Category Archives: Washington Redskins

Browns loss to Redskins was team’s 54th in last five seasons

Never let it be said that the Browns lose halfway.

Either a defeat is excruciatingly painful, or excruciatingly embarrassing. Sunday’s 38-21 shellacking at the hands of the Redskins fell into the latter category. It was brutal.

And now the Browns new management has all the justification it needs to clean house — in the front office, on the coaching staff and on the field. Pat Shurmur had made it interesting with his three wins in a row following an 0-5 start. Tom Heckert had stated his case when he told the media Friday he wanted to retain control over personnel, something he has in his contract.

But this was the kind of loss that prompts a housecleaning.

And if new ownership and management were even slightly tilting toward bringing in their guys, they now have justification.

Brandon Weeden played very poorly.

Trent Richardson did not run well.

And both indirectly pointed the finger at the coaching staff, Weeden by saying Washington put Kirk Cousins in position to win, and Richardson by saying it was “shocking” he got two second half carries and adding the Browns should have stuck with their gameplan.

Shurmur pointed to the next game in Denver, and Heckert never speaks after games (and rarely otherwise unless it’s an issue he wishes to address).

Put everything together and the picture is not one of togetherness — though mistakes and miscues always are magnified in a loss.

No one game should determine a team’s direction, but if Richardson and Weeden wish to point fingers, they might start with themselves. Richardson didn’t even average three yards on his 11 carries, yet he lamented only getting the ball twice in the second half when the Browns only had the ball for 8:28. Perhaps there was cause and effect? Heck, as good as Richardson looked near the goal-line, he was otherwise not even a factor. Aside from a six-yard touchdown run and a 14-yarder, Richardson carried nine times — for eight yards. No sense hiding: Redskins rookie Alfred Morris ran with more quickness and fluidity.

Weeden was entrusted with a lot, but he threw two poor interceptions and looked more lost than he has all season, or at least since the opener. His early interception in the third quarter allowed Washington to erase a 14-10 halftime deficit, and the defense caved the rest of the way.

Rarely has a team looked so inept, baffled or confused by the simplest of play-action calls. Over and over and over.

This was a bad team effort, and the loss ensured the Browns fifth losing season in a row, and ninth in 10 years (13th in 15 if you really want to count).

For the Browns to avoid their fifth season in a row with double-digit losses, they’ll have to win their final two games: In Denver and in Pittsburgh.

We all know how successful the Browns have been in those two cities over the years.

The last three wins still count, and the team did grow in those wins. But given a chance to make a statement and validate the wins with a victory over a good team with a winning record, the Browns fell flat. Again.

The past five seasons the Browns have lost 54 games — with two tough ones remaining this season. In those five seasons there have been three head coaches, and six “starting” quarterbacks (Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden).

That is a recipe for change, and it sure seems like more change is coming after the season.

With the Browns, the more things change, the more they merely stay the same.

Browns fans, Trent Richardson spoke to you

This is part of what Trent Richardson had to say after the Browns 38-21 loss to Washington, a loss that was far more embarrassing than the one-sided score showed:

“We let ourselves down and we let the whole city of Cleveland down. Everybody, especially season ticket holders. I feel bad for them and I want to say as a man, I just want to come to them and apologize. This was the last home game. We were supposed to go out with a blast. It was a big ball game for us and we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”

And that wraps that up.

Hall out, Dunlap in for Bengals

The Bengals are going without cornerback Leon Hall today in Washington.

That’s probably not a good thing.

The good news for a depleted and shaky defense is that Carlos Dunlap is back and making his regular-season debut six weeks after injuring his knee in the preseason opener, but the Bengals aren’t listing Dunlap as a starter.

They’ll need all the pass rush they can get against Robert Griffin III.

