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Tag Archives: Josh Gordon
Wide receiver Josh Gordon is back with the Browns after missing all of training camp to this point to focus on his physical and mental health. However, Gordon has not yet been cleared to practice and the Browns have placed him on the active/non-football illness list.
Gordon has only played in 10 games over the last 4 seasons for the Browns because he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy numerous times and was suspended.
The Browns and Gordon released this joint statement:
Statement from John Dorsey on Josh Gordon’s return:
First off, we are pleased for Josh. His overall health and well-being is what is most important. We commend Josh for his hard work, commitment and focus on becoming the best version of himself. We are glad Josh has reached a point where he can return to our organization, be in our building and be around his teammates. As he assimilates back to our team, Josh will initially participate in meetings and conditioning and will gradually resume all football activities as deemed appropriate.
A message from Josh Gordon:
Dear Cleveland Browns and NFL family,
Thank you for your love, support, and most importantly your patience as I took the time needed to ensure my overall mental and physical health.
More specifically, I would like to thank the NFL, NFLPA, the entire Cleveland Browns organization, the University of Florida, and my friend and business manager Michael Johnson Jr for playing such pivotal roles during this process. This has by no means been an easy road and I’m extremely grateful to have all of you in my life.
As I humbly return to being a member of this team with an opportunity to get back to playing this game I love, I realize in order for me to reach my full potential my primary focus must remain on my sobriety and mental well-being.
Let’s get to work!
Last season after coming back from a suspension, Gordon played in 5 games for the Browns, catching 18 passes for 355 yards and 1 touchdown.
Gordon’s best year to date was in 2013 when grabbed 87 passes for 1,646 yards and 9 touchdowns in 14 games.
Read the official statements on Josh Gordon being suspended from the NFL and the Cleveland Browns below.
Statement by an NFL Spokesperson on Josh Gordon:
“Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns has been suspended without pay for at least one year for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Gordon’s suspension begins immediately.”
[Note: The NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse is posted on nflmedia.com. From the home page, click on “Resources” and then “About the NFL.”]
Statement from Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer on Josh Gordon
“As we have conveyed, we are disappointed to once again be at this point with Josh. Throughout his career we have tried to assist him in getting support like we would with any member of our organization. Unfortunately our efforts have not resonated with him. It is evident that Josh needs to make some substantial strides to live up to the positive culture we are trying to build this football team upon. Our hope is that this suspension affords Josh the opportunity to gain some clarity in determining what he wants to accomplish moving forward and if he wants a career in the Nation Football League. We will have no further comment on Josh as he will not be permitted in our facility for the duration of his suspension.”
Without any hesitation I can say that the Cleveland Browns were the far better football team yesterday in all aspects – offense, defense, special teams and coaching. I picked the Browns to win the game because after watching the Steelers over the last 2 weeks I was able to see that they are an old team that lacks talent and should replace both of its coordinators. The Browns are a young team that has some proven talent and some potential young talent, with a head coach who actually seems to know what he’s doing and really loves his job. Kudos to Mike Pettine and his staff for making this team respectable this early in the season. Now let’s see how they handle prosperity.
The Browns should be favored in their next three games; at Jacksonville, then home against Oakland and Tampa Bay. I expect them to go no worse than (2-1) in those games and be at least (5-3) if not (6-2) after 8 games. Then the schedule gets tough with games at Cincinnati, Atlanta, Carolina and Baltimore. Plus home games with Houston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. So you better win the games you’re supposed to win and see if you can play .500 ball the second half of the season. If the Browns can do that, they could be looking at 8, 9 or even 10 wins. If you get to 9 or 10 wins, then you could be talking playoffs.
Having said all that, the Browns were (3-2) after 5 games last year and ended up (4-12). The difference this year I believe is an easier schedule over the next 3 weeks, Brian Hoyer is your QB and not Brandon Weeden or Jason Campbell, and a coach who the players actually believe in. Those 3 things should make a huge difference.
However the Browns are going to have to do it without one of their best and most respected players – Alex Mack. The Pro Bowl center reportedly broke his leg in yesterday’s 31-10 win over the Steelers and is expected to be lost for the rest of the season. John Greco filled in nicely on Sunday against Pittsburgh, but how he performs moving forward will affect the Browns offense in a big way, not to mention Paul McQuistan moving over to take Greco’s spot at left guard. The offensive line has been this team’s MVP’s so far this season. Their depth is going to be tested the rest of the way.
Nobody was harder on the Browns front office for ignoring the wide receiver position in the draft and in free agency than yours truly. Early on it looks like Ray Farmer and the Browns were right and I was wrong. We’ll see if Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin can both continue to make plays and if Miles Austin can stay healthy, but this group with some help from the O-line and Brian Hoyer have performed better than I thought they would. Plus they’ll get All Pro wide out Josh Gordon back for the 11th game of the season at Atlanta, which will have a huge, positive impact on the entire group.
