Monday, October 26, 2009

Mangini sticks with Anderson

Coach Eric Mangini is conducting his Monday press conference at this moment. He said he is sticking with Derek Anderson as his starting quarterback despite the fact Anderson has completed only 23 of 70 passes the last three games.

"He gives us the best chance," Mangini said.

Mangini said dropped passes and breakdowns in pass protection have factored into Anderson's poor numbers.

The cries to switch back to Brady Quinn are growing louder and so is the suspicion the Browns are holding him back because if he plays 70 percent of the snaps an $11 million bonus kicks in. Mangini, not surprisingly, insists that isn't the case.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Browns hit new low

Usually something good comes out of a Browns game, but not Sunday. Oh, wait! That's wrong. Dave Zastudil put four more punts inside the 20. He has a league high 25 punts inside the 20.

There are no playmakers on offense and without D'Qwell Jackson at linebacker the Browns could not stop Ryan Grant. He rushed for 148 yards. He did not break 100 yards before Sunday,

It's time to use Brady Quinn again. It can't get worse than this. It isn't all Derek Anderson's fault, but 23 completions in 70 attempts is not going to win any games.

The Browns have 11 draft picks in April. Unfortunately seven of them are after the third round. They need about 50 picks.

Wright playing, tight end shortage

Eric Wright will start against the Packers today. Early Friday morning Wright totaled his Mercedes in a one car accident when he lost control of his vehicle getting on a freeway entrance ramp. He injured his right shoulder and did not practice Friday.

. . . The Browns are really hurting at tight end. Greg Estandia is starting because Steve Heiden (knee) and Robert Royal (hamstring) are inactive . . . Phil Dawson is on the inactive list. The veteran kicker is missing his fifth straight game because of a calf injury.

. . . The Browns should be able to put heat on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Starting left tackle Chad Clifton is inactive with a knee injury. Starting center Jason Spitz is on the active list, but he isn't healthy enough to start. Scott Wells is starting instead. Look for Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers to have a good game. The Browns should be able to shut down Packers runner Ryan Grant.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Give Eric Wright a break

Cruel fans are piling on Eric Wright for being in an accident early Friday morning on his way home from a Jay-Z concert at The Wolstein Center.

All I can say is the person looking back at them in the mirror must cast a pretty nice reflection. They must have a perfect driving record, too.

The Cleveland police investigated and came to the conclusion no drugs or alcohol were involved. The road was wet, his car hydroplaned and he lost control. Wright probably should have been driving slower than 60 M.P.H. going around the curve on I-490, but that was his only fault.

And I wonder - does everyone criticizing him wear their safety belts all the time? Wright was wearing his. It saved his life. Wright is a good guy. Somebody from the State Highway Patrol should ask him to do a public service announcement about wearing seat belts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trade Quinn if return is right

We are six games into 2009 and with each passing game it becomes more and more evident the quarterback of the future isn't in a Browns uniform. So the Browns should trade Brady Quinn before the 4 p.m. deadline today - but only if they get enough in return.

If Coach Eric Mangini can get a second-round pick for Quinn he should make the deal. Waiting until the draft next year could increase Quinn's value because so many teams need quarterbacks - the Bills, Rams, Panthers and Titans among others. Those teams could try to outbid each other. But the opposite could happen. If the Browns finish badly enough to get a top five pick in the draft they will be in position to draft Jake Locker from the University of Washington or Sam Bradford from Oklahoma - although Bradford's right shoulder is a red flag.

Quinn would be useless to the Browns if they take Locker or Bradford and his trade value would decrease. If they can get a second-round pick from one of the bottom feeders today, they should make the deal.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Browns take step back

Effort wasn't the problem for the Browns today. The problem was talent and execution.The Browns made mistakes they did not make while losing a close game to the Bengals and when they beat the Bills.

