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  • Published: Aug 18th, 2013
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Can The Browns Breakthrough In The Tough AFC North?

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Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns (Photo credit: zoonabar)

In 2013, the AFC North enters the season as possibly the toughest overall division in the NFL. The division boasts the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the all-time Super Bowl leaders and a popular Super Bowl sleeper pick in 2013. Oh, they also have the Cleveland Browns, who are young and improving, but still waiting for a true breakout season. So can 2013 be the year they start to contend for the playoffs?

Whenever a team is forced to start a rookie quarterback and running back, they are in for a somewhat long season. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson did a pretty good job in 2012, but they did not have enough help to get them anywhere. With a year under their belt, things could be better for them, with Richardson particularly being seen as someone who can do a job for your team in fantasy football 2013.

After an off-season full of changes at the management and coaching level, the team seems to be quickly adjusting to the new way of doing things. They also have a young core that continues to grow, thanks to quite a few high draft picks in a row. New head coach Rob Chudzinski, along with his coordinators Norv Turner and Ray Horton, hope that their changes in the offseason and during camp will result in a few more wins.

While the Browns will be better, so will the rest of the division. Cincinnati made several improvements to their team, especially offensively, that should put them in the playoff and Super Bowl discussion. Baltimore, even if they have a true Super Bowl hangover, will still be solid, while Pittsburgh is, well, Pittsburgh. Despite an 8-8 season a year ago, the Steelers have had the Browns’ number for quite a few years now, so that will be a tough match-up.

While the other three teams in the division seem to have their quarterback for the foreseeable future, the Browns are still unsure about Weeden. At times, he looked good as a rookie. Other times, he looked like a guy who has already peaked. His play will probably end up determining whether or not the Browns can get into that 8-10 win range, or if another last place finish is in their future.

Thoughts about Black Monday in the NFL

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English: LOVIE SMITH, of the Chicago Bears, in...

English: LOVIE SMITH, of the Chicago Bears, in action during the Bears game against the Cleveland Browns on November 1, 2009 in Chicago, IL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thoughts about Black Monday in the NFL

 

Browns:  The one gift I had to wait for was the firing of HC Pat Shurmur.  I am not a fan of former Bronco HC McDaniel but he would be better than Shurmur.  Of the coaches expected to be released my choice for the Browns would be Ken Whisenhunt.  He is a D guy but a good coach that made the best of the bad personnel decisions made by a poor GM.  My second choice would be Lovie Smith if he is let go.  Both have been to a Super Bowl and would run a tight ship without being a dictator.

 

I have mixed feelings about GM Tom Heckert being fired.  While he has by far done the best job of any GM the team has had since 1999 that is not a very high standard.

 

Cowboys:  They are out of the playoffs thanks to QB “Captain Collapse” (I want a copyright on that phrase) Tony Romo.  It will not cost his HC a job but this team has underperformed for years.  Maybe Jerry should think about firing his GM—himself.

 

Cardinals:  Ken Whisenhunt deserved better than he is going to get.  He deserved to have an NFL caliber QB.  But the blame for the collapse belongs on the shoulders of GM Rod Graves.  All indications are it was his choice to trade for QB Kevin Kolb.  Graves did not choose wisely.

 

Bears:  The Bear cubs are the first team to start a season 7-1 and not make the playoffs.  The total collapse of the O line and injuries on the D ended any chance of the playoffs.  HC Lovie Smith may be fired but deserves better.

 

Chiefs:  There is no hope for fans of the KC Chefs.  They will be cooking up another bad batch of BBQ because they fired HC Crennel but kept inept GM Pioli.  If the GM stays look for the Chefs to hire ex-Bronco HC McDaniel.  McDaniel will want to try to recover the career of QB Cassel.

 

Chargers:  The firing of both HC Norv Turner and GM Smith are 2 years too late to prevent the need to rebuild rather than tweak the roster.  Under less than brilliant leadership of these two the team got old and inept.

 

Jaguars:  Who cares?  GM Smith was fired but it looks like HC Mike Mularkey may be safe for now.  This team is dying as quickly as the town in which it plays.

 

Eagles:  HC Andy Reid is out.  He will not be unemployed for long unless he decides to take a year or two off.  He is a very good coach but 14 years is long enough for any coach to grow stale.

 

Jets:  The team fired GM Mike Tannenbaum but not HC Rex Ryan.  Frankly both should have gone.  The team needs to produce more and talk a lot less.

 

Panthers:  Some changes are not for the better.  This team fired HC Fox 2 years ago and now may fire Ron Rivera.  Rivera is doing the best he can with a less than stellar roster.  He has a hc (head case) at QB and a lot of holes on the team.

 

 

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 https://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .  

Christmas gifts for NFL Teams.

