Tag Archives: Johnny Manziel

Why Lamar Jackson Will Undoubtedly Win the Heisman

The Heisman race this year has been more competitive and talked about than in recent years because of the amount of standout athletes that have taken their talents to the next level in college football. While all the contenders have their cases as to why they should win, at the end of the day there is one man who stands above all the rest: Lamar Jackson.

Lamar Jackson is a freak of nature, and no one else can be compared with him, not this year, not last year and not for many more years to come. Statistically speaking he is a literal record breaker, both at the FBS level and at the university level. After the game against Boston College Jackson now becomes the first player in UofL history to break 1,000 yards rushing at the quarterback position. He has also broken the total offense record at UofL previously set by Teddy Bridgewater. With 47 touchdowns on the season and one regular season game left plus a bowl game, Lamar could be on pace to come close to the FBS record for most touchdowns in a single season set by Colt Brennan in 2006 with 63. If we do a little math that’s averaging eight touchdowns per game to tie the record. For most quarterbacks it would be a crazy number but with the talent of Lamar Jackson anything is possible.

These last two games and next week’s game also play a huge factor for Lamar’s Heisman chances because all three of these teams have winning records going into their games with Louisville, Wake Forest and Houston are already bowl eligible with Kentucky needing just one more win (over Austin Peay) to get there. This is important because out of the nine teams that UofL has played already only two are bowl eligible and one of those (Clemson) was a loss.

So, with these last two games and next week’s game coming up against teams who are above .500 (Kentucky should be 6-5 after this weekend) this will prove to be Louisville’s toughest stretch of games so far. Lamar may have not had the most dominating performance against Wake Forest but 145 yards passing and 153 more on the ground and a touchdown is still a decent performance against the 44th ranked defense in the nation. The real test for Jackson was against the 9th ranked Houston defense last night. Jackson ended with 211 yards passing and 33 more rushing as well as a touchdown in the hopes of all but solidifying his Heisman campaign.

To put this all in perspective let’s look at another dual-threat Heisman winner, Johnny Manziel. Manziel had 5,116 yards for his 2012 Heisman winning season and 46 touchdowns. On the other hand, Lamar Jackson, with one game left in the season, has 4,476 yards and 47 touchdowns. That means that, with one game left this season, Lamar already is responsible for more toushdowns than Manziel, even if he may fall just short of Manziel’s total yardage. If that’s not enough then why not look at another similar quarterback, Cam Newton? Newton had 4,369 yards and 51 touchdowns for his Heisman-winning season. So with one game left Lamar would need four more touchdowns to tie Newton’s number and is already ahead of Newton in total yards.

In conclusion, Lamar Jackson’s season has been by all standards incredible and a pleasure to watch. Unless some monumental collapse were to happen in this last game, Jackson is still the front-runner for the Heisman and will stay that way all the way to the ballots, even without a shot at a national title.

 

Photo: Wikimedia

SEC Links: And This Is Only May

How do you think college football’s Power 5 conferences’ coaches rank, from best to worst? CBS Sports analysts took a stab at this and created a poll in which coaches were rated, one through sixty-five.

In a recent column, I ranked the SEC coaching jobs, bottom to top. But the CBS poll just considers the the head coach and not the entire array of factors that go into making that job what it is.

Let’s take a look at how some of the SEC head coaches fared in the eyes of the people at CBS.

Guess who’s number one? Bingo! Nick Saban. Now that we have the obvious out of the way we’ll take a gander at the more difficult task of slotting the men who rank behind Saban in the Southeastern Conference.

Les Miles is number seven, Gus Malzahn thirteen, Hugh Freeze twenty-one, Bret Bielema twenty-two, Jim McElwain twenty-seven, Dan Mullen thirty-one, Kevin Sumlin thirty-two, Butch Jones thirty-three, Will Muschamp forty-four, and Kirby Smart forty-six. Derek Mason, of Vanderbilt did not poll in the top sixty-five and neither did Mark Stoops, of Kentucky, or newcomer Barry Odom, of Missouri.

