OBR Daily Blog 12/22

89 consecutive wins is pretty darn impressive. Does Geno Auriemma coach football, too?

8:00 AM

@CoraxSays DK is right… all the Mangini/Gruden speculation ignores the omnipresent dark cloud of the lockout.

Moment of Clarity
Dave Kolonich on December 23rd, 2010 AT 12:28 AM

Thanks to the constant speculation and infotainment circulating throughout the local media regarding the future exodus of Eric Mangini, another story has been relegated to the back pages – one that’s probably worth some consideration.

Here’s just a small sample…

Sporting News – Sources See Little Progress From NFL Labor Negotiations

"It's going to be a long spring," predicted a well-placed league source, indicating that there is likely to be no deal before the CBA expires on March 4. "There has not been much in the way of progress. Not much in the way of progress, at all."
Even Commissioner Roger Goodell, in his press conference after last Wednesday's special league meeting, took pains to distinguish between the talks that have occurred and productive ones.

"The reality is there is discussion going on, but it takes productive dialogue," he said. "It is not just about meetings and dialogue, but getting significant dialogue."

With that as the backdrop, some teams have begun planning for a future without a labor deal. The Houston Texans have what they call a CBA-response team, said the team's president, Jamey Rootes. The response team comprises team executives who communicate with key partners of the team, from government agencies to sponsors and ticket holders.

Wait, what? No mentions of “hot seat” and/or Jon Gruden?

My sincerest apologies, but as a precursor to any future discussion regarding the fate of several key members of the Browns’ organization, perhaps it’s worth considering that there is still no guarantee that an NFL season will be played in 2011.

And while the likelihood of such a scenario remains in the hands of a select group of billionaires clashing with a large group of millionaires, the current situation is nothing but tenuous at the moment.

Although the situation will certainly resolve itself – considering the huge stakes of lost income that could occur – a new labor deal could take months to finalize.

Which brings us back to the Cleveland media’s favorite subject – one beleaguered Eric Mangini.

Or perhaps more importantly in this particular scenario, the years remaining on Mangini’s contract.

If we take the bait and assume that yet another coaching change is imminent in Cleveland, then the prospect of a franchise paying two head coaches during a season that may not actually unfold is more than worth considering.

And of course, if a lost season results in lost revenues, this scenario doesn’t exactly make much financial sense.

But then again, in the media world, sometimes few things do.

Mangini Press Conference Transcript, Dec. 22
Don Delco on December 22nd, 2010 AT 5:09 PM

(Opening statement)- "Good morning everybody. As we get going this week, we're continuing to focus on areas that we can improve as a starting point and that's individually and collectively. Doing a lot of work on the running game on both sides, want to improve on third down and I think that will go a long way for us to even up or change the discrepancies or the differences that we've had in time of possession. Facing the Ravens, that's easier said than done defensively and as a team they've been incredibly successful, similar to Cincinnati, where they are ahead in the count in the giveaway take away ratio. The numbers are staggering it's like 75-5 when they're plus one so protecting football is a key component there. They're in the top 10 in multiple defensive categories and last time we faced them they didn't have Ed Reed, he's come back. He's produced quite a few turnovers himself. Whether it's running the ball against them or throwing the ball against them, that front is a difficult group to navigate through and there's a specific way that we need to attack them. Offensively, I really like a lot of things that they do offensively. This is a system that I'm familiar with through Brian Schottenheimer and his time with Cam Cameron and they create a lot of challenges formationally and by personnel groups and the types of plays that they run. Then they have very talented skilled players with (Joe) Flacco, I think playing well and continuing to improve as a quarterback each year. Ray Rice, the things he's able to generate on the ground running the ball but also the things that he's able to generate in the passing game, sometimes he turns those two yard check downs into 60, 70 yard plays. Anquan Boldin, he's been outstanding all season, Derrick Mason he creates problems for everybody that he faces, I'm not sure whether or not we'll get Todd Heap but you've got to push the coverage inside, you've got to push the coverage outside, they can test you in all those areas. I'm looking for us to improve in our run defense and continuing on the path we've been on most the season in terms of being able to generate turnovers and create negative plays. When you look at their special teams, John's (Harbaugh) done a great job here. Both returners are dangerous whether it's (Lardarius) Webb on the punt returns or David Reed I think he's done a really nice job for them in the kickoff returns. Then whether or not you're going to be able to return the ball is questionable because most of the times he's kicking it into the end zone or out of the end zone. There's not one area that's not going to create a challenge for us but with that being said I'm looking forward to the week and looking forward to us improving as a team."

(On if he likes playing these last two games against the AFC North)- "I think this is a really good format where you play the division teams at the end and it's happening all throughout the league where you have some exciting games and you get to play the teams that are in your division. I think it's a really good format."

(On if the recent failures on third and one are caused by predictability)- "It's not always the same run, we've been stopped on some other things as well. I think what it comes down to is consistency of execution more than anything else. We had opportunities on all those runs where we didn't fit the blocks correctly, there are a number of things. We've all faced situations and teams where you know what they're going to do and then it's a function of whether or not you can stop it. You're not trying to be overly predictable by any stretch but there's certain plays that have a high success rate and usually continue to have a high success rate and you have enough of them so you can bury them so it's not always the same one each time."

