Finances symposium’s key lesson

Posted by Bernie Kosar on June 29, 2012 – 10:00 pm

By Bernie Kosar, Special Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Here are my takes on the Browns made while appearing on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:

The NFL’s annual Rookie Symposium, which was held in Northeast Ohio this past week, is one instance where the league is doing absolutely the best it can to help players manage the most difficult aspect of their career: Management of finances.

But it also falls on the players, and the supposed family and friends around them, to help prevent the money problems and other issues that confront players from occurring.

I supposedly had a reputation of being smart, and I had my share of mistakes financially. A lot of it stems from the fact that, when you’re in your 20s, you’re so focused on sports and football and competition. My attitude was, “I just want to play football. I just want to be good at football.”

Unfortunately, I trusted some people – and they were my family and some friends – who wanted to hold the money and spend the money.

It’s tough on these rookies, because they want to play sports and sports are what they know. They want to trust their family and friends with their finances, yet their family and friends almost are never qualified to do that stuff.

But you want to be nice, you want to be loyal, you want to remember where you came from, so you let them do some things that they’ve never done before. With events like the Rookie Symposium, the league’s trying to warn players that, when you do things like that with people who aren’t experienced in that area, a lot of mistakes happen.

All these kids have family members who have access to them. They don’t mean to be selfish, but they want their stuff taken care of. And if you don’t do it, you feel bad, you’re distracted. They’re calling you at 7 a.m., and at midnight, and talking to you about it. And it takes away from your performance, it takes away from your ability to focus, to make the team, to play well.

At the end of the day, you’re a kid who wants to help out. And 90 percent of the guys end up helping, end up giving, end up trying to appease them and make things better for their family and friends around them so that they can just play football.

For me, it got to the point that you almost had to let them have it because it would buy you actually a few weeks of them not bothering you so that you could go play football. I see this still today, with some of the young players, where their posse, their family, are in the parking lot the second practice is over, waiting for them.

Be sure to catch Bernie Kosar’s regular appearances with Vic Carucci on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Monday through Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN 850 WKNR and ClevelandBrowns.com


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It’s up to players to handle hype

Posted by Vic Carucci on June 29, 2012 – 6:47 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

D-ASH – Please don’t overly praise Trent Richardson. We don’t need another “decision” to deal with. He’ll get praise when he earns it.

D-Ash, I fully agree that praise must be earned and I go along with the idea that it’s always a little risky to hype up a player before he actually has played an NFL down. That can lead to all sorts of problems, the biggest of which is the player getting so caught up in praise that he loses his focus on doing all of the work necessary to be successful.

Another factor is the player’s mindset. How will he react to over-the-top praise? It’s fair to say that Trent Richardson has heard plenty of praise through his entire football life, especially during his time at Alabama and the weeks and months leading up to the draft when any number of people called him one of the best players (if not the best) to emerge from the college ranks in many years.

It’s understandable and acceptable that there is going to be a great deal of excitement among Browns fans and a fair amount of gushing by them and the media about Richardson. And it’s up to him to handle it. I believe the player should have the bulk of the responsibility to prevent it from going to his head rather than putting it on fans and media to keep their enthusiasm in check.

Handling praise and criticism is, in fact, a large part of what he is paid handsomely to do. 

THOMAS — Why does Vic refuse to criticize players? Also why are the receivers going to be better? Whenever people are asked they just say, “they’ll be better,” and please don’t simply say because of the QB, because the receivers struggled to get open, dropped easy passes and didn’t have the breakaway speed required to beat defenses.

Thomas, I don’t agree that I refuse to criticize players. It was pretty hard to be complementary of any aspect of a team that lost 12 games last season.

Now, if you’re looking for me to flat-out rip a player on the team, then, no, you probably aren’t going to read or hear that from me. But I’ll never hesitate to tell you when I don’t like something I see from a player or someone else.

As far as how the Browns’ receivers are going to improve, I don’t subscribe to the “they’ll-be-better-just-because” school of thought. I do need to see it before I believe it.

