Some Browns bits on Alex Smith, Leroy Hoard, Ray Horton, Ozzie Newsome and more

1986-browns-newsomeThere’s not one topic I feel like talking about today as we endure a week of Super Bowl and Hall of Fame propoganda. The Browns introduced their defensive coordinator Ray Horton yesterday, but even that was putting a cap on old news. With that in mind, I thought I would just combine a bunch of things into one post today…

Alex Smith to the Browns?

So Brandon Weeden thought he dodged a bullet when the Browns failed to land Chip Kelly, I bet. I hope he didn’t spend too much time sighing with relief because the Browns quarterback rumors are flying fast as the Browns are being linked to the 49ers’ own displaced QB Alex Smith. It makes some sense because as we all know, new coaches tend to gravitate toward familiar players, and Google is full of pictures of Alex Smith sitting next to Norv Turner. That’s also why we were treated to a lot of Chud-fueled Derek Anderson news a few weeks back.

So, is it good or bad for Browns fans? I am not a quarterback expert, and I’ve heard plenty of people say that Alex Smith doesn’t have the prototypical skill set for the vertical passing game. Just from a game theory standpoint, I’m not unhappy that the Browns are rumored to be looking for a quarterback. I’m not ready to run Weeden out on a rail. He showed a few good things this season, and had a very rookie-like year overall. Still, would it be the end of the world to have someone come in and compete with him who happens to have a ton more experience and still is a year younger?

At least this leads me to be that the Browns aren’t going to sit back and “wait and see.” This could be the proof that Jimmy Haslam wasn’t just paying lip service when he said there were no two more impatient people than he and Joe Banner. Of course impatience can sometimes be a negative, but Browns fans know all too well that patience hasn’t delivered a top of the league quarterback to Cleveland yet.

Leroy Hoard and the future of the NFL

The Leroy Hoard story on ESPN’s Outside the Lines was gut-wrenching to see. There are always pangs of guilt when we see the cost of our entertainment spit out at the end of an NFL career. You can’t help but feel complicit, and I hate to tell you that this is just the beginning of the story. No, not every NFL player will end up with these kinds of symptoms, but the ones who show them are no longer going to languish in the shadows as we’re forced to deal with the reality of the game we all love so very much.

The NFL will continue to change. Tackling might continue to dissipate in the secondary where the closing speed and violence is at its maximum. The kickoff will continue to be mitigated over time too, I would bet. The game will change, but it might get better too.

How about this, for example? If they’re going to take away the hits in the secondary, maybe they’ll loosen up the contact restrictions between corners and receivers in the pattern. You’ve got to think that a lot of the violent hits that have scared us over the last four or five years are the result of defensive backs having to avoid contact before the ball is in the air. Instead of jamming and bumping in the pattern, safeties and corners sit back and deliver crazy hits a lot of the time. Encourage more bumping and hand fighting in the pattern and a lot of that could disappear. So, too will the more massive “knockout” types of blows, I’m guessing.

Ray Horton and the optimist viewpoint

Ray Horton really didn’t say much in his press conference. Despite the talk of the 4-3 and the 3-4, Horton continued to boil it all down to guys who can run and guys who can hit. While I sincerely hope that he was being simplistic for the media and fans’ sake, the one really positive thing that I take from that is that he’ll be using the best players he has regardless of scheme. Mixing fronts and personnel packages is going to be a positive for this crew considering another transition in base defense. Here’s hoping they can find the right combination of Dick Jauron’s ability to avoid the big play and also blitzing to create their own big plays. One thing that seems all but certain is that this defense will be fired up to play weekly.

Ozzie Newsome and Art Modell’s Hall of Fame candidacy

I love Ozzie Newsome from my childhood watching him play. I respect him greatly as a general manager of the Ravens even though I can’t stand that team. All that being said, his testimony on behalf of Art Modell in the Hall of Fame debate couldn’t be more meaningless. Ozzie’s opinion is predictable, obvious and speaks out of turn, repeating others’ facts in a lot of cases when it comes to history that preceded him. I mean we are all talking about history that preceded us, but in my opinion, Ozzie’s case had better be one that blows the roof off the house if it is to mean anything. He was just too close and benefited too much from Art Modell personally to have appropriate perspective on the Hall overall. Like asking a son to testify against his father without a cross-examination.

Of course as a spurned Browns fan, my perspective is only worth so much too. I know this, though. I would hope that Ozzie does too.

The end…

That’s the end of the Browns bits for today, but I’ll leave you with one final thought that I had watching TV on the treadmill this morning.

