OBR Daily Blog 12/24-25

Have a very Merry Christmas from The OBR to you and yours!

9:12 PM

Browns-Ravens: Game Scout: The raw data you need before Sunday’s battle between the Browns and Ratbirds. http://bit.ly/g3DaML

7:50 PM

@sportstalkCLE Merry Christmas to you as well!! GO BROWNS!!

7:11 PM

@scottiegraef Merry Christmas to you as well!! GO BROWNS!

2:00 PM

Upon Further Review: Kick Returns: Josh Cribbs’ ailing foot is not the only reason for the team’s recent kick re… http://bit.ly/eReKOy

OBR Newswire updates for December 24th through December 25th
OBR Newswire on December 25th, 2010 AT 9:00 AM

These are links from the OBR Newswire for December 24th through December 25th:

12:48 AM

Browns-Ravens: Don’s Game Preview: The keys to the game: Feline vision, repetitive foolhardiness, and Peyton Hil… http://bit.ly/eXx6F3

7:13 PM

Browns-Bengals: Gameballs and Goats: No offense and losses to bad teams = Boredom, disgust, and low GBG totals… http://bit.ly/hpJfyu

5:41 PM

Browns Sign Bills Practice Player: Hot News for DL Ko Quaye http://bit.ly/fTymvB

Browns Seemingly Healthy for Sunday, Considering….
Barry McBride on December 24th, 2010 AT 4:39 PM

One of the nice things about putting 294 people in your injured reserve is that it cleans up your injury reports nicely. Robert Royal is the only player listed as doubtful for Sunday, with no one listed as  ”out” for the Browns.

Listed as questionable for Cleveland are LB Eric Alexander, DL Kenyon Coleman, and DL Shaun Rogers. Listed as probable are LB Marcus Benard, DB Sheldon Brown, WR Josh Cribbs, RB Peyton Hillis, QB Colt McCoy, WR Chansi Stuckey, and offensive linemen John St. Clair and Floyd Womack.

The Ratbirds list WR David Reed and S Tom Zbikowski as out for Sunday. No players are listed as doubtful for the Rats,

More Than Just Mangini
Dave Kolonich on December 24th, 2010 AT 4:35 PM

Lost in the frenzy of Christmas and general Browns’ fatigue was this gem from defensive coordinator Rob Ryan…

News-Herald – Rob Ryan Makes Case To Retain Coaching Staff

“If they break it up — I’m not going to farm anybody’s land, but that would be dumb as hell,” Ryan said bluntly Thursday afternoon.

Such a comment is worth more than a quick pre-holiday blog post, but going beyond Ryan’s words is a simple, yet overlooked truth.

Despite the affections of some towards an Eric Mangini firing, such a move would cost the Browns a pretty talented set of coaches.

While Ryan has certainly taken his lumps over the past few weeks – at least considering the dreadful performances turned in by his rushing defense – it’s worth noting that the Browns are essentially playing 3-4 backups among the front seven at times.

And while the creative brilliance that was on display during the Browns’ routs of New Orleans and New England hasn’t been seen lately, it’s obvious that Ryan has a great mind for defense.

Perhaps the same could be said for Special Teams Coordinator Brad Seely. All of the Special Teams players I talked with after the Cincinnati game repeated the same chorus that Seely is among the game’s best.

Newly acquired safety Sabby Piscitelli even referred to Seely as being “notorious” around the league for his stellar coaching abilities.

And while offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has taken his lumps over the past two seasons for an offense that at times has resembled a prehistoric 1930′s squad, the unit he has been charged with improving is still lacking any true playmakers beyond Peyton Hillis.

And speaking of playmakers, perhaps the Browns’ biggest offensive weapon – rookie Quarterback Colt McCoy – should owe a debt of gratitude to Quarterbacks’ coach Carl Smith. The job that Smith and Daboll have done in preparing McCoy for NFL action has been remarkable.

Much in the same way that first-year Secondary coach Jerome Henderson has cobbled together lineups featuring two rookie starters.

Anyway, the point is clear – while the development on the field has not been ideal in 2010 and could lead to some major offseason changes, any wholesale firings could cost the Browns’ organization much more than just a head coach.

Barry McBride on December 24th, 2010 AT 4:31 PM

(On how Peyton Hillis will be)- “I think Peyton will be fine.  You’re out without any pads or anything and you’re out on the grass so I think he’ll be fine.”

(On if Hillis has slowed down at all with the wear and tear)- “No, I don’t I think he’s been pretty consistent throughout.”