This week, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer promised he’d try anything, including more lineup changes, to fix a defense that gave up 430 and 439 yards, respectively, in its first two games. With Hall out Terrence Newman starts at cornerback, but it’s possible that Nate Clements could play safety and Jason Allen could see a significant role, too. First-round cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick remains an injured spectator for now, and even when Hall has been in the lineup he’s still trying to get back to top speed as he’s less than a year off of a torn Achilles.

Losing speedy veteran linebacker Thomas Howard to a torn ACL in practice 10 days ago certainly hasn’t helped, either, though the Bengals may have found a gem in undrafted rookie linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

In a bit of good news for the Bengals, the Redskins will go without Pierre Garcon — probably their top receiver — for the second straight week.

At this point, the Bengals defense will take any good news it can get.

RG3 talks Browns, Weeden and expectations

BEREA, Ohio – Robert Griffin III tossed the football around the Cleveland Browns practice fields Tuesday morning.

Some Browns fans would regard that as another false alarm.

Griffin had little time to spend on what might have been. He was there with the NFC’s other drafted rookies for a youth football clinic in conjunction with the NFL Rookie Symposium, which is being held this week in Northeast Ohio.

The Washington Redskins gave up a boatload — three first-round picks and a second-round pick — to move up to No. 2 in last spring’s NFL Draft and get the former Baylor star and 2011 Heisman Trophy winner. The St. Louis Rams held what amounted to a silent auction for the pick in March, and the Redskins outbid the Browns.

Griffin said he was “not aware” that the Browns tried to get him, but he said last winter he originally thought Cleveland is where he would end up.

“Once I declared for the draft, Cleveland was the place I thought I would be because (the Browns) had the most firepower when it came to draft picks and tradeability,” he said. “It didn’t turn out that way and I have no idea why it didn’t.”

Griffin said he thought briefly about the possibility of how different things might be as he walked into the Browns’ complex Tuesday morning, but then quickly moved on to the business at hand.

“It turned out a different way,” he said. “There’s no looking back from here.”

His arrival in Washington has Redskins fans buzzing, and Griffin seems very much at peace with the expectations that have been placed on his shoulders.

“There’s a difference between hype and excitement,” Griffin said, “and I think in Washington it’s genuine excitement, not just for me but for the team.

“You can’t feed into it but you can feed off of it.”

The Browns eventually put together a package of mid-round picks to move from No. 4 to No. 3 and select Alabama running back Trent Richardson. With their second first-round pick — part of that draft “firepower” Griffin mentioned — the Browns selected Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden at No. 22.

Griffin and Weeden played against each other last fall, and Griffin said they trained together for a time in Arizona last winter in the pre-draft process.

“Brandon’s play speaks for itself,” Griffin said. “He has a great arm, seems like a great leader. Everybody wants to question his age (28) but as long as you’re playing well right now it ‘matter what your age is.”

The Browns have not officially named Weeden their starter, but Griffin immediately got the keys in Washington. He knows NFL fans everywhere — not just in Cleveland — are anxious to see if he eventually lives up to the expectations.

“I think that (starting immediately) was the expectation once I was drafted,” Griffin said. “It’s big of Coach (Mike) Shanahan to do that right away with a rookie. That’s what I expect to do.

“No one should have higher expectations for you than yourself. I expect greatness out of myself. I’m not where I want to be today.”

Vikings open bidding, add drama to draft

The 2012 NFL Draft more or less starts with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings have officially started trying to sell their pick.

On Thursday, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman announced that his team has narrowed its pool of potential picks at No. 3 overall to Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

Spielman’s not doing that as a favor to his fans, those players or as any kind of contract negotiating ploy. He’s telling the other 31 teams in this draft — six or eight them, in particular — that the Vikings are open to discussion about trading that pick.

This is especially relevant to the Browns, who sit right behind the Vikings at No. 4. We heard from Browns GM Tom Heckert on Thursday that his team knows who it’s going to pick if it stays at No. 4.

The Browns’ window for high-level negotiation in the top third of the draft probably passed six weeks ago when they were outbid by the Redskins in trying to trade up to No. 2 and having the chance to draft Robert Griffin III. That was a closed auction, with the Rams vowing not to drive up bids of competing teams.