Hats off to Chris Tabor and the special teams. A few weeks ago they were a laughing stock. The last 2 weeks, they have been solid and made big plays to change the momentum of the game. They were a big reason the Browns won in Tennessee and also against Pittsburgh yesterday. Good decisions, fundlemental play and no mental mistakes go a long way in helping your team win. Some of those things might not be sexy, but they help you win.
And last but not least, happy 29th birthday to local “Mr. Hero” Brian Hoyer. I used it as a trivia question yesterday at my Browns appearance at Jo Jo’s Sports Bar in Medina and someone knew right away that October 13th was the Browns starting quarterback’s birthday. A year ago I don’t think anyone would have known or cared, but after you lead the biggest road comeback in the history of the NFL and your kicking the Steelers butts all over the field, people start to notice and pay attention. It’s still a small sample size (8 starts), but it’s getting bigger and the results are the same. Hoyer is now (6-2) as the Browns starter and can be a free agent at the end of the season. Your call Jimmy Haslam and Ray Farmer. Do you believe enough in him to sign him now and maybe save some money, or do you wait until the end of the season and roll the dice? Yes you have Johnny “Jam Boogie” waiting in the wings, but he is nowhere near being ready to be a starting QB in this league. The Hoyer contract situation will be another story line to follow as this season progresses.
“New week, new challenge. Makes it a little bit more involved with this one because it is a division opponent. This is a good football team. The film doesn’t lie. I don’t think they were really themselves – they’ll be the first ones to admit it – when they played Cincinnati. I think you saw how they want to play going back to the Thursday night game. It’s a big challenge for us. I think it’ll be our stiffest challenge to date, and just wanted to make sure our guys got re-focused today in the team meeting and just still (have) that ability to compartmentalize wins and losses and move onto the next one I think is critical for our success moving forward. We’re two games in, and the guys I think have done a good job realizing that essentially the only thing the Saints game did for us was guarantee that we won’t go 0-16. I have a lot of respect for this franchise we’re getting ready to go against having spent some time there, knowing a lot of people down there that I worked with – a lot of respect for it. Having that information, it’s easy to figure out how big of a challenge this is going to be for us.”
On if there has been any recent news on the length of WR Josh Gordon’s suspension:
“No news, and I know there’s talk with upper level of management, but I’m bunkered in. We’ve got team meetings. We’ve got group meetings. Then, we go into position meetings. Until he’s here and we get official word, then I’ll deal with it at that point, but at this point, I think there’s still a lot of stuff floating out there as far as what – and I’ve heard a lot of different things, and it’s just hard to react to it until we actually get definitive word from the league.”
On if he thinks being around the team would be helpful to Gordon:
“I think so. I think that’s true of any player. I just think the structure, the ability to be around the guys, the camaraderie, just all that goes with it, and going back to the structure part of it – to be able to eat here and to lift here and be under the guidance of our strength and conditioning program, (Director of player engagement) Jamil Northcutt with the player development and (head athletic trainer) Joe Sheehan – just to have that support and that structure around, not just for Josh, I just think that anybody that’s going through anything like that it’d be helpful to be back.”
On if the game can be a statement in regards to the Browns’ past games against divisional opponents:
“We don’t really get into the past other than we looked briefly at the history here so our guys know what we’re dealing with, but previous struggles in the division – that has no bearing on this game, just like what happened this past Sunday has no bearing on this game. I think we have to have that ability to close that noise out so it doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy like, ‘Hey, we’re not supposed to be good in the division, therefore we won’t be.’ I just think that we know it’s a little bit extra when it is a division game, and I just think it’s important for us to play well in the division. You see a lot of teams play well outside of it and can’t get business done in the division, and I just think it’s important when you look at long term, whether it’s any team – any of the 32 – that you’re direct path to the playoffs is through your division. That, to me, just goes with it. You see some teams that are in tough divisions. They fight their way to be 8-8, 9-7, and they get in and make a run because they’ve been battle-tested by the strength of their own division. Again, I don’t want you put too much on it. There’s a little bit more on it because it is a division game, but we don’t look at it that way.
On the defense having trouble stopping the run:
“It was more by design this past week. We were in some smaller groupings and some lighter-spacing defenses more to encourage the run. Sometimes when you go against those elite quarterbacks, you have to have that mentality a little bit that you understand you’re going to concede some rushing yards, but in the long term, the clock’s moving, you’re shortening the game. I think they ended up with 10 possessions for the game, which is below the NFL average. Pittsburgh, I think, was more of a product of us missing tackles. I thought we tackled better against New Orleans, but we still want to go into each week…this week will not be a, ‘Hey, let’s them run the ball.’ I think, going against this team, they ran the ball extremely well against Pittsburgh. I think this’ll be more of a typical AFC North, old school kind of game. We want to run the ball, so do they. I think it’s important for us to take that mentality that we’re going to stop the run.”
On if the Jets defense allowed the Patriots to run the ball when he was on the coaching staff in order to defend Patriots QB Tom Brady:
“Correct, at times. Yes.”