Imagine for just one second that the Browns were in the Super Bowl. Could you imagine the two week news cycle wondering how it was affecting the team and their eventual performance on Super Bowl Sunday? It would be absolutely maddening, but I love to even think about it. All our guys would be the talk of the league. It would be so amazing. This whole paragraph made me feel like a teenage girl talking about a show on the CW.

Maybe someday…

  • FnNate

    I’ve been following WFNY for quite some time now, but I don’t really post much. In my opinion, I don’t think the Browns will be able to land Alex Smith without some sort of guarantee that he will be the starter. With the way he has played the last season and a half, he knows that he could be a starter on several teams lacking at the QB position. I just don’t see him coming to Cleveland to “compete” for a job with an unproven 2nd year QB. My 2cents.

  • MrCleaveland

    Craig, agree with you about Ozzie’s piece in the P.D. We all understand why he’s doing it, but it’s a very superficial argument. As you say, “meaningless.”

  • boomhauertjs

    No, Craig, probably not in our lifetime…

  • Harv 21

    As I commented elsewhere today, recent studies are showing that it’s mistaken to focus primarily on the massive collisions we see in the secondary, or even on head trauma that fits the definition of “concussion,” as the main culprit in this head trauma issue. Running backs like Hoard and interior linemen who experience lesser but cumulative hits every play have been greatly affected. This is new stuff, and it’s quite possible that new rules the league initially legislates to protect the players will miss the mark.

  • Craig, I agree with you on Ozzie and his Instagram-filtered portrayal of Art… was the same re-hashed flawed arguments “backed” by fuzzy history. It really makes me wonder why a presumably smart man like Oz would exhaust his goodwill on making a pointless pitch/plea to CLE fans. Corporate directive for all all out Ravens push to counter the Browns push?

  • humboldt

    Agreed, although I think the subconcussive hits will be more of a major focus in coming years than you think. Linemen will be standing in the near future, I predict, and there will be further restrictions on hitting during practice, especially linemen drills. Things need to change and fans have to be adaptable. Anyone still whinging about “flag football” should have their own heads (and hearts) examined.

  • Harv 21

    Re Alex Smith, even if his skill set fit, some warning light should go off in Berea before chasing a quarterback who only had success after years of mediocrity when coached by a guy who seems to make every QB he touches look good. Kind of like paying big bucks for one of Mike Shanahan’s ever-changing 1,000 yard rushers in the ’90s.

    [And ok, it’s childish, but why do I again have to fear that the GM is incompetent? Heckert had finally made me stop twitching that a disastrous personnel decision was inevitable, and was so solid that even if he didn’t make the genius move we knew he’d make a solid move and keep improving the team. Sure it’s time to let go but I’m fearing the April draft when I would have been looking forward to it. Sometimes I think this is a dream, or there’s going to be a presser where Lombardi stutters an inanity about loving Cleveland and then suddenly claws at his face and pulls off the mask to reveal … Heckert! And Propecia Man gets red-faced chuckling next to him and twangs what a good one he pulled and winks at Banner whose face starts fracturing horizontally from his attempts to smile at everyone. Surprise!]

  • Harv 21

    Heads and hearts, well said.

  • Harv 21

    Just read Ozzie’s piece. I’m very lukewarm in favor of Modell’s induction but Ozzie needs to stop.

    Why would he direct this facile piece filled with half-truths at Clevelanders who know better? (Ohh, Art went under because he was gallant enough to agree to the “mayor’s request” to be the Tribe’s landlord in that horrible stadium. Ohh, historian Ozzie will never understand why Art wasn’t included in the new Gateway projects). Just insulting stuff and nonsense, wrapped in faux disbelief and the now-standard spoonful of “I’m a Brown, I get you” condescension.

    Ozzie, if you’re really still fond of Cleveland, just shut it about Art. Even if your owner thinks this is good PR. You keep wasting your good will here and there won’t be any left.

  • Natedawg86

    Ozzie drank the Kool-Aid

  • Natedawg86

    Can we nickname Banner Skeletor?

  • steve-o

    We need to start padding the outside of the helmet too. Padding the inside protects the skull, but it does not do enough to reduce the sudden change of direction during impact, especially during helmet to helmet/shoulder pad/ground hits. Of course, this would add a litle bit of weight to the helmet and detract from the shiny appearance, but i think the need to prevent brain damage trumps all.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’ll always be an Ozzie Newsome fan and that game verse the Jets will be one of my all time favorites.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo yea!

  • Nick

    I think Alex is a top ten QB with the right coach – I worry a little at taking him out of the west coast offense, because it is a perfect system for him. I a 49ers fan I have watched Alex get better every single season, and I still don’t think he has hit his season. I suspect the team that gets him will be pleasantly surprised at how good he really is.