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  • Published: Apr 1st, 2015
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on April Fools Day extends to the Draft for the Browns.

April Fools Day extends to the Draft for the Browns.

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Brownie Down

Note: On NNR Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports & I reviewed the Browns offense after their free agent deals. The podcast is on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

The recent history of the Browns drafts makes me think there was an April Fools Day hangover. Here are just a few of the jokes that have been forced on Browns fans.

The 22nd overall pick has been a cruel joke on the fans waiting for a quality QB.

2014 Johnny “football” Manziel – The team reportedly spent 100K to decide which QB in the draft had the best chance of success based on metrics. The result was that Teddy Bridgewater had the best chance of success. So with Teddy on the board the Browns traded up to the 22nd pick to take—Johnny Football. His season spent under the watchful eye of the coaching staff didn’t mean much when in his first start he laid a dinosaur egg against the Bengals. He spent a lot more time with blowup swans than his playbook. We all hope he can overcome his demons in rehab. While some say he deserves another chance, in my opinion he should at least have some competition before being anointed the starter.

2012 Brandon Weeden – The best thing I can say about Weeden is that at least he did not get traded at halftime of his 1st start like Charlie Frye did. In his first season Brandon completed 57% of his throws and tossed more picks than TD’s. He regressed in his 2nd year with Cleveland completing only 52.8% of his throws. By his 3rd season he was in Dallas backing up Tony Romo.

2007 The curse of the 22nd pick started with the team’s selection of Brady Quinn. Brady played in just 1 game in his rookie year. But his 37.5 percent completion rate was a sign of things to come. In 08 he started 3 games but completed just over half of his throws. That should have been enough for management but he was allowed to start 9 games in 2009. Both his completion percentage and passer rating were in the 50’s. He has now been on 5 teams in his last 5 years in the league.

Fortunately the Browns do not have the 22nd pick this year. They need a QB unless they are planning to “Crash for Cardale” Jones from Ohio State. My fear is with either Josh McCown or Manziel starting is this: “With the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select…”

That is what I think. Tell us what you think by commenting here or tweeting me @NNRonDSN.

NOTE: News, Notes and Rumors podcast are BACK. Check out our thoughts on Fridays about the games coming up and Monday on the results of the weekend. My co-host is Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports. Podcasts can be heard on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/. Thanks for your support.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

He also edits .

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.

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  • Author:
  • Published: Jul 31st, 2014
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Roger Goodell’s NFL Wheel of Misfortune!

Roger Goodell’s NFL Wheel of Misfortune!

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Wheel

Ryan Neiman of Sports District Radio is our guest on NNR tonight 6 PM EDT on or http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

“Hi I am Roger Goodell and welcome to my NFL Wheel of Misfortune show! Johnny who is our first victim?”

“Well Roger, it is Arizona Cardinal linebacker Daryl Washington come on down! Daryl has been a bad boy that has been caught taking PED’s for a third time.”

“Well Daryl spin the NFL Wheel of Misfortune!”

click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click

“Too bad for you Daryl you get indefinite suspension. That is the worst penalty we give out. It means you have to sit out for 12 months from today and petition for reinstatement. Then Daryl, if I feel like it and you have been a very good boy I might let you back in the league. Of course I might not let you back in too if I am having a bad day. Daryl would you like to appeal the penalty and spin again?”

“Yes please.”

(Buzzer sounds)

“Too bad Daryl. I decided your appeal is denied and you get the indefinite suspension. All in all Daryl that will cost you at least 3 million dollars. Please take our home version of the game as a cancellation prize. Johnny who is our next victim?”

“Well Roger, we welcome Brandon Browner cornerback for the Pats. Brandon come on down!”

“OK Brandon, spin the NFL Wheel of Misfortune! Brandon has been a bad boy as well taking things that are on our banned list.”

click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click

“Well Brandon you got lucky. You got just a 4 game suspension! Congratulations. Johnny who is our next victim?”

“Ray Rice, running back of the Baltimore Ravens, come on down! Ray was caught on video knocking his girl friend out cold in a casino and dragging her unconscious out of an elevator.”

“Ray welcome of NFL Wheel of Misfortune. Spin the wheel.”

click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click

“Ray, you win the game with just a 2 game suspension! The down side is you will have to marry her to keep her from testifying against you. In the long run that will probably cost you more than a long suspension. You can appeal and spin again if you want.”

“No, that is fine I’ll take it.”

“OK Johnny who is next?”

“Josh Gordon wide receiver for the Browns come on down! Josh has been a good boy that has passed 70 tests but he was a bit over the limit on a test for weed. Josh says it was because he was around people smoking weed.”

“Welcome Josh. Spin the wheel!”

click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click- click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click

“Sorry Josh but it looks like the wheel still spinning. I also have a shout out to a shut in player Jags wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Justin, we are sending you a home version of our game. Well folks, that is going to do it for this edition of Roger Goodell’s NFL Wheel of Misfortune. But tune in soon here on the NFL Channel to find out how Josh Gordon does and the penalty for Colts owner Robert Irsay.”