Here’s my take on this. I love Gus, but I don’t know if I would rate him as the third best coach in the SEC. I would have after the 2013 season when Auburn came within thirteen seconds of winning the BCS National Championship and he won coach-of-the-year honors on almost every front. Gus has a lot to prove in 2016. We can revisit this after the season has completed.

Dan Mullen has done more with less, at State, than Kevin Sumlin has at Texas A&M. And why would Kirby Smart be ranked at all? The Georgia Bulldogs have yet to take the field with him as their leader.

That brings us back to Kevin Sumlin down in Aggieland. Wednesday was, yet another, tough day in College Station. Their top quarterback recruit de-committed and Aggie assistant coach, Aaron Moorehead, threw a tantrum on Twitter. Moorhead said the de-committment and the Twitter outburst were not related.

If that were not enough, two Aggie wide receiver commits also decided that they would not spend the next few years at Texas A&M.

I, for one, am quite curious as to how all of this will shake down. Stay tuned.

But hold on! We’re not completely done with the Aggies, just yet! Also on Wednesday, Johnny Manziel turned himself in to the proper authorities on the misdemeanor assault offense that he had, previously, been charged with. He was to appear in court on Thursday. As I stated in my Wednesday blog, I truly hope that Manziel’s story ends up being one of redemption.

The land of sin and salvation. Nobody does it better than the Bible Belt and Texas could be considered the buckle of said belt.

Back to Saban and Alabama, it might not be as crazy in Tuscaloosa as it is in College Station, but all is not well on The Capstone. As you probably know, assistant coach, Bo Davis “resigned” recently and that situation has yet to be resolved. Most experts speculate that this will not turn out to be huge and that Alabama will have it contained well. But, NCAA recruiting violations have been committed and penalties, however severe, will be levied.

Let’s move on to the coaches ranked numbers twenty-seven and thirty-three. That would be Jim McElwain and Butch Jones, respectively.

McElwain thinks Jones, and Tennessee, should beat the hell (Okay! “heck”) out of the Florida this fall. Interesting.

Players from the Gators and Vols are also weighing in on the matter. Butch thinks his guys should do this talking on the field. I couldn’t agree with him more.

I will conclude with this. This is all fun and games for us SEC fans, but I’m ready for the real games to begin.

117 days remain until Vanderbilt and South Carolina kick it off on Thursday, September 1.

My Favorite SEC Football Players of All-Time

Last week was a busy one for SEC football. Coaches wish it weren’t so, but it seems as though there is never a dull moment when it comes to headlines that don’t spotlight the positives in and around their programs.

Hugh Freeze got blindsided (pun intended) with the resurrection of the Laremy Tunsil debacle just as Ole Miss is about to hear from the NCAA and its investigation into their program. Also, it appears that Freeze and Jim Harbaugh will attend the same satellite camp in Mississippi.

As the football world turns. These soap operas are highly entertaining and they give people like me something to write about.

Speaking of smoking weed with a gas mask device, four Auburn players were arrested on the Plains Saturday night for, you guessed it, ganja possession, and much to the chagrin of Gus Malzahn and the rest of us in the Auburn family. How long, oh Lord?

Then there was the NFL draft. Ohio State had the most first round picks with five and Alabama had only one, which surprised many “experts”, but the SEC, once again, had more players drafted than any other conference. So there! Nanny nanny poo poo!

So much for all of that. In my last couple of blogs I, subjectively ranked, in order, SEC head coaching jobs and power rankings of the fourteen schools in the conference.

I like lists. From top tens to favorites to whatever. I think most people do enjoy these.

That being said, this week I’m going to give you my top ten favorite SEC players of all time, excluding Auburn. If I allowed my Tigers’ players on the list you would have Pat Sullivan, Terry Beasley, Bo Jackson, Cam Newton, Jimmy Sidle, Tucker Frederickson, Phil Gargis, James Brooks, Joe Cribbs, Cadillac Williams, Bobby Hunt, Travis Tidwell, and the like to dominate it.

