Tag Archives: Trent Richardson

Four Downs – Browns at Bears

The Cleveland Browns take on the Chicago Bears tonight at 8:00pm at Soldier Field in Chicago. Here are four things to look for during this game.

First Down: A Terrelle Pryor sighting?

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor catches a pass during practice at NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Terrelle Pryor catches a pass during practice at NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Will we finally see Terrelle Pryor tonight against the Bears? If we do, it would be a good and bad thing for the Browns.

First, the good. The Browns would finally get to see Pryor against other defensive backs and see how he has progressed. Pryor has made the transition from quarterback to wide receiver. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of players such as Josh Cribbs and Antwaan Randle El. The major difference with these players is that they made the switch coming out of college while Pryor is making his switch mid-NFL career.

Now the bad. Pryor has been battling a nagging hamstring injury throughout camp. When he spoke to reporters this week, he mentioned that he is only about 80-85% healthy. The fact is this, if he suffers another injury during the game tonight, he would likely find himself on the waiver wire. There is another option. Pryor could be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. If Pryor is placed on the PUP list, he would not be eligible to be on the active roster until week seven of the season.

Second Down: Crowell – West – Johnson

Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and Duke Johnson are all competing for the starting running back position. The Browns are looking for one of these players to step up. Crowell has been the best of the backs so far through the preseason, though that is not saying much. Through the first three games, Crowell has carried the ball 17 times for 47 yards, an average of just 2.7. However, he has also been significantly better in pass protection.

West still has the major problem of going east to west instead of north and south. He dances way too much in the backfield, very Trent Richardson-esque.

The other Browns running back, Duke Johnson, has hardly been on the field. He, much like many other Browns’ players, had been battling a hamstring injury throughout training camp. He finally got to participate in last week’s game against Tampa Bay, however it was short lived as he was concussed. He will not play in the preseason finale.

Third Down: Roster Battles

The Browns’ roster has to be cut down from 75 to 53 by 4:00pm EST on Saturday. It will not be easy to trim the roster down to 53. There will be some surprises as it seems there always are. I am no NFL General Manager but I can make a few predictions of some players that will get cut: QB Pat Devlin, RB Shaun Draughn, RB Timothy Flanders, WR Darius Jennings, WR Vince Mayle, WR Rodney Smith, TE Rob Housler, DT Jacobbi McDaniel, DT Dylan Wynn, LB Darius Eubanks just to start.

I am looking forward to seeing of Josh Lenz will make this team and tonight will be an important game for him. He reminds me of a player like Julian Edelman. Another player I believe who is on the bubble but I believe will make this team is Jamie Meder. He has been tearing up offensive lines so far this preseason and this game is really important for him as well. It will be interesting to see what the depth will look like on the defensive line after cutting Phil Taylor.

Fourth Down: Get out of the game healthy

You hate to see any kind of injuries in the preseason, especially in the final game where you are already resting your starters in hopes to prevent any major blows to the team. The last thing you want to see is key reserve players get hurt and miss any significant time.

Four Downs will be a weekly post leading up to each game.

Another one bites the dust

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 25: Defensive tackle Phillip Taylor #98 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after the Cleveland Browns defeats the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Steelers 20-14. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – NOVEMBER 25: Defensive tackle Phillip Taylor #98 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after the Cleveland Browns defeats the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Steelers 20-14. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Another one bites the dust.

Phil Taylor has been cut by the Browns. The 21st selection of the first round in the 2011 NFL Draft was battling for a position on the defensive line. Taylor has been associated with Julio Jones because that is the pick that the Browns gave up to trade down and take Taylor.

Now look at the situation that the Browns now have with the defensive line and you can see why Taylor was expendable.

During the preseason, it appears that the Browns have hit a home run with Danny Shelton. The first round pick out of Washington has been a menace for offensive lines in the preseason. Shelton has been able to already command double teams by the opposing teams which has opened the pass rush for other players.

The Browns have 11 sacks in the first three preseason games. As a barometer, the Browns had four sacks in the first three preseason games last year. Shelton has been a big part of that.

The worry of Shelton before the NFL Draft was that he would only be a two-down player. He has quieted that worry so far. However, it is not only the emergence of Shelton, but the emergence of other players.

The Browns signed Randy Starks in the off-season and he has already paid dividends in the improvement of the run defense.

One of the biggest surprises in camp is fellow rookie Xavier Cooper. Cooper was the third round pick in the draft this year. Much like Shelton, he has been disrupting plays constantly.

Jamie Meder was a long shot to make this team after being undrafted out of Ashland. He was on the practice squad last season and has played well in camp and in the preseason games. He also is a favorite of Head Coach Mike Pettine. 

In the 31-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Meder registered five tackles (three solo), a sack, a tackle for loss and a QB hit in limited playing time. With the Browns also cutting Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Meder has a good shot at making this team.

The Browns have had eight first round picks in the past five years. Only one of which is starting this season, Danny Shelton.

Here is the list:


Phil Taylor – Cut by the Browns today.


Trent Richardson – Traded to Colts for first round pick.

Brandon Weeden – Backup to Tony Romo in Dallas.


Barkevious Mingo – Battling injuries and will be a backup starting the season.


Justin Gilbert – Will be a backup to start the season.

Johnny Manziel – Who knows what will happen here.


Danny Shelton – The only player starting on this list.

Cameron Erving – A backup offensive lineman to start the season.

Despite the production of first round picks, the Browns have a really good defense and a highly-rated offensive line. The age old question for the Browns is if they have enough firepower on the offense to compete this season and help keep the defense off the field.

This is a make it or break it year for Mingo. The biggest jump for NFL players is between their second and third seasons and this is his third. If he does not improve this season, he will end up just like Taylor, Richardson, Weeden and so on and so on.

A Cleveland Browns Thanksgiving

After years of mediocrity, it finally looks like (knock on wood) Cleveland Browns fans have a team they can be thankful for and proud of this year. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the team is currently 7-4 and right in the thick of the playoff hunt. All of this got some of the Browns writers here at More Than A Fan: Cleveland thinking, what should the Cleveland Browns be thankful for this year? Here is what we came up with.