“Roger Goodell’s NFL Wheel of Misfortune is a production of Roger Goodell and the NFL.”

That is what I think. Tell us what you think by commenting here or tweeting me @NNRonDSN.

NOTE: Check out the live News, Notes and Rumors show on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6 PM Eastern on or http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/. On Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports, former NFL scout Kelron Sykes and I talk football with just a little Indians and Cavs thrown in. The archive is available on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/. Please join us.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ and the live show Mondays at 6 PM Eastern time on .

He also edits .

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.

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  • Author:
  • Published: Nov 26th, 2013
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Browns Steelers Live Game notes.

Browns Steelers Live Game notes.

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Steelers

 

NOTE: Just for Thanksgiving the NFL Preview show will be on Wednesday Nov. 27 @ 6PM EST on .  Tony Williams Giants beat writer for Metro New York joins Samantha and me.  Please join us and have a great holiday.

 

 

Note:  Listen to the radio version of News, Notes & Rumors live 6PM Mondays with my co-host Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports for the recap of the Browns game and review of the week in the NFL on .

 

I apologize for being a day late with the live game notes.  At my age I find it takes a whole day to get over the depression of watching another Browns loss.

 

The brown on brown uniforms in this weather makes the team look like a bunch of frozen fudge bars.

 

Missed tackle by Skrine gives PT a first

Skrine gets Bell after a 2 yard gain.

Bell gets 18 because Ward missed the tackle at the line.

Sheard missed the sack and Roethlisberger gets the ball to 83

D Bryant gets Bell for 4.

Ward gets Bell for a loss of a yard

Winn and Owens get Bell for no gain.

FGA 47 Nice curve ball kick is good.

PT 3 CL coming to bat.

Inc to Ogbonnaya.  He made a career decision not to catch it because he would have gotten blasted for no yards.

Bess with a nice catch and gets 5 after the catch

Gordon catches the crossing pattern and gets the ball to the PT 36

Pass to Cameron high and outside.

Barn false start -5

Ogbonnaya for 5 up the gut.

3-9 Pass to Bess for 5 yards when they needed 9

FGA 49 Cundiff connects

CL 3 PT 3

=

Good kickoff coverage gets PT at the 15

PT works on LB Carter in coverage.  Pass to Bell gets 9

Roethlisberger throwing short against the possible blitz.  Pass to Miller for 3.

Roethlisberger throw wide of Brown

Jackson gets Bell just short on the LTG

Roethlisberger tries to force the Browns offside but it doesn’t work.  Well done D.

1-10 @ CL 19 Capt. Checkdown is back.  Pass to Gordon for 2

Whittaker for 2

3-6 Campbell with a deep crossing route to Cameron to CL 39 yard line.

McGahee for 4 up the gut

McGahee gets a couple.  The O line not getting much push on the run.

3-3 Campbell catches PT in a blitz Ogbonnaya gets the pass and takes it to the PT 43

Ogbonnaya squeezes between tacklers for just 1.  No push again.

END OF THE 1ST QUARTER

 

Swing pass to Whittaker for 4

Heyward gets Campbell over 77 for the sack.  He can’t take a sack in that situation.  Bad blocking combined with a little indecision took the Browns out of FG position.

Lanning gets the ball inside the 8 and a penalty takes it further back.

1-10 PT 3 Bell for 5.  Can’t let them out of the hole/

Bell for 3 Jackson gets him.

3-2 Jackson jumps and knocks the pass down and almost picked it for a TD.

1-10 CL 47 Great vision + a good burst and nice block by Barn gets Ogbonnaya 11

1-10- pt 43 Pass to Cameron good for 4

Illegal snap on Mack 2nd 11

Screen is smelled out by PT and Campbell throws it away.

3-11 Campbell throws a 1 yard pass to Cameron and Pal read it and almost picked it.

=

1-10 PT 10 Pass for 4 Carter with the tackle.

Kruger read the screen and stopped it before the 1st was made.

3-2 Skrine lost Brown and he gets 12 and the 1st

1-10 PT 30 Great catch by Brown for 9 Haden with the tackle.

Jones gets 2 and the first against a tackle by Ward.

1-10 PT 41 Browns need to stop this drive to prevent the field being flipped on them.

Illegal Formation -5

1-15 Brown lost Haden and gets 15

1-10 CL 47 Pass is juggled by Brown but no pressure on Roethlisberger at all

2-10 5:27 left Ward gets Dryer after the 1 yard pass.

3-9 Total blitz gets pressure on Roethlisberger and the pass is thrown away.  1st time the Browns got pressure.

1-10 CL 13 Bubble to Gordon for 10.  He avoided two tackles to get the 1st.

1-10 23 Whittaker for 3. 3:51 left

Campbell got hit on the ankle on the roll out.  He is down and the injury seems to be the ribs.  THE BROWNS ARE DOOMED!

Weeden is booed as he comes on the field.  I wonder why?  LOL

3-7 Throw to Cameron is dropped.  That was not on Weeden.  The pass was a little hot but accurate.

=

14 yard return.