Here we go! My top ten favorite non-Auburn players in SEC history. I will do them alphabetically.

Billy Cannon – LSU – 1957-59. Cannon is most remembered for his 89-yard punt return against Ole Miss, in Tiger Stadium on Halloween night in 1959, to give the Tigers a 7-3 win. He won the Heisman that year, as well. Cannon was also named the SEC player of the year in both 1958 and 1959. LSU won the National Championship in ’58.

Randall Cobb – Kentucky – 2008-10. Cobb was an electrifying player at multiple positions for the Wildcats including quarterback, wide receiver and return specialist. He could do it all.  He is not to be confused with boxer, Randall “Tex” Cobb. 

Archie Manning – Ole Miss – 1968-70. Archie is, actually, one of my favorite players in any sport at any level. I never enjoyed watching a player from a team, not named Auburn, more. Just go back and watch some of the old clips from his days as a Rebel. Simply amazing!

Peyton Manning – Tennessee – 1994-97. Does anyone really need to be familiarized with Peyton? He led the Vols to an SEC Championship in 1997. He was a consensus All-American that year and also won the Maxwell Award. He should have won the Heisman Trophy.

Johnny Manziel – Texas A&M – 2012- 13.  Has there ever been a more exciting college football player than “Johnny Football”? Incredible. Love him or hate him, you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. The 2012 Heisman winner pulled off more incredible escapes than Houdini. I truly hope his story turns out to be one of redemption.

Darren McFadden – Arkansas – 2005-07. McFadden could flat out tote the rock. He rushed for 4,590 yards at a 5.8 yards per carry clip during his years as a Razorback.  He tied the SEC record for most yards rushing in one game, in 2007, with 321 against South Carolina. McFadden won the Doak Walker Award twice, 2006-07, and the Walter Camp Award, given to the nation’s best overall player, once, in 2007.

Joe Namath – Alabama – 1962-64. “Joe Willie”, “Broadway Joe.” These are two of the monikers that Namath was known by during his playing days with the Crimson Tide. I loved him. Most boys loved him. All the girls loved him. Bama won the National Championship, with Joe under center, in 1964. But he is most famous for guaranteeing that his New York Jets would win Super Bowl III, and they did.

Dak Prescott – Mississippi State. The best player in the history of the Mississippi State Bulldogs, no? He was a gifted athlete who could both run and throw the ball. He carried the Bulldogs to heights henceforth unknown as they topped the polls for several weeks during the 2014 season. That season he also passed for 3,449 yards and 27 touchdowns, and accumulated 4,435 total yards. He rushed for 2,411 yards in his time at State and that is third all-time, by a quarterback, in SEC history.

Steve Spurrier – Florida – 1964-66. Spurrier may be best known as the Head Ball Coach, but he was also a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback for the Gators in 1966. There may have never been a more competitive, driven player and coach in the annals of the SEC. Football, golf, tiddlywinks, Spurrier just wants to beat you. And, he was always good for a great quote.

Herschel Walker – Walker is,  arguably, the greatest running back in the history of college football. Bo Jackson is my choice for the greatest athlete of all-time, but Herschel, both a Heisman winner and a national champion, carried the mail. He rushed for 5,259 yards in only three years as a Bulldog. And he was a sprinter, mixed martial artist and bobsledder!

There is my list of favorite non-Auburn players in SEC history. Why not come up with your own list? I am also open to suggestions for future lists as they are a lot of fun, and great conversation centerpieces at home, or at your favorite sports bar.

Now, who was the greatest fighter that ever lived? 😉

All I want for Christmas: Browns Edition

It’s the holiday season and children everywhere where will be making lists of all the things they want for Christmas. Some of these lists are short and others are longer than a government document. The Browns list is far more like the latter as they have many holes now and could be losing some key players to free agency. So in theme of lists (I love lists!!!!!) here’s a look at what I believe to be what the Browns and their fans what put on their Christmas list.