But I do believe that better quarterbacking will make the receivers better. Specifically, a quarterback who has enough accuracy and velocity to consistently make throws through those fast-closing windows in coverage. Specifically, a quarterback who throws a catchable ball, one that the receivers can grab in stride. Specifically, a quarterback such as Brandon Weeden.

I believe the addition of senior assistant coach Nolan Cromwell, who has extensive background as a receivers coach, will make the Browns’ receivers better.

And, although you probably won’t like this answer, but I simply can’t envision as many drops as there were last season because it was such a ridiculously high total and I refuse to believe it can happen two years in a row.

You want more reasons? The addition of speedy rookie Travis Benjamin, the noticeable improvement in physical conditioning of the incumbent receivers, the likely vast upgrade that Trent Richardson will bring to the running game.

LOUIS- What are the chances of us acquiring a veteran wide out before season starts? 

Slim to none, Louis.

I have no sense whatsoever that the Browns’ decision-makers share the popular public opinion that more help is needed at receiver.

They truly like the receivers they have. They truly believe that the incumbents will show improvement as the rest of the offense gets better. They truly believed that Travis Benjamin will provide the big-play dynamic that is needed.

MICHAEL — I will like whatever we do as long as we win. Football may well be a diversion from life and there are way more important things, but I am fed up with us being so consistently bad year in and year out. As Al Davis used to say, “Just win baby!”

You’re right, Michael.

In the NFL, winning isn’t an option. To use another quote, this one from the title of an excellent book about Bill Parcells when he was coaching the New York Giants, there are “no medals for trying.”

I believe the pieces are being put together to turn the Browns into far more pleasant diversion for you and other fans.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Cameron has dynamic potential

Posted by Vic Carucci on June 29, 2012 – 12:56 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

Morgan – What can we expect from Cleveland’s tight end position this season? It seems we had begun to acquire more than we had much use for. Benjamin Watson is the starter and the most well rounded in terms of blocking/catching. Evan Moore has proven to be an adequate pass catcher at times and is listed as second on the depth chart. He isn’t being viewed in the same light as a Rob Gronkowski-, Aaron Hernandez-, Jimmy Graham-type of tight end, though. One Browns tight end who could take on that type of role is Jordan Cameron possibly.

I think the Browns have a good group of tight ends. I don’t know if there is a great one among them, but I think it is strong enough to help the offense make noticeable progress.

All of the Browns’ tight ends should benefit from better quarterbacking and a more effective rushing attack, although I do think that Cameron probably has the greatest potential to a climb to a more dynamic level. His performance throughout the offseason indicated as much. He looks bigger and stronger, yet displays the tremendous athleticism that was his signature at USC.

It was easy to see why Browns coach Pat Shurmur called him his most improved player.

Austin – I’m worried with Brandon Weeden being a rookie at this age. What do you think? I believe Trent Richardson was the best NFL-ready player available this year. Agree or disagree?

I’m not at all worried about Brandon Weeden’s age. I don’t think it will prevent him from being the highly effective/successful quarterback the Browns believe he can be and need him to be.

When you’re judging Weeden from a shelf-life standpoint, there are multiple windows to consider. The first is three to five years, and that’s the only one that really matters right now. I do appreciate the passion of those who are worried about that second window, which is, “What kind of quarterback is he going to be for the Browns in 10 years when he’s 39 years old?”

But I think that would be a great problem for the Browns to have, because it would mean Weeden performed well through those first three to five seasons of his career. When was the last time the Browns had someone who did that at quarterback?

As for Richardson, a running back selected as high as he was should be expected to make a significant contribution immediately. He certainly looks as if he could be that guy, especially with what he brings as a receiver and blocker along with his tremendous rushing ability.

However, there is still plenty for him to learn about the complexities of the Browns’ offense and of the defenses he will face in the NFL. There’s going to be some level of patience required, although I fully expect he will make a positive impact right away.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Heart not a problem for Browns

Posted by Vic Carucci on June 28, 2012 – 3:56 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

Mark – I want to know if the Browns are going to play with their heart this year. That’s the problem in everyone’s eyes. The Browns are the underdog, so they don’t play hard. They need to take that criticism and use for fuel and take it on the field and burn it up. They can do it.