1-10 PT 48 3:17 left Bubble screen for 11 to Sanders

1-10 CL 41 TD by Brown on Haden.  Haden was 5 yards behind Brown.  No pressure on Roethlisberger at all.

PT 10 CL 3 2:33 left

1-10 CL 20 2:28 left Campbell to Gordon for 16

1-10 36 Heavy pressure on Campbell long pass is over Gordon’s head.

2-10 1:56 Gordon gets the pass and the 1st Out of bounds.

1-10 1:51 Ogbonnaya gets 5 but Pal ripped the ball out of his hands.  Ref gives the ball to PT.

=

1-10 PT 46 Horrible tackling on a 12 yard run

1-10 CL 42 2 Throws get the ball down to the CL 27

1-10 CL 27 0:37 left – Miller takes advantage of Sheard’s pass coverage and gets the pass into the 13

1-10 CL 0:20 CL TO Carder down.

2-10 C; 14 Haden knocks the pass to Brown at the endzone away

3-10 0:16 Bell drops the pass at the 5 after a Gipson hit.

FGA 32 Good.

PT 13 CL 3 0:07 left

HALF TIME

 

1-10 CL 20 Whittaker for 5 on the toss sweep

Campbell throws the ball away due to the pressure

3-5 They needed 5 but the pass is for 4 to Little.  Will Allen gets the tackle.  How many times have we seen the pass short of the LTG?

=

Great punt by Lanning for 49 yards under a lot of pressure.  Punt almost got the block.

1-10 PT 23 Long throw to Brown knocked away from Haden.

2-10 Ware gets the ball on a shallow cross and gets the 1st

1-10 34 Bell for 6 up the gut.  Eubanks on the tackle with Rubin.

Quick out to Sanders for 7 and the 1st

1-10 CL 49 Quick out again for 6

Bell for 3 to the CL 45

3-1 Dwyer brought down at the line by Kruger and Rubin.  No gain.

4-1 Dwyer again is called short and PT challenges.

1-10 CL 44 Campbell is BACK!  Gordon for 9 on the catch under the linebackers.

McGahee for a yard and the 1st.

1-10 PT 42  Allen gets Bess down after 3 on the flair pass

2-7 Campbell has nowhere to throw the ball and tosses it out of bounds.  Lots of pressure.

Campbell is blitzed.  He fumbles when he was hit by Gay and Allen recovers running the ball to the CL 4 Ogbonnaya with the tackle to prevent the TD.  Campbell is down again.  He walks off with help on both sides.  He was slugged in the jaw but that was not called.

=

Quick throw to Sanders for the TD.  He beat Skrine for the TD.

PT 20 CL 3  That is the game.  Thanks for coming.  Drive home safely and Goodnight.

Campbell is done for the day.  He got hit in the chin then hit his head on the ground.

Weeden at QB  OMG

Whittaker for 3

Weeden’s pass is tipped and inc.
3-7 Bess catches the ball a yard short of the LTG.  He was untouched but is hit in the head prior to rolling for the 1st.  No awareness at all even by the most veteran WR on the team.

4-inches Weeden sneaks to the 36 for the first’

1-10 6:02 Good throw to Cameron for the 1st.

1-10 48 Gordon gets the ball just before it hits the ground for 8

2-2 Whittaker gets 1

3-1 McGahee spins to get the 1st.  Good double team on the NT to get the 1st.

1-10 Pass way over Cameron’s head.

2-10 Throw to Little gets the 1st

1-10 PT 29

2-8 Pal gets away from another foul tripping Cameron but it is not called.

3-9 Another foul by Taylor on Bess is not called.  I WANT THE REPLACEMENT REFS.  At least they did not give the best team all the calls.

FGA No good the wind blows the ball sideways into the Dog Pound.

=

Cotchery is WIDE open and the Wind defends the pass.

Blitz by the Browns forces the quick throw but Skrine hits Bell and he drops the ball.

3-10 PT 47 Mingo hits Roethlisberger and forces the incompletion.

1-10 CL 18 Perfect throw to Little is dropped.

2-10 Ogbonnaya with the catch for 4

End of the 3rd quarter.

3-6  Pass WAY over the head of Bess.

=

1-10 PT 43 Bell runs left for 3

2-7 Bell for 3 more.

3-4 Bell gets the 1st at the CL 46

1-10 12:59 left Bell for 2 Rubin on the tackle.

2-8 Bell for 1 Jackson on the tackle

3-7 Sanders gets away from Owens for 10 and the first.

1-10 CL 33 Bell for 4

2-6 bell for 5

3-1 Bell for the 1st.

1-10 CK 22 Dwyer for 1

Reverse to Brown is caught for an 8 yard loss by Ward

3-18 Pass dropped by Dwyer.

4-18 7:02 left punt to the Browns 1

Other than a garbage time TD by the Browns nothing of importance happened in the last 7 minutes of the game.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Offense: 

One of the questions I asked on the NNR Preview Show Thursday was would we see the passive Capt. Checkdown Campbell that played against the Bengals or the Mr. Aggressive that beat the Ravens.  What we saw was Capt. Checkdown.  He looked timid and afraid of the Steeler pass rush.  Part of that could be the injured ribs but I suspect he really didn’t want to be there at all.  When he got knocked down the first time he came back into the game.  But the second time he stayed down.  Playing behind that O line should earn him some respect and extra hazard pay.