Dave Jack

-For starters, the Browns as an organization should still be thankful for the Indianapolis Colts. While the current administration had nothing to do with executing the Trent Richardson deal, they certainly did benefit from it. It’s far too early to determine whether the trade ultimately worked out in their favor, but the added first round pick allowed the Browns flexibility to move around in that round and do what they wanted.

-To piggyback off of that, Ray Farmer and company should propose a Thanksgiving toast to Joe Banner. Banner wasn’t perfect, but he did have the foresight to stockpile draft picks for the 2014 NFL Draft (much to the detriment of the 2013 draft), one that he predicted (so far, correctly) would have much more talent. He also left the new regime in a very good position financially.

-We found out the hard way that everyone should be thankful for center Alex Mack. The offensive line as a whole took a noticeable step back in the couple games following his injury. This was no doubt partly due to chemistry, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that was it. Joe Thomas is probably the better lineman at a more integral position, but Mack was the general and possibly the best run blocker out of the bunch. Missing him shows that Mack is worth every penny of his $42 million contract.

Andy Metzger

First and foremost, the Browns should be thankful for the defensive secondary unit. If it hadn’t been for their stellar play all season, the Browns record would be much different. The secondary has collected 13 total interceptions this season, led by Tashaun Gipson with six of them. Joe Haden has played lights out this season and is earning that big contract. While he had early struggles, Justin Gilbert has shown tremendous progress the last few games and made a huge pass defense against the Falcons in a tight game. It is because of the secondary unit that Brian Hoyer has had extra opportunities per game.

Second, the Browns should be thankful for Johnny Manziel *ducks*. Now, hear me out on this. When the Browns selected Johnny Manziel in the first round in the draft, the Browns suddenly became a relevant team in the NFL in the eyes of the national media. With that, Brian Hoyer knew he needed to work his butt off to be the starting QB of the Cleveland Browns. This is just speculation, but I assume Hoyer also brought his game up on the intangibles that rookies have a hard time with. Namely, leadership. There’s no doubt that Brian Hoyer is the leader of the offense. He has command of the huddle and the respect of his peers. Sometimes it is that confidence that boosts your game to another level. The Browns should be thankful for Johnny Manziel, it lit a fire under Brian Hoyer. I just hope his inconsistent passes don’t lock us out of the playoffs *ducks*.

Last, but certainly not least, the Browns should be thankful for Ray Farmer. More specifically, Ray Farmer and his scout team. Where older regimes refused to bring in free agents because “they’re free agents for a reason,” Ray Farmer brought in Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby, Jim Dray, Ben Tate, Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins. As for the draft, they snagged Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Joel Bitonio, Christian Kirksey, Terrance West, Pierre Desir as well as gaining extra 2015 1st, 4th and a 6th round draft pics. For undrafted rookies, the Browns collected an impressive haul that are major contributors on both sides of the ball. Cleveland signed Ray Agnew, Isaiah Crowell, Taylor Gabriel and K’Waun Williams. Without the players Ray Farmer signed, this would be a very different looking team. So, not only the Browns, but I, too, am thankful for Ray Farmer and his scout team. They did a fantastic job in the first year and cannot wait to see what they can do in the years to come.

Nico Ericksen-Deriso

Local(ish) High Schools – With four players from the Youngstown and Cleveland areas, the Browns ought to be thankful for the local talent that has reached them. Brian Hoyer went to high school at local powerhouse St. Ignatius. After spending time working behind Tom Brady in New England, Hoyer has emerged in Cleveland to lead the team’s offense, racking up 2864 yards through the air on a 55.9% completion rate to go along with 11 touchdowns thus far this year. On defense, one of his counterparts is also a Cleveland native. Donte Whitner attended Glenville High School before heading to Ohio State. In his first year with the Browns, he has been instrumental so far, finding himself second on the team in tackles with 73. He also has an interception and a forced fumble to go along. Two Browns linemen hail from the Youngstown area: Ishmaa’ily Kitchen on defense, and John Greco on offense. Kitchen attended Cardinal Mooney High before pursuing a career in the NFL. After seeing little time on the field in September, Kitchen has stepped up to the tune of 23 tackles since Week 6 as injuries have slowly decimated the Browns’ defensive line. On the other hand, John Greco, who attended Boardman High in Youngstown, has started every game for the Browns this season, primarily at right guard.
A Kyle Shanahan Offense – Shanahan’s offense has created a functional unit for the Browns. Despite losing one of their best players in Alex Mack, Cleveland has still been able to produce at a greater rate than last year, often powered to victory on the backs of their duo of rookie running backs and Hoyer’s mistake-minimizing arm. However, I can’t say that this has been all good, as their have been a few games when the offense has just straight up failed. However, overall, Shanahan’s presence in Cleveland has been a blessing.
The Cincinnati Bengals – “Wait what?! The Bengals? That makes so much sense, being thankful for one of our rivals and the division leader. Except not!”…Well, if you really think about it, it does. The Browns have three big reasons to be thankful for the Bengals. First off, former Bengal Andrew Hawkins leads the team in receiving with 50 receptions for 694 yards and two touchdowns. Secondly, the Bengals were kind enough to drop a huge deuce on Thursday Night Football. And lastly, the Bengals were dumb enough to help make sure the Browns improved this year by signing Greg “Brickhand” Little, guaranteeing that Cleveland’s worst nightmare would never haunt the team again. As hard as it is to admit, the Browns owe the Bengals a polite nod at dinner this Thanksgiving.

Stephen Thomas

I’m thankful that Mike Smith knows less about clock management than Andy Reid.

I’m thankful for reactionary Browns fans on Twitter, who handle each third down failure and incomplete pass with the grace and tact of a sorority girl in a zombie apocalypse movie.

I’m thankful for Joel Bitonio and Joe Thomas, who could block their way out of Nakatomi Plaza.

I’m thankful for Steelers fans, because as Judge Smails said in Caddyshack “The world needs ditch diggers, too.”