Being an underdog is a great incentive, Mark, and the pundits’ low expectations are likely to provide plenty of fuel on that count entering the season.

But I don’t think the biggest problem with the Browns in most of their games last year was playing with a lack of heart. Their biggest problem was poor execution, in part because of a lack of talent at certain positions and a lack of experience at others.

Given the help that the Browns received in the draft, especially at quarterback, there is every reason to believe they will execute better. Will they use their underdog status as an advantage? Sure. But it won’t do as much for their fortunes as simply playing up to their capabilities.

For professional athletes, the best incentive is always the bottom line: Perform or you’re gone.

Scooter – Huge mistake for the Browns to keep Seneca Wallace over Colt McCoy. Use the extra money on a free agent and get rid of the bad attitude.

Scooter, I don’t know of any decision having been made about keeping Wallace over McCoy or vice versa, for that matter. I do expect their respective futures with the Browns to be addressed one way or another as the team figures out the quarterbacking depth chart, which is likely to end up with Brandon Weeden as the starter.

You referenced “bad attitude” with regard to Wallace. I don’t know if that’s the case. Does he have the right mind set to be a backup to a rookie? Just because you have spent the bulk of a 10-year career in a reserve capacity doesn’t necessarily mean you are the right man for the job in ways that go beyond your on-field performance. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are hard-wired properly to be a backup to a rookie quarterback, even one who is 28 years old.

The job requires a high level of supportiveness, although it’s not simply a matter of being a source of encouragement to the younger starter. The good backup willingly shares his wisdom and experience – the intricate details he sees while watching videotape or observing from the sidelines that only another quarterback is able to see. He also readily makes himself available to be the sounding board that the starter needs beyond his coaches. In short, the good backup doesn’t blink when it comes to putting the team’s interests first.

It takes a special sort of individual to embrace such a role, and I’m not entirely sure that Wallace, despite his considerable experience, would. McCoy could struggle with it as well, although you have to wonder whether his limited experience makes him the best candidate, either.

Sean – Maybe I’m alone here, but shouldn’t Travis Benjamin have learned the “little things” he said he still needs to work on in college?

Not necessarily, Sean. College programs, even those as large as Miami’s, will prepare player for the NFL to a certain extent.

But players almost never enter the league as finished products, and talent-evaluators and coaches are well aware of the aspects of their game that need work. That is fairly standard for a player, such as Benjamin, who was selected in the fourth round. However, even a top overall choice has areas that need polishing and refinement.

I’d be far more concerned with a player who said he thought he had everything figured out about the NFL and nothing he needed to improve.

J. Dix – Vic, can you share your opinion on the Browns’ uniforms? Are you satisfied with the “same old, same old?” What changes, if any would you like to see made? I value your opinion … thanks, man.

I’m a fan of tradition, J., although I’m happy that the Browns do plan on wearing their brown jerseys for some home games this season rather than going with the whites all year as they did in 2011.

This team has a classic look that has remained consistent for decades, and I think that it’s important to keep it in place. I also think the uniforms are going to look so much better when they’re worn by a winning team.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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It’s about the arm, not incumbency

Posted by Vic Carucci on June 27, 2012 – 2:59 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you say:

Drew – The best scenario for the Browns at the quarterback position in 2012 is Colt McCoy as the starter at the beginning of the season. Of course, in most cases the best guy should play no matter what, and if Brandon Weeden absolutely and definitely shows he is a much better quarterback than McCoy, then give Brandon the nod. But if it’s a close competition, then start McCoy.

Drew, the bottom line is that the Browns will start the best quarterback.

I don’t envision McCoy getting the nod at the beginning of the year simply because he was the incumbent or has more NFL experience.

The only way McCoy would land the No. 1 spot is by thoroughly outperforming Weeden and anyone else the Browns have at quarterback. I saw no evidence of that during offseason workouts, and it is my expectation that, barring unforeseen circumstances, Weeden will be named the starter.