The 1st drive produced a FG but then the offense did nothing.  Maybe the coaches should script the entire first half.  Perhaps because of Campbell’s propensity to check down the script would not have helped.

One thing is totally clear to anyone that watched Campbell get slapped around by the Steelers.  The refs have to get consistent on roughing QB.  Campbell was hit in the head and driven head first into the ground.  No penalty was called.  I will have more to say about this tomorrow on the written version of NNR right here on http://fryingpansports.com

Weeden is Weeden.  When he came in for the injured Campbell the fans said in unison “We are doomed.”  On the positive side, Weeden was throwing the ball further down field.  It was about time because the score was 20-3.  But in Weeden fashion he threw some right on target and then some directly to the other color uniform.  His first throw was perfect but Cameron dropped it.  Weeden still has no touch on the ball.  The pass is a 99 MPH fast ball no matter if the receiver is 50 yards or 5 feet away.  A failure of both this and the previous coaching staffs is the inability to get Weeden to include some touch on his throws.

When his throws are 30 feet over the head or 10 yards short of the receiver, his bad mechanics are almost always at fault.  Here again I wonder why the coaching staffs have not fixed that.   The pick 6 Weeden threw was the result of him staring down TE Cameron.  All 9 of the Browns fans that were left at the end cheered him for the TD pass.  After the pick 6 the crowd cleared out like the stadium was on fire.

 

The receivers were non factors with the exception of Gordon.  The league has seen the impact that TE Cameron can have and are trying to take him out of the offense.  But someone has to step up and take pressure off of those two.

The O line is getting worse.  It allowed 5 sacks and contributed to 4 turnovers.  The more important issue was that it allowed the QB to be hurt twice.  Steelers even got pressure rushing 3.  That allowed them to put 8 into coverage.  The O line is not any better blocking for the run.  McGahee gets 1 yard consistently–even when you need 5 yards.       Ogbonnaya has lost fumbles in each of the last 2 games.  According to Coach Chud RB Rainey was cut for Special teams considerations to get Fozzy Whittaker on the team with his 18 yard kick return average.  Rainey is not a stud but has been productive in Tampa.                                     

 

Defense:

The biggest disappointment was the total lack of a pass rush.  Part of the issue was the ability of the Steelers to get good yardage on 1st and 2nd down.  That prevented the 3rd and long obvious passing situations that the Browns needed to get a good pass rush.  Even on a blitz the Browns could not get any pressure on Roethlisberger.  In the last 2 season he was the most sacked QB in the league.  It was not an outstanding effort by his O line although his protection has improved with Kelvin Beachum at LT.  The Browns did not show any of the aggressive play that helped defeat the Ravens.

 

Coming into the game the Browns ranked 32nd in red zone defense.  They also were 1st in yards allowed per play but that is a false statistic.  The NFL is a red zone game.  If you can score TDs and stop your opponent from scoring them in the red zone, you win.  If not, you lose.         The tackling was awful.  Even when a defender was in position to prevent a 1st down, too often a blown tackle allowed the chains to move.  RB Bell gave D piggy back rides all day.  On one play he carried 5 Browns for 3 yards and the first down.

The linebacker position has been a soft spot all year.  Even when the group was healthy they could not rush the QB effectively or cover backs and TEs running routes.

Skrine is still an issue on pass coverage.  And Gipson is useless in deep center field.  On the 43 yard TD to Brown it looked like Haden expected Gipson to cover deep.  Gipson tries but does not have the instincts to be the last line of defense.  He also does not wrap on a tackle.  He just hits with his shoulder to try to knock the receiver down.  Even Haden got beaten overall by Brown & Co.

Special Teams:  When your fans give you a standing ovation for getting a punt off, the special teams are not playing well.  The second FG attempt end up in the dog pound well to the left of the goal post.  The kick-off coverage was just OK and the on-side kick attempt was pathetic.

Coaching:  Tony Grosse (ESPN Cleveland) gave them an F.  I was thinking more of a Q.  Where was the game plan?

Front Office: My grade for this unit is a Z=.  The 2013 Draft class has produced almost nothing.  They knew that bringing Weeden back into the game would infuriate the fan base.  Despite having lost 2 QBs to injury when Hoyer went down, they made no effort to bring in another backup QB.   The RB situation is horrible and the O line is worse.  The big dollar defensive FAs have not produced much.

 

According to the Plain Dealer the Browns will sign QB Calib Hanie.  He is 28 years old and has not thrown pass since 2011.  He has started 4 of the 10 games in which he has played but has a 51% completion percentage and a 41.6 passer rate with 3 TD and 10 interceptions.  With those stats he should fit right in.

 

I have 2 questions about the front office.  First, will this well below expectations season make 2014 FAs like Haden leave rather than resign?  Second, despite the plethora of draft picks, why should the Browns fans have any faith in the front office to make good choices?