(On when he got a sense that the run game was going to work last time against the Ravens)- “When you play a team like that that has arguably one of the best defenses in the league I think the two teams we’re playing in the next two weeks have the best defenses in the league.  You’ve just got to stay at it and hope you can spring one.  The line did a good job of blocking throughout the whole game. They’ve got really good players and he did a good job running.  You spring a couple there and it kind of helps, we were going to stick with it.”

(On Colt McCoy’s first game back after the high ankle sprain)- “I thought he did well.  I thought he’s done well since he’s played.  He’s upstairs right now, I was just meeting with him going right back up to meet with him. He’s a grinder.  There were a couple close ones there but he was turning it loose. He was trying to make the right decisions but at the same time, not going to be afraid to throw it down the field.  I think right now he’s played a lot less than a lot of other people but in terms of yards per completion in the league I think there’s only three or four quarterbacks ahead of him, (Aaron) Rogers, (Philip) Rivers, (Michael) Vick and Vince Young I think when he played.  He’s only played six games trust me guys, but he’s top ten in completion percentage behind a few good ones.  He’s close to top ten in quarterback rating so he’s making progress but within the six games he’s played.  Unfortunately not in wins though, that’s what the most important thing is.”

(On close throws McCoy had)- “He had the one where he lost (Keith) Rivers. He was waiting on a guy on a route who was too deep on his route so then he came off he lost the guy that’s covering the guy.  He knows he can’t be late to the flat like that.  The other one was close but he turned it loose it was the one to B-Ro (Brian Robiskie).  You’d like not to throw it across your body when you’re running right but heat of the moment he made the play. He made a nice throw and it was the perfect spot so you got to balance it a little bit.”

(On how McCoy is always confident)- “That’s what’s been impressive about him too.  He’s got good leadership qualities about him, you can’t teach him that.  He gets it as a young guy.  Now these two defenses we’ll see. It’s going to be definitely a challenge for us.”

(On how Rob Ryan said McCoy is going to be a superstar in the league)- “I love Rob.  I just like the kid’s attitude and I think it says something about him right now that we just got done with meetings and he’s, ‘Let’s go. We’ve got to go watch one more.’  There’s about a 100 play tape up there from the blitzes all through the year that we want to go through one more time.  I think that says a lot about him.”

(On when people stopped saying it’s only X games for Tom Brady like he said it’s only six games for McCoy)- “I don’t know, I think they still say it now (joking).  I don’t know.”

(On when the trial was over for Brady)- “I couldn’t tell you.  I just know each week it was the same thing.  The kid was a preparation freak and we never talked like that. Maybe for Bill (Belichick) and the coordinators and stuff but it was just go to work.  You just went to work and worked and worked and worked.  I think maybe after we won the Super Bowl.  The good thing about this guy here, he knows he got a ton of room and he’s only played a little bit.  I think the thing that kills him the most and kills us the most is we’ve got to get those wins.”

(On McCoy being critical of all phases of the team that need to be improved)- “I think it’s good.  I think he takes a lot of accountability too.  He’s going to speak his mind and that’s great.”

(On if those characteristics are a result of McCoy being a coach’s son)- “I just think that’s the kid.  He’s harder on himself when we are in there.  In watching today, he had one that kind of sailed and they were busting on Mo (Mohamed Massaquoi).  (Joshua) Cribbs said, ‘You should have caught that ball.’  (McCoy said) ‘No, he shouldn’t have.  That was a terrible throw.’”

(On McCoy talking about the run defense needing to improve)- “I didn’t read that.  I don’t know all of the stuff he says.”

(On if McCoy is feeling alright after being sick earlier in the week)- “Oh yes.  I think he is.  You would have to ask him, but I think he’s fine.”

(On the pressure that Baltimore’s defense brings being a test for McCoy)- “Yes, but you forget who he opened up with too.  The Pittsburgh Steelers, they brought a lot of pressure.  The New Orleans Saints, they brought a lot of pressure.  He’s played teams that have brought a lot of pressure and we are anticipating this team bringing a lot of pressure.  He’s got to make his right points, get us in the right protections, move in the pocket if he has to and keep his eyes down the field.  It’s just moving into another game for him, but he’s seen some teams that like to heat him up.”