On what he looks for in a MIKE linebacker and if LB Karlos Dansby has ‘it’:
“He absolutely does. That’s why he’s here. We’re looking for a guy that – first and foremost – can be a leader, take charge of the huddle, that is smart, can know the package inside and out, if guys have to be moved or calls need to be changed or check made that he’s capable doing it. The way that we play with our front guys and how we want to them to…if they’re getting double-teamed, to make sure that they anchor in. We have a saying with our d-linemen, ‘Keep your double teams to yourself.’ We don’t want those guys to be able to get off on the linebackers. That Mike linebacker needs to be a playmaker. He’s going to have opportunities where he should be clean to the ball in a lot of situations, and he needs to make plays. He fits that mold. That was something when we evaluated him on tape. We actually had done it in Buffalo and had him in for a visit, free agent visit, and he chose to go to Arizona. As staff, he was on our radar when he came available this year, as well.”
On what about his defensive scheme helps LB Paul Kruger:
“We’ll move him around some, won’t always have him on one side. We’ll give him some freedom with some of his pass rushes where we rarely talk in terms on contain. As a pass rusher, if a tackle presents him with a…it’s an over-set situation and he can come underneath we can give him the green light to do that. I think the guys that have played in it, some of the feedback you get is, ‘Hey, they kind of let me be me.’ There’s structure, but there’s some ability to freelance within it, as long as it’s tied in with everybody else and there’s some awareness of that. I think that’s true at certain positions. Outside linebacker is one of them, but as long as the guy that’s rushing next to me knows that there’s a chance I might take an inside entry then he’ll have to know that because there’s a chance that he might have to overlap. I think those guys do a good job of playing off of each other, but I think that’s important as a pass rusher that you aren’t always in that mold where, ‘Hey, I’ve got to set an edge. I’ve got to contain the quarterback.’ When offenses know that, it makes life easy on the tackles.”
On if it is accurate that Kruger is playing well against the run:
“It is, and I think that was more of a…I think he was always very physically capable of doing it. I just think it was our commitment to doing it at that position and just the techniques that we use, and I think it just became more of stressing it and an aiming point thing. I think a lot of that is just how they’re taking on blocks and the direction where they go towards the tackle. If you’re too far up the field, you’re going to get bounced up field. It’s simple physics. You’re usually outweighed by a lot when you’re going against tackles. If we’re thinking run, then we’re going to tighten those aiming points down, give him more of a chances. He’s bought into it, and there we’re some growing pains with it. There were a couple times in the preseason where he was running up the field. That’s when we hit him with the old, ‘Hey, you can’t get a sack on a running play.’ I overuse the phrase, but he’s one of the ones if you say, ‘Hey, who’s really bought in?’ It’s been ‘Krug.’”
On the physical and mental toughness the Ravens had when he was on their coaching staff and if that’s what he wants the Browns to look like now:
“It is. That’s what I know, and we tried to mold the Jets the same way. I think when you have that err about you – this goes back to the opening press conference – we talk about being tough, mentally tough, physically tough. When you look over the long haul those are the teams that win consistently. You can have long-term, sustained success if that’s your M.O. Even from an offensive standpoint, talking about running the football, sometimes conditions aren’t going to allow you to spread the field and air it out. Defensively, it’s just simple that if you have a great, tough defense and it’s hard for a team to score you’re going to be in most games. It’s something that I learned. It was a blueprint there for sure. When we had our success that’s what it was based on, and when we were successful in New York it was the same way.”
On why running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery is a guy he thought he’d like to have on his staff:
“I was fortunate enough to have worked with not just Wilbert, but with (offensive line coach) Andy (Moeller) for a year. It was on (Ravens Head Coach) John (Harbaugh)’s staff. His first year, Wilbert was the running backs coach and Andy was the offensive line coach. I got to know those guys really well. I was a little bit star struck when I first met Wilbert. I grew up a (Philadelphia) Eagles fan. I had a big poster of him. I had a Wilbert poster and my (Hollywood actress) Farrah Fawcett in my room (laughter). I mean, my hands were shaking when I met him. He’s Wilbert Montgomery. Being an Eagles fan, that was special. I learned very quickly just what a good football coach he is. He’s passionate. He’s tough. I think you need at least one guy like that. Fortunately for us, Andy brings a lot of that mentality, too. It was really a no-brainer to hire both of them.”
On if he’s going to address all the stuff going on in the NFL with the team –HGH testing, the Ravens RB Ray Rice situation and the Vikings RB Adrian Peterson situation:
“We will. I think as everything settles down from this and we get later in the week and the beginning of next week because it’s the bye week, we can spend a little bit more time before we kind of turn guys loose with the time off. That’s something that will definitely be brought up and discussed. I know Jamil Northcutt does a good job keeping those guys educated. It’s very much an open door. If guys are having problems, they know they have places to go. It’s important. You can’t ignore it. It can’t all be about football. There’s a human element here, and I think you’re doing yourself and your team a disservice if you just kind of forget that stuff and hope everything works out. We pick and choose our times to talk about it. Now in a game week it’s tough. We’re bunkered in, focused on this game, but there will be times where we kind of poke our heads up and look at the big picture.”
