OBR Daily Blog 12/30

Three days until Browns final game, but is anyone watching these crappy bowl games?

4:49 PM

In case anyone is curious, it’s December 30, 2010 at 4:48 PM, and the Steelers still suck. That is all.

4:48 PM

@johndgarden As long as they have one more loss, I’ll be happy :-)

4:47 PM

@cornfedsuperman Checked it out… doesn’t look like anything’s official yet, but he must have left feeling optimistic. That’s intriguing.

4:44 PM

@douglinley Rich Passan has his own blog now, and still does not abide excuses or bad football: http://richpassan.blogspot.com/

4:40 PM

@cornfedsuperman We’ve heard nothing about QB Jarrett Brown from the Browns, but he did work out for them about 10 days ago.

Browns-Steelers Injury Report, Dec. 30
Don Delco on December 30th, 2010 AT 4:37 PM


Did Not Practice
DL Kenyon Coleman, knee
RB Peyton Hillis, ribs
OL Floyd Womack, knee

Limited Participation in Practice
LB Eric Alexander, groin
LB Marcus Benard, shoulder
DB Sheldon Brown, shoulder
DL Shaun Rogers, ankle/hip
TE Robert Royal, shoulder
DL Brian Schaefering, shoulder
OL John St. Clair, ankle
TE Ben Watson, ankle

Full Participation in Practice
LB Matt Roth, thumb
FB Lawrence Vickers, illness


Did Not Practice
RB Mewelde Moore, knee
S Troy Polamalu, ankle
T Chris Scott, not injury related
DE Aaron Smith, triceps

Limited Participation in Practice
LB Jason Worilids, knee

Limited Participation in Practice
LB LaMarr Woodley, knee

4:07 PM

Fan View: Are We That Beaten Down?: Do you agree with Jeff B? Let him know in the comments! http://bit.ly/eD3Yp8

3:12 PM

@Koesters Our prayers are with you and your little girl, bro…

3:12 PM

@Koesters Our prayers are with you and your little girl, bro…

Transcript: Eric Mangini, 12/30
Barry McBride on December 30th, 2010 AT 2:45 PM

(Opening statement)- “Good morning everybody. Today Peyton’s (Hillis) going to miss, Floyd’s (Womack) going to miss and then Kenyon (Coleman) is on the normal rotation.  Vick (Lawrence Vickers) is back, he just had something related with his teeth. It wasn’t anything serious, he just had to have it fixed but he is back and that’s it on that front.  In terms of practice yesterday, I thought it was good energy, good tempo, good focus, didn’t think the field was the best in terms of it was a really hard surface so guys had to focus that much more on transition, playing with their feet underneath them.  It was good from that perspective but we’ll go inside today just to get a little bit more work done than what we were able to do with the surface yesterday. I think everybody’s excited about the plan for Pittsburgh and playing Pittsburgh, it’s different than other games we play and they’re ready to go.”

(On how the football philosophies have meshed from him, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert)- “I think it’s going pretty well.  I know in terms of Tom and I, I’ve really liked getting to know him. I really like the relationship that we have.  He’s been great and I think philosophically there are different ideas as to whether it’s players or approaches things like that but we talk through them and it’s been really good.  I’ve really liked him a lot.  Then with Mike, that relationship has been good as well.  There are difference in terms of what he’s run historically offensively but with that being said, what I’ve always tried to do whether I was in New York or here is ideally take the best of a lot of different systems.  That was the approach in New York where we got (Brian) Schottenheimer who was from the digit system, a lot of shifting, a lot of motioning that type of thing.  Then the New England philosophy which is different, it’s more a stationary read, see the defense that type of thing. Then bring in Bill Callahan that was a take of the West Coast and the elements of that system and infuse it in and take the best of each one and you put together your system.  It’s the same thing really defensively. There’s a lot of components of you start at the base of what you did.  For me it was really in New York the 3-4 stuff that we were doing and then as you go to the next place a guy like Rob Ryan comes in and he’s got the 4-6 and all the things his dad did, we infused a lot of that stuff into it and then as new coaches come there’s new ideas.  You’re constantly adding to what you do.  It’s funny even the meetings we have defensively when I’m in there with Rob, Jerome (Henderson) as a player, (Bryan) Cox as a player and as a coach say, ‘Okay, remember that defense we ran in New York in ’97 against so and so?  I really liked that. I think that will work.  Let’s start that up.’  Then Rob and I will talk about a defense we ran against Tennessee, it was a night game we had to deal with a scrambling quarterback.  You’re going through the whole progression so now you’re pulling things out of historic defenses and it’s like ties, they come back in style and you wear them again and they look good.  Long answer but that’s kind of how it goes.”