 

The Bottom line:  It was nice to have the Browns in significant games late in November.  However, the team looked ill prepared to compete for a playoff position.  Given the number of holes on the roster, that should not have been a surprise.  However, these games were hard to watch.

 

Unless the team has an incredible draft, it will not get any better any time soon.

 

That’s what I think.  Tell me what you think.

 

You can listen to the podcasts at http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ and hear NNR Live Mondays and Fridays at 6PM Eastern time on .  The Monday show is a review of the previous week and the Browns game.  The Friday show previews the upcoming games.

 

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.  Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts.  You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/ and the live show Mondays at 6 PM Eastern time on The Bill Smith Radio Show.  

He also edits .  

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.

 

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  • Author:
  • Published: Sep 4th, 2013
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on NFL AFC 2013 Preview

NFL AFC 2013 Preview

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nfl

 

AFC East

 

Bills:  The Bills starting quarterback is undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel.  This is not the way head coach Doug Marrone hoped to start his new job.  QB EJ Manuel might be ready in time.  WRs Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods are very good and the running game should be solid with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.  The line is solid but has no big name guys.  It should be fine.

The D has talent but has under preformed.  The team is also dealing with a switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4.  Last year’s big free agent Mario Williams failed totally playing his bas position of DE.  This year he will be moved to OLB.  That is something to watch.  DE Kyle Williams is one of the best linemen in the league.

The bottom line:  The only thing keeping the Bills out of 4th place is the Jets.

 

Dolphins:  QB Ryan Tannehill is improving and the receiver corps is better with the addition of Mike Wallace.  The injury to TE Dustin Keller is a problem.  The O line is just OK.  The defense has always been decent but ranked 22nd last year.  That is not good enough to challenge the Patriots.  Former CFL star DE Cameron Wake is outstanding.  MLB Dannell Ellerbe brings his Super Bowl ring to the team from the Ravens.  He is a very good addition.  CB Brent Grimes from the Falcons helps the back four.

The bottom line:  They will be 2nd in the division but out of the playoffs.

 

Jets:  What a mess!  HC Rex Ryan is in the middle of a fire storm.  QB Mark Sanchez is out and rookie QB Geno Smith completes as many passes to the defense as to his receivers.  RB Chris Ivory is capable but has never been the main ball carrier.  The receiver corps includes a one year wonder in Jeremy Kerley and a bunch of “never wases.”  2/5 of the O line is good.  The rest is injury prone and not that good.  The D has some good parts including DE Muhammad Wilkerson and OLB Calvin Pace.  They traded away their best player.

The bottom line:  The only good news is there is a good chance they will have the 1st pick in the 2014 draft.  That will not help Ryan keep his job.

 

Patriots:  The dress rehearsal was as bad as it could get with turnovers and dropped passes.  The talk of the Pats being fine is very premature.  Tom Brady is great but someone has to catch the ball.  WR Danny Amendola is fragile as fine china.  TE Rob Gronkowski is out indefinitely.  The rest of the group could not catch cold during a Boston blizzard.  The running game is OK as long as the line stays healthy.

The Pats D has not been a strength for awhile.  DT Vince Wilfork is outstanding and CB Aqib Talib is very good.  That is about all they have.

The bottom line:  The Pats will win the AFC Least but this is not a Super Bowl contender.

 

 

AFC North

 

Bengals:  The Bengals have gotten a lot better over the last couple of years.  But never forget they are the Bengals.  Many are picking them to win the division and some to go to the Super Bowl.  In order to get to the SB they have to win a playoff game.  The key question is can QB Andy Dalton led the team to a title.  I doubt it.  The O line is coming along and they added some weapons for Dalton.  A.J. Green is among the best WRs in the league.  RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been inconsistent.  They drafted RB Giovani Bernard to provide speed and the ability to catch the ball.  Dalton needs a strong running game.  But the Bengals still get flagged and turn the ball over at the worst times.

The Bengal D has been under appreciated for a couple of years.  The D line is top quality.  DT Geno Atkins and DE Michael Johnson are as good as it gets.  The LB group has been greatly improved by 2012 undrafted OLB Vontaze Burfict and the addition this year of ex-Steeler OLB James Harrison.  The backfield is solid with the exception of strong safety regardless of the outcome between George Iloka and Taylor Mays.

The bottom line:  The Bengals will battle the Steelers for a playoff spot.

 

 

Browns:  To quote former Cardinal HC Dennis Green “They are what we thought they were!”  Despite two outstanding preseason games by QB Brandon Weeden, the game against the Colts looked like any game in 2012.  Weeden has to stop staring down his receivers and must learn to deal with pressure in the pocket.  He did both against the Rams and Lions but got away with it.  That works in the preseason but not when the real games start.  Until he corrects those flaws the Browns will continue to struggle on offense.  RB Trent Richardson is the real deal but there is no depth behind him.  The O line has lost two starting OGs and was over rated by most before the injuries.  First time HC Rob Chudzinski has not used veteran Davone Bess much or speedster Travis Benjamin at wide receiver at all this preseason.  Is that a “Belichickian” plot to hide them or does the team not value their abilities?  The top WR Josh Gordon is suspended for the first two games of the season.  Third year wideout Greg Little is dropping passes and starting TE Jordan Cameron hurt his groin in the loss to the Colts.