During offseason workouts, he tilted the competition in his favor by being a distinctively better thrower than McCoy, Seneca Wallace, and Thaddeus Lewis.

And that’s on top of the other reasons the competition already was titled in his favor: His draft status, the need to get him on the field ASAP because of his age, the elevated maturity he displays because of his age and exposure to professional baseball, the comfort he demonstrated working under center after spending the bulk of his career at Oklahoma State in shotgun formation, and his quick grasp of the offense.

Ken – We need some good wide receivers. When are we going to going to look at a veteran wide receiver to show the new wide receivers what is expected from them?

Ken, I’d be surprised if the Browns acquired a wide receiver or any new players between now and the start of training camp. I also don’t see the need for a veteran wide receiver to show the younger guys the ropes.

The younger receivers get more than sufficient guidance from their coaches. The addition of senior offensive assistant Nolan Cromwell, who has an extensive background as a receivers coach, has made and should continue to make a major difference in the improvement of the entire receiving corps. He has challenged the pass-catchers in ways they haven’t been challenged before, and his instruction is a strong complement to that of receivers coach Mike Wilson.

The improvement at quarterback should also make the Browns’ receivers better, as should the improvement at running back and better scheming that will take advantage of those upgrades. Travis Benjamin’s speed will have a positive impact because it will help stretch the defense and open things up for other receivers on underneath routes.

In addition, I don’t see a veteran receiver the Browns could add who would serve as a mentor/coach-in-pads for the younger members of the group. Chad Ochocinco, who recently joined the Dolphins, wasn’t that guy. Terrell Owens, who is still available, isn’t, either.

James – To possibly compete with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cincinnati this season, offensively what must the Browns do?

The first place I would start, James, is with an effective running game. That’s the best way to force the aggressive defenses those teams have to play closer to the line, be somewhat less inclined to blitz, and help create room for the pass.

Secondly, the Browns need to take particularly good care of the football. That, in turn, would do wonders for the strongest area of the team: Defense.

Thirdly, the passing arm of Brandon Weeden should give the defenses of the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, and other opponents more to think about than was previously the case against the Browns.

Jeff – Since Josh Cribbs’ contract is up this year and his role is diminishing with the new kickoff rules and the drafting of speedy Travis Benjamin, do you think he will be a Brown next year, because he’s not a great receiver, either?

I think there’s enough reason to question that, Jeff, but I’d like to see how this year plays out.

Cribbs still plays a significant role for the Browns. He remains a viable return man and can contribute as a receiver, although he probably shouldn’t be as much of a focal point in that area as he was last season when he ranked second on the team in receptions. It makes perfect sense to put the ball in his hands in space and take full advantage of his speed and elusiveness, but I don’t see the Browns leaning on him as heavily as they will on Greg Little or Mohamed Massaquoi or even Travis Benjamin as a rookie.

I think Cribbs should be a complementary part to the receiving game, and there are certain things he can do with his skill set, especially in the open field, that continues to be helpful. But as a gets older, it’s natural for him to slow down a little bit. You start to lose a little something. And beyond this year, I don’t know what his role looks like, especially if others – such as Benjamin and Buster Skrine – become bigger factors in the return game.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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No one’s asking for ‘blind’ trust

Posted by Vic Carucci on June 25, 2012 – 9:45 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you say:

Gary – I’m tired of this “trust me” crap. We trusted the last few regimes. While I’m more than happy to be patient, the contradictory personnel movements lead me to believe there is no real plan in place other than to blame others. You don’t demand respect. You earn it.

Gary, I fully agree with your final point. Respect can only be earned.

However, I disagree with the premise that the Browns’ administration is asking for blind trust. I also don’t buy that the team’s plan is based on blaming previous decision-makers.

It’s about people who have deep-rooted beliefs in how to properly assemble a successful franchise and install offensive and defensive schemes that work. They’ve had success in other places following the approach they are taking with the Browns. They can call upon that experience.