What the Vikings are trying to do is conduct an open auction, bringing back as much as possible for that third pick. Such is business in the NFL and atop the draft.

When Heckert talked Thursday, he shared details and philosophies. He said the Browns will always be open to discussion and to adding picks if they can still get a player they covet. He didn’t give away any trade secrets, but he shared solid information.

In general, we should probably hear more of Heckert talking personnel and less of the team president talking about not asking him playoff tickets, but that’s for another day.

For more — and more direct praise of Heckert — check Pat McManamon’s article from Friday afternoon.

The first two picks of this draft are all but set in stone. That the Browns, picking fourth, would have their choice narrowed to two players going into it isn’t as much a victory for fortune tellers as it is for simple mathematics. The only way the Browns don’t get their Plan A Player is if he goes at No. 3 overall.

The Vikings are dangling that No. 3 pick. They want the Browns to call about it. They want the Bucs and the Dolphins to call about it, too.

If we’re sure the Browns’ Plan A Player is Trent Richardson, some nervous moments are ahead.

(For what it’s worth: I’m rarely right, but I’m pretty sure Richardson is the Browns’ Plan A Player).

The Bucs, at No. 5, could covet Richardson as well and have enough veterans in place to be able to afford to give up draft assets to get up to No. 3. The wildcard in the entire draft remains Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. We think we know the Bucs don’t want Blackmon, and it would be a huge surprise if the Vikings really wanted Blackmon over a tackle or cornerback, but the Vikings have to play up whatever element of surprise, uncertainty and anxiousness are out there.

The draft is next Thursday. For its first uncertain pick, the bidding is open.

Browns non-move for RG3 was sensible, but also a shame

Not sure if this sounds crazy, but let’s try.

I really don’t second-guess the Browns a great deal for not mortgaging the farm and landscape to acquire Robert Griffin III. The price the Redskins paid was huge. The Browns were willing to a pay a really large price, but not a huge one.

And that’s OK.

They have a belief in doing things a certain way, they made a decision, they feel they’re right in what they did and they live with the decision.

It would be nice if they would actually … well … communicate their thinking on the trade to fans, but they haven’t. They will eventually, because they’ll be asked about the trade and they’ll answer. They may have to wait because the trade really isn’t official until Tuesday at 4 p.m., which coincides with the start of free agency. So perhaps it’s a matter of legalistic in the NFL world.

Alas, we digress.

I’ve always felt my job is to explain a decision, and if it makes sense. If it doesn’t, then you write all sort of snarky and smart alec things, or you go other extremes, like calling for a change of some sort. If it makes sense, you let the explanation from the team show why it makes sense.

In this case, the Browns decision makes a fair bit of sense.

They want to keep their draft picks. They didn’t want to give up (depending on whom you believe) more than two or three first-rounders.

They move on.

But there’s also a big part of me that wishes they had abandoned their beliefs in this one instance and just gone for it.

Griffin may be a bust. He also could be the guy everyone says he is. Only one time in my career have I heard such glowing praise of a guy leaving college, and that was a few years back when Calvin Johnson left and was drafted by the Lions (Andrew Luck is out of the equation because nobody thinks he’ll be available to any team but the Colts). Johnson has turned to be everything he was supposed to be.

Griffin gets the same praise.

Last week I talked to two different assistant coaches in the league, guys who had scouted Griffin. They raved about him. Said he’s a potentially great one.

How does he compare to Cam Newton, I asked.

Without hesitation, both said: “Better.”
However, when I asked each if they would give up two first round draft picks for Griffin, one said yes, the other said no.

Given this hype, had the Browns completed the trade, they’d have energized the fan base in a way nobody else will or can. Monday the Washington Times had a story about how the news in D.C. prompted folks to re-up on season tickets and the excitement the trade generated. That could have been happening in Cleveland.