Ryan Jones

Mike Pettine – I routinely make jokes about the corpses that have roamed the sidelines for the Cleveland Browns over the past two or so decades, but know that I make those jokes in the most masochistic way imaginable. It kills me every time that I do it, but I think we might just be able to move on from all of that. Granted, Mike Pettine has had a couple time management blunders during his rookie campaign, but I get the feeling that he is an actual NFL caliber head coach. It’s a relatively small sample size but I’m absolutely loving him at the helm of my team thus far.

Josh Gordon – Quite simply the most talented football player that I have ever seen play for the Browns during my lifetime. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Josh Gordon was the singular reason that I was able to watch and enjoy the second half of last season. He is that good. And the Browns were that bad. There were quite a few local media members who advocated for his release this offseason. You most likely won’t hear them address that, but you will hear me reaffirm my love of Josh Gordon and the fact that I wrote a series of articles championing the fact that releasing him would have been a disastrous mistake. Seeing number twelve out on the field in Brown and Orange might just be the best thing in my life right now. Please don’t tell my girlfriend.

Seven and four. Seven wins and four losses. Seven wins at Thanksgiving and a team that is squarely in the mix for a playoff spot. I’m sorry, but after the putrid and depressing football that I have been subjected to my entire life, that is definitely the thing that I am most thankful for. Again, please don’t let my girlfriend or loved ones read this. Or, actually, let them read this. They know I have an irrational love for this football team. They’ll understand. All of us understand. Or, at least, should. The Browns have a huge game against Buffalo on Sunday, and they are poised to enter the month of December fighting for the division and the playoffs. How can we not be thankful for that?


As you can see, the Browns organization has a lot to be thankful for. One consensus among all of the writers was that the Browns should be thankful for their fans. These are fans who have stuck it out through multiple two, three and four win seasons. Fans who have begged just to have a team with a .500 record. Fans who can boast that they are some of the best fans in the NFL, as well as the most numerous.

The staff at More Than A Fan: Cleveland would like to wish all of you, our readers, a very Happy Thanksgiving. Even if you’ve only read one post or disagree with everything we say on a regular basis, we are still thankful for taking the time to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving

11-on-11: TJ Ward Puts Dolphins on Ice as Broncos Bounce Back At Home

Ten years ago, Terrell Ray Ward had finally overcome his high school’s depth issues, but suffered a knee injury his senior season at the acclaimed De La Salle High School in Northern California. These days, we know him as TJ Ward, the Pro-Bowler, an integral part of the Denver Bronocos success, and the days of walking on at Mike Belotti’s Oregon program are long forgotten. On Sunday evening in Denver, he called off the Dolphins bid for the upset, despite a valiant effort on Miami’s part, with a late interception of Ryan Tannehill.

We’re going to change the format around here a little bit. Instead of being touch and go on just about every game played between Thursday and Sunday night, our focus will be on a single game each week, but I’ll drop a little bit of insight on what I see out of the corner of my eyes throughout the league. This week, we’re in The Rockies with the #1 crew from CBS and 76,987 paying customers for the Dolphins 39-36 road defeat.

Who is TJ Ward, and What Does He Do?

To be as good as the Denver Broncos have been, there has to be a little more to your defense than luck and reliance on the offense to do the lion’s share of the work. There’s a good feeling you have to have with Jack Del Rio running your defense, provided he’s not also your head coach. They have Terrance Knighton up front to disrupt the run game, which is a Miami strength, and pass-rushing options even after Von Miller, which is frustrating to third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The secondary isn’t all the way just yet, but they’re coming along pretty well after signing TJ Ward away from the Browns last off-season.

Ward is accustomed to having talent around him, and while Denver might not have a headliner like Joe Haden to join him in the seconary, but you couldn’t ask for more from Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby in his rookie season at the corner positon. Having watched Ward closely in Cleveland, you knew that he could keep his head on a swivel, find his target, and let it rip. Unfortunately, “letting it rip” the way Ward did early in his career drew penalties and fines, but over the last two seasons he’s channeled it in a good way.

He’s reacting better and identifying run/pass in the pre-snap moments better, which makes him a good run-stopper without getting beat over the top. He has two interceptions this season, and Sunday’s canceled the threat of Miami snatching victory from the grips of a 32-28 deficit with three and a half minutes to play. It was a first down play, and Tannehill had enough clock that there was no critical sense of urgency, meaning Miami still had options on the ground, but tried to go to Jarvis Landry on back-to-back plays and he tried to force it. Harris Jr had him covered well enough to force a deflection into No Man’s Land, where TJ Ward was serving as governor on Sunday afternoon.

Ward has transitioned from head-hunter to ball-hawk, which doesn’t mean he’s at all hesitant to make the pads audibly crack. In 2013, he got his first pick-six, and he nearly got touchdown #2 of his 5-year career in this one. Ward cut it all the way back across the field, after swiping the ball at the Miami 45, and he got as far as the 8 before being shoved out of bounds. To give Peyton Manning and that offense a 1st and Goal at the 8 is basically a guaranteed touchdown, two plays later Manning and Wes Welker obliged with a short touchdown pass. In four plays, Denver went from trailing by three to nursing a two-possession lead, thanks in large part to their newly acquired safety Ward.

Watch at NFL.com

Ward Giveth, Ward Almost Taketh Away

So, you just got a key takeaway, one that allegedly put this game on ice for your team. Whether victory seems inevitable or not, you have to play all sixty minutes. We understand that these pass defenders are playing with the deck stacked against them. The play that draws a pass interference is almost as much of a necessary evil as actual completed passes in this day and age, but you still never want to hear your name called.

In Miami’s last-ditch effort to get two scores inside of the two-minute warning, they went for two to close the margin to three points, and Ward gave them two cracks at it. It’s probably important to mention that 35 of the 84 yards Miami went on their final offensive possession were courtesy of unnecessary roughness and pass interference calls on Malik Jackson and Omar Bolden, but it was yielding a second attempt at the conversion try that made the nightmare of a collapse slightly more realistic. Ward laid Landry out for one of those “the official can’t find his flag quick enough to throw it violently” flags, giving the Dolphins an easier chance to extend the game if they were fortunate enough to snag the onside kick.