The new 3-4 D has been better than expected but it still struggles to stop the run.  The team is putting a little more pressure on the opposing QB.  The LBs are going to have to cover TEs and RBs out of the backfield.  In the first two games they did well but blew a lot of coverages against the Colts.  The two big holes in the backfield are at CB opposite Haden and FS.  Without fixing those two positions the Browns will give up a lot of passing yardage.

The bottom line:  The Browns are still at the bottom of the best division in football.

 

 

Ravens:  The Ravens O has looked lethargic all preseason.  The first string finally scored a touchdown in preseason week three against the Panthers.  That is a bad sign for a team that gave QB Joe Flacco a big contract in the off season.  He has not been sharp.  The team has lost a lot of his targets from the Super Bowl run.  They lost starting TE Dennis Pitta for the season.  Veteran WR Anquan Boldin is gone too.  Without those key parts of the Super Bowl run both Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones will see many more balls this year.  The line returns in tact except for the retirement of long time C Matt Birk. So far the starting line has not played up the level of last year.  The running game is in good shape.

The defense is in transition because they lost so many key players.   Ray Lewis retired and free agency took its toll at all three levels.  DE Chris Canty, ILB Daryl Smith, Elvis Dumervil and FS Michael Huff are name brand free agents brought in to fill holes.  Getting corner Lardarius Webb back will help.  He was hurt most of last season.  CB Corey Graham and S James Ihedigbo were 2012 free agent signings that are expected to step up this year.  First round pick S Matt Elam may have to wait his turn but won’t wait long.

The bottom line:  There has been a lot of talk about how the defense is the biggest issue for the Ravens.  Expect the D to play at a championship level.  It is the offense that concerns the coaching staff.  The Ravens are still the best team in the division.  They should win it and be a force in the playoffs.

 

 

Steelers:  The team has had trouble scoring TDs rather than field goals for the last few years.  With the issues on the O line, that is not likely to change.  They have lost their top deep threat Mike Wallace to free agency and have suffered injuries at RB and TE.  QB Ben Roethlisberger can expect to get hit often and must stay healthy for the team to get to the playoffs.  The running game will be by committee until rookie Le’Veon Bell recovers from his Lisfranc injury.

The D is very good but fragile as fine china.  They have drafted a bunch of guys on this side of the ball that have yet to break into the starting lineup.  NT Steve McLendon is a weak spot on the line.  Rookie OLB Jarvis Jones looks good.  The pass D depends on Troy Polamalu staying healthy something he has not done in recent years.  The CBs are still questionable.  The front 7 is still solid and will stop most teams’ running games but sometimes struggle to pressure the passer.

The bottom line:  Penalties and mistakes by an over aggressive Ben Roethlisberer will determine how far the Steelers get in 2013.  They should be in position to get to the playoffs.

 

 

AFC South

 

Colts:  QB Andrew Luck carried the Colts on his back to a playoff spot last year.  The O should be better with free agents at both tackles.  The receivers drop a lot of balls.  Luck hopes that WR Reggie Wayne stays healthy.  Even at 34 he is a quality wide out.  The running game last year did not exist.  Do not expect to see it any time soon despite the signing of ex-Giant Ahmad Bradshaw.

The D struggled all last year but they drafted DE Bjoern Werner who should help.  They also spent big money signing free agents to shore up the D.  That should help.  The D will be better in 2013.

The bottom line:  The Colts will take a step back.  They have to likely win the division to get back to the post season.

 

 

Jags:  The biggest question about the Jags is can QB Blaine Gabbert ever become a legitimate NFL starter?  He was given some weapons last year like RB Maurice Jones-Drew only to lose them to injury.  This year he will face the first 4 games without his best WR Justin Blackmon who is suspended.  TE Marcedes Lewis is starting the season hampered by injury as well.  Jones-Drew needs to return to his 2011 production to give the O any chance to compete.  The line is not going to be much help.  RT 1st round draft pick Luke Joeckel is the best guy on that unit.

The best defensive lineman on the Jags is E Jason Babin who has changed teams 6 times in 10 years.  The second level is not much better with only middle backer Paul Posluszny being solid.  Safeties Dwight Lowery and Johnathan Cyprien are decent.  The corners are a work in progress.

The bottom line:  The Jags will be a top 2 draft pick in 2014.

 

 

Texans:  The team is worried about their bell cow RB Arian Foster who has missed the preseason.  He has had back issues.  FB Greg Jones comes in to block for Foster.  They run a lot.  The passing game was QB Matt Schaub to WR Andre Johnson.  They hope they have found a partner for Johnson in WR DeAndre Hopkins a 1st round pick this year.  He has missed time with injuries.  Schaub is good but not a top level QB.  He needs to prove he can lead the team to a title in crunch time.  The O line has blocked well for the run and pass.  Without Foster they struggle to score TDs in the red zone.