Griffin could have also bought the Browns some much-needed patience with their fans. One of the unfortunate positions for Pat Shurmur is he is on the receiving of 12 years of pent-up frustration, even though he was only here for one.
Having Griffin at quarterback puts that frustration on hold.

Instead of touting this exciting rookie, the Browns now will find themselves explaining spending $40 million on Matt Flynn or adding Kevin Kolb or trading down to draft Ryan Tannehill or taking Brandon Weeden or saying that they’ve surrounded Colt McCoy with more talent.

Any of those moves might work, and work well.
But they don’t have the glitz and excitement and potential that Griffin brings.

There is logic in the team’s thinking.

But it’s still a shame they didn’t pull it off.

So, what’s next for the Browns?

With news of Friday night’s blockbuster Rams-Redskins trade, it sure seemed like the Browns got beat to the punch.

The Redskins not only beat the Browns to the bank, too, but were willing to pretty much empty the vault to get the chance to draft Robert Griffin, III.

Some Browns fans are outraged, and that’s understandable. Some Browns fans are relieved, thinking the Browns have too many needs to give up so much for one player. Their thinking is understandable, too.

I thought I needed to sleep on it before offering my two (more like six) cents. I did. Here goes.

**This Browns regime would deny — and has — that it’s too conservative, all too willing to exercise patience on top of patience, strictly build for and within its chosen systems and ride in the dust of its AFC North rivals. And we really don’t know — and won’t — know to what extent the Browns negotiated with the Rams or truly coveted Griffin as the guy who could finally be The Guy the Browns have been missing at the game’s most important position.

The fact is this regime still has to prove itself, its intentions and its methods — and until it does fans can either learn to love the LaMonte Coast Offense and get on board with more patience, or just give up altogether. Maybe the last two drafts really have been good enough, maybe this one will be really good and maybe another one in 2013 will be enough to close the gap. Maybe the Browns can hit big with three of the top 37 picks in this year’s draft, combine those guys with the core players who have agreed to long-term deals over the last seven months and maybe some time of actually sticking with a regime and schemes will pay off.

That’s a lot of maybes.

The Browns need a quarterback. Over the last few days we’ve heard the Browns general manager say the team doesn’t plan to go crazy in free agency and we’ve seen a trade made that ensures the first two picks of the upcoming draft will be the two blue-chip quarterback prospects.

Some other team traded for its next quarterback, and a bunch of others are chasing Peyton Manning in the quest for theirs. The Browns might have a plan for theirs, but it sure seems like they’ll either be in scramble mode, patchwork mode or more Colt McCoy mode when it comes to the quarterback position in 2012, and that’s a tough sell. Like many before it, the Browns 4-12 season in 2011 was no accident. Yes, the Browns do have a lot of holes to fill, but until they fill the biggest one they won’t be any kind of real contender.

**The Redskins gave up a ton, three first-round picks and a high second-rounder this year. They have to be more than sure that Griffin will be great and not just good, and there are simply no sure things when it comes to the draft. The Redskins’ shot-callers, Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan, will go down in shames and flames if Griffin fails to live up to his ever-growing hype, but they’ll go out having projected and picked the player they really wanted and needed and having done everything they could do to get him.

**Only time will tell on Griffin. Unfortunately for anybody who’s invested even a penny or an ounce of energy into the Browns, only time will tell what they’re planning to do, as well. Taking cornerback Morris Claiborne at No. 4 would be great if Claiborne turns out to be a great player. It won’t do much for a putrid run defense or the offense, though. If it’s part of the building, and the next two (more like four or five) picks are, too, it’s the right thing. As long as the Browns find a quarterback. Soon.

**Just me talking/guessing here, but if the Browns would have matched the Redskins’ offer (or come really close) they would have had made the trade because the No. 4 overall pick beats No. 6, especially in a top-heavy draft like this one. Also, because the Rams would have been shipping Griffin to the AFC.