Mike Holmgren saw it work in San Francisco, Green Bay, and Seattle. Tom Heckert saw it work in Philadelphia.

So when they speak confidently about their plan, it isn’t a case of false bravado. They truly believe in what they’re doing because they’ve witnessed the results.

I can appreciate your being wary about having trusted other regimes only to be disappointed by what they put on the field. You rightfully have adopted a “show-me” perspective. When it comes to trusting the administration of a club that has gone so long without delivering an acceptable product, I wouldn’t be quick to simply take someone’s word at face value, either.

But that’s not what this administration is selling.

John – The next few years provide hope. Brandon Weeden is going to surprise and Trent Richardson will play well, as expected.

Yes, John, I strongly believe there is plenty of hope for the Browns in the next few years.

However, I don’t know how big a surprise it would be if Brandon Weeden plays “well,” depending, of course, on how you’re defining it. If it means desperately needed improvement at quarterback and more wins, then I expect him to do precisely what the Browns’ brass expects him to do.

If that comes as a surprise to anyone, it is only based on the fact Weeden is 28. Subtract six years from that, with the same production at Oklahoma State, and he easily would have been a top-10, if not a top-five, pick.

Richardson playing at the level expected of the third overall choice and one of the more dominant running backs to emerge from the college ranks in recent years is crucial to the Browns’ chances for success.

However, I would contend that nothing will do more to help make the Browns better faster than Weeden performing at an equally high level. His play has a chance to do wonders for the Browns’ much-maligned receivers and make every aspect of the offense, including play-calling, look significantly stronger than a year ago. He’ll do that with his quick release, his accuracy, and the velocity of his passes that should be able to make it through those tight windows of coverage before they close.

Dave – I really hate to say this, but the Browns’ offense will fall apart this year. Richardson, though a great athlete, cannot fix all problems.

Dave, despite his draft status, I don’t think Richardson was brought in to fix all of the Browns’ problems. Of course, he is a hugely important cog to the efforts of repairing the offense.

But I highly doubt that Pat Shurmur is putting all of his eggs in the basket of a single player or a single aspect of his offense. He knows that won’t work.

The Browns aren’t losing sight of the fact that Richardson is a rookie and needs a little time to develop, just as any other player. They know he must have an opportunity to learn and absorb all that he needs to know about the offense and about what he will be facing from NFL defenses. The expectation is that he will contribute plenty sooner rather than later, but it’s a gradual process.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Best to keep ‘light switch’ on

Posted by Bernie Kosar on June 21, 2012 – 9:25 pm

By Bernie Kosar, Special Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Here are my takes on the Browns made while appearing on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:

The time between now and the start of training camp is a test of the players’ ability to stay focused while also getting a little time to relax before putting on the pads and going through the next phase of preparing for the season.

This is especially true for the younger guys. Working out and staying in the game mentally not only are helpful to getting them ready to play their best, but they also help keep them from the distractions of all the new friends and family they have because this is their first chance at money. And sometimes, all of those additional people in their lives will tend to take them away from staying in shape, being ready for training camp, and being ready for preseason games.

For the undrafted free agents, it makes sense for them to be plugged in as much as possible during this so-called down time, to keep learning, to keep growing. They not only will help their chances of making the final roster, but also help the chances of the Browns being a better team.

The politically right thing to say and the easy thing to say is, yeah, you want get away from it for a little bit, but you continue to work out. The reality of it is that football – especially at age 22, 23, 24 – is so exciting. For me, it’s so fun, it’s so important, that I never let it go away. I never checked out. I never put the light switch off.

And the guys who put the light switch off and then think they’re going to flip the light switch on and they’re going to be at a hundred percent are wrong. It does not happen.

You have your whole life to relax and have fun. It’s not now, though. Now is about playing football. And even though it’s four or five weeks off, you still have to work out. You still have to think about your plays, your assignments, your details of assignment, the details of how you run your position.

I always tell the younger guys, “Yeah, you can relax and maybe tone it down some. But you can never check out and flip the light switch completely off.”