1. Josh Gordon to return to 2013 form. Number one for me was an easy pick with Manziel showing enough signs of being a quarterback that can turn this team around. Having Josh Gordon back and focused gives the Browns a dynamic play-maker. Plus if we retain future free agent Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge stays healthy Johnny Manziel will have an arsenal capable of putting a chill down the spine of opposing defenses.

2. Our offensive line to be fixed for next year. One of the most perplexing things about this team is figuring out how good the Browns O-Line is. Pro Football Focus has been adamant that the Browns offensive line has been good and that been issues are with the rest of the team are responsible for the offenses shortcomings. Others look at our high sack rate and sky-high rate of being stuffed and put it more on the O-line. Regardless, Mitchell Schwartz will be a free agent after the season. Schwartz is one of the best pass protecting right tackle in the NFL and could command a 7-9 million dollar a year contract. Alex Mack if he wants to can opt out of his contract and become a free agent. He could get more on the open market than the 8 million that’d he’d get if he stays with the Browns. The Browns knew this and drafted a Cameron Erving, a versatile lineman who could replace either if they left. Sadly Erving has been playing terribly lately and is not giving the fans any reason to believe that he can replace them without a significant dip in production. The offensive line has more complex parts than Santa’s workshop, and the Browns really hope they can figure it out, because a poor offensive line can hold back and otherwise competent offense.

3. A clean bill of health for Joe Haden. It’s been a tough year for Joe Haden injury wise. He started out the year with a bum hamstring and only got worse when he broke his finger and had a rib contusion. Then against the Ravens he suffered a concussion and has not seen the field since. Having Joe Haden come back healthy is the first step in making the pass defense worthy of the nickname Lock-down at the Lake.

4. Our young defensive players to continue improving. Danny Shelton started out the year a little slow but has shown more recently. Xavier Cooper is showing promise as a rotational defensive lineman. Armonty Bryant has had some really good games and has shown flashes of being a good pass rusher. And finally Christian Kirksey has shown he can do many things at the linebacker position. If these players can develop in to quality starters our defense will be greatly improved for next year.

4 Reasons the Browns May Win

Throughout the season I have always done my best to remain positive and focus on the reasons the Browns could do well. Today I’m doing the same thing, but because no sane person would pick the Browns to beat the streaking Seahawks, I’m giving myself a little handicap. I’m looking for 4 reasons the Browns may win against the +14.5 spread.

1. The Seahawks don’t have a running back. After Thomas Rawls went down last week with a broken ankle the only remaining running backs on the roster are third down back Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, and the newly signed Christine Michael. One of the main strengths of the Seattle Offense has been their ability to move the ball on the ground but injuries may not allow them take advantage of the Browns poor run D. Plus it is very hard to run up the score and cover large spreads without a solid running game.

2. The Browns pass rush has stepped up immensely. Last week the Browns sacked 49er QB Blaine Gabbert 9 times and young players like Nate Orchard, Armonty Bryant, and Xavier Cooper accounted for half of them. These young players could give the Seattle O-Line, which has allowed the third most sacks, plenty of trouble. Russell Wilson has been performing great over the past 4 games mostly because he hasn’t been pressured. If Orchard and Bryant can generate pressure we can do what the Vikings and Ravens couldn’t, which is stay within 14 points.

3. Gary Barnidge presents problems Seattle hasn’t dealt with. Seattle’s defense is very solid and should be able to stifle our practically weaponless offense. Luckily for us though Seattle usually allows lots of receptions to TEs. Plus Kam Chancellor is questionable which could give Gary Barnidge more space to make plays.

4. Johnny Manziel presents unique challenges for any defense, Seattle is very good at hindering QBs but they haven’t gone against a QB with his mobility since Cam Newton put up . Manziel’s play-making could be the key to creating big plays to keep the game close. If all these things happen and the Browns play a clean game we can keep within 2 touchdowns of the mighty Seattle Seahawks.

