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.

NNR at 6PM EDT follows the Moohead show at 5PM on  If  you cannot hear the show when Moo ends, press the join event button to hear the show and be able to ask questions written of Papa or his guests.

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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

He edits .  


A plan for rebuilding the Cleveland Browns

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Where do the Browns go from here?

The Browns are now 3-5 and their chances of winning any more games are small.  They might steal a win from either the Jags or the Rams but the way they are playing there is no chance they can win any of their last 5 games.  Even the trip to the Cards on week 15 seems like an impossible win.

So the question is what do they do now and how do they proceed to prepare for 2012?  Here
is a plan.  The D has played fairly well despite being pushed around last week by the Texans.  The big issues are on offense.

  1.  The key issue is can the team win with Colt McCoy at QB?  I think they have decided that the QB must be replaced.  But this team is not likely to draft a QB in the first round.  The problem is this—When you pick a 2nd or 3rd round QB you get a guy with a great arm that could not hit the state of Ohio from downtown Columbus or a guy with good to very good accuracy but no stronger arm than McCoy’s.            Will  either of those guys do the Browns any good?   Probably not.  The Browns  have been the great arm 0 accuracy route with Anderson.
  2. They need to limit the playbook to the shotgun formations, go 2 TE 1 RB, and put Cribbs in motion as the flanker to  help Colt get a better pre-snap read of the D.  That will also allow him an additional half second to throw the  ball.  The WRs MUST run more accurate patterns and all plays that require the WR to stop and wait for the ball must  be eliminated from the playbook.  The West Coast Offense depends on hitting a moving WR with a short pass then  generating additional yards after the catch.
  3. Sign RB Hillis with FB money.  They MUST draft a RB high in 2012.  They let FB Vickers go and so far FB Marecic is a big time bust.
    He will not get any offer from another team because he is a one year wonder.  His injuries this year have eliminated
    any market value he might have otherwise had.  He is a victim of too many carries last season and the Madden
    Curse.  He is a good kid that has been in limbo all season due to injuries and his pending free agency.  If he refuses to sign a reasonable deal, the team should put him on IR and see what they can do next season.  He has been a valuable FB and can be
    again.  He catches the ball well and is an effective blocker.
  4. Promote RB Smith from the practice squad and start him.   He is the only back with any speed.
    He can be very effective running draws and sweeps out of the gun.  He has the speed to break a wheel route or
    draw for big yards as well.
  5. Put WR Massaquoi on IR.  He has suffered 3 concussive episodes in the last 2 games.  He needs to go on IR to protect his health.  I am not sure if he will ever be an effective WR but he must be healthy before the team can determine his long term ability to help the team.
  6. Put both WRs Norwood and Mitchell must get on the field.  Norwood has shown he can get open and catch
    the ball in the few opportunities he has had.   Mitchell is the only WR with great speed and size.  He must get a shot because this team has no one that can stretch the D.  They should  check on getting one more vet WR from those available.  Even WR Moss would help the team this year and help the evaluation of McCoy by providing a reliable guy that still has the speed to get deep and stretch the D.  A vet would also help develop the younger guys.  Say what you want about Moss.  He has a work ethic that no one questions.
  7. Most important, Pres. Mike Holmgren is going to have to take a much more active roll n the team.  HC Shurmur has proven that
    the combination of his duties of both HC and offensive coordinator are WAY too uch for him to handle.  He has held onto
    the job of OC because he is comfortable with that function.  He has failed to supervise the correction the pecial teams’ issues and the execution of the O has been abysmal.  Holmgren has to do the parts of the HC job that Shurmur cannot or will not do.
    Holmgren put his desire to be in the Hall of Fame on the line with his hire of Shurmur.  Now he has to step in
    to prevent the entire franchise and his hopes for election to the HOF from going up in flames.
  8. The team needs to draft a RB and a fast WR in the first round of the 2012 draft.  Given a 4 or 5 win season, they
    may be in a position to take RB Richardson of Alabama.  That would give them a combination of speed
    and power the team has not had since Hall of Fame RB Leroy Kelly.  They should take a QB with the 2nd
    round pick.  At this point it is possible that QB might be Griffin (Baylor) or Cousins (Michigan St.).  Both of these players have issues but would be a great improvement over the Browns current backup.
  9. The team MUST be more active in free agency in 2012.  This team has multiple needs on D and O that
    no amount of draft choices can fill.  Here is the problem with the draft only philosophy of the Browns.  By the time that you finally have enough good picks to fill the holes you will lose the 2009 and 2010 picks because they will be tired of losing and hearing “rebuilding is a process.”  If the team is not at least 8-8 by the end of 2012 it risks losing the fan base as well.   No team has been as inept and badly run over the last decade as the Browns.  Even the Bengals have won the division and gone to the playoffs in the last 5 years.  This fan base is dwindling because the team since its return in 1999 has been a disaster.