Kickers Are Weird

Look, I’m of the mindset that if you have 53 players on your active roster, they all better damn well be football players. Kickers are very important to this game and are, perhaps, a little under-appreciated in the grand scheme. That said, I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that they’re a bit off. However, sometimes the bizarre things they do are worth noting, so let’s make sure the onside kick attempt from Miami’s Caleb Sturgis was notable.

The concept is simple, but the execution is difficult when it comes to onside kicks. Boot a ground-ball ten yards or draw the hands of a player on the receiving team player to make contact with it before the threshold, and hope one of your 11 guys ends up with possession of the ball. There is only so much trickeration you can attempt, especially now that the no-fun police say you can’t really overload one side of the tee or another with too many players. Sturgis put his right foot behind his right leg as he approached the ball, as if to kick it left, but the misdirection fooled no one and Denver running back CJ Anderson recovered it with ease.

CJ Anderson Is Short for Cortrelle Javon Anderson

With his performance today, CJ Anderson has done just enough to make me interested enough to view his Wikipedia page, only to be disappointed when I saw how desolate his bio was when I got there.

He made up to 7 people miss on his 51-yard catch and run in Oakland two weeks ago for his first career touchdown, but was more than just a highlight against the Dolphins, without Montee Ball or Ronnie Hillman available. He combined with Jawan Thompson for 200 yards on 32 carries, but it was the second-year player from Cal that put the offense on his back and showed some brilliance in the game’s final minute.

He’d already run for 151 yards and found paydirt once, the initial go-ahead score, on 26 carries, but he got cerebral with his final touch of the game. It was also his longest run, going for 26 yard before he gave himself up in the interest of getting the clock to 0. Anderson had the first down his team needed to close the playbook and run the only play diagrammed for victory formation, Peyton Manning drops to a knee. It was a nice follow-up to recovering the onside kick, not sure how often you’ll see that from your featured running back, and put a bow around the gift of a day he gave his offense.

No Julius, No Problem

Sudden-superstar tight end Julius Thomas was a scratch for today’s game with a bad ankle, which is a shame. He’s hauled in 12 touchdowns in ten games this season, and the Broncos were 7-0 when Manning targeted him at least 5 times in a game. In the games against Seattle, New England, and St. Louis, he looked for the small forward-turned-tight end four times or less, and Denver won less than one of those games. Today, he’d have some familiarity in Jacob Tamme and the seldom-used Virgil Green to supplement Thomas’s out of this world production in the offense.

As it went, he threw in Tamme’s direction twice. One didn’t count, but it would have been a touchdown if not for a penalty on Demayrius Thomas. The other was for a loss; that’s what we see on the stat sheet and it tell us the tight ends didn’t factor into the outcome of this one. Coincidentally, it was Demaryius Thomas who got the six after negating Tamme’s glory. To let my praise of Anderson carry over into another blurb, he had a huge 21-yard pick-up on 4th and 2 to set up this touchdown, which got the Broncos as close as 28-25 early in the fourth quarter.


This 39-36 game only feature four punts, and three of them came off the foot of Brandon Fields of the Dolphins. On the receiving end of those punts was Isaiah Burse, who combined for 12 yards on those 3 returns, so we’re probably going to say something bad about the Broncos punt returner here. Well, he fumbled, with his team already down in the second half. Damien Williams stripped him of the football and John Denney landed on the football. Three plays later, Tannehill and Landry hooked up for six. They scored after a reprieve from the officials on what appeared to be a Von Miller interception to bail Burse out of trouble, but Ward was called for holding and Miami was able to convert the second chance into an 11-point lead.

Another special teams gaffe worth mentioning is the missed Brandon McManus attempt from 33 yards away that infuriated Manny Ramirez on the Broncos sideline. It came 13 plays after the Broncos received the second half with a drive that stalled at the Dolphins’ 15, when Jelani Jenkins sacked Manning on 3rd and 1. In addition to the sack, the second-year man from Florida led all Dolphin defenders with 9 solo tackles.

Harmless Fumbling

As devastating as Ward’s late interception was, some serious self-destruction on the visitors’ part ended up not hurting Miami at all. On a 10 play, 5 minute drive in the second quarter, Brandon Gibson and Rishard Matthews combined for three fumbles. Gibson actually dropped both out of bounds on short receptions, but Matthews put the ball on the turf in play right before the 2-minute warning, but Lamar Miller recovered the ball 3 yards further down the field at the Broncos’ 10. Tannehill hooked up with Mike Wallace on the next play to put Miami up 21-10.

Setting the Tone Early

There’s a serious difference between being on pace to do something and carrying out that pace. Based on the first half numbers, it would shock someone that didn’t watch the second halff, that Miami didn’t have 100-yard receiver or runner on the day. In fact, after a fast start, the Broncos figured Lamar Miller out. He finished the day with 59 yards on 12 carries after getting about 50 in the first half alone. Obviously the 21-10 2nd quarter lead didn’t translate to a big win for the Fins over the AFC’s best team, or at least the one with the best record. The Dolphins took the Opening Kickoff and used the running game and short passes to draw first blood and take the crowd out of the game. Again, there’s a difference between setting the tone and actually riding that them out. Daniel Thomas ran the ball well when he touched it, it’s a wonder Joe Philbin didn’t go to him more.

Possession is Nine Tenths

The Broncos score quickly in the present tense, so you shouldn’t let that time of possession number tell you anything, but the Broncos held the ball for about 35 minutes, giving them about a ten minute edge in time their defense got to rest. Today was the first time Manning took on the Dolphins as a Bronco, but he saw them plenty as an Indianapolis Colt, and you might surprised to hear he’s just 6-7 against them in his career. With the Colts, he was just 2-7 in his career before they moved out of their division to the newly-formed NFC South in 2003. The last time he saw them, on a Monday night in 2009, he had less than 15 minutes of game clock time to work with a hot night in Miami, but still left with 27-23 victory there.  He now has four straight wins against the mammals from South Beach.