On if he’ll sit WR Josh Gordon down and have a talk with him when he comes back:
“That’s a hypothetical. I’m sure at some point when he is permitted to come back in the building. I’ve already had some good sit-downs with Josh, (General Manager) Ray (Farmer) and I both. When that occurs, we’ll sit down with him and just kind of lay the plan out for him. We’d like to think that all of our players…we’re on the same page with all of them as far as, ‘Here’s what your role is. Here’s what our expectations are.’ I don’t care if it’s the 10th guy on the practice squad or if it’s one of your better players, I just think that communication is important. Too many times you get caught making assumptions. It’s just better to be out in the open.”
On if the AFC North is one of the most physical conferences in football:
“Back for sure when I was with Baltimore through the bulk of the 2000s, it was very physical. Division games were…they called them double chinstrap games. You knew that – both teams – that the ice tubs were going to be filled up after the game. That was just the nature of the division. I think maybe in recent years it trended away from that, but I think it’s starting to circle back. Pittsburgh looks like they’ve committed themselves more to running the football. Certainly Baltimore…you look at the defenses in the division – Baltimore with the tradition, Pittsburgh with the tradition. Cincinnati’s defense has been real good lately. That’s certainly continued this year. We want to get ourselves to the point where we’re being mentioned with top defenses as well.”
On if the Ravens offense is the same as the Browns:
“There are some similarities, but it’s not tear the cover off the playbook. It’s not the same book. I think that (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) took what he liked from (Ravens offensive coordinator) Gary (Kubiak’s) system and kept it and then did some things on his own – changed some things up. I’d say the running game is probably much closer than the passing game is. I’d say the pass concepts between the two teams are different. There are still some similarities with the bootlegs and play action off of it – the early down stuff. I think the third-down pass games are very different.”
On if it’s because of the players’ skill sets:
“I’m not sure. I just think it’s how…I mean Kyle was in Washington and kind of did his own thing. To me, you’re always going to match your scheme to your players. There are some things in Kyle’s playbook that he probably hasn’t used yet just because he’s highlighted a certain area of the book based on who we have here. I’m sure they’re going the same thing. They have two big vertical threats with (Ravens WRs) Jacoby Jones and (Torrey) Smith and then obviously Steve Smith. He’s not as vertical as he was before, but still, he can run all the routes, make all the catches and just brings that high level of energy to that offense.”
On what it is about Ravens LB Terrell Suggs that has made him so successful over the years:
“He had a great position coach when he first started out in the league. I take all the credit (laughter). No Suggs, to me he’s a guy that…he works. He loves football. As goofy as he can be sometimes, at his core he loves the game, loves to compete. Like I said, he’s a fun loving guy, completely unfiltered, but when it’s time to flip the switch, he’s all about it. He’s a unique blend of size, speed and strength. He didn’t time well in the 40 (yard dash), but his short area quickness – which is what you need for a pass rusher – to me, is rare. He’s a guy…like I said, he works at it. He’s gifted naturally, but he’s made himself elite with his work ethic.”
On how glad he was back in 2006 that the Ravens got DL Haloti Ngata when they switched picks with the Browns:
“Oh yeah, when we flipped picks. To me Ngata was one of the top guys on our draft board. We were thrilled that he fell to where he did. I do remember the trade. I think it was (former Browns LB Kamerion) Wimbley, a sixth round pick and (Babatunde) Oshinowo (Jr.), a kid from Stanford. Haloti was a guy that we were thrilled to get. There were some question marks about him coming out that we thought were laughable. To me, we felt it was a steal to get him when we did. Obviously he’s produced at a high level for a long time.”
On if the ‘laughable’ question marks on Ngata were about his health:
“No, I think it was an inconsistent motor, but here was a guy that didn’t come off the field very often. He blocked seven kicks, I think, in college, something like that. When you watch the tape, we just didn’t see it, and it was never an issue for us at all. He loves football and was a great teammate right from the beginning. He was one of those rookies that stepped in, and you wouldn’t have known he was a rookie. Just another rare blend of a guy that big that he brought us videos of his…he was a very good rugby player and just him 320 pounds playing rugby and just five, six guys hanging on him. He just showed what a good athlete he was. He could dunk a basketball any way he wanted to. He’s a very unique athlete, and to his credit, his work ethic has had him playing at a very high level for a long period of time.”