Be sure to catch Bernie Kosar’s regular appearances with Vic Carucci on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Monday through Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN 850 WKNR and ClevelandBrowns.com


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Big job for backup quarterback

Posted by Bernie Kosar on June 16, 2012 – 4:08 am

By Bernie Kosar, Special Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Here are my takes on the Browns made while appearing on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:

There’s been a lot of discussion this week about how the Browns’ backup quarterback situation will shake out, on the presumption that rookie Brandon Weeden is eventually going to be named the starter.

You have a guy like Seneca Wallace, who is going on double-digit years in the league. And then you have a young guy like Colt McCoy, who has played some games and has shown an ability to lead a team and be able to make some plays and not make a lot of bad plays. That’s typically what you want out of your backup quarterback. And being very salary-cap friendly in his contract, that’s something you just have to look at.

Every team has its quarterback position basically solidified for this year, so the opportunity for any quarterback to have an opening to start right now isn’t really there. You really have to be on a team, be in the league, and do the best you can, whether you like it or not. So whether it’s Seneca or Colt, it might not be optimal for them, but still being able to be on a team and show that you can be a team guy and show you can contribute and show you’re ready and show you have an understanding of the offense is imperative. And because you don’t take the physical beating being an NFL backup, you can have extra years on the back end of your career.

If you have to play as a backup, it’s imperative that you’re capable of playing, executing plays, being productive, getting the ball in the end zone, and finishing out games with a W. But there are some situations you don’t end up playing a lot because the quarterback does not get hurt.

We used to have a phrase on some of the good teams I was on that went like this: “Let’s check our ego at the door.” That means when you come to work every day, let’s not make it about me or you. Let’s make it about us and the team. We all want to start. We all want to be on the field, especially at the quarterback position.

But if you can check your ego at the door and admirably and genuinely help the team and the other quarterback by giving him analysis, by giving him observations, by seeing things that, bluntly, a lot of times coaches and other players don’t see and a starting quarterback can’t see because he’s under siege with the rush and the pressure and things going on is so valuable. Gary Danielson did this for me. Don Strock did this for Dan Marino. I helped out Troy Aikman with this. I helped out Marino with this.

That’s a huge, huge help in terms of game day and, even sometimes more important, during the week when you’re breaking down your situations: Wednesday, first-and-10, second-and-long; Thursday, when you’re doing your third-and-three-to-six, third-and-seven-to-10, third-and-10-plus stuff, and your scoring-zone plays; Friday, when you’re trying to get your goal-line packages down, your two-minute drills.

The little things that veteran quarterbacks can see in film study and helping the less experienced starting quarterback understand film study and understand tendencies is incredibly valuable. And that’s the sort of help Brandon Weeden is going to need, especially as a rookie.

Be sure to catch Bernie Kosar’s regular appearances with Vic Carucci on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Monday through Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN 850 WKNR and ClevelandBrowns.com


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Final thoughts on Browns’ offseason

Posted by Vic Carucci on June 15, 2012 – 4:56 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are some final thoughts on the Browns as they wrap up their final week of organized team activity workouts:

>Brandon Weeden is the real deal. He throws the ball with exceptional accuracy, impressive velocity, and tremendous consistency. He makes good decisions with his throws most of the time. And the fact the former professional baseball pitcher is a 28-year-old NFL rookie becomes less important when you see the way he carries himself, showing the maturity and command of someone who already has been exposed to the life of a professional athlete.

>Trent Richardson has the look of a dynamic superstar. He moves with speed and explosiveness. No, he hasn’t had a collision in the hole with D’Qwell Jackson or any other NFL defender yet. But it’s hard to imagine that Richardson won’t deliver the elite skills as a runner, receiver, and blocker that he showed while helping Alabama win a pair of national championships.

>The incumbent receivers appear to have used their offseason for much more than relaxing and/or wallowing over being the target of most of the criticism for the Browns’ 4-12 finish last season. The group that dropped too many passes and made too few big plays showed up in top physical condition and has generally performed with a much greater sense of purpose and urgency. The practice performances haven’t been perfect, but they’ve clearly been better than what we saw for most of the 2011 campaign.