The D has been led by DE J.J. Watt.  LB was a weakness of the D last year when ILB Brian Cushing went down.  He is back and that will help.  The Texans seem to be able to beat the Bengals in the post season but don’t go any farther.  They need the D to help out more to get the team into the Big Game.

The bottom line:  This team is good enough to win it all but seem to have a mental block.  That block will likely keep them out of the Super Bowl again.

 

 

Titans:  QB Jake Locker is the most critical year of his short and underwhelming career.  He better get the team into the playoffs or he could be gone next year.  The line has been upgraded with the addition of free agent LG Andy Levitre and the drafting of RG Chance Warmack.  That is great news for RB Chris Johnson who hopes to get back to a 2000 yard season.  The receivers are not special.

The D was the 6th worse in the league last year but got younger.  Colin McCarthy and WLB Zach Brown are the strength of the front 7.  LCB Jason McCourty is solid but the rest of the backfield is questionable at best.

The bottom line:  This is a bad team with a coach on the hot seat.  It will take a couple more really good drafts to make them competitive in the AFC South.

 

 

AFC West

 

Broncos:  Yes there have been suspensions.  Yes there has been a player lost due to a bad fax machine.  But when the team has Payton Manning everything will be fine.  Manning will be better this year than last because he is one more year removed from the neck issue.  The team brought in WR Wes Welker from the Pats joining an already solid receiver group.  The line is not great but is good enough to protect their QB.  The running game is an issue.  Ronnie Hillman has not been impressive.  They drafted Montee Ball who was the Wisconsin offense in his first three years there.  He has been beaten up a lot in college but is a solid up the gut guy.

The D has taken a lot of hits.  But it was the 2nd best D last year and even if they fall a few spots the team will be fine.  They lost all pro DE Elvis Dumervil and star OLB Von Miller is suspended for 6 games.  DE Derek Wolfe is hobbled by injury.  The D still will be solid.  The front line will generate pressure and the back seven can cover.

The bottom line:  The Broncos will be back in the playoffs and could have home field advantage.  Payton won’t let another shot at the Super Bowl get away.

 

 

Chargers:  Phillip Rivers gets the credit for the wins and the blame for the losses of the team.  Neither is fair.  He has had little from the running game and an offensive line that seemed to always be replacing injured or departed starters.  He has also suffered from a lack of quality receivers.  He has regressed due to all those issues.  The keys for an average armed quarterback are anticipation and mechanics.  He has not trusted his receivers enough to throw to a spot.  The new offense will help him by giving him more defined reads.   This is the critical year for running back Ryan Mathews.  The former first round pick must prove he can produce and stay healthy all season.  He has the skills but when he is in the training room they are useless.  The primary targets will be tight end Antonio Gates and wide out Malcom Floyd.

The defensive line is solid especially at DE.  Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget provide pass rush and are effective against the run.  They signed former Colt DE Dwight Freeney who will move to outside linebacker.  That is not his natural spot and he may struggle.  The rest of the second level is nothing special despite the publicity that rookie Manti Te’o has gotten.  The unit could be much better if they can get Melvin Ingram back healthy.  FS Eric Weddle is one of the best in the game but the other spots are up for grabs.  It doesn’t matter much who win because they are all just guys.

The bottom line:  Despite having a quality QB this team is going nowhere.  It will require a huge rebuilding job to get the franchise turned around.  But they are better than the Raiders.

 

 

Chiefs:  The smartest thing the Chiefs did was to get a QB.  Alex Smith does not have a great arm or quick feet but compared to what the team has had the last couple of seasons, he is a gift.  He will get rid of the ball quickly and spread it around.  Both those qualities will help this team.  The one man that is most thankful for a passing game is RB Jamaal Charles.  The little man needs a passing game so he is not running against 47 guys in the box.  The top 3 receivers are very good.  If they can adapt to the new offense of Andy Reid they will flourish.  The line is just OK despite all of them being high draft picks.  LT Branden Albert is over rated.  Rookie 1st pick overall Eric Fisher is technically solid but seems to be sidelined with minor injuries.  RG Jon Asamoah can be special and is improving.

The defense is full of high draft choices that have not produced many wins.  DE Tyson Jackson was a second overall pick but has never become the dominant player they expected.  NT Dontari Poe is really coming along.  He can collapse the pocket through a double team.  The strength of the defense is the linebackers.  Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali all made the pro bowl last season.  Johnson is particularly dynamic.

The bottom line:  Reid and Smith will improve the club but this team is not ready to get to the playoffs yet.  There are just too many holes and over rated players.

 

 

Raiders:  “With the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select…”  This is the worst team in the league.  The bad trades, poor drafting and over paid and over rated free agents have taken their toll.  Exhibit A—free agent QB Matt Flynn.  The reason he was a 7th round pick is he has a rubber band for an arm and bad mechanics.  At least Terrelle Pryor has an arm and the feet to get out of trouble.  The receiver group is fast but has bad hands across the board.  The running game will be fair as long as Darren McFadden is healthy.  That has not been the case often in recent years.  The line is a disaster after budding star LT Jared Veldheer went down.  C Stefen Wisniewski is the best remaining lineman.