The Steelers have more talent than the Browns at every position on defense with the possible exception of nose tackle Shaun Rogers and every position on offense except left tackle Joe Thomas. That's why the Steelers have beaten the Browns 12 straight times. It has nothing do to with jinxes.

The Browns gave the Pittsburgh receivers too much room to catch the ball, but that's because Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes can beat the Browns cornerbacks on a bad day. The Browns put pressure on Ben Roethlsiberger, but not enough. Other teams have the same problem.

The Browns did play hard. That's something to build on. The rematch is Dec. 10 in Cleveland.If the Browns are still putting out effort by then, it means Coach Eric Mangini is doing something right.

Browns hanging close

The Browns are losing 17-14 early in the third quarter, and they have only themselves to blame for not being ahead.

One Browns possession started at the Cleveland 48 and one at the Steelers 39 after Alex Hall recovered a fumbled snap by the Steelers. The Browns came up empty both times.

Josh Cribbs, of course, scored the Browns touchdown in the first half. He returned a kickoff 98 yards down the right sideline. The touchdown atoned for an interception he threw from the Wildcat formation in the first quarter.

Dropped passes plagued Derek Anderson in the first half. At least three were dropped. Anderson was 2 of 9 for 14 yards in the first half. Coupled with his 2 of 17 last week, he is 4 of 26 for 37 yards over the last six quarters. . . Anderson completed his first three passes of the third quarter to Mohamed Massaquoi. The second gained 43 to the Steelers 7 and set up a touchdown pass to Lawrence Vickers.

Wimbley won't play today

Kamerion Wimbley won't play in the game against the Steelers today because he is ill with the flu. He has been the Browns best defensive player this year, so this will not be easy to overcome.

Wimbley was added to the injury report Saturday. Wimbley was with the team on the bus ride to Pittsburgh on Saturday. When he was no better this morning the Browns sent him back to Cleveland.

Jason Trusnik, the linebacker acquired from the Jets in the Braylon Edwards trade Oct. 7, will start in place of Wimbley.

. . . Rashard Mendenhall is going to start in place of Willie Parker at running back for the Steelers. You can expect Mendenhall to run straight at Trusnik.

The sun is breakling through the clouds a little more than an hour before kickoff. Coach Eric Mangini was hoping for rainy, sloppy conditions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quinn not on block, coach says

Brady Quinn is not on the trading block, Coach Eric Mangini said in his press conference this morning.

The trading deadline is Tuesday.

"We're not looking to move Brady," Mangini said. "He's a Cleveland Brown.

Quinn began the season as the starter and was benched after 2 1/ games. He has not played since and there is no indication he will get his job back anytime soon. He looks discouraged, and now it has become public knowledge Quinn is selling his home in Avon Lake.

Trading Quinn now would be a mistake for the Browns. His stock is low. The best way to improve it would be to play him sometime later this season.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating; The Browns starting quarterback for 2010 isn't on this roster. Until the Browns get better at quarterback they will continue to be last in the AFC North.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mangini vague on Davis

It's always something with the Browns - a quarterback controversy, Braylon Edwards allegedly punching a man outside a bar and then getting traded two days later.. . A four-game losing streak. . . And now, the mystery surrounding an injury to running back James Davis.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Davis was hurt in an "opportunity period" in practice Sept. 24 when an eager linebacker wearing shoulder pads tackled Davis, who was not in pads. Davis suffered a torn labrum that will require surgery to repair.

Coach Eric Mangini was asked Monday about the incident. He had chances to say it did not happen the way it has been reported, but he did not.

"We've been talking to the league about it," Mangini said. "I feel comfortable with where we are on it. The last thing I want to do is put anybody in a position where they could get hurt.

"I've talked to the league about it. We'll keep going through it. The research I've done, I feel very comfortable with where we're at."

The league is investigating the matter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Browns take ugly win

Football doesn't get much uglier than the game the Browns and Bills played today.