(On how Ed Reed factors into their offensive preparation)- “He factors in a lot.  I just think he’s an excellent player. He’s been that way for a long time.  He’s fun and challenging to watch at the same time because he might play a post safety defense where he’s supposed to be 20-25 yards in the middle of the field and he’s intercepting the ball 10 yards to the sideline on the right.  He’s just, gone.  There are sometimes where you’re not going to be able to see it and you have to make sure you’re protecting him.  I remember a game he played against Chad (Pennington) in Miami.  They were running a little short route to the left, they were in a 3×1 set a few years ago in the playoffs.  He was playing the deep part of the field to the right as you’re looking at the offensive right.  The guy ran in like this, and he’s supposed to be there in the back half of the field, so they have got two deep safeties.  This guy is way over here and he picked it right from the snap.  He didn’t even drop, he just ran right there.  Unbelievable instincts.  He’s unbelievable.  I just think he’s an unbelievable player.”

(On who is better, Reed or Troy Polamalu)- “They’re both great.  I can’t pick one, that’s like my kids.  They’re both great.  Instinctually, they just play football.”

(On their struggles running the ball on third and short as of late after being so successful most of the season in that area)- “Nature of the business.  It comes with the territory.  You like to pound your chest and try to get that yard, but it didn’t work.  They stopped it.  (Bad) call.”

(On their struggles on third down in general)- “Last week, we hit a sight adjust there to Brian (Robiskie) early and we hit one late to Ben (Watson).  In between there, the first thing you have to do is be able to protect and you’re getting a lot of blitzes and things like that.  We got sacked a couple times there.  Usually you are going to get man to man so whether it’s pick routes or getting open, we have got to protect it, throw it, catch it and do all of those things we keep on harping on.  Cincinnati now, they were a really good third down team.  The two teams we played before, I think it was the same percentage the two previous weeks.  One little mishap and it screws you so we have got to get better at that obviously.”

The Education of Colt McCoy
Dave Kolonich on December 24th, 2010 AT 4:19 PM

Interesting read from Pro Football Weekly’s Mike Wilkening on the development of Browns’ QB Colt McCoy. Misleading title aside, Wilkening has realized what most Browns’ followers have already figured out – that being that McCoy behind center gives the Browns the greatest chance to win.

Pro Football Weekly – Browns Need to Let McCoy’s Playmaking Ability Shine

However, given that McCoy is now a sage veteran of six NFL starts, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

One area in which McCoy must improve is sensing the pass rush and unloading the ball before he takes a sack. He has had a tendency to hold on to the ball too long. He was sacked four times vs. Cincinnati and was taken down six times by Jacksonville in Week 11. It’s a positive sign that he’s willing to give his receivers every chance to get open, but he needs to cut down on the negative plays — and the hits he’s taking from bigger defensive players.

As for the “tendency to hold on to the ball too long”, let’s be rational here. McCoy’s occasional lapses are pretty far down the level previously established by the likes of Charlie Frye and Brady Quinn. In fact, compared to these two former Brown QB’s, McCoy is nothing short of Dan Marino.

Also, it’s worth noting that McCoy has the natural alarm clock that enables him to roll away from pressure. As Wilkening suggests, since the Browns’ receivers are not skilled at creating separation, any extra time McCoy can buy for himself is incredibly beneficial for a still struggling offense.

Of course, these points aside, it’s becoming obvious after each McCoy start that the Browns may have stumbled onto something last April.

But let’s be clear: McCoy has helped the Browns’ offense, and he has been their best quarterback this season, both the best playmaker of the group and the most careful with the ball. This was his best start yet. If the Browns could have made a few more stops on defense, they likely would have won, considering how McCoy riddled the Bengals’ pass defense.

Beyond the statistical production that McCoy has given the offense, there is a sense of calm that the rookie QB brings to his team – an intangible that can best be compared to the frantic and often erratic play of Jake Delhomme, Quinn, or even Derek Anderson.

As for what that last thought truly suggests, we’re either ready to annoit yet another future savior of the franchise, or perhaps prepare one more condemnation of the past.

Latest Links from the OBR Newswire
OBR Newswire on December 24th, 2010 AT 4:00 PM

These are links from the OBR Newswire for December 24th from 15:53 to 15:57:

3:09 PM

Fan View: Spin and Bad Choices: So, would you prefer death by nausea or fatal toe fungus? Jeff B. gives up his o… http://bit.ly/guczSC

2:49 PM

(Subscriber) X’s and O’s: Are Ravens Ready For Hillis?: Things have changed since the first time the Ravens face… http://bit.ly/e140XY

2:11 PM

@patrick__martin Right back at you, bro. GO BROWNS!!