On what his early days at the Ravens were like and if he ever had a vision that he would end up being an NFL head coach:
“No, I was thrilled to be there, and I was very much in the…people say, ‘Be seen and not heard.’ I was the not be seen and not be heard mode because I just know a big part of it is just getting in and I was very fortunate that the circumstances played out that I got my foot in the door. It was just bunker in and work. Worked a lot of long days, I was with the video department during the days, during practices. Then, I went and worked with the coaches at night just helping out with some of the computer stuff and overflow, quality control type of stuff and was just very fortunate to just step into a situation where it was (Falcons defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan, (Falcons Head Coach) Mike Smith, (Jets Head Coach) Rex (Ryan) – just guys that were future head coaches in the league. (I was) just very fortunate to have been essentially dropped into that situation.”
On the status of RB Ben Tate, TE Jordan Cameron and LB Barkevious Mingo:
“I don’t see Tate being able to go this week, and I’ll just hold comment on the other guys until we get them out there and see. Those two guys will likely practice today on a limited basis. We’ll see how they develop as the week goes on.”
On if he sees much of Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan’s defense left in Baltimore:
“Some, not much – I think it’s just kind of been a transition over time. I think when (Ravens defensive coordinator) Dean Pees took over there was much more of a New England influence – what he had done when he coordinated there. I think if it was back when it was (Colts Head Coach Chuck) Pagano or (former Ravens defensive coordinator Greg) Mattison you would have seen a lot of it. I think just over time…there are still elements of it, and I don’t know if the terminology has changed at all and how they identify things – just the language. It’s there, but I don’t think it’s…if you watch the two teams play, you wouldn’t say their roots are in the same defense.”
Here’s the podcast of “The Roda Report” with Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps on 92.3 The Fan from Wednesday, September 17th –
1) LeBron James – Yes he’s back and better than ever. Not only is he Cleveland’s best athlete, he’s one of the best athletes in the world. This isn’t a bad resume – 2 NBA Titles, 4 NBA MVP trophies, 2 NBA Finals MVP trophies, an 8-Time All NBA First Team selection, a 10-time All-Star and a 2-Time All-Star game MVP.
2) Kyrie Irving – “Uncle Drew” just picked up another MVP trophy, this time at the FIBA Basketball World Championship after leading Team USA to the gold medal. Plus he’s a two-time NBA All-Star and was last year’s All-Star game MVP. Oh yeah, he’s also a former NBA Rookie of the Year and a 3-point shootout champion and a rookie game MVP.
3) Joe Thomas – He plays one of the most important positions in football at left tackle, and is a 7-time Pro Bowler and a 4-time NFL All-Pro selection.
4) Kevin Love – He’s never played a game for the Cavs, but he will this season and hopefully for many more after that. The former Timberwolves power forward acquired this off-season in a three team trade is a double/double machine averaging 19.2ppg and 12.2rpg in his six year NBA career. He’s a 3-time All-Star, a 2-time All-NBA second teamer, led the NBA in rebounding in 2011 and was also voted the league’s most improved player that season, and like his new teammate Kyrie Irving, an NBA 3-point shootout champion in 2012. Oh yeah, last year in Minnesota he averaged 26.1ppg and 12.5rpg.
5) Joe Haden – He’s becoming one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and was named to his first Pro Bowl last year, as well as 2nd team All-Pro. How important is he to the Browns? He’s missed 7 games since being drafted in the first round by Cleveland in 2010 and the Browns are (0-7) when he doesn’t play.
6) Michael Brantley – He may be the best “Player To Be Named Later” in any trade in Indians history. He was the “PTBNL” in the Brewers-Indians deal in 2008 for C.C. Sabathia. Since then he’s become the Tribe’s best all-around player and was named an All-Star for the first time this season when he hit .322 with 15 homers and 63 rbi’s in the first half of the 2014 season. He’s on pace for a .320-20hr-100rbi season.
7) Corey Kluber – He came to the Indians as a no-name player in the Jake Westbrook three team trade back in July of 2010. Since then he’s slowly climbed the ladder from a guy who had struggled to make the roster, to one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, and the undisputed ace of the Indians staff. After going 11-5 with a 3.85era last season, Kluber has followed that up with a 16-9 mark so far, with a 2.54 earned run average.
8) Karlos Dansby – The self-proclaimed best linebacker in the NFL has only played two games for the Browns but has made an immediate impact. He picked off Ben Roethlisbrger in the opener in Pittsburgh and then came up with defensive play of the game against the Saints, sacking Drew Brees late in the fourth quarter to force New Orleans to punt the ball which then that allowed Brian Hoyer to lead the Browns down the field for a game winning field goal. His play on the field so far has been outstanding and his leadership in the locker room with a young team may be even more important. With the Cardinals last season, he was an NFL 2nd team All-Pro selection.
9) Yan Gomes – Talk about coming out of nowhere! Well Toronto is somewhere, that’s where Gomes was acquired from in a trade in 2012. After spending time at Triple-A Columbus in 2013 to start the season, Gomes got called up a second time when back-up catcher Lou Marson went down with an injury and hasn’t been back since. In fact he’s become the Indians every day catcher because of his solid defensive skills, his ability to call a game and manage a pitching staff and his offense and power continue to improve with every at bat. Gomes is hitting .286 with 19 homers and 64 runs batted in so far this season.
