throw for a 10-yard gain to the Browns’ 48 with 38 seconds to go. Just about everybody called that the offensive play of the game.

There was receiver Andrew Hawkins, who was left wide open by New Orleans’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s lame decision to call “cover 0,” an all-out blitz, on two consecutive plays. The first resulted in a bat-down at the line of scrimmage. On the second, Hawkins was so all alone 28 yards downfield, he resembled a returner fair-catching a punt.

At the end was Billy Cundiff, who nailed the 29-yard field goal with three seconds left to win it. When Cundiff was asked about his first game-winning kick in a Browns uniform, he quickly corrected the questioner and pointed out his field goal as a Phil Dawson injury-replacement under Eric Mangini in a 6-3 win in 2009 -- a game, Cundiff pointed out, that set back football 40 years.

Ultimately, though, this team win reflected the toughness, poise and leadership of quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Typically uneven throughout the game and removed on two occasions for a total of three ineffective plays by Johnny Manziel, Hoyer rose above it all and directed his team 85 yards throwing to receiving corps missing Josh Gordon (suspended) and Jordan Cameron (injured).

Hoyer was 8 of 11 for 77 yards on the winning drive, sending home future Hall of Famer Brees an 0-2 quarterback and securing his grip on his hometown team once again.

“He was very fiery. He wanted to prove ...,” Barnidge said, before catching himself. “We’re just proving we’re never out of a game.”

Hoyer had a 3-yard TD to Austin in the first quarter when the Browns built a 10-0 lead, but if not for a Tashaun Gipson interception of Brees -- influenced by pressure from Paul Kruger -- and 62-yard return for an interception -- the Saints may have won this game going away.

Hoyer's passes were hitting nothing but grass for a large portion of the game. While Brees rediscovered tight end Jimmy Graham after the first quarter – connecting for 10 catches, 118 yards and two touchdowns – Hoyer was giving coach Mike Pettine the rope to yank him for the long-awaited Johnny Package.

Manziel made his debut on the fourth play of the first half. He handed off to Isaiah Crowell and then ran back to the sideline. And then on the next possession, Manziel came in for two plays – another handoff to Crowell, and then a play-fake pass to fullback Ray Agnew that was late and blasted incomplete on a hit by Jairus Byrd.

“I thought we stalled a little bit on offense and just wanted to see if we catch them off-guard a little bit and get a spark,” Pettine said. “Knowing the competitor he is, he probably wasn’t real thrilled to have to come off the field. That’s the nature of who he is, as he should be.”

Here is how Hoyer felt about it: After Manziel’s second appearance, Hoyer proceeded to complete 15 of 19 passes for 136 yards on two scoring drives.

“Obviously, as a competitor, you want to be on the field,” Hoyer said. “It was something discussed all week. We weren’t sure if we were going to need it or run it. I knew at some point it might happen, so I told myself just be ready to go back in.

“Kyle (Shanahan, offensive coordinator) and I talked and he said there might be a few looks with Rob Ryan’s defense and the situation we were in, that we could use Johnny.

“As much as it might irk me to go off the field, if it’s going to help us win, I’m all for it. I think as a competitor and quarterback, it’s hard to get taken off. For me, I was able to mentally stay in it. I think a lot of guys might not be able to handle that. I think because they were up front with me, that helped me. As mad as I was when he told me, it helped me prepare for it.”

Hoyer’s overall numbers were typically pedestrian – 24 of 40 for 204 yards, one TD, no interceptions and a rating of 81.7. But the end result was his third win in four complete-game starts in a Browns uniform. And it was the second time Hoyer orchestrated a winning drive in the fourth quarter.

Hoyer likened this game to his first start last season in Game 3 when he produced a win in Minnesota after tossing three interceptions. He said it was great then to feel the respect of the team in the meeting rooms after that.

“I’m always trying to earn the respect of those guys,” Hoyer said. “As a quarterback, you want to win the game. When you win games, everyone respects you at that position. It might not be the prettiest thing. But when you win games, that’s the ultimate goal in this league.”

The Browns had not won a home opener since 2004, when Hoyer was a freshman at Michigan State. Pettine was a few years removed from being a high school, learning the NFL game in Baltimore under the wing of Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan. Pettine's first NFL win enabled the Browns to reach their high point of 1-1 after two weeks for only the eighth time in 16 seasons since 1999.

“I can’t lie. It feels great,” Pettine said. “I have a big old cigar with my name on it waiting for me.

“We wanted it for us. We wanted it for the city. These fans came out, and you could just feel the energy in the stadium today. It was awesome.”

For once, all that energy wasn’t wasted.

 

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

 

 

 

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