Monday Is For Degenerates

This week, our degenerate gamblers are blessed with not just one, but two games to recover from taking the Cardinals and the points in Seattle or whatever wage-losing wager didn’t work out for them. We’ll start with the standard product, which features the Ravens traveling to Bayou Country to take on the Saints. Caesars says the Saints are giving three and setting the point mark at 50. Now, the Ravens are a sub-par team on the road and they’re even worse against the spread this season, but I just can’t see the Ravens losing this game straight up. I am taking the Ravens and I think it’s enough of a shootout to think 51 is likely. Even in a vacuum, I think I’d be excited to see how this AFC North is going to play out. Who is going to be the next to lose and when?

Our bonus game is in Detroit, which doesn’t mean anything to Buffalo who is displaced from their natural home game, since they aren’t very good in Buffalo anyways. The bonus is they’re playing the Jets on a fast track. Buffalo is decent away from their home digs, maybe more business-like and the Jets don’t really pose any type of a threat. They cover 2 and a half, but this game doesn’t really sell itself as a game that’s going to feature more than 42. Enjoy it in select markets and on Sunday Ticket, while the rest of us suffer through Flacco versus Brees in that monopolized national space.

Random Thoughts Around the League and Elsewhere

Oakland won the other night. For shame, Kansas City, for shame.

A time might come where we have to discuss things like the clock management debacle between Mike Pettine and Mike Smith in Atlanta on Sunday. Pettine chose to take the Browns timeouts into the half with him, and attempted the same impossible field goal twice, even after Smith gave him a reprieve, where it was revealed Cundiff doesn’t have that distance on a shank nullified by a Falcons timeout. The Falcons had no business beating the Browns or even winning that game, but no excuse for not running the clock all the way down and letting Matt Bryant win the game with less than 44 seconds left.

Josh Huff started the Eagles scoring against Tennessee in the highest scoring game of the week with a 107-yard return on the opening kickoff. It might start to feel unfair of Chip Kelly can get the type of athletes he had at Oregon, such as Huff, to join him in Philadelphia.

Every time I looked at the Jaguars-Colts game, I had the broadcast showing me a former Cleveland Brown. One minute, D’Qwell Jackson is making a play, and my eyes could have been fooling me, but I saw both Trent Richardson and Joshua Cribbs cross the goal line with the football in their hands. It didn’t look like the Colts absolutely controlled the game with their division rivals, which makes you glad that game control is a factor that matters in the NFL.

Lovie Smith returned to Soldier Field as the head coach of a pretty lousy Tampa Bay team. His team looked inspired out of the gate, while the Bears looked the same unenthusiastic, flat team in the beginning. The only thing that would have been better than a Smith victory there would have been if he signed Brian Urlacher to a 1-game deal for this game, so his last appearance at Soldier Field would have been in that nasty Bucs uni. Too cruel or too soon? Bears spoil Lovie’s homecoming in this one, 21-13.

I think and I’ve thought a lot of things about the Arizona Cardinals this season, but the main thing is that I’m believing they could be the first to play on their home field in the Super Bowl and I think they can win that game. You know what I didn’t think they would do? I didn’t think they’d play a desperate Seattle team in the House of SeaChicken and come away with a victory. They’re a match-up problem for the Cardinals, which is really unfortunate for a team that needs to count on their ability to pull a rabbit out of their hat from time to time. The magic just isn’t there, not without Larry Fitzgerald in the mix. Maybe they’ll find that in their rematch with the defending champs in Glendale, but it will take more than luck if the offense is as stagnant as it was on Sunday.

Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr. for six points. Let’s not get caught up on making this the best thing we’ve ever seen. It was amazing. If you didn’t see the play, go find it. It just seemed to defy some basic principles of physics.

Let’s not forget the Giants lost, and the Cowboys continue to win. Tony Romo might be fun to poke fun at, but he’s leaving less room for criticism. If he and DeMarco Murray stay healthy, Dallas is one of those teams that might spoil the prospect of a home game for a certain team in the desert.

Lastly, on a personal note, Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday and I want to say I’m thankful for everyone I have in my life. I often underestimate how blessed I am to have all that I have and love in this life. Stay healthy and safe, however you spend the upcoming week.

A Look Back at 2013 Through Ryan's Eyes (and Columns)

by Ryan Isley

I ended 2012 with a piece that capsulized my favorite 10 columns of the year, and figured I would do the same this year. Only in 2013, I didn’t want to limit it to just 10. Not because I felt that I wrote that many better pieces this year, but because I had a hard time deciding what to cut and some made the list for reasons different than others.

Anyway, I thank you the readers once again because without you, I wouldn’t be doing this and I wouldn’t have the great outlet like I have in More Than A Fan.

I hope you enjoy these as much the second time around as you did the first. Hell, I hope you enjoy them more as time has passed. Either way, thank you again. If there is something you know I have written hat wasn’t included here, you can always look it up in my More Than A Fan archive.

All columns are posted in chronological order and the hyperlinks are in the titles.

Browns Fans and Media Continue Ignoring Facts and Revising History – January 23rd

This one came after watching Browns fans and media continually tweet about Julio Jones as he was having a great day in the NFL playoffs. I decided to take a look back at exactly what the 2011 draft day trade between the Browns and Falcons meant for each team.

As this was all happening, Twitter was blowing up from Browns fans who were harping on the fact that the Browns traded the No.6 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to the Falcons, allowing the Falcons to draft Jones. These same people were killing the Browns for making the trade because of how good Jones is – he has become one of the best receivers in the league in just two seasons.

Of course, I can’t blame this all on Browns fans. Some of them are just repeating what they hear or read from some of the Cleveland media. Instead of actually forming their own opinion, some fans constantly rely on the media to feed them their opinions and then take that as the gospel. The media knows this and continues to use their power in what some would call an irresponsible manner.

Akron’s Zeke Marshall Not Your Typical College Athlete – March 8th

One of my favorite players I got to cover last season at the University of Akron, Zeke Marshall showed that he wasn’t your normal athlete who only went to college to play sports. If anything, he cared as much about academics as he did basketball, making him unique in today’s world of college athletics.

“I like having other passions other than basketball because after basketball you still have a life to live,” Marshall said. “You have to have something else you enjoy doing other than basketball because your body isn’t going to hold up forever.”

But why computers? Marshall, who says he is currently learning the Cisco Academy, says that is easy – learning about computers is something he truly enjoys.