The expensive unproductive linemen have been removed from the Raider defense.  Only RE Lamarr Houston looks like a player and he is switching sides.  They brought in DT Vance Walker from Atlanta and he can handle the run.  Rookie OLB Sio Moore is an under rated player that will be very good.  Free agent Mike Jenkins looks good but they took a big risk on 12th pick overall CB D.J. Hayden.  He is the player that almost died on the college practice field last year.  He is a great story and a good kid.  But that is a BIG risk with the 12th pick.

The bottom line:  Unless the Raiders get really lucky they will get the first pick next year.  It is going to be a long year for Raider fans.

 

 

That’s what I think.  Tell me what you think.

 

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent.  He has also published several novels on .

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.

 

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  • Author:
  • Published: May 29th, 2013
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on I was right about Holmgren being a mistake.

I was right about Holmgren being a mistake.

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Browns2

 

In an editorial on Dec. 20, 2009 I reviewed the record of Mike Holmgren as GM of the Seahawks and ended by saying that he was not the right guy to lead the Browns back to competitiveness.  Now a respected former Brown, Reggie Rucker, said on 92.3 the Fan that Holmgren stole money from then owner Randy Learner.  Rucker said that Holmgren was “the last in and first out” of the building on the few days he made an appearance.

 

Let me make one thing clear.  In my opinion the fact that the team is better now than it was when Eric Mangini was running things is due to two factors.  First, it would be almost impossible to screw a team up any more than Mangenious did.  Trading the 5th overall pick to New York for a few used Jets was unforgivable.  Second, GM Tom Heckert made some good choices.  While I did not agree with the choice of Weeden, most of the rest of Heckert’s picks were fine.  Think about where the Browns would be if they had followed my advice and selected Russell Wilson as QB in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft.

 

Holmgren did nothing other than hiring Heckert.  Hiring an unproven and ill-equipped Pat Shurmur was just stupid.  Not only did he hire someone totally unprepared to do the job but then compounded the error by failing to give him the guidance to help him succeed.  The result was an offense that would have failed in an 8 year old league. 

 

Now Holmgren is gone.  I for one will add his name to the list of those against whom I will campaign if and when it comes up for Hall of Fame consideration.  The only other name on the list is Art Modell.  Neither of those two deserve to be in the Hall.

 

 

 

That’s what I think.  Tell me what you think.

 

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.  Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts.  You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

He also edits .  

To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.

 

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Thoughts about week 13 in the NFL

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Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles' coach, after t...

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles’ coach, after the Eagles’ training camp in Lehigh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

The Seahawks are really good.

I projected QB Wilson as the 3rd best QB prospect in the 2012 draft.  The Seahawks and I were both right.  He is not getting the pub that Luck and RG3 get but is playing just as well with fewer picks than Luck and more wins than RG3.  To go into Chicago and beat the Bears was a major step forward.  The Hawks will be a very tough out.

 

The Niners made the right decision about Kaepernick.

Kaep can do so much more than QB Smith ever could that the move in my opinion was overdue.  Kaep can throw down field and has the guts and arm to throw the ball into small windows.  While the running game and D will win a lot of regular season games, to win in the playoffs you need a QB to throw down field.

 

Even with two straight wins the Browns need to fire Shurmur after the season.

The Browns have beaten a Steeler team with a 90 year old QB fresh out of the retirement home and a Raider team that has a history of beating itself more often than winning.  Shurmur is still way too inflexible to be the coach long term.  His playcalls will continue to take points off the board and that will cost the team wins when they get good enough to challenge for the playoffs.

 

His unwillingness to give up the playcalling shows he is more about him than the team.  I am tired of watching the winning efforts unrewarded due to stupid calls by Shurmur.

 

Sanchez was a one year starter that was never worth a 5th overall pick.

I have never believed that a one year starter can be a quality NFL QB.  Sanchez waited behind a never was.  He was taken to the playoffs in his first two years by a quality defense and running game.

 

But Greg McElroy is not the answer.  The Jets need to get a new coach, GM and QB to become a factor in the AFC East.  I loved Tim Tebow coming out of college but he has never been given the reps he needed to become a starting quality NFL QB.

 

The Packers are too banged up to win a title.

The Pack needs a running game to balance their O and some help to solidify the defense.  LB Mathews being out has eliminated the pass rush.  The back 7 don’t have the coverage skills to compete against the quality QBs they will face in the playoffs.

 

Put a fork in the Eagles.  They are done.

Mike Vick is history and so is Andy Reid.  The owner will clean house after the season as he should.  Reid is not a bad coach but after 10 years the players tune out the coach.  He was also hurt by naming a friend and OL coach as DC.

 

The locker room has suffered by the influx of high priced UFAs.  The issue has been coaching as well as lack of vet leadership.

 

The Eagles need a new QB.  QB Foles is a great kid but is not ready and has limitations.  There is a reason he was a 3rd round pick in 2012.

 

That’s what I think.   Tell us what you think.

 

 

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .  Listen to the show Mondays 6-7:30 PM EST on or http://mooheadradio.com/2.5/?page_id=21.  You can catch any interviews you missed on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.

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