(On how the players know what this rivalry means)- “It’s everywhere Jeff (Schudel).  It’s in every newspaper, it’s on every TV, it’s on every person’s lips. It’s like Colt’s (McCoy) experience, it was a Friday where he went to the gas station, I told you guys this story didn’t I?  The father came over and he signed the hats and the two little kids are in the car seats yelling Steelers suck.  It starts at birth.  You get your Browns shirt and your I hate Pittsburgh shirt.”

(On how the players get a sense of the rivalry when football is so transitory)- “We don’t all live here, they all go home and they’re out.  Whether it’s at Jake’s school where the kids are wearing the colors and they’re talking about it.  He’s in first grade and they’re talking about the Steelers and how they hate the Steelers and they love the Browns.  It’s pretty much ingrained from infancy.”

(On if he still feels good about Peyton Hillis for Sunday)- “Yes, he’s better than yesterday and we’ll see how he is tomorrow but I feel pretty good about him.”

(On Colt McCoy learning how to throw in cold weather)- “I think that’s another value of being able to practice in it and work in it so you’re not only doing it on Sunday.  He’s got quite a bit of work now outside and it wasn’t really that cold yesterday.  I thought it was a lot colder last week and the week before but he’s getting a lot of exposure to it and dealing with whether it’s the temperature, the wind, the snow.  Some of that just going to come from experience and playing in it and seeing how this throw went in this condition versus a different, what the trajectory has to be.  It’s not like talking to Phil Dawson.  Phil can tell you everything in the world about how the temperature affects the ball.  If it’s at this temperature the ball will travel at this length, if it’s at this temperature it will travel this length, the wind is blowing left or right.  His understanding of how his kicks are going to be affected by the temperature comes from him kicking in that weather and then also going back and evaluating, ‘What did I do well, what did I do poorly?’  I think it’s the same thing for quarterbacks, as you gain more experience you know, ‘I have to throw it this way when I’m dealing with these conditions.’”

(On if some quarterbacks have big enough arms that they can throw through the wind)- “I think it just depends on how stiff the wind is, but there are definitely guys that have enough juice on the ball that it cuts through most stiff winds.”

(On if it is meaningful that Ahtyba Rubin leads the league in tackles for defensive linemen)- “It’s meaningful.  Rubin, to me, the level of improvement he’s had is impressive.  It’s impressive and the thing that I love about him is his effort.  I was showing some clips from the last game to the guys and it was on (Rashard) Mendenhall’s run where we had hit backed up and it looked like he was tackled and then he bounced out.  Rubin is flying to get over there it was 25 yards down the field and even last game against Baltimore he’s showing up on the screen every play.  This is a big man, his effort it’s just outstanding.  He’s strong, he plays with good technique, he cares, he’s tough.  It’s not an accidently that he leads the NFL for a defensive linemen in tackles, he’s earned that.”

(On if Rubin gets a lot of reps in practice)- “Yes, he gets a ton.”

(On if the amount of reps Rubin has gotten has worn him down because the run numbers have gotten worse in the last month)-“The volume of runs we’re facing has increased. I think our ability to stay on the field offensively affects that as well.  You miss guys like Scott (Fujita). We need to be able to adjust to that, we need to be able to stop the run affectively.  I’m not saying that.  There are things that we can do as a complementary football team to help on both sides.  In addition to that Tony (Grossi), I thought that we played with a lot better technique last week and that helped us.  I think that’s going to be really important again this week is playing with sound technique.  Sometimes what happens is as you want to be multiple and you want to have different fronts and different ways to attack an offense sometimes you can’t rep those things where you’re playing it well enough and you have to actually say, ‘Okay, let’s cut back some of that to play the things better in our base defense.’”

(On how Rubin played against Maurkice Pouncey in the first game)- “I thought he did well.  I thought he did really well.  He needs to do really well again this game for us to be successful especially in the running game, he does.  I didn’t see every game that the Steelers played this season but I saw a lot of them so he played against him as well as anybody.”

(On what makes Pouncey one of the better centers in the league)- “Plays with a good base, he’s very athletic, I think he runs well and his lateral movement is very good so he does a nice job working in combination with the guards to get up the linebackers, plays well in space.  He’s strong enough to deal with the guys that are stout and he’s athletic enough to deal with the guys that are going to more of shoot-the-gap type players.”