“I wholeheartedly love doing that,” Marshall said. “Even though basketball is definitely taking priority right now, what I first fell in love with was computers.”

Marshall realizes that this way of thinking may not be what people see as the norm from college athletes, but he is perfectly fine with that. Actually, that is what he wants – to be something more than just a typical college basketball player.

Keith Dambrot is a Great Coach, But an Even Better Person – March 13th

While most were trying to distance themselves as quickly as possible from Akron point guard Alex Abreu following his arrest, Keith Dambrot again showed how much love he has for his players. Meeting with the media, it was obvious how much he was hurt because of the situation but also that he was going to try to help Abreu as much as he could.

It would have been easy for Dambrot to avoid all of the questions about Abreu and just give a simple “no comment” or “we are not going to speak about that at this time.”  In fact, that is something a lot of coaches probably would have done in that situation. For Dambrot, it may have even been deemed acceptable. After all, where were these cameras and extra reporters when the Zips were 13-0 in MAC play, or when they were riding the nation’s longest winning streak? Throw adversity into the mix, and everyone comes out.

But Dambrot did what he does – he answered every question thrown his way. And he didn’t do so by trying to hide his emotions or his feelings for Abreu. This is the thing about Dambrot – you know that when he speaks, he means the words he is saying. That may sound simplistic or even borderline idiotic, but in the world of sports, it is refreshing. Ask anyone who has ever interviewed Dambrot and they will probably say that he is one of the coaches they enjoy the most because he answers every question and does so with a style only he can, wearing his emotions on his sleeve. So when he says that he will be standing behind Abreu, you feel that he is speaking from the heart and telling only how he really feels.

Media Members and Social Media – April 17th

This all came about when I was asked by Jason Whitlock if I would like him to block me or if I would like to unfollow after a tweet I sent to him. It got me to thinking about how media members react and respond to people on Twitter.

Sometimes, it seems that reporters, writers, talk show hosts, etc. forget that they are public figures, not completely unlike the athletes that they cover. The problem with being in the public is that you are going to get criticism – it comes with the territory.

I am sure there are more tweets than I would want to read that are sent to these media members that are of a tasteless nature. Hell, I get some of them myself and I don’t get that many tweets. Not compared to guys like Whitlock, at least. What gets to me is when people threaten to block – or do block – followers when they are just sending a harmless tweet.

Browns Quarterback Brandon Weeden Needs Thicker Skin – May 8th

Speaking of social media, I was blocked on Twitter by Brandon Weeden. Why? I have no idea. I took the Browns quarterback to task in this piece, stating that to be the leader of a team, he needs to lose the rabbit ears.

What Weeden needs to do is learn to ignore the criticism and focus on improving his game and in the process, his team. As a quarterback, you are going to get more blame than you deserve when the team struggles and more praise than you deserve when the team wins.

If Weeden can’t understand that, he has a couple of options. He can quit football and try another sport – there just aren’t a lot left for him to try. Or he can ignore the newspapers, blogs, social media, etc. and concern himself with playing football and only playing football. That is the best way to get rid of the criticism and start turning it into praise.

One of LeBron’s Greatest Strengths May Also be His Biggest Perceived Weakness – June 12th

This was the one in which I questioned the definition of “clutch.” I make the argument that LeBron’s unselfishness might be the best part of his game and also the trait that makes him clutch.

When people look at the word “clutch” and try to define it, they always see who is scoring the points in the last minutes of the game. They look at guys like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, etc. and see these guys putting points in the scoring column so they think LeBron is less clutch than guys like that, which is a fallacy.

Sometimes, it is the guys who make the plays and set up the scores that should be considered clutch. I would rather have someone who is willing to give the ball up for an open shot to a teammate than take a bad low-percentage shot just because they are the best player. After all, basketball is a team game. Why have four other guys out on the floor if you can’t trust them to hit shots?

One Akron Guy Rooting for Another – Why I Still Support LeBron James – June 26th

The Miami Heat had just won their second straight NBA championship and LeBron lifted his second straight NBA Finals MVP before making the statement that he was just a kid from Akron, Ohio. While most Cavs fans hate LeBron, I have been one who continues to root for him – because we are both from Akron.

Of course when LeBron held his ESPN special on July 8, 2010 and left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the sun and fun of South Beach and the Miami Heat, I was upset like all Cavaliers fans. I let that bitterness resonate for the 2010-11 season and was thrilled when the Dallas Mavericks came back in the NBA Finals to beat the Heat and deny LeBron his first NBA championship.

But something happened after that season. LeBron held to his commitments in the city of Akron. He showed that despite leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was still a kid from Akron who would take care of his hometown. And mine. I was born and raised in Akron, just like LeBron. My wife and I now live in my childhood home in Akron and if we have children, they will be raised here as well. They will be raised in the city that LeBron continually gives back to, the city he embraces.

My Two Cents on Michael Brantley, Bobbleheads and a Life Lost Too Soon – July 12th

This one was more on a personal level for me. While two stories were on sports, the third was on a childhood friend who lost her life too soon. I couldn’t look back at 2013 without including this one.

You may have noticed that last week I took an unexpected week off from writing for More Than A Fan, including the weekly My Two Cents on Friday. I actually had planned to write my piece about Cliff Lee that ran this Wednesday for last Thursday, but something happened as I was starting to work on it. Some of you may have seen the following tweet from me on Wednesday last week but I really did not give an explanation as to what was happening.

There was a reason I was vague until now. I was trying to be respectful of the family that this pertained to as to not give any information before they were able to so themselves. I can now explain that tweet and why I didn’t write last week.

A friend – and neighbor – of mine passed away unexpected and suddenly last Wednesday morning. Valerie (Haynes) Smith was just 24 years old and was nearly 33 weeks pregnant. She was en route to Texas to live with her husband Donte Smith, who is in the United States Air Force. Valerie and her unborn son were just one day from finally being reunited with Donte.

Ryan Braun is Only Sorry He Got Caught – July 24th

Oh, Ryan Braun. The guy who denied, denied, denied that he ever took performance enhancing drugs. Once he had been caught and suspended by Major League Baseball, he was all apologies. For me, it was too little, too late.