10) Alex Mack – A 2-time Pro Bowler and an NFL 2nd team All-Pro selection last season, Mack anchors the Browns offensive line and hasn’t missed a game since being selected in the first round of the 2009 draft.
Josh Gordon, Donte Whitner, Dion Waiters, Carlos Santana, Shane Austin
BROWNS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR KYLE SHANAHAN ON BRIAN HOYER, THE NO HUDDLE OFFENSE AND IF HE’D PLAY JOSH GORDON THIS WEEK IF ALLOWED
On if he planned to go to the hurry up offense against Pittsburgh or if it was just a matter of how the game was going:
“No, it was something we’ve planned for a while. We’ve been planning since the summer. It’s something we wanted to go to at some time in that game. We kind of planned on going to it in the first half. We just didn’t stay on the field long enough, so we opened up the second half with it.”
On if he’s surprised by how effective it was:
“We thought it would be good. It was a little better than anticipated. It was something that got them off-balance, tired them out a little bit. It tired us out too. When you do that that much, you get a little sloppy on both sides of the ball, but it ended up working out well for us – got some points, got us going.”
On if he can condition and train to be more of a no huddle team at this point:
“Yeah, you definitely can. You’ve got to do whatever it takes to score points. I think it’s different based on what fronts and coverages you go against every week. It’s different based on what you’re trying to accomplish with the no-huddle. I thought we did a really good job running the ball. It opened up a lot of bootlegs for us and things like that, which got us some easy completions. I think going to it in the second half made us avoid third down a lot because our first and second down plays were so good.”
On what he can do in a more conventional offense to be as good as they were in the second half:
“I think the key in the second half…well, we struggled in the whole game because we weren’t good on third down in the first half or the second half. What helped us with the no huddle was the plays we did were so good that we avoided third down. In the first half…we didn’t have a lot of success in the first half. That was obvious, but I thought that was because we didn’t do anything on third down. We got one third down in the first half, and on that third down, we scored. On the opening drive, we converted a third-and-one. We went all the way down really to the two-yard-line. It got negated by a penalty, and then we didn’t convert a third down the rest of the half. When you don’t convert third downs, it’s hard to have drives. I thought our running game did well, but we were punting. When we went to the second half, we went no huddle a lot. I think we had two third downs I want to say, out of the first 23 plays. We were one-of-two on them. Actually I believe we were zero-for-two on them. To me, what helped us wasn’t necessarily the success of the no huddle. It was the success of running the ball to where we didn’t have to face third down because we struggled on third down all game.”
On averaging 6.1 yards-per-carry against Pittsburgh and if that’s expectation for him or something that’s surprising:
“I’d like to say that we expect to run for six yards-per-carry every time, but I don’t think that’s been done before over the course of a year. It’s setting the bar a little bit high, but I would love for that to be our goal. Every time we call a run play we expect all 11 guys to block. We’re trying to score on every play. You rarely do, but our goal is to score. We’re not just calling runs to get three yards and stuff. We’re trying to be as explosive in the run game as in the pass game. I was excited for the guys because they made a big commitment to it – to working hard in the run game. I was excited for them to have some success and see it work. Hopefully we can work off it this week.”
On if the success they had in the no huddle had more to do with how well they were playing or with a vulnerability they saw in Pittsburgh:
“It’s both. It’s something we did when I was in Washington also. It’s just a package you can always go to. A lot of it has to do with what (defensive) fronts we’re going against and everything. Philly did have some success with them in the preseason, but this is a totally different type of no huddle so it really doesn’t relate. It was more about the looks we thought we would get and whether we thought those plays would be good against them. It worked, and so we stayed with it. If it didn’t, we probably would have got out of it.”
On what his take is on wordy play-calls, how long his play-calls are and if they can be streamlined:
“It all depends. The more words that you put in there, the more the other 10 guys don’t have to memorize. You don’t just make things wordy to make it harder for people. You make things wordy to make it easier for the other 10 guys. If you ever have a quarterback who’s really struggling with it then you make it easier and you put more on the other 10 guys. You like to put the most on the quarterback for him to repeat after the coach. I’ve got to be able to say it. Then if he can say it, it makes the other 10 guys jobs a lot easier.”
On if the process of getting all those words in affects the pace of the whole offense:
“It hasn’t for the last seven years, and everywhere else I’ve ever been it hasn’t. I don’t think it’s too big of a deal.”
On if he’ll be able to throw WR Josh Gordon right into the mix if he’s allowed to come back after the NFLPA votes on the NFL drug policy:
“Yeah, if Josh is able to play this week, I’d like to get him out there. I think he would help.”