(On the level of consistency with the offensive line this year)- “I’d say it’s probably similar to a lot of areas. There’s some weeks where I felt like really outstanding and then some weeks where I don’t think we handled what he had to handle as well as we could have.  The one thing that I’ve liked about the group is I feel that they communicate well together and I feel like they give us a great opportunity each week to handle the multiple things that we have to handle.  We’ve faced a lot of defenses this year and I’d say it’s probably higher than what you’re going see on any given year in terms of the multiple look defenses.  Whether it’s New England or New Orleans or Baltimore, Baltimore we are going to see every year but the volume of that type of coordinator, that type of approach was very high this season and I think they’ve handled it well.”

(On if the offensive lines has played better when Floyd Womack played tackle)- “I think Floyd does a good job at both spots and one of Floyd’s greatest assets I was just talking about communication, is he is the leader of the communication on that right side.  Whether he’s at guard or tackle he does an excellent job of working with the guard and tight end if he’s a tackle or the tackle and center if he’s a guard and that’s a huge plus.  It’s a hard thing to see and appreciate because you just kind of see what happened in the play but understanding from my perspective knowing the amount that has to go in to getting it right.  Floyd’s a real asset there.”

(On if Joshua Cribbs is healthy enough this week to have a lot of plays like Wildcat in the offensive package)- “Yes, I thought Josh looked really good last week.  I thought it was probably the best that he’s looked from a physical perspective last weekend.  I’m assuming that that’s how it’s going to look this weekend.  There’s nothing to counter that. He looked good yesterday in practice, I’m sure he’ll look good here today and we’ll have a plan for him as a receiver, the Wildcat which we always have.  He’s done a lot of good work against Pittsburgh.”

(On what Chris Gocong has become as opposed to the pass rushing player he was coming out of college)- “In college he was a defensive end and here he’s a linebacker.  He has to do a lot of different things, he’s in coverage quite a bit.  Same thing in Philadelphia, he was in coverage quite a bit there.  He’s much more of a complete player now than in college.  I’m not saying he wasn’t complete for what they asked him to do but he’s a legitimate linebacker that can do all different things, he can play inside, he can play on the outside, he can cover, he can run the defense.  You’ve got to give a guy like him a ton of credit because it’s a huge transition.  We’ve all seen it where sometimes it works out really well, sometimes it doesn’t. I think in his case it’s worked out really well from his transition college d-end to linebacker.”

(On Gocong not getting as many opportunities to rush the passer and him getting back to his big sack days) – “We all want him to get back to his big sack days.  He’s had shots.  Again, with Scott (Fujita) going out, Scott did a lot of the coverage.  There was more flexibility when Scott was here from a coverage/rush perspective because Chris is a pretty good cover guy.  Now, there’s not that same level of flexibility, so he tends to be more in coverage than have the same volume of chances I think he would have had had Scott still been available.”

(On Joe Haden not biting on the double move from Anquan Boldin to get his interception last Sunday) – “It was huge.  That was the play I was talking about the other day is how he played it, to me, was the best part.  In terms of being flush with him when he looked back for the ball, how he played the ball, huge, huge, huge progress.  Huge progress.  It may look like a small thing on that one play, but there had been so many times where you could ask him about it, I’ve been on him since day one about it. I was really happy to see it.”

(On saying in the past that Haden could get away with in college but not at this level and it that was one of the things he was talking about)- “That was one of them, so yes I was pleased.”

(On if the touchdown Haden gave up against Tampa Bay wouldn’t have happened now with what he’s learned)- “I’d like to think that he wouldn’t.  It was the first game.  I know there were some technique things we talked about at the top of the route, but I can’t remember if he was too close to the line of scrimmage initially, I can’t remember specifically.  I think the experience that he has gotten now from that point to this point would help him play that play a lot better.  In fairness to Joe, there were things that we could have done better on the blitz in the front part of it where he wouldn’t have had to hold up as long.  He had to hold up a little while longer than you typically would in blitz coverage.  Even the best corners when they are expecting to come hot or fast and now they have got to cover down the field, it’s tougher.”

(On if he would be open to changing their style of offense completely)- “I figure I’ll have any conversations after the season, so all of that stuff will take care of itself.  To me, it’s Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh and it’s a great thing to have.”