 

The Big Ten’s Opportunity to Become a Quarterback Factory

The NFL season is at the point where it is reasonable to begin looking ahead to the 2016 draft.  Teams have played long enough for a somewhat significant sample size to be compiled and to provide a direction for what direction to take in the offseason and the draft.  And as draft talk begins, the familiar refrain of “there’s no pro-style quarterbacks” is shouted by analysts everywhere.

The NFL draft has become a lottery of sorts in projecting which quarterbacks will be able to successfully transition from a spread system to a pro-style system.  According to the October 26, 2015 issue of ESPN the magazine, 26.6% of teams run pro-style offenses while 68.8% of offenses run some version of the spread.  In fact, the Big 12 is a conference comprised of exclusively spread offenses.  It is in this field that the Big Ten possesses an enormous potential advantage.

The Big Ten’s current football environment provides an ideal breeding ground for quarterbacks.  Defenses are geared toward stopping the run and the majority of teams run pro-style offenses.  This strategy is generally in line with what NFL teams do.  Teams work to stop the run and make quarterbacks beat them.  Like in the NFL, elite college quarterbacks lead their teams to victory, sometimes in spite of their supporting cast.  NFL analysts often discuss “how (insert quarterback) will perform in December” when the temperatures drop.  In this arena, for once, the weather of the Midwest is actually a benefit as it provides NFL scouts with the opportunity to see how quarterbacks can pass the ball when it is -7⁰F or when the snow hasn’t stopped for the 3 days and escaping the pocket is difficult.

A few years ago, the NFL seemed poised to transition from the traditional pro-style offense to an offense featuring the read option and more spread looks.  While teams have incorporated more shotgun looks, a fundamentally sound, pro-style quarterback is still the most valuable commodity a team can have.  While spread offenses are able to put up points in a hurry, they do a poor job developing quarterbacks who translate to the NFL effectively.  While the SEC has become known for its ability to produce 1st round NFL talent at an incredible rate, it does not have a lock on producing NFL-ready quarterbacks.  Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford have managed to stick.  However, for every Newton or Stafford, there are busts like Blaine Gabbert and Tim Tebow.  Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel still remain works in progress, but have not shown that they can be true difference makers for their teams.  The Big Ten has the best opportunity to claim the throne of NFL quarterback factory.  The majority of teams do not need to transition their personnel to accommodate this type of offense, the personnel is already in place.  The only thing hindering progress is the relative lack of emphasis that many Big Ten teams seem to place on landing talented pro-style quarterback recruits.

 

What I'd Do With The Browns

The Browns are now 2-9 and officially done with the playoffs, many fans have thrown in the

Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns passes against the New York Jets during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets won 31-10. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns passes against the New York Jets during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets won 31-10. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

towel and are hoping we tank for a number one pick. I for one think tanking for a better draft pick is disrespectful to the leaders and veterans on the team.

Plus a lot of the teams that look to be a top the draft board, (Tennessee, Dallas, San Diego, Baltimore) are not in the market for QBs. It seems very likely a QB like Paxton Lynch or Jared Goff could be available to us at the 3rd to 5th pick. So now with tanking out of the question here is my plan for the rest of the season.

1.  Start Duke Johnson at running back! Isaiah Crowell has been an absolute disaster as a RB. Right now he is last in the NFL among qualified runners in with 2.9 yards per attempt. The advanced stats do not treat him in any better as he last in the NFL in Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and Defense-adjusted Value over Average (DVOA) stats from Football Outsiders. Johnson has done better than Crow in all ares and he deserves to keep moving forward as our starter.

2. Play Austin Davis now but do not be reluctant to hand the keys to Johnny Manziel. Manziel had the job and lost it by lying about his partying. As a twenty year old college kid I sympathize with him a bit. Partying, getting drunk, and listening to Future at the club is quite fun honestly. The only difference is I’m not getting paid 1.8 million dollars to lead a professional football team.

This is the reason that I’d keep Manziel on the bench until Davis shows that he is not the quarterback that gives us the best chance to win. And perhaps Davis is a good quarterback, he seems to have a great attitude and has starting experience with the Rams. Perhaps he can bud into a decent QB with us.