Transcript: Eric Mangini, 12/24
Barry McBride on December 24th, 2010 AT 12:45 PM

(Opening statement)- “Happy holidays everybody.  The only guy that’s not practicing today is Robert Royal and we’ll just have to see with him. We’ll take a look at him tomorrow, maybe game time to see where he’s out but he will not be able to practice today.  In terms of what we’re doing today is we’ll go through our normal Friday prep. We’ll review third down, work on the red zone and really follow the pattern.  The only thing different that we’ll do is that we’ll have meetings after practice today and then the guys will have some time tomorrow morning to spend with their families and kids and things like that. We just shifted the schedule around a little bit to try to give everybody a chance to spend a nice block of time with their families and kids, enjoy the day.  Then we’re back at the hotel tomorrow night and clean up whatever we need to clean up.”

(On if he is going to spend the day at home tomorrow)- “We’ll have some people over the house tonight and that will be fun and then tomorrow morning the kids I’m sure will be up early.  Jake’s already taken me through his timeline.  I told him he can’t get out of bed until seven o’clock but he’s been negotiating that pretty steadily in terms of what he has to do.  They’ve got it all plotted out so I’m sure there’ll be a new game plan tonight when I get home.”

(On if Peyton Hillis is going to be able to do more in practice today)- “He’ll do significantly more today than he did yesterday and he should be fine for Sunday.”

(On if Colt McCoy was fine yesterday)- “Colt was fine. I really think it was one of those bugs that guys get.  Kind of came on quick, left quick which is a good thing as opposed to lingering.  He was no problem yesterday.”

(On if he knew Billy Cundiff had such a good leg when he was with the Browns last season)- “I don’t think he had any touchbacks for us when he was here.  Going to have to pick his brain in the offseason to see what he did to change that or to create the touchbacks that he has.  He’s done a really outstanding job with that.”

(On if they have noticed what Ray Lewis said about Hillis recently)- “The great thing about Ray Lewis is he says those things and then he usually backs it up.  Anybody can call their shot, it’s just whether or not they can back it up and Ray over time has been able to back it up.  That’s always what happens.  If you put it out there, you have to be able to go do it and he’s done it a lot of times. It’s no secret how impressive he is as a linebacker, as a leader, as really all the different elements that you look for in that position and in the leadership position.  He’s amazing.  He’s going to the Hall of Fame.”

(On how practice has gone)- “Practice has been good.  The guys have been focused and very efficient in our operation at practice.  The last two days have been cold, it’s back to Cleveland weather.  That wind yesterday whipped through people.”

(On if they have been practicing outside because the field isn’t frozen)- “That’s really the factor that we look at is what’s the footing like.  What you don’t want to do is practice outside and put guys unnecessarily at risk.  What you want to do is be able to go outside, really get a sense for how you have to move in those conditions because the field will be slick in situations like this.  There is a way you have to move and a way that you have to transition and understanding that and also dealing with the wind, dealing with the temperature.  You want to be able to get all that work done without having it be so slick or really unworkable to the point where practice is sloppy because of it or guys are slipping and sliding all over the place and knocking other guys down, taking a chance of getting injured.”

(On if the team is better now than they were in Week 3 when they faced Baltimore)- “I do think we’ve made a lot of strides in a lot of areas.  It is a little bit different just with some of the players that we’ve lost since that point which makes it tougher.  Other guys have had to step up and that’s usually what happens during the course of the season. Losing players is one component of it but the overall operation understanding of the system and working together, understanding each other. I think those things have improved significantly.  What we still need to do is have the consistency of performance every Sunday.”

(On the impact losing Scott Fujita has had on the defense)- “Scott is one part of that and Robaire (Smith) is another part of that and those are both captains.  The leadership is significant and then the things that you can do in terms of their play.  Robaire is such a tough, physical, intense guy and played a huge part in our run defense and as a tone setter similar to the way Matt Roth is.  With Scott, he has all those things as well but he’s a very fluid athlete, things that he can give us in coverage, things that he can give us in terms of pass rush flexibility, some of the blitzes that we can run and his communication.  He’s an outstanding communicator and that’s really important for getting everybody lined up and heading in the right direction.  However, we have had other guys that have stepped in and played and played well and want to see those players continue to grow.  Marcus Benard has had some more chances, Jason Trusnik has had some more chances.  You want to see Brian Schaefering, D-Rob (Derreck Robinson) all those guys, they need to continue to grow each week and really set the stage for themselves in incoming years.”