2:05 PM

Berea Report: Hillis Banged Up: Team’s MVP expects to play, Rubin leads, WCO talk delayed… here’s the latest f… http://bit.ly/eUEVsn

2:05 PM

Berea Report: Hillis Banged Up: Team’s MVP expects to play, Rubin leads, WCO talk delayed… here’s the latest f… http://bit.ly/eUEVsn

Not An Exact Science
Dave Kolonich on December 30th, 2010 AT 12:32 PM

The voting that occurs for the NFL Pro Bowl is not an exact science.  Like any other type of election, the process is reduced to equal parts familiarity and popularity. 

How else to explain the likes of New England's Logan Mankins making a Pro Bowl roster despite only playing nine games?  Or, Ray Lewis making his 34th consecutive Pro Bowl start?

Simply put, most voters cast their ballots based on high-profile teams playing in primetime showcases.  While everyone involved – players, writers and fans – clearly have their favorites, the deciding factor usually comes down to basic recognition.

After all, most fans and writers only follow their own teams, while players may have no awareness of an opponent they see only every few years.

Of course, this entire argument may sound a bit trivial, considering how meaningless the actual Pro Bowl game is. 

However, in a nod to the overall progress the Browns have shown in 2010, there's still something satisfying about seeing some of our own recognized.

Or not recognized, as the case may be this year.

Canton Rep – Browns' Notebook – Pro Bowl Snubs

Yet, Rubin is not going to the Pro Bowl, and he was not named a first, second or third alternate.

"I didn't get nothin'," Rubin said with an amiable shrug.


Left guard Eric Steinbach said he is "at a loss for words" after missing a Pro Bowl another season. That basically meant he's tired of talking about it after being an alternate several times, not that he's broken up.

"If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen," Steinbach said cheerfully. "Just got to keep movin."

Although the Pro Bowl voting concluded a couple weeks ago, it became apparent that Rubin was not going to get a nod this year.  Despite his elevation to a full-time starter this season, Rubin's play has steadily declined over the past month.  Attribute it to a gradual physical tiring, but Rubin has been dominated by the likes of Nick Mangold, Vince Manuwai, Eric Wood and Kyle Cook. 

Of course, earlier in the season Rubin was playing some terrific ball – especially when he was surrounded by some healthy defensive teammates. 

Also, Rubin's cause would have been helped had the Browns been scheduled for some non-1 p.m. games in 2010.

As for Steinbach, he is one of the few Browns that has some national name recognition.  However, his play in 2010 didn't exactly warrant any real Pro Bowl consideration. 

Although Steinbach is a seemingly nice guy and media favorite, he has steadily declined in 2010.  Simply put, Steinbach is effective only when he is on the move.  He still possesses some great range and can make plays to the outside, but is easily outmuscled by opposing linemen.

In this sense, the more obvious Pro Bowl choice would have been Alex Mack.  Mack has yet to have an overly bad game in 2010 and has proven to be the team's most consistent offensive lineman.

But then again, in terms of recognition, the Steelers' Maurkice Pouncey makes the Pro Bowl thanks to the visibility of his team.

As for some other Browns who were worthy of Pro Bowl consideration, Lawrence Vickers is limited thanks to his lack of stats.  One of the few remaining traditional blocking fullbacks left in the league, Vickers' play goes unrewarded in the eyes of Pro Bowl voters. 

In the case of tight end Ben Watson, his 2010 accomplishments are overshadowed by more prominent names such as San Diego's Antonio Gates.  Despite Gates' lingering injury issues and Watson's better numbers, this vote again proved that the Pro Bowl is merely a popularity contest.

Rookie corner Joe Haden faced a similar issue, as he was overlooked for New England's Devin McCourty.  While McCourty has had a terrific season for New England, his team is clearly more high-profile than the Browns.

As for some other considerations, injuries played a major role.  Josh Cribbs had become a Pro Bowl regular, but a lingering foot injury cost him this season.  Perhaps a similar argument could have been made for Scott Fujita, who was playing some terrific ball before going down with a midseason injury.

But then again, as was the case for many of these Pro Bowl selections, it's obvious that not everybody was watching this season.

From the OBR Forums: A Bit of Common Sense
Dave Kolonich on December 30th, 2010 AT 11:55 AM

Although the season is drawing to a close, there's still some great discussions occurring in the OBR forums.  Beyond the usual "Fire Mangini" and "Fire Daboll" derivatives found elsewhere among the Cleveland-centric Inter Webs, most OBR forum members are doing something decidedly unique….