>New offensive coordinator Brad Childress has taken a necessary load off of the shoulders of Pat Shurmur, who wore the additional hat of OC as a rookie coach last year. Childress brings a sense of depth that one would expect from a man with 33 years of football coaching experience. Shurmur looks clearly more comfortable knowing that he has someone who not only shares his vision of the offense, resulting from their time together as assistants in Philadelphia, but is capable of running offensive staff meetings when Shurmur is pulled away by other duties that inevitably require the head coach’s attention. Players also speak glowingly of what Childress brings to the table.

>New senior offensive assistant coach Nolan Cromwell also has taken a load off of Shurmur’s shoulders. Cromwell earned plenty of Shurmur’s trust when Cromwell was the St. Louis Rams’ receivers coach in 2010, Shurmur’s final season as their offensive coordinator before becoming the Browns’ coach. Shurmur wisely has Cromwell working with receivers coach Mike Wilson to guide the Browns’ pass-catchers. In every drill, Cromwell can be seen and heard challenging the receivers to give maximum effort while paying ultra-close attention to details.

>Without contact, it’s hard to draw many conclusions about the defense, but it is easy to see the injection of pass-rushing talent from free-agent end Frostee Rucker. He has quick off the ball and consistently gets into the backfield in time to be disruptive. The absence of big Phil Taylor at defensive tackle is noticeable, of course, because, well, he’s big Phil Taylor. But rookie John Hughes looks to have the girth and strength to hold his own in the middle.

>T.J. Ward’s return from a foot injury has brought a higher degree of energy and play-making to the secondary. As the old saying goes, you sometimes don’t know how much you miss someone until they’re gone, and Ward was sorely missed for more than half of last season.

>Before a good portion of the Browns’ football operation shut down until training camp, team president Mike Holmgren met with the media to let them to know that they will be seeing more of him in the coming months. It is all part of Holmgren’s efforts to “try to be more available” to reporters. He said he was motivated to change the original approach of remaining in the background as much as possible in order to allow Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert to be in the forefront of the organization by hearing questions about his long-term commitment to the Browns. Holmgren stressed that he is fully committed to the team and that he and his wife, Kathy, are committed to Cleveland. Holmgren is the same guy now that he was when he became club president in 2010 – the same driven man that led the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl championship during a coaching career that should land him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It makes perfect sense for him to allow more people to see that guy as often as possible.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Balancing new offseason rules

Posted by Bernie Kosar on June 7, 2012 – 3:24 am

By Bernie Kosar, Special Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Here are my takes on the Browns made while appearing on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:

The new rules restricting the amount of time teams can spend practicing and meeting during the offseason shouldn’t have too large an impact on the Browns or any other NFL team.

If you can’t get it done in six hours in May or June in a day, you probably don’t have the ability to really get it done. So in terms of affecting the season, affecting getting ready for training camp, I don’t think it’s going to have a big effect on anybody.

Last year showed us that even with no minicamps, no OTAs, and no offseason workouts, you still had teams like Cincinnati with a rookie quarterback (Andy Dalton) and a rookie receiver (A.J. Green) having a fantastic year.

It comes down to the things you get accustomed to. Four or five years ago, teams were probably doing too much in the offseason. And last year probably wasn’t enough.

Now we’re just trying to find that middle ground.

The rules are the rules and sometimes – and I’ve used this phrase a fair amount – you have to protect players from themselves. Sometimes you have to protect the coaches from themselves, because coaches aren’t ever going to feel comfortable unless they have players 24/7, 365 days a year, and that’s not realistic.

You don’t want to overdo it and risk burnout, even though you can say, “Hey, looking on film it’s not physical.” You don’t want to overdo things in April, May, and June so you’re not reaching your peak too soon. I’ve seen guys reach their peak in July and August, but the time you want them peaking is in December and January.

It’s a balance.

Be sure to catch Bernie Kosar’s regular appearances with Vic Carucci on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Monday through Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN 850 WKNR and ClevelandBrowns.com


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