(On the key to slowing down Ray Rice when he catches the ball out of the backfield)- “You don’t want to have too much space, and unfortunately sometimes with the way they stretch the coverage, there is a lot of space.  Once he does catch the ball, being able to use leverage to confine the space.  If the sideline is the closest leverage, making sure you’re using sideline to restrict how much field he has to work with.  If you have another defender, those two defenders working together to close the wall on him because he can cut back as well as anybody and get outside of those leverage points.  You have to be sound there and you have to be patient and come down and close that wall tight.”

(On if you always have to have a man assigned on Rice in pass coverage)- “In man to man, you’re always going to have a guy assigned to him.  In zone coverage with explosive backs like him, you have to have a great awareness of where he is in the zone coverage.  Some backs, you can play a little softer on because they are not as big of a threat in the passing game.  Other backs, you really have to understand where they fit because the catch and run ability is dramatic.”

(On if he has had to address a lack of energy and intensity the last couple of weeks)- “What I talk about Mary Kay (Cabot) is consistency.  Consistency of performance, not just in that area, but in all of the different areas.  Assignments, technique, whether it’s communication, those things all are important parts of being able to win consistently.  Those are the things that I’m constantly talking about.”

(On what he wants his players to be motivated by when playoffs are no longer in the picture)- “Whether the playoffs are in the picture or whether it’s the start of the season or the middle of the season, the reason we draft the guys that we draft is that you want to get people that are intrinsically motivated.  It’s not guys that are motivated by some outside factor, it’s that they’re motivated all of the time to be the best, to constantly improve.  When you get people like that, they take advantage of every opportunity to improve.  We have so many things in place to help with the growth of a player, both professionally and personally. You can have a zillion programs in place, but if a guy doesn’t take advantage of them, all he has is talent at that point.  You want the mixture of talent and motivation, but internal motivation.  Those guys are going to constantly be getting better.  Another core characteristic that we look for is guys that are competitive.  When you get someone that that’s how they are wired, it doesn’t matter what the competition is, it doesn’t matter what the stakes are, they are going to win.  It’s a single focus.  The ones that you always have to motivate with some sort of other thing, they usually aren’t the ones that win consistently.”

(On if they are motivated by being a potential spoiler for other teams in the final two weeks)- “To me Jeff (Schudel), it’s not as much that as being able to play two really, really good teams in the NFL and the two best teams in the division and play them at this point in the season.  That’s what’s exciting to me, division rivals.  The spoiler part, how that’s going to play out, they each have two games left.  Well now Pittsburgh has the one game left against us, but it’s going to play out the way it plays out.  We are just looking to win our game.”

(On if Josh McDaniels was at practice last week and why he was there)- “Yes, he came out to practice.  He was in town visiting his folks and I was talking to him.  I invited him down, I thought it would be nice for him to be able to come down.  He came down with his dad and just watched and said hello to some of the guys.  A lot of us worked with him in New England, so it was nice to see him.  It was good to see him.”

(On if he would consider adding McDaniels do his coaching staff)- “Oh, there is nothing more than he and I are friends and a lot of us are friends.  He was in town, his family is from Canton so I thought it would be nice for us and for him to be able to catch up while he was here.”

(On if he named any other defensive captains after Robaire Smith and Scott Fujita went on injured reserve)- “The two guys that are serving that role are David Bowens and Eric Barton.  Ever since Scott got hurt and Robaire was out, I had the guys vote on that and those were the two guys that were elected to serve in that role, serve in that capacity.”

(On if Fujita is going to need surgery)- “I don’t know definitively, but I would say probably not.”

(On if Evan Moore will need surgery)- “I’m not sure.  That’s stuff we can clean up in a couple of weeks.”

(On how they can account for Terrell Suggs)- “It’s hard.  He moves around, so you can’t always count on him being in the same spot.  With the range of pressure packages they bring different combinations so it’s not like you can just guarantee that if you put these two guys on him then those two guys are going to end up on him based on the combination of numbers that they could bring.  You want to be able to be solid in the protection and also take into account his pass rush ability, but it’s not always clean.”

(On how Alex Mack has fared against Haloti Ngata in their previous meetings and what challenges he presents)- “All of the guys that they play in their front are similar in the sense that they are very strong, they’re very good with their hands and their very good at being able to shed blockers.  Regardless of who is over Alex, it’s tough.  When you play a team like that, you have to be just as sound with your technique, your hand placement, your feet, your ability to sustain, to anchor and I think Alex did a nice job of that a lot of times in our last game.”

11:19 AM

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11:18 AM

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Latest Links from the OBR Newswire
OBR Newswire on December 24th, 2010 AT 8:00 AM

These are links from the OBR Newswire for December 24th from 07:52 to 07:56:

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