These moves will not do a lot of good in generating wins this year.  But this team is not going anywhere this season.  The one sure
full time job in sports talk in Northeast Ohio is the NFL Draft analyst.  Because within 2 or 3 weeks of the beginning of the season the fans are wondering what we should do with our early draft pick the next year.  The draft is the Browns fans’ Super Bowl because it is the only thing we have to look forward to.


That’s what I think.   What do 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 a non-fiction work at

He edits  Also listen to the best Sports Talk anywhere on the Internet and hear
his sports show Monday-Friday 6-8 PM EST on
.   You can be part of the show by calling our Herbalife Hotline at 216-539-0607.

The 49ers need be more like their coach.

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Head coach Mike Singletary was known for 3 things—his love of the game, his intensity, and his knowledge of the game and everyone of his opponents. His team needs those qualities in order to change the culture of the team. The 49ers were once the team of the decade. But in the last few years it has become the team of decline.

One of the last things that the previous administration did was to use its 1st pick on QB Alex Smith. Smith has a history of injury and inconsistency that drove the previous coach mad and then into the unemployment line. Singletary allowed Smith to compete with Shaun Hill for the starting job. Hill won the job and Smith has had his last shot at winning over the team in SF. Hill has a below average arm but is more accurate and less injury prone than Smith. Singletary is a coach that will fit the system to the players that he has. The 49ers use a version of the West Coast offense that relies on timing of short and medium passes and a strong running game.

The running game is very strong with Frank Gore being the leading character in the offense. Gore is able to squirt through tiny holes and break long gains with a combination of great vision and quick feet. The knew that Gore has been overused in the last few seasons and drafted Alabama rookie Glen Coffee to carry some of the load. Both Gore and Coffee hit the hole quickly and are North South backs. Former Penn State QB Michael Robinson is also in the mix and has been used as a short yardage back and on 3rd downs.

The team has not given either QB much in terms of a reliable group of WRs and that has hurt their development. This year the team drafted WR Michael Crabtree from Texas Tech. But the combination of a broken bone in the foot and an extended holdout have reduced the chance he will be a factor this year. Isaac Bruce was the team’s leading receiver last year despite his age. Three younger players are contesting for playing time. Josh Morgan has the best shot to start. Brandon Jones and Jason Hill are right at his heals. The winner will be the one that produces yards after the catch and holds onto the ball the best. TE Vernon Davis has been inconsistent catching the ball as well but has speed and is a better blocker than people give him credit for supporting the running game.

The O line has been a problem for years. Things didn’t get better when former all pro Marvel Smith retired unexpectedly. They hope LT Joe Staley will prove his big new deal is money well spent. C Eric Heitmann is the best of the group. Journeyman Barry Sims has beaten out Adam Snyder to start at RT. That is not a good sign. LG David Baas has started at G and C but has not proven himself at either position. RG Chilo Rachal,a 2nd round pick as was Baas, looked better at USC than he has in SF. Both have to get it done this year to be around in 2010. There is quantity but not quality on the bench.

When Singletary took over, he changed the team to a 3-4. That improved their overall performance. RE Justin Smith plays the run and pass very well. The team does not have a true NT. Aubrayo Franklin does his best but gets washed out of the play too often. He is much more of a 1 gap player. LE Isaac Sopoaga is barely adequate at E and less than that at NT. Rookie Demetric Evans and vet Kentwan Balmer are in the rotation. This group needs to be better at keeping the LBs free to run to the ball.

The linebackers will be LOLB Manny Lawson, LILB Takeo Spikes, RILB Patrick Willis, ROLB Parys Haralson. Lawson was drafted to be the rush linebacker but has not produced yet. Willis is a pro bowl IB but Spikes starts because there just isn’t anyone else. He does help with leadership and keeping the D focused. Haralson is below average.

The only part of the D backfield that Singletary can count on is CB Nate Clements. The team signed well traveled Dre’ Bly to compete with Tarell Brown for the other CB spot. The competition is too close to call since Brown returned from a toe injury. The loser will become the nickel back and Shawntae Spencer will be the dime. The safety spots are in worse shape. SS Michael Lewis is solid against the run but can’t cover a grandmother with a walker. FS Dashon Goldson is the next in line to prove he can play the position. Former FS Mark Roman has proved he can’t. CB Marcus Hudson has had a few good moments but not enough to assure his inclusion in the 53 man roster.

OVERALL: The 49ers have to be better in the draft because Singletary will get the maximum out of the players he has. He deserves a better roster than he was given. The team should be better than the Rams and but has a way to go before they can challenge either the Cards or the Seahawks.

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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