He didn’t come clean and admit that he has made mistakes. He didn’t go to Major League Baseball of his own free will and ask to be suspended. He didn’t just wake up all of a sudden and feel that the strain on his family was too much to handle. The ghost of baseball past didn’t visit Braun in a dream and tell him that was he was doing was bad for the game he loved.

Major League Baseball had finally gathered enough evidence to approach Braun and threaten a suspension, so Braun reluctantly had to backtrack on his prior statements and take his punishment. His arrogance finally caught up with him and when it did, he had no choice but to take his medicine, even if it had to be forced through him intravenously. The notion that Braun “came clean” or “accepted” his punishment or anything along those lines is purely farcical.

What happened was that he got busted. Plain and simple.

Alex Rodriguez Needs to Learn Some Perspective – August 7th

Quite possibly my favorite piece I wrote in 2013 – if only for the personal story I shared. Alex Rodriguez had made the mistake of saying he was fighting for his life with his impending suspension for PEDs. Alex Rodriguez has NO IDEA what fighting for your life means. But I do.

I can tell him about September 18, 1982. It was just two weeks before my 2nd birthday. We were visiting my grandparents, which meant my brother would be giving me a ride around the yard. Those rides consisted of me sitting in a wagon that was attached to back of the riding lawnmower.  Unfortunately on this day, the ride wasn’t fun. The mower jumped gears, putting itself into reverse and flipping the wagon. When the mower was finally stopped, I was underneath it.

Let that sink in for a minute. Here is an infant who is not yet two years old and he is now stuck under a riding lawnmower with severe cuts to his head.

That is a fight for life.

If My Wife Divorces Me, Blame College Football – August 30th

A funny piece. Well I think. The longer the football season goes, I wonder how much truth there was written in these words. Basically, I really like football. My wife? Not so much right now.

Last year, I went up to our bedroom and became oblivious to anything other than football for the next 10 hours, watching bits and pieces of each and every game on television, thanks to picture-in-picture. And if we had an extra television, it would have been set up in the bedroom to help out with the schedule.

I watch with my Phil Steele college football magazine and my remote control, flipping channels at each commercial. I also have my laptop open to the ESPN and CBS Sports scoreboards so that I know when there is a crucial moment in any other game in order to be able to flip to that game when needed.

I only leave the bedroom to take a bathroom break, grab a drink refill or maybe a snack. I have been known to watch football straight through the evening hours without even thinking about dinner. In fact, there was a Saturday last season where I received a text message from my wife (who was in the living room) that dinner was here. I didn’t even know she had called and ordered pizza and wings.

Understanding the Trent Richardson Trade – September 20th

As everyone was ripping the Browns for trading Trent Richardson, I was praising them. I never liked the pick of Richardson (or the trade they made to take him) and felt that cutting ties with him now was a good idea. Hey what do you know – I get one right every now and then.

As much as Browns fans don’t want to hear it, the team is in a rebuilding mode once again. This time it is with new ownership plus a new front office and coaching staff. This staff has to be able to do what they feel needs to be done to get their players and plan in place to move forward.

By trading Richardson, they give themselves another pick in the first round of the draft which could be more valuable to them at this point than the running back was. You have to figure that the new regime will be looking for their quarterback of the very near future in this upcoming draft, plus the team has many other holes to fill. Stockpiling draft picks allows them to not only get better through the draft, but also gives them the option to package picks to move up if need be to get the player they want.

 NFL Drops the Ball on Prostate Cancer Awareness – October 11th

As much as I appreciate the incredible effort that the NFL puts forth on breast cancer awareness, I feel that they could do a better job of promoting awareness for prostate cancer as well.

And even as the NFL is growing in popularity with women, their main audience is still men.

For that reason, the NFL needs to treat September the same way they treat October. Only instead of pink, the field and uniforms should be highlighted with light blue. What do I mean by that? September is prostate cancer awareness month.

Like with breast cancer in women, 230,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in men this year, with 1 in 6 men eventually being diagnosed in their life. Also as with breast cancer in women, prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in men.

If it makes sense for the NFL to promote breast cancer awareness because their female audience is growing, it would then in the same breath make sense for the NFL to promote prostate cancer awareness. The league is made up of around 67% of black players and black males are more at risk for prostate cancer than white males.

 The Most Important Tree in Akron Keeps Growing – November 1st

The Akron Zips look to win their third consecutive MAC championship and if they do, it will be in part because of Demetrius “Tree” Treadwell stepping up. The player that was used in their preseason ads, Treadwell was last season’s MAC Tournament MVP and is only getting better.

“That skill level is great, but he is a junkyard dog,” Dambrot said. “So he’s still gotta be the toughest, meanest, nastiest, lead the nation in rebounding, be the best defender and not forget what he is.”

That junkyard dog mentality is what led Treadwell to being named the MAC Tournament MVP in 2013, averaging 13.5 points and 11 rebounds in the two contests against Kent State and Ohio that led the Zips to the MAC championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five seasons.

One thing that will be different for Treadwell this season will be the absence of Zeke Marshall from the front court. Marshall – the MAC and Akron career leader in blocked shots with 368 – was a security blanket for the Akron defense over the last four seasons. While Treadwell admits that it will be a little different playing without Marshall, he is confident that the defense will still be solid.

Jameis Winston Situation is About Much More Than Football – November 22nd

The most talked about offseason college football story in the last month of the regular season was whether or not Jameis Winston would be charged with sexual assault after allegations from a female that he assaulted her. While people were worried about Winston’s Heisman Trophy hopes and Florida State’s chances at a national championship, I wanted people to remember there were more important things in this story.

Unlike previous cases in college football, whether it be Cam Newton allegedly being paid to play at Auburn, the Ohio State tattoo scandal or the Johnny Manziel autograph situation, this case is about more than football in the long run. Newton, Manziel and the Ohio State players never faced jail time, just the possibility of having their eligibility stripped. Those cases involved alleged transgressions against the NCAA rule book, while this one involves actual laws possibly being broken.