(On if Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback)- "I'd say he's an elite quarterback. I think the numbers that he's put up and the wins that he's been able to produce put him in that category. What I've seen over time is the improvement. He's a really bright guy, got to meet him during the draft process and you would expect that from someone like him. I know I say that a lot when we face quarterbacks like this but they learn from their experiences. Each game, each season they're seeing more of the field, they're able to anticipate more what defenses are going to do, they're more familiar with opponents and players in the league so all those things when you get a hard working, smart quarterback all those things just continually improve their game to the point where it's a challenge every time they drop back to throw."

(On if Peyton Hillis caught the Ravens off guard the last time they played)- "I'm not sure whether that was a surprise in terms of his style or anything like that. I attribute a lot of it to good blocking. I thought that the guys blocked well. I thought we blocked well up front, I thought we blocked well with the tight ends, with the fullback and I think Peyton ran the ball well. There's a way that you have to do it to be successful and I thought collectively we did a good job of that."

(On if Hillis is worn down at all)- "No, I don't get the sense that that's the case. I'm sure it's totally different for him to have this kind of work but he's one of the most well conditioned guys that I've been around. I think he relishes every chance he gets to continue to carry the ball and be productive."

(On the possibilities of Coye Francies playing in multiple receiver situations)- "It will depend on how many receivers we're talking about, there are a lot of variables as to how much he'll play and things like that. I've seen him from the time he left to the time he got back, I think he's got a better understanding of how important every opportunity is and how you can't let any chance slip through your grasp and not take advantage of it. You have conversations with guys all the time who you've either drafted or had been with the same team for a long time and you just try to express as clearly as you can that it's different when you leave the team that drafts you. It's different when you leave the team you've been with and you don't know what's going to happen at that point. I think a lot of people assume they get picked up right away, it's going to be this wonderful opportunity somewhere else, roses and everything is going to be great and then you go out you're on the wire for a little while or sitting at home and you start to look back and you say, ‘Gosh, I needed to take advantage of those chances.' I'm not just singling out Coye here but he's got a much better understanding of the need to jump on each chance."

(On if the light has come on for Brian Robiskie the last few weeks)- "I don't really think the light's been off. I think it's just had a chance to shine a little bit brighter. Sometimes that's the case. It's hard to predict when it's going to start clicking for a guy. Steve Johnson in Buffalo, there's a guy that in two years didn't have a lot of production and he's been incredibly productive. Mike Sims Walker, it just hits at different spots."

(On why Robiskie is playing better)- "Sometimes you just got to keep working at it and keep improving and that little bit better than you were this game than you were the previous game is enough to help you get open that game. Then you get a chance and as you get a couple chances and it starts hitting, those chances tend to increase. I think it just comes through consistency. I'm looking for him to continue along this path the next two games and in to next season."

(On how imperative it is that Colt McCoy or someone comes through and gives the Browns the same level of quarterback play as their division rivals)- "Everybody wants to have an elite quarterback, believe me. You want that. It's a game changer when you can get that guy. The reason it's hard to get it is because there aren't very many of them out there. I've been encouraged by what Colt's done and get another chance to see what he can do here this weekend against an elite defense and the following week against an elite defense. The most important thing for him is just worry about this practice and the next practice and the next practice, one step at a time and get to the game. That's been my experience with those guys is that they've got tremendous focus on the task at hand and they continue to improve like Flacco has."

(On if there is something unique about Baltimore's defense that McCoy should be aware of)- "Ed Reed, he's pretty unique. They have got a great ability to rush the passer. Ray Lewis has been playing there since Colt was what, six? How long has Ray been there, since '96? I don't even know how old Colt was at that point. Those veteran defensive guys, they are savvy defensive guys there. This isn't like trying to look off a bunch of young guys. They've seen a lot of things and they do a good job with disguising coverages and they bring a lot of different pressure looks. It's great, it's a great test."

(On if McCoy has had any moments that make him look like he is a step behind)- "No, I haven't felt that way in the game where that was the case. He's really good, especially for a young guy, with his level of preparation. Even if they do catch him once, he's also very good at coming over to the sideline and usually he gives outstanding feedback. ‘The corner came, I thought he wasn't going to come because he wasn't backed up.' He can go through mentally what happened and understand it. We can talk through that if it happens again, we can do X, Y or Z. Where some guys will come off and you'll say, ‘What did you see?' ‘I don't know, somebody came from over there.' It's harder to really fix that."

(On if McCoy's voice can carry weight in the locker room or if it is harder because he is a rookie)- "I really believe you get legitimacy in any area by showing that you can help and that you belong and that you're committed to the right things. Colt has all of those things. Whether he's a rookie or not, he's leading the team offensively as the quarterback and he's done a good job performing in that role. He's not afraid to assume that role. If anything, he relishes it. Whether you're a young guy or an old guy, everybody can respect that. He goes out and he practices hard, he prepares hard and he performs and it hurts when he loses. It's hard to look at that and not say, ‘Let me hear what you have to say.'"