The Browns aren't complaining, nor apologizing for winning, 6-3, to end a 10-game losing streak. Over the past 14 games, nearly a full season, the Browns have won twice, both of them here in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Last Nov. 17 they beat the Bills, 29-27 on a 56-yard field goal by Phil Dawson. Today the difference was an 18-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff.

Punter Dave Zastudil was magnificent. He punted nine times and put seven inside the 20 - three of them inside the 5 and two of those were inside the 2.

Derek Anderson completed only two of 17 passes. Unofficially eight passes were dropped. But the Browns picked up 171 yards rushing - 117 by Jamal Lewis - and made life miserable for Bills quarterback Trent Edwards. The Bills false started nine times. They are one pathetic football team.

Defense carrying Browns

Derek Anderson did not complete a pass until only 37 seconds remained in the first half. His receivers had trouble holding onto the ball. In the end the Browns decided to run the clock out instead of being aggressive with the wind after the defense made a stand on fourth down with just under two minutes left.

Playing not to lose might come back to bite the Browns. Then again, the Bills are terrible. Fans are booing Bills quarterback Trent Edwards and with good reason. But not everything is his fault. The Bills have had numerous false start penalties that have hurt them.

The Browns are playing well defensive, especially Mike Adams. Kamerion Wimbley got his fourth sack. He had four all last season.

The Browns are attacking on the ground. They have to mix it up by passing on first down once in a while.

Lewis starts on windy day

It's an hour before kickoff here in Ralph Wilson Stadium. The inactive list for both teams was just announced. Jamal Lewis is starting at running back for the Browns after missing two games with a hamstring injury.

. . .The wind is whipping the ribbons atop the goalposts. That might not bode well for the Browns because Phil Dawson is missing his third straight game with a calf injury. Last year Dawson was five for five on field goal tries. He made the game winner from 56 yards with 1:39 left. Billy Cundiff said he kicked twice in this stadium prior to today. He said the wind wasn't a major factor either time.

. . . The two players acquired in the Braylon Edwards trade, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey and linebacker Jason Trusnik are on the active roster. Linebacker Alex Hall is not.

. . .Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi are starting at wide receiver according to the press box depth chart.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ryan spices up game

Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan turned up the heat for the game against the Bills Sunday in Buffalo when he blasted Bills quarterback Trent Edwards by saying "That isn't Carson Palmer by any stretch" during a press conference Friday.

Palmer is the Bengals quarterback who last week beat the Browns with a fourth-down touchdown pass at the end of regulation and then with a fourth-down run of 15 yards in overtime. The long run set up a 31-yard field goal by Shayne Graham. Ryan, without flat out saying it, said the kick was no good. Five days after the fact, it hardly matters.

Ripping the opposing quarterback two days before the game is unprecedented. Given a chance to back off, Ryan dug in when asked if he meant Edwards isn't as good as Palmer.

"Absolutely. He's not even close," Ryan said.

Ryan was the Raiders defensive coordinator last year. The Raiders lost to the Bills, 24-23. Edwards had some unkind things to say about the Raiders, as Ryan recalled. Ryan decided to throw the first stone on Friday.It will be interesting to see who gets the last laugh.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mangini explains Edwards trade

We're talking to Eric Mangini right now. He says trading Braylon Edwards to the Jets will open opportunities for rookie receiver Brian Robiskie. Mangini said Robiskie could start Sunday in Buffalo. So could Mohamed Massaquoi, Mike Furrey or Josh Cribbs.

Mangini said he had a "good talk" with Edwards this morning when he told Edwards he had been traded to the Jets. Mangini admitted the incident Monday morning involving Edwards punching Edward Givens outside a bar was a factor.

Mangini said Chansi Stuckey, the receive acquired is "smart with good hands." Stuckey was a slot receiver with the Jets and could split wide with the Browns.

"It's about us trying to build a team and continuing to grow," Mangini said. "It's not something that happens overnight. You look at it in short term, long term and something that's there to compete.