3. Fire Jim O’Neill! We have the highest paid defense in terms of percent of team salary, yet we are the worst at stopping the run and second worst at keeping teams out of the end-zone. After this I would try to get younger guys like Nate Orchard and Ibraheim Campbell into the rotation more to see what kind of value they’ll hold in the future.

In the off-season my main goal would be to figure out if the Browns have a chance to go to the playoffs with either Manziel, Davis, or even McCown. If I don’t think these guys are capable of doing that I’d take a QB in the first round.

It’s still too early to tell which QB would be worth taking as every top guy has some key weaknesses but I’m sure some one will emerge as a top 5 pick. If I feel that one of these guys can take me to the playoffs my number one target is Joey Bosa. Now keep in mind I am not an OSU fan by any means, but I know that Joey Bosa has the capability to boost our run defense and our pass rush. Other options include upgrading our secondary by taking CB/S Jalen Ramsey of FSU or CB Vernon Hargreaves out of Florida. If I don’t feel that Josh Gordon is focused on football Laquon Treadwell would be a great option to help bolster the receiving corps which has been our weakness since Braylon Edwards decided to stink.

 

Job Security, Health, and Midges Dominate Cleveland

Welcome back to my little corner of More Than a Fan. I took last week off from the column for the holidays, but don’t worry, my terrible record of picking games this season kept right on chugging.

On Johnny ManzielHis time in Cleveland is through. Maybe he’ll end up on the field in a Browns uniform at some point to finish out 2015, but I can’t see any plausible scenario in which Johnny sticks around, regardless of anything at all that takes place on the football field…

…Unless Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer get fired. I have flip-flopped on my opinion of whether these two should get canned, whether only one of them should be shown the door, and, if one of the other, I can’t decide which should get the pink slip1Get fired. Terminated. Shit-canned..

[Read – The Browns Broke Me – by Jeff Rich]

Sometimes I think that Pettine really has the veterans in the locker room. That he gets their respect because he holds players accountable and rewards guys who work hard. The flip side of that coin is the perception2/pərˈsepSH(ə)n/ noun – the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. that Pettine won’t play Farmer’s guys out of spite, because the two can’t get on the same page.

Oh, there’s also the terrible clock management, his buddy Jim’s terrible defense, and the offensive coordinator doing everything he can to not pass the buck while passing the buck.

Let’s also not forget that this headline happened today; “Browns coach Mike Pettine acknowledges discussion about his future could be in Jimmy Haslam’s plans.3This is also by Nate Ulrich. Not on purpose, but dude was first on my feed today.

Ray Farmer is terrible at picking players, and considering that’s his most important job, things aren’t looking good the former prodigy. No, Bernie Kosar could not be the GM of a football team. I would love to see him working with scouts, though.

[Subscribe – Railbird’s Nest Podcast. Recent guests include Ken Carman, Hayden Grove, and Tony Mazur.]

Someday the Cavs will be healthy. With health will come more meaningful rest for LeBron James, Love, and the back court crew that started the season playing heavier than normal minutes due to Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert‘s injuries.

When isn’t important. There are plenty of things that happen in losses that can be pointed to and harped on for improvement, and the Cavs five losses so far this year are no exceptions to that rule4Although, I would really only call this most recent loss to the Wizards a stinker.. The Cavs are NOT a perfect team that sometimes takes a loss just because. Yes, there is real room for improvement.

That improvement will come. The players and coaching staff will settle in more each week, especially as the team’s health starts to improve. Glorious revenge will be ours.

Alright. Maybe I’m getting carried away.

I think Timofey Mozgov‘s knee is still messed up. This is a completely unsubstantiated opinion based on nothing but the fact that I’ve wasted thousands of hours watching basketball games. Maybe Mozzy’s knee is fine, but I remember trying to tell people Kevin Love looked like an old man with a back issue last season, and it turned out he was. 

The Indians signed Joba Chamberlain.  There’s no punchline.