In this particular case, should Winston be charged, he would likely be charged with a second-degree felony count of sexual battery. In the state of Florida, that could carry a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

While this is still a fluid case and the state attorney’s office is still collecting information and doing their due diligence in determining whether the sex between Winston and the accuser was consensual or indeed was a case of sexual assault, there are real lives being affected. And no matter the outcome, there will be a real victim.


Akron Zips Making Strides, Give Terry Bowden a Deserved Extension – November 29th

The Akron Zips gave Terry Bowden a contract extension after seeing progress in the second year under their new head coach. While some questioned the timing, I felt that Akron got it right.

All in all, Akron finished the season reeling off four wins in five games to finish the season 5-7 with a 3-4 record in the MAC. For a team who had won just two games total in the two seasons before Bowden arrived – just one of those wins being against FBS competition – and a team whose only win in Bowden’s first season was against FCS opponent Morgan State, that was a huge momentum building stretch to take into the offseason and 2014. That was another reason that Wistrcill felt the extension was done at the proper time.

“Obviously we are winning more games which is important,” Wistrcill said. “From the recruiting standpoint, giving him that shot in the arm was really important.”

This is something that Akron has needed for their football program, as the team had gone just 6-18 at home in the first four seasons at InfoCision Stadium and were just 6-42 overall since the stadium was built. The football team showing the start of a turnaround will only help the rest of the sports in the athletic program.

Thank you again for all of your time you have spent on the More Than A Fan website and time you have spent reading my columns. I look forward to a great 2014 (well maybe not for Cleveland teams) that consist of more columns and more podcasts as well. The More Than A Fan site has grown and continues to grow, so you never know what 2014 might hold.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net. You can also connect with him on Twitter @isley23.

If I Were Joe Banner…

The Browns proved last night that they are indeed a hot mess and that got me thinking…

What would I do about this if I were Joe Banner?

How would I address the problems that currently decimate this Cleveland Browns franchise?

Clearly, things aren’t right and need plenty of fixing, so what could I do to turn this franchise around?

Well, I guess this is my plan.

First and foremost, I would keep Rob Chudzinski. This is the guy to do the job in Cleveland, there’s no doubt in my mind. You can see it in his attitude week after week. The guy gives his best no matter the circumstances, takes risks and never gives up- as evidenced last night. Jimmy and Joe did a phenomenal job with this hire and it’s something I wouldn’t even consider changing.

My next order of business would be to get rid of Greg Little and Josh Gordon as soon as possible. You might be rolling your eyes or clicking out of this article, but I’m absolutely serious.

Josh Gordon is an absolutely talented player, but the kid has far too much maturing to do if he’s ever going to be an NFL player. The bottom-line is, the return you could get for him would be much more valuable than the growing pains and the waiting period that you’re going to have to put up with.

Greg Little is much the same way. Little parties like he’s a Pro Bowler and plays like he’s a Pop Warner week in and week out. He’s not a good route runner, he doesn’t have great hands and, obviously, he has to continue to mature if he ever wants to be useful in this league.

I would package the both of them up and get another first rounder and a third rounder or get a third rounder and another slot receiver.

The return on these guys is much better than the production you’re going to get. In a league that’s all about value, that trade is a very easy one to make.

My next order of business would be to address the backfield and it’s seemingly endless array of issues.

First of all, I would sign a fullback. To this moment, I still don’t understand how Chris Ogbonnaya has become the Browns fullback. He’s small and can’t block a soul- essentially the opposite of what you want in a fullback. I would sign Lawrence Vickers as a stop gap and find the best fullback in the 2014 draft and pick him up early. I don’t understand how the Browns expect to have efficiency out of the backfield without a fullback? It makes absolutely no sense.

Other than that, however, I love the McGahee signing and I think Ogbonnaya could be a quality backup for now. Obviously, that position needs to be heavily addressed in the future- thank you Mike Holmgren- but for now, the McGahee/Ogbonnaya tandem should be plenty efficient.

Then, finally, we come upon the worst of any of the situations. A situation that continually haunts the Browns year in and year out- the QB carousel.

Brandon Weeden is done. There’s no future for him in this franchise. That was evident last night. He’s simply too old and too slow to get anything done.

While Brandon does have a howlitzer of a right arm, with good size and pocket presence, his feet are atrocious and he’s too slow to effectively move in the pocket. His mental capacity seems to be draining and his inability to cope with the media and Browns fans is now nearing it’s peak.

In other words, he’s toast.

With Weeden done, the Browns have a decision to make: what do we do about this season. Realistically, the Browns could hover around .500 with a halfway-competent quarterback thanks to their defense. The question is, however, is that a worthwhile venture- grabbing a free agent QB- with no true franchise QB answer in sight?

No, it’s not.

In regards to us, the viewers, the rest of this season is going to suck. I still think that Weeden should be the guy. At least under Weeden, the Browns will struggle enough to where they’ll be in a good position to draft the quarterback of the future.

For all of the Campbell people out there- don’t even think about it. Do you really want an older, slower quarterback that’s thinner and has less of an arm than Brandon Weeden leading the Browns the rest of the way? You shouldn’t. There’s a reason that Weeden has played so much and there’s a reason that Hoyer jumped him when Weeden went down. Jason Campbell is BAD, there’s no other way around it.

Play Weeden, tank and give Joe Banner the opportunity to hand select the Browns next “franchise” quarterback.

The last thing the Browns want is to finish in the middle of the road when there are so many offensive issues at hand that need addressing. Let Weeden finish this tank job and finish his professional sports career with two full NFL seasons under his belt.

When it’s all said and done, the Browns will be better off that way.

As for the defense, I would keep the status quo minus the linebacking situation. The Browns are continually burned by tight ends and it’s thanks to the massive decline of Craig Robertson as a pass defender.

I would at least give Tank Carder a shot to see what he could do in pass coverage. It couldn’t be that much worse than what Robertson is doing now.

Overall, as you can see, I think the defense is set, but the offense needs a MASSIVE overhaul. For so many years, the Browns emphasized their offensive line as the foundation of their offense.

That’s great, but when the offensive line isn’t blocking for anybody, what good does that do?

The Browns haven’t had a legitimate playmaker since Braylon Edwards and look how that turned out.

Offensively, Jordan Cameron, Davone Bess and