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Photo of Cleveland Browns head coach Sam Rutig...

Photo of Cleveland Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano around 1979. Taken in the team’s lockerroom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christmas gifts for NFL Teams.

 

AFC

Browns:  I give the Browns a head coach that will let Weeden be Weeden.  Shurmur is way too much of a control freak to allow his QB to even audible out of a bad play.  He has to go.

 

Steelers:  The team needs an offensive line.  Being a Browns fan I give them a subscription to Direct TV so the players can watch the playoffs on the team set.

 

Bengals:  I give them a steep decline of both the Steelers and Ravens.  That not only helps them but helps the Browns as well.

 

Ravens:  I wish the Ratbirds nothing but bad luck forever.  They stole the Browns and deserve to suffer for it.  I also wish that former Browns owner Art Muddle never gets elected to the HOF.  He deserves to be elected to the hall of infamy.

 

Chiefs:  The team needs a QB.  But the 2013 draft class is not stocked with sure fire QB prospects.  They “won” the first overall draft pick by being a team that could not beat the Sisters of Perpetual Misery.  That must be the school where they got both QBs Cassel and Quinn.

 

Chargers:  I give them a coach that has a sense of urgency to win and a new GM as well.  HC Norv Turner has sleepwalked through several seasons.  It is WAY past time for him to go.  GM Smith has not chosen wisely.

 

Broncos:  For a Browns fan, wishing anything good to Denver is hard.  But I would like to see Payton Manning get a 2nd Super Bowl win.  He deserves it.  If not, he should get the football version of the movie Career Achievement Award.  He is a sure first ballot HOF selectee.

 

Colts:  My wish for the Colts is that coach Chuck Pagano recovers fully from his illness.  He deserves to and the team under interim HC Bruce Arians has earned a playoff spot.  Arians deserves to be a candidate for a HC job based not only on his job as interim but also his offensive expertise.

 

Texans:  I wish the Texans a heart.  To lose games at home like they have is inexcusable.  They have a very solid QB and great RB so how do they score 6 points last week against the Vikes.

 

Titans:  A do-over on the decision to let a great HC go.  Letting HC Fisher go was stupid.  They have a good running back in Johnson.  His only problem is being slowed down by a over-stuffed wallet.  QB Locker needs better coaching to get up to an NFL starting level.

 

Pats:  My wish for the Pats is early retirement of QB Brady.  I want to see if Brady made Belichick or if it was the other way around.  My guess is Billy B will not find it as easy to win without a HOF QB.

 

Bills:  The Bills are in need of just about everything.  But most of all they need a QB.  Fitzpatrick has the head but not the physical skills to be successful.

 

Jets:  For them I wish a muzzle.  If I never heard the word Jets again it would be WAY too soon.

 

 

 

NFC

Giants:  I wish the Giants better health in 2013.  The team always seems to be decimated by injuries.  The question that keeps recurring is that the result of bad luck or an outcome of practice techniques.

 

Cowboys:  I wish them and Jerry Jones a nice off season.  It will be longer because JJ can’t select the right people in the draft and will not give up his role as GM.

 

Eagles:  My gift to them is the luck to find a coach good enough to last 14 years like Reid.  That will not be an easy job.  I also wish coach Reid the peace he deserves.  He has suffered a lot over the last few years.  He is a good man and deserves better.

 

Redskins:  I wish the Skins a healthy RG3 for the future.  He is fun to watch and I hope he can continue to play for a long time.

 

Bears:  I wish the team and QB Cutler better OL play.  He has been beaten badly game after game.  He deserves better protection.

 

Lions:  I wish the Lions a brain.  They are way too talented to continue to play stupid football.

 

Vikes:  This team needs a QB to take pressure off of RB Peterson.  Ponder is not the answer in my opinion.

 

Saints:  The team needs some closure on the bounty scandal.  The scandal and its publicity have destroyed the 2012 season of a good team.

 

Bucs:  I wish QB Freeman some WRs that can catch.  With an outstanding young RB like Martin, some quality receivers would really help the O.

 

Cards:  I give coach Whisenhunt a job with a better GM than he has at Arizona.  He is a great coach but GM Graves couldn’t find a QB in the Football Hall of Fame.  My first choice for the Browns would be Whisenhunt.

 

49ers:  I wish them luck with QB Kaepernick.  He is solid and will develop into a top 5 QB.  Like RG3 he is fun to watch as well.

 

Seahawks:  They already got their gift in 3rd round QB Russell Wilson.  As I said in my pre-draft radio shows he was the 3rd best QB in the 2012 draft and will be a champion before he is done.

 

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 https://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .  

Thoughts about week 15 of the NFL

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Thoughts about week 15 of the NFL

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher at ...

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher at the White House- Cropped from original image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The 49ers with Kaepernick are for real.