Mark Shapiro lured Indians VP of Player Personnel Ross Atkins away to become the General Manager in Toronto. This is a cool promotion for Atkins, who gets to put GM in front of his name, and work with a colleague with whom he’s comfortable in the process.

This looks like bad news for Blue Jays fans. Don’t believe me?

“But increasingly, front-office executives with GM experience, like Shapiro, are hiring GMs who function, in many ways, like an assistant would in the old model.” – Brendan Kennedy Toronto Star

Mark Shapiro, the not-GM who will act like a GM, even though he hired a GM.

I’m sorry, Canada.

Picks

Packers @Lions
Jets @Giants
Cardinals @Rams
Falcons @Buccaneers
Panthers @Saints
Seahawks @Vikings
Texans @Bills
Ravens @Dolphins
Bengals @Browns
Jaguars @Titans
49ers @Bears
Broncos @Chargers
Chiefs @Raiders
Eagles @Patriots
Colts @Steelers
Cowboys @Redskins

 

   [ + ]

1. Get fired. Terminated. Shit-canned.
2. /pərˈsepSH(ə)n/ noun – the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.
3. This is also by Nate Ulrich. Not on purpose, but dude was first on my feed today.
4. Although, I would really only call this most recent loss to the Wizards a stinker.

Browns Hope To Beat Rival Steelers

It’s Steelers week, the one of the weeks each season we stop thinking about which quarterbacks we should

 Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gets wrapped up by Donte Whitner #31 of the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gets wrapped up by Donte Whitner #31 of the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

draft next year and pray the Browns can beat the Steelers and hurt their playoff odds. This year’s contest should be interesting because Ben Roethlisberger and Josh McCown are questionable for the game, which could lead to an unpredictable outcome.

When the Browns have the ball:

Pittsburgh’s defense has been declining in recent years, and this year is no different. They sometimes show the dominance of old like against the Cardinals, but often have major defensive meltdowns like last week when they gave up 35 points against a young but explosive Raider’s attack. Perhaps we can have somewhat similar success.  If McCown starts, the biggest thing the Browns need to do is keep him upright, which could prove difficult with the injury to stud left guard Joel Bitonio.

First round pick Cameron Erving will likely replace him though he didn’t look that great in the Bengals game.  If McCown is healthy he should have no problem slinging against a very poor secondary. Barnidge and Benjamin could have great days. If Manziel plays, as reports seem to indicate, the key is to get the running game going. The Robert Turbin experiment failed so I’m hoping that we can see more of Duke Johnson the runner, since we already have seen enough of the Crow. If we can establish the run we can let Johnny scramble a bit on play action rollouts. Hopefully Johnny can make exciting plays outside the pocket without taking humongous hits in the process. This is another big thing as we don’t want to see Manziel get hurt.

When the Steelers have the ball:

Like usual I expect the opposing team to be able to run all over us. DeAngelo Williams proved to me that he wasn’t washed up like I thought before the season began. He has actually been one of the most dynamic and consistent runners in the game when playing.

In passing situations Landry Jones has proven to be a competent quarterback and an excellent one when throwing to Antonio Brown. Joe Haden and Donte Whitner are still questionable but if they play they will be hungry to stop their longtime rival, Brown.  If Big Ben plays odds are it will only be worse for Cleveland, as Roethlisberger always finds a new way to gouge our defense.

Special Teams:

The Steelers seem to have finally found a kicker that they trust in Chris Boswell who has only missed one field goal all year-long. Like our own Travis Coons he is still untested on long field goals. The Browns do have an edge in punting as Andy Lee has proven himself to be a great punter despite last weeks performance. The Steelers coverage teams seem strong but when you have a good returner like Travis Benjamin anything could happen.

Prediction:

With all of the uncertainty regarding the injured QBs I decided to give four predictions for the price of one!

McCown vs Roethlisberger– 31-24 Steelers- Big Ben is too good to overcome.

McCown vs Landry Jones 27-21 Browns- Really our only shot of winning.

Manziel vs Roethlisberger 34-14 Steelers- I’m just not sold on Johnny being a legitimate starting QB. Especially with the lack of weapons on the offense.