On his thoughts on RB Terrance West and RB Isaiah Crowell’s performances on Sunday:
“I thought they did a good job. We expected for West to get some carries with Crowell being our third back. Then when (RB Ben) Tate went down, they kind of flipped roles where West was our main guy and Crowell was (the second back). I thought they had some really good runs. They got a little bit tired going into the no huddle just like the other 22 guys on the field did. There were a couple of times where we didn’t block it. We blocked it for about negative three. West had one where we blocked it for about negative three and he picked up 20. We did a hell of a job making some guys miss. They didn’t hit every hole right. They had a couple that they miss. That’s expected from rookie backs. It’s expected from any back. I just hope they get better this week and learn from some of the success they had last week and some of the mistakes they made also.”
On if he likes where the offensive line is:
“To have the success we did, I was obviously pretty happy with. At times they did real well, and then there were a few things that we missed that they know from. We do it over and over every week. I think they’ll get better from it throughout the year. Going into that game, they were good at the stuff we were expecting. They missed a couple of looks that we weren’t expecting. The more reps they get, the more they get playing in it, the more they’ll be able to adjust to that. I feel we’ll get better as we go. Just stay healthy. You have continuity. That’s the main thing with having those guys out there.”
On how he thinks running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery has done with the backs:
“I think Wilbert has done a great job. I never knew Wilbert until we brought him in here. I’ve known of him from being a fan of his when I was younger when he was a player. I’ve known him from just being a coach and what he’s done with the Rams and Baltimore. He demands a lot out of his players. He does a hell of a job. He works as hard as anyone I’ve been around, and he’s a real good person also.”
On if he has the mindset that it’s going to be a shootout against the Saints and if he maybe doesn’t want to give them the ball quickly:
“Not really. I’ve got a lot of respect for their offense and everyone else does too, but if you think that way, you’re not going to call a game right. You’ve got to call a game to put your players in a position to win, a position to be successful. If you worry about what the other offense is doing, you’re not doing what’s best for your players. I try to not think about that stuff and just take it one step at a time. Whatever the scoreboard says, I’ll adjust to that, but you don’t really go in thinking anything like that.”
On if he thinks that sometimes QB Brian Hoyer gets in trouble when he hurries himself:
“At times, I think all quarterbacks are like that. You’ve got to keep your same rhythm throughout a game, and by rhythm I mean just the tempo of your drop and your feet and going through progressions. You don’t want to speed anything up and force it. If people are taking somebody, relax, hitch up and go to the next one. If someone double-teams a guy, it opens up a hole somewhere else. You don’t have to force it in there. Sometime when you have max-protection and you don’t have as many people out on a route, that can happen, but if you can get five eligibles out on a route or at least four and they’re playing zone, someone is going to be open. Whoever they take away, it opens up another area, and you’ve just got to progress.”
On if he saw Hoyer’s comfort grow from the first half to the second half:
“Yeah, I think everyone’s did. When you start running the ball like that, it opens up a lot of things. It got us a lot of bootlegs and stuff like that – a lot of people more open than usual. Whenever you can have success going down the field like that and scoring some points, it helps everybody, coaches included.”
On what points he’s emphasizing to Hoyer this week in terms of facing Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan:
“In terms of going against their defenses, just really to not get too set on anything you see on tape. You never know what you’re going to get from Rob. I’ve faced him a lot being in Washington while he was in Dallas. He’s got a hell of a scheme. Everything you see on tape makes sense. He does a lot of stuff. I’ve learned if you work on all that stuff too hard, you’re probably not going to see it on Sunday. It could be a whole different thing, so you’ve just got to be able to go out there, relax, know your plays, go through progression. If you see something you haven’t seen before, don’t panic. We’ll come to the sidelines. We’ll talk about it and always be ready to adjust.”
On if they still would have kept Crowell if he didn’t have the game he had against Chicago:
“That was a decision…you’ve really got to ask someone else, but I know there were a bunch of guys battling for that third spot. Going into that game, we had two guys who were locked in and it could have gone any way for that third spot. He wasn’t locked in at all. He did well which helped him. It wasn’t just the guys on the team; they’re competing against other people in the league who are getting let off of other rosters. For him to have a good game like that, it definitely made it an easier decision for the people who make it to keep him.”
On if he’ll have a package for QB Johnny Manziel available for this week:
“As far as a Johnny package, like I said last week, a package is running our offense. Johnny is not a wildcat quarterback. If our starting quarterback gets injured or something like that, then your backup quarterback comes in. You hope he can run the offense and execute it. There are obviously plays that Johnny would do that Brian wouldn’t, but that usually has to do with the health of your quarterback and how the game is going.”
On if it really has more to do with Hoyer’s health and he wouldn’t put Manziel in as just a change of pace:
“Probably not, but that always depends on what you’re going against – what the looks are – how everything is going as a whole. There are really no absolutes, but week in and week out, it has to do with what I see on tape with who we’re going against.”
On if the third down play near the goal line where Hoyer turned the wrong way on a handoff would have been a first down if he had turned the right way:
“Yeah, it was third-and-one. I think we would have gotten a first down.”