The win over the Pats was very impressive.  Kaepernick put the team in position to blow out the Pats but the D struggled to keep up the pressure on Brady.  It was the D that gave up the 4 TD lead but Kaepernick ended the game with a TD.  This team is nearly ready to go for it all.  The change from Smith to Kaepernick should have been made earlier in the season.

 

The Jets are a joke that is not funny.

The issue with the Jets is not only QB Sanchez but the roster’s lack of talent.  Mike Tannenbaum Jet’s GM has blown drafts and free agent signings.  HC Ryan is not the best coach in the league but deserves better players.

 

Sanchez was never a favorite of mine because he had only one year of starting at USC.  If he could not beat out John David Booty who was a 5th round pick, what made Tannenbaum think he was worth a top 10 pick?

 

The Browns are not and never were a hot team.

The Browns’ three game winning-streak was against the Steelers with a 97 year old QB that was sitting at home watching the league on TV a week before he started and two of the worst teams in the NFL.  This team is badly coached and hopefully for the fans that will be resolved after the season by the new owner Jimmy Haslam.  However, in my opinion Lombardi is not a quality candidate for the GM spot.

 

Watch out for the Seahawks.

QB Wilson is the real deal.  I told you that in the middle of the 2011 college season and often since.  He has the arm, head and mobility to take this team all the way unless the coaching gets in the way.  The D is solid and when they get their CBs back is as good as any.  At home this team is nearly unbeatable.

 

The Giants are in trouble.

The Skins are playing well.  Even the Cowboys seem to have overcome some QB and HC issues to become a contender rather than the pretender we have seen for several years.  If WR Bryant can stay on the field and be even close to effective, this team will challenge for a playoff spot.

 

The Giants on the other hand are suffering with below average QB play and a boatload of injuries.  Even some of the best coaching in the league cannot save this season.  QB Manning has suffered from a lack of protection and drops by usually reliable receivers.

 

The Bengals are in at this point and the Steelers are out of the playoffs.

The Cincy D is playing well and QB Dalton has solved his footwork issues for the most part.  He is playing consistent ball and living within his limitations of arm strength.  This is not a Super Bowl team yet but it can make the playoffs for a second consecutive season.  That has not happened in a long time.

 

The Steelers are in serious trouble.  They have to beat the Bengals and that will be a problem.  QB Roethlisberger is back but he is not healthy.  The team has an injury plagued D and a running game that is fumble prone.  Even if they back into the playoffs, they will not be a factor.

 

The Falcons need the home field advantage more than any other team.

The Falcons are as inconsistent away from home as any team in the league.  That is in part due to an average D that plays better at home.  If the Falcons get HFA throughout the NFC playoffs they will have a shot at the Super Bowl.  If not they will lose again.

 

The Texans are capable of great or terrible games.

When the Texans lean too much on the passing game they get in trouble.  They have one of the top 2 RBs in the league.  They have to keep the ground game going to keep winning.  QB Schaub is good but can’t carry the team alone.  They need to keep running with Foster.  The D is good enough to win it all but this team may not get there this season.

 

The Broncos are my choice as the best team in the AFC IF…

The IF is can Manning stay healthy?  If so, the team can go far and win both at home and on the road.  If not the team is done.  He has made the WRs much better and helped a less talented OL look good.

 

Coaching changes to look for after the season

The Cardinals will fire Ken Whisenhunt which is a shame.  I doubt it was his choice to staff the QB position with duds.  It is the GM that should be canned.  Whisenhunt is a good coach and will not be unemployed long.

 

The Browns will fire Shurmur and the staff.  Only DC Jauron may stay but that is doubtful.  My preference would be a vet NFL coach but that is not likely to happen.  No top drawer coach will want to come unless Haslam charms him with his great personality.

 

The Jags and Chiefs will change coaches as well.  Both teams have under produced and the Jags new ownership wants progress.  Chiefs’ coach Crennel is a nice guy but is not head coach material.  He will get a job as DC somewhere.

 

The Eagles have already made it clear that HC Reid is gone.  That has more to do with the team tuning out his voice than his coaching ability.  He made a couple of critical staff mistakes that hurt and the fall of Mike Vick did not help.  Reid is a solid coach that will resurface as soon as he wants to work again.

 

The Chargers will replace HC Norv Turner.  He was lucky to have kept his job this long.  He has coached his way out of the league.

 

The Bills may change coaches as well.  Chan Gailey has been the coach since 2010 and has not won much since.  He has been struggling with QB Fitzpatrick but so far the QB is inconsistent.  The team brought in FA DE Williams to help the D but that has not resulted in wins.  The GM Nix’s job is in jeopardy as well.  When you trade for QB Tarvaris Jackson you need QB help and that is not it.

 

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 https://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

He edits .  

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