Manziel vs Landry Jones 24- 17 Steelers-Landry Jones seems to have found his groove with Antonio Brown.

Who’s The Better Fit: Charlie Strong or Kevin Sumlin?

Texas and Texas A&M used to have one of the best rivalries in college football. Since they have been in separate conferences for the past four years, it has turned into more of a “hashtag rivalry.” Since there’s no game being played between the two, both sides are forced to trade jabs on social media to keep the fire burning.

Can we just get these teams playing against each other again?

That’s a whole separate discussion; because the reality is that we won’t see them play each other on the field in the foreseeable future.

Both programs have their issues right now, but which head coach is the better fit at their respective school? Let’s start with Kevin Sumlin.

Sumlin is an offensive guru that has worked his way up the ranks and has turned average programs into good ones. A&M is no exception. The Aggies were an average team in the Big XII, but since leaving for the SEC in 2011, they have hit resurgence.

Sumlin’s offense has redefined SEC football in some ways. They caught the entire conference off guard with their high-flying offense in year one 1Having a certain Johnny Football at quarterback didn’t hurt either.

He forced teams to adapt defensively to his style, and the good teams did exactly that. It seems like Sumlin has realized that he won’t be able to win the SEC with offense alone. Defense wins championships in the SEC.

A&M is not far away from contending for a national championship. John Chavis was an outstanding hire for Defensive Coordinator this offseason, and Sumlin had to hit a homerun with that one. With the recruiting talent that Sumlin is bringing in, don’t be surprised if A&M flirts with the College Football Playoff in the next couple seasons.

Switching gears now to Charlie Strong. Strong is a defensive-minded head coach in a conference that is loaded with offense. Like Sumlin’s offense, Strong surprised some teams with how well his defense played in year one with the Longhorns. The only difference is that it didn’t translate to wins.

Through almost two seasons with Texas, their offense still hasn’t been able to give the defense any support. Hence, Texas has been losing, and losing bad at times.

Questions are circulating about whether Strong is the right fit for Texas. His track record indicates that he is a solid head coach, but that doesn’t mean that he is the perfect fit for any particular program.

Strong is doing some great things at Texas by building a foundation to succeed. However, his tenure at Texas may be short-lived if he doesn’t change his coaching philosophy to adapt to the conference that he chose to be in.

He is in a similar situation as Gary Patterson at TCU was when that program entered the Big XII. Patterson hired two outstanding offensive coordinators that made TCU successful virtually overnight. He had to swallow his pride and realize that his philosophy had to change in order to succeed, and Strong may have to do the same before it’s too late.

Texas and Texas A&M are proud programs that will succeed on a national level eventually. However, it seems like the head coaches will only be recognized as legends if they have the right coordinators with them. Sumlin has his offense and Strong has his defense. Sumlin is a little bit ahead of Strong right now, but it took him a few years to find what seems to be a great fit in College Station at Defensive Coordinator.

At this point in time, A&M is clearly in a better position than Texas because they have had the momentum in recruiting and have the talent to be coached up. Texas is getting to that point, but it is clear that they are still a couple of years away from being relevant again.

If Strong and Sumlin are both able to turn their respective programs around and get some national respect, then we could see a big shift in getting the two teams back on the field against each other. Right now, though, we will have to suffer through the bickering back-and-forth between the fan bases over social media that never really has any substance2Unless, of course, we can get these two teams together for a bowl game, which it seems at least one conference is trying to avoid.

Strong and Sumlin are good coaches, but they will only go as far as their coordinators take them. Sumlin looks like he took that step forward. Now Strong must do the same.

It may be the only chance we have to see the two programs square off against each other on the field in the near future3In the College Football Playoff. We assume it doesn’t happen any other way.

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1. Having a certain Johnny Football at quarterback didn’t hurt either
2. Unless, of course, we can get these two teams together for a bowl game, which it seems at least one conference is trying to avoid
3. In the College Football Playoff. We assume it doesn’t happen any other way