As in using their brains.

Here's a great example from OBR Forum Member RockNRollDawg:

2009-2010 Point Differential

Crennel’s improvement came in his second season and was a mirage, as the team collapsed the following year. Mangini’s improvement is also in his second season, so I don’t think it proves that he’s got the team headed in the right direction. Butch Davis and Forrest Gregg showed huge improvements, much greater than Mangini this year, and they both turned out to be failures. In fact, three of the five biggest improvements on this list were by coaches who were fired after their teams regressed dramatically.

Belichick’s 229 point improvement came in his first season after taking over a 3-13 team. But he was unable to improve much on the 6-10 record until three years later and ended up being fired.

I’m saying the Browns have a history of new coaches taking over bad teams and showing immediate improvement only to be  unable to sustain the progress and ending up being fired after the team regressed. The top four coaches on the list fall into this category.

In Mangini’s favor is the fact that this significant improvement came against one of the hardest schedules in the league, which makes it more impressive than Crennel’s 2007 season, which came against an unusually weak schedule. Also, the veteran starting QB  he was given by management turned out to be ineffective and injury prone. The veteran backup was unable to stay healthy. Not many teams having to start three different QBs and play one of the toughest schedules in the league could have won more than five games.

That’s probably the best argument to give Mangini another year.

As for RockNRollDawg's main argument regarding the obvious on-field improvement the Browns have shown in 2010, this is something I covered a few weeks ago.

The Numbers Game

No matter how you slice up the numbers, it's clear that Mangini's 2010 Browns have progressed.  While another potential 5-11 finish is more than likely, the team's record simply doesn't paint the entire picture of the 2010 season.

However, RockNRollDawg brings our attention to two more significant items regarding a potential coaching change.

1.  Any comparisons between Mangini and the likes of Gregg, Belichick, Davis and Crennel are a bit skewed at this point.  Gregg inherited a roster littered with bad draft choices and was subject to a trigger-happy owner.  Belichick is an anomaly thanks to his long coaching tenure and the Browns' move to Baltimore.  In terms of patience from Modell, Belichick was clearly given a lot of time to shape the roster in his own vision.  As for the likes of Davis and Crennel, their initial improvements were hijacked by faulty front office management….Davis from his own doing and Crennel was subject to Phil Savage trading away entire drafts.

While the jury is clearly still out on Mangini, it's worth noting that at least when viewing the initial results of the 2010 draft, the current coach is enjoying perhaps the best management the Browns have had in decades.

2.  Regarding the schedule, the Browns have played the third-hardest schedule in the league in 2010.  Beyond the usual AFC North schedule, the Browns have faced the likes of playoff contenders New England, New Orleans, New York Jets, Atlanta and Jacksonville.  Also, some matchups that were considered "easy" when the schedule was created have turned out to be challenges against a division winner in Kansas City and a possible playoff contender in Tampa Bay.  Throw in Pittsburgh and Baltimore and the Browns have played eleven games against likely playoff teams.

Which brings me to another realization regarding the future of this team.

Much like in 2007, the Browns will face a far easier schedule in 2011.  Instead of facing playoff contenders from the NFC South and AFC East, the Browns will have games against the dreadful NFC West and slumping AFC South next season.  Or, just replace New Orleans and Atlanta with the top finishers in the NFC West – two .500 or worse teams in St. Louis and Seattle.  The same can be said for the AFC South replacing the AFC East.  Indianapolis and Jacksonville are a nice swap for New England and the Jets. 

Also, a third-place finish in the AFC North should bring the likes of Miami and Oakland to next year's schedule, which excuses the Browns from having to again play Buffalo and Kansas City in 2011. 

Add it all up and whoever is coaching the Browns in 2011 should find themselves with a far easier schedule to navigate than Mangini did in 2010.  Of course, any rational follower of the Browns can see that the progress made in 2010 – under Mangini – should continue in 2011.

10:41 AM

Peyton will miss thursday and womack.

10:41 AM

Peyton will miss thursday and womack.

Latest Links from the OBR Newswire
OBR Newswire on December 30th, 2010 AT 9:00 AM

These are links from the OBR Newswire for December 30th from 08:15 to 08:17:

Latest Links from the OBR Newswire
OBR Newswire on December 30th, 2010 AT 9:00 AM

These are links from the OBR Newswire for December 30th from 08:15 to 08:17:

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