Browns vs Bengals: The Browns fans finally have hope for a brighter future for the team.

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Browns vs Bengals

Browns vs Bengals

Last week you had to take a number because there was a long line waiting to jump off the I90 bridge after the Browns lack of offense.  In that line were several of the Browns defensive players and coaches.

Week 2 took the team to Cincinnati to face the division foe Bengals.  The offense looked much better.  While the team ended up losing the second straight game, both QB Brandon Weeden and RB Tony Richardson showed the talent you hope every first round draft pick has.

The lack of coverage by the defense allowed the Bengals to win the game but for the first time in a long long time there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  And I do not believe it is an oncoming train.

The first great sign is the new owner Jimmy Haslam.  One of the things that I have talked a lot about on my radio show is the organizational lack of urgency to win.  My Dad was a smart guy.  One of the early lessons he taught me was there is a fine line between being laid back and laid out.  And you better know which side of that line you are on.

I am sure that Holmgren is a great guy.  But he has never proven his ability to lead an organization to win.  He was hired by the Seattle Seahawks as the GM and head coach.  He was relieved of his GM responsibilities due to a poor record of drafting quality players.  Before he was hired in Cleveland as team President, I warned my readers about his lack of success as anything other than head coach.

I believe that Mr. Haslam will inject the entire organization with an urgency to win.  That will be a gift to the long suffering Browns fans.

Weeden looked a lot better against an under rated Bengal defense.  He threw for more than 300 yards for 2 TDs and no interceptions.  He still makes great throws that get dropped by the young wide receiver corps.  But both the QB and the WRs are getting better.  With good coaching, Weeden has the talent to become a good NFL QB.

RB Richardson has extraordinary talent.  When I rated him as a potential draft choice, he ranked just behind Adrian Peterson overall.  Sunday, he gave us a glimpse of that talent.  He caught the ball, made tacklers miss and got into the endzone twice.  He also provided a running threat.  The West Coast Offense depends a lot on play action.  With no running threat last year the opponent linebackers laughed when Browns’ QBs faked to the RB.  Now they have to respect the running game.  That allowed the middle of the field to open up for Weeden.

So while the Browns are 0-2, there is for the first time hope of brighter days ahead.  Give the new group a little time to get things turned around.  It looks like we are finally headed in the right direction.

That is what I think.  Tell me what you think.

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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 and was a senior writer for .  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at

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Around the NFL for Wile Card week.

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The Coaching carousel spins.

Redskins—Zorn is gone. Former Denver coach Shanahan is in and has total power. See there is not a “no win” policy in Washington. Shanahan is smart and will get a lot more out of the talent that is there. The biggest problems with the Redskins are the O line and QB. The D is solid but has suffered because it has been on the field nearly 40 minutes a game. Shanahan will get the running game going and will move on from QB Campbell soup can.

Browns—Mangenous is still there. Browns Pres. Holmgren announced today that Mangini and his minions will be given one more season. Most observers had hoped that the team would at least demote or fire OC Daboll because he was clearly over his head in that spot. Holmgren is an offensive coach and all the Browns fans can hope is that the he will be puppet master calling the shots for the O.

There are a couple of things going on here that made that decision reasonable. First, there is a 75% chance that there will be no NFL football in 2011. For all the reasons I have published here months ago, there will be no agreement in time to prevent an uncapped year in 2010 and little chance that the two sides will agree to a deal before the drop dead date early in 2011.

The second reason is that I believe the rumors that have Jon “Chuckie” Gruden joining the team after football returns as head coach of the Browns. I would love that combination. I believe it would finally turn the team around. Both Holmgren and Gruden realize what a big job this is going to be. But both thrive in turn around jobs.

Steelers—The staff of coach Tomlin is paying the price for the team not making the playoffs. OL coach Zierlein and not so special teams coach Ligashesky have been fired. This is a move to take some heat off the HC chair. If the team comes around next season, Tomlin will keep his job. If not he will be the next one to get the pink slip out of Steel town.

Giants—O line coach Waufle was fired yesterday. The O line was one of the best in the league in 08 but disintegrated in 09. It caused QB Manning to run for his life on almost every play. The way the team rolled over and died late in the season, the O line is not the only problem. Look for more changes in the Big Apple.

Bears—The Bears fired OL Luke Butkus and quality control/wr assistant coach London. The problem on the O line was age not coaching. OT Williams was the only top 3 round pick in the last 6 years for the team. C Kreutz is a year past serviceable, Gs Garza and Omiyale are “never was” guys that are below starting quality and RT Shaffer is a journeyman. The WR problem is lack of WRs. The combination of Bennett, Davis and Hester don’t equal one #1 NFL quality guy.

Chiefs—Kansas City is trying to become “Patriots West.” As I have written before the only way that coach Haley saved his job was to bring experienced coordinators in like training wheels on a bike. Former ND and Pat OC Weis has been named OC. Look for current DC Pendergast to be the next causality. There are rumors that ex-Brown coach Crennel will be named DC. That might give Haley enough experience on his staff to make up for his lack of it.

The INs and the OUTs.


Jets—The Jets got REALLY lucky being scheduled in their last 2 games against two teams that had already clinched their playoff position. The Jets won those games and they are in. They are playing a little better than they were earlier in the year but you can’t go far with a rookie QB at the helm unless you come from Pittsburg.

Ravens—The Birds won the games they were supposed to win to get WC spot. They are matched up against the Pats and that should be a great game.

Cowboys—Who says threats don’t work to motivate players and coaches? JJ threatened to blow up the team and start over if they missed the playoffs and the team responded. They beat the Eagles easily to win the NFC East. Let’s see how far they go. They will meet the Birds again in the Wild Card round.

Packers—The Pack beat the Cards easily and that will be the Wild Card game. The Cards rested a number of players that were nicked up. They will play this weekend.


Broncos—After a 6-0 start, the team disintegrated going 2-8 and failed to make the playoffs. It was only the 2nd team since the playoffs were expanded to 12 team to go 6-0 and not make the big dance. The problem is the head coach. He ticked off his all pro QB Cutler so badly that he was forced to trade him. Then he benched his all pro WR Marshall twice losing all those games. McD is not qualified to be head coach of a peewee team.

Texans—This team is just not talented enough to be much over .500. They have had some good drafts in the early picks but not enough guys contributing from the middle and late rounds to get over the hump.

Dolphins—One of my readers asked why I didn’t talk more about the Dolphins. Here you are. The Fish amazed everyone in 2008 going from the 1st overall draft pick to the AFC East championship. This year they were scheduled against other playoff teams and that and key injuries to their QB and RB proved to be too much to get to the playoffs for a 2nd year in a row. They are a really good team that has found their QB of the future in Henne.

Steelers—A Steeler team that can’t run the ball won’t make the playoffs. They are going to have to solve the O line problems to both protect the QB and create holes for the RBs. Their D missed Polamalu most of the season. The D has become far too dependent on him to correct mistakes that the other players make.

Giants—A combination of injuries and guys getting old in a hurry killed their chances for the playoffs. This team will be reworked in a big way in the off season.

Falcons—This team was another surprise in 08 that failed to make the dance in 09. They are getting better but had a lot of injuries that hurt its chances of making the post season.

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 is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

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