**I think the Rams should send Cam Newton a thank-you card. They should send Cecil Newton one, too. And maybe one to Rob Chudzinski. I think the Bengals and Andy Dalton could get in on the thank-yous, too, for joining the aforementioned Carolina guys in showing that picking a rookie and tailoring an offense to his skills and strengths can be a way to speed up that whole progress thing and win some games along the way.

**The remaining question I’d have for the Browns if they really wanted Griffin and just failed to get him would be this: If you really are building this the “right way” and have been building this the right way and you didn’t need free agency last year, then you should have been in position to keep stacking picks every time the Rams asked for another on top of the stack, right?

If he’s really that good, and can make that much of a difference in the next few years, you should have been able to meet the Rams’ demands and count on the core you have in place and your other draft picks to keep filling holes, right?

Right?

**I don’t know if the Browns like Matt Flynn. I don’t know if the Browns have any real chance at getting Matt Flynn. I think they ought to explore it, because even if Flynn is just pretty good, having a pretty good quarterback would be an upgrade. And having a pretty good quarterback in place would make finding the right guys at No. 4 and 22 a lot easier, wouldn’t it?

**More of me just talking/typing out loud and seeing if it leads anywhere, but the Redskins coached the South team at the Senior Bowl. The North won the actual game, but the South was the stronger team. The Redskins got a unique look at Brandon Weeden, some first-round defenders and a bunch of talented players. They were willing to trade out of the chance to get any of those guys for the right to take Griffin.

Pretty sure says that Griffin is just that good. They’d better hope so.

**A product of being terrible is being put in terrible spots. Tom Heckert is absolutely right when he says that free agency is much more a black hole than it is a path to the Super Bowl, but teams at the bottom of the talent pool that don’t get splash players stay at the bottom of the talent pool. It’s much easier to draft when you’re good, too, even when only a handful of guys are supposedly blue-chip players. The Giants having answers at other positions allowed them to take all those defensive linemen that helped them win two Super Bowls and make up for holes in other areas.

This current Browns regime was certainly working from behind when it took over 26 months ago. The Browns went all in in 2008 and watched that blow up, and in 2009 Eric Mangini was allowed to orchestrate one of the all-time personnel disasters, taking a bad team and making it older, trading the only offensive skill players who scared opposing defenses and turning a crucial draft into a comedy of errors.

It just seems time to catch up. Maybe more accurately, time to be caught up. At least closer to being caught up.

Had the Browns made this trade, they’d have made a very bold move in the short term but still established a timeline for their latest rebuilding project. There’d be a couple growth years for Griffin and at least one year out of the draft’s first round altogether, but there’d something they were pointing to. Because they didn’t, too many questions still linger. The Browns, at least on March 10, are waiting for some other year again.

Redskins not high on Manning’s list?

The rumors and reports will come fast the next week as Peyton Manning decides on a new team.

Some of the first are not great for the Browns — because it sounds more and more like Manning will not join the Washington Redskins.

Then again, Daniel Snyder has not opened his wallet yet. And we all know what walks when money talks.

That being said, Manning is said to be more then reluctant to join a division that includes his brother. Eli is a fixture in New York, and that competition might be too close. It also might discourage him from joining the Jets. New York is big, but big enough for two Mannings is up for debate.

Too, Manning would prefer to stay in the AFC. At last check, Washington is in the NFC.

Finally, Manning would like a warm weather team or a team with a dome. Washington has neither.

All these factors seem to point to Miami, with a second tier of choices that includes Kansas City (brr)  or (if he can accept the NFC) Arizona or Seattle. Miami is a factor especially if Reggie Wayne also joins the Dolphins to form a triumvirate of Manning, Wayne and Brandon Marshall.

If Washington does not get Manning, they are back in the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes, which means the Rams would have the Redskins and (if they choose) the Browns competing for a trade to move up.

That means the Browns are back to having to give up both their first-round picks this year if they want to move up.

The happiest team in the league if Manning does indeed say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to the Redskins clearly will be the Rams.