(On if he has coached anyone else that has accepted a leadership role as quickly as McCoy has)- "I think in a lot of ways, Alex Mack had last year. He was thrust in a position that's really difficult on the offensive line. He's responsible for a lot of calls, a lot of communication and Alex is another guy that gets better because he works at getting better each day. He practices at the same tempo. It's important to him and he's just going to continue to improve. There's legitimacy, not just in his play, but there's legitimacy in the way the guy approaches everything related to his craft. For a young guy, that's impressive. It really is."

(On if he is laying awake a night worrying how to stop Baltimore's running game after struggling to stop the run the past couple of games)- "No. We've stopped the run, we've done it successfully throughout the course of the season. Ray Rice is outstanding, but what we need to do is we need to play with the proper fits, we need to play with the proper technique and we need to tackle when we have the opportunity to tackle. We are not creating some cure-all defense that's not what the issue is. The issue is, just like with running the ball, it's usually blocking, the technique of blocking, leverage and angles and things like that. Defensively, it's the same thing. It's how you fit the blocks, how you read the plays, it's when you have the chance to tackle, tackling and it's being consistently physical. Those are the answers. We could put eight in the box, we could put 10 in the box, we could slant guys and we could do a ton of different things. That's all great and they are great changeups, but the answer is fundamentals, technique and tackling, which we have done at a very high level at different points during the season. We have faced a lot of really good backs and have been successful with that."

(On if guys have been trying to make a play when there was not one to be made)- "That sometimes happens Mary Kay (Cabot). If a team is having as much success as Cincinnati was having last week, sometimes you try to generate a play and it never really works. You jump into a gap that you're not supposed to be in and the problem that was fixed, now isn't fixed because you're in the wrong spot and now they just exploit the other area. That does happen and you actually have to talk to the guys on the sideline about that because there are ways to solve it. It's not everybody, ‘I'm going to solve it, I'm going to solve it, I'm going to solve it.' It's coordinated, ‘This is what we have to do to fix it.'"

(On why Shawn Lauvao is not in the starting lineup)- "To this point, the other guys have played better than him. That's really the explanation Tony (Grossi). That's not ruling him out and I like Shawn. He has improved and it's like anything else, to play he has got to show that he can play better. That's what I'm looking for and he could easily have an opportunity this week or next week."

(On if Scott Fujita had a setback for him to be placed on injured reserve)- "No, not really. I know we talk about this all the time, you shoot for certain dates, there are ranges of things, you go through. You're optimistic and then it slows down a little bit. It just wasn't going to work this week and it was iffy for the following week, so we just felt like it was best to shut him down and try to bring somebody else in."

(On who will not practice today)- "Hillis will be one guy. I can't remember who else."

(On what is wrong with Hillis)- "He was just nursing his injury and he will be back tomorrow. I'm not trying to be cryptic, I didn't even go through the list because it was a smaller list today. We put all of those other guys on IR so I thought, ‘Oh, we are pretty clean here.'"

(On the skills that Flacco had coming out of Delaware)- "He's big, strong, smart, a strong arm, moved well, had a high completion percentage, was really successful there and interviewed well."

(On if Flacco was underrated because he came out of a small program)- "That's always part of the equation. You look at it and say, ‘Okay, how do you compare this guy at an elite school versus this guy.' Maybe it's an elite school for that division, but it's nowhere near the level of competition. It's hard to do it because everybody has a different opinion on how well guys from the lower divisions project up. Other people, if you really like the guy, you say, ‘He hasn't had the exposure to all of the great that a big program can offer, so he hasn't really scratched the surface in his development.' It's just how much you like the player. I've heard arguments both ways. You may get a guy from a really elite program and they say, ‘Oh, he's peaked because he had all of the advantages in coaching and all of that. He'll never get any better.' It's all over the place in how it is evaluated."

(On if he said that Hillis had a specific injury)- "I think it's more rest than anything else. It's pretty much how I would classify it. It's nothing that I am that concerned about for tomorrow."

(On what Travis Ivey has done to get signed to the active roster)- "He's another guy that's done a nice job on the practice squad. He got the Player of the Week the one game, which goes to a practice squad player for their effort, intensity and the way that they showed it. He's been consistent with what we've asked him to do and his effort and all of the things that you're looking for out of a practice squad guy. He's a big man, he's a strong man and I think he's done a better job of understanding how we play our defense and he's improved in that over the course of time. I thought we would give him an opportunity and see what he can do."

1:01 PM

@WFNYCraig Should I play along? ;-)

10:10 AM

(Subscriber) Adkins: The Tough Questions: Hot topics? Coaches & QBs, of course. OBR’s Lane Adkins has answers. http://bit.ly/g6WM3x

Latest Links from the OBR Newswire
OBR Newswire on December 22nd, 2010 AT 10:00 AM

These are links from the OBR Newswire for December 22nd from 08:49 to 08:50:

6:56 PM

@bulldawg29 If they put them on the IR, then it opens the roster for guys who can play Sunday. The Browns are real thin at some spots now.

6:22 PM

The Browns officially put Eric Wright and Scott Fujita on IR this evening. Not good, but not surprising.

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