"This is a chance for Braylon to get a fresh start," Mangini said.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Edwards in bad light

Allegedly Browns receiver Braylon Edwards socked an acquaintance of LeBron James at about 2:30 a.m. today outside a Cleveland night club, giving Edward Givens a black eye and a cut on his face.

Givens is a little guy - 5-foot-7, 135 pounds. Edwards is a much bigger guy - 6-3, 215 pounds.

Edwards wasn't in the locker room to answer questions today - no surprise there. Normally in these situations the player apologizes for embarrassing the organization, teammates, fans, the city, his dog - it's like a script. Browns coach Eric Mangini talked to him about the incident, but Mangini wouldn't say what Edwards said.

This is a typical Browns mess. I think the Browns got rid of the wrong diva when they traded Kellen Winslow Jr. to Tampa Bay. Edwards has been a problem of one sort or another ever since he was a rookie in 2005 - except 2007 when everything went right.

Edwards name does not appear in the police report and so far there has been no arrest or charges filed. It is important to remember that.

The Browns made improvement against the Bengals, but Edwards' alleged bad decision makes him the story. He likes being the story, one way or another. He did not catch a pass against the Bengals, so he wasn't a story Sunday.But he's a story now.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Something to build on

The Browns are 0-4, but after the way they played against the Bengals today while losing, 23-20, there is at least hope for better days ahead.

Derek Anderson was the difference. He stretched the field and energized the offense and defense. The Browns scored one offensive touchdown in 2 1/2 games with Brady Quinn at quarterback. They scored two on Sunday.

It is no coincidence Mohammed Massaquoi blossomed - eight catches for 148 yards - on the same day Coach Eric Mangini changed starting quarterbacks. The defense was energized as well. Brodney Pool had his best game as a pro with four pass breakups and an interception.

The Browns did not stop the Bengals when they had to. A fourth-down touchdown pass in the fourth quarter from Carson Palmer to Chad Ochocinco would have won the game if not for a blocked PAT by Shaun Rogers. A fourth-down scramble by Palmer in overtime was the back-breaker. But at least the Browns don't look like an 0-16 team anymore.

No Lewis, no Dawson

Odds are against the Browns breaking their losing streak today. They are down to two running backs - Jerome Harrison and rookie Chris Jennings, who was on the practice squad until being activated Saturday. Rookie James Davis was put on injured reserve Saturday with a shoulder injury and Jamal Lewis is on the inactive list just announced because of a hamstring injury.

Kicker Phil Dawson won't play today. He is inactive with a calf injury. Fortunately for Billy Cundiff, Dawson's replacement, the wind doesn't seem to be gusting 30 minutes before kickoff.

. . .This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To bring attention to the cause the Browns are wearing pink wristbands. . . Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco is wearing pink shoes and pink gloves.

. . .Derek Anderson is laughing and loose during warmups. He plays better that way, so that's a good sign. I expect Anderson to produce points. . . The Browns need to create takeaways, because if they do not the Bengals can score 30. . . Brian Robiskie is on the 45-man active roster today. He is looking for his first NFL catch. He was inactive the last two games.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Anderson can't be too careful

Derek Anderson is excited to get his first meaningful start since being benched halfway through last season. How long he stays in the saddle depends on how well he protects the football.

This is a bit of a quandary for Anderson. His nature is to throw downfield more than Brady Quinn does and that will result in more interceptions but also more touchdowns - high risk, high reward. If he plays inhibited, afraid of being benched for throwing an interception, he won't be as effective as he would if he lets it rip.

The Bengals are 2-1 and would be 3-0 if a bounce in the opener did not go Denver's way. Cincinnati is going to score on the Browns' leaky defense, so it will take three touchdowns for the Browns to win. The Browns have a better chance of scoring three TDs with Anderson than with Quinn but only if Anderson stays aggressive.