On if they would have scored:
“Possibly. We were on the seven-yard-line. I just wanted to a yard. I think we would have had a good chance to get three tries from the six. I can’t say if we would have scored or not, but hopefully, I think we would have at least got the first down.”
On if has showed the players film of the Redskins winning at New Orleans two years ago:
“No, players don’t care (laughs). I really don’t care either, just like you guys don’t care (laughs). All that matters is that we how do this week.”
On it being a big deal:
“It was. It was fun for about 15 hours, and then I had to go on with the rest of my life.”
On if the game plan would be drastically affected if Browns TE Jordan Cameron can’t play on Sunday:
“Yeah, it affects how we look at everything. When you put together a game plan, a third down package, everything you do it affects it – who you want to get the ball to with matchups and stuff. I’m used to being in this situation. A lot of times you never know who’s going to be up, so you’ve got to have plans for both and make sure when it is a game-time decision and things like that that you’re not depending on the decision. You’re ready for it and you can go either way.”
Here’s my weekly conversation with 92.3 The fan’s Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps discussing the Browns/Steelers game, injuries to Ben Tate and Jordan Cameron, Josh Gordon and the NFL and NFLPA Drug Policy conversations and more.
The wide receivers are the worst in the league without Josh Gordon, who is suspended for the entire season. This is the biggest problem on the Browns roster.
At tight end Jordan Cameron has put up some nice numbers, but can he stay healthy for a full season and will he be able to shake the double teams that will be coming his way with Gordon out of the line up?
This is the one area where Ray Farmer has failed miserably so far as G.M. of the Browns. He chose not to select a receiver in any round of a deep wide receiver draft. Instead he tried to fill it through free agency with the signings of Andrew Hawkins (12 catches – 0 TD’s last year), Miles Austin (24 catches – 0 TD’s last year) and Nate Burleson who did score a touchdown last season, but he was cut. The rest of the receiving core is made up of LaRon Byrd, Marlon Moore, Jonathan Krause, Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin who all failed to reach the end zone last season or didn’t even play in the league. That is why this unit will be ranked 32nd out of 32 teams in the National Football League!
The Steelers do have a big time receiver in Antonio Brown, but after that, they have some question marks as well. In the last three years Pittsburgh has lost Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery to retirement or free agency. Brown will still put up some big numbers, but will he get any help from second year wide out Markus Wheaten, rookie Martavis Bryant and free agent pick-ups Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey?
The one compliment to Antonio Brown for Ben Roethlisberger will be a healthy Heath Miller at tight end. His combination of blocking, moving the chains on third down and being a favorite target of “Big Ben’s” in the redzone will help the Steelers passing attack immensely.
Because of Antonio Brown, veterans Moore and Bey and the potential of Wheaton and Bryant, along with Roethislisberger’s ability to create and make big plays and having his security blanket in Miller healthy, the Steelers passing game should be fairly potent at times this season.
WIDE RECEIVER and TIGHT ENDS ADVANTAGE – STEELERS
WHAT’S THE BIGGER LOSS – BRAXTON MILLER FOR THE OHIO STATE BUCKEYES OR JOSH GORDON FOR THE CLEVELAND BROWNS?
Braxton Miller was a Heisman Trophy candidate and was expected to lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and into the first ever NCAA College Football Playoff to battle for a National Championship. He has been lost for the year with a shoulder injury that he had surgery on Tuesday, August 26th.
Miller accounted for 3,162 yards of total offense and 36 touchdowns for the Buckeyes last season.
He threw for 2,094 yards with 24 TD’s and 7 INT’s.
He rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Miller is being replaced by redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett who has never taken a snap in a regular season game at Ohio State. Redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones could also see some time at quarterback. Jones has completed 1 pass in his career in Columbus for 3 yards, but has rushed for 128 yards and 1 score.
Josh Gordon was coming off a record setting year in which he led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 yards in only 14 games and he scored 9 touchdowns. Gordon’s yards per catch average was 18.9. Gordon has been suspended for the entire year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Browns G.M. Ray Farmer passed on drafting highly rated wide receiver Sammy Watkins with the 4th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and then proceed not to draft a receiver at all in the 7 round draft in a year when the receiver position was considered very deep.
The Browns did sign free agent wide out Andrew Hawkins from the Bengals, but he’s not even close to the player Gordon is, and he’s not even considered a #1 receiver. Hawkins totaled only 12 catches for 199 yards last season in Cincinnati and failed to get into the end zone.
The Browns are banking on free agent veterans Miles Austin and Nate Burleson to step in and fill the void left by Gordon’s suspension. Austin and Burleson combined to reach the end zone 1 time last year and both are known more for their injuries lately, than for what they’ve done on the football field. Austin only played in 11 games for the Cowboys last season and Burleson suited up for just 9 games for the Lions last year. Neither have helped the team or quarterbacks Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel so far in the preseason, can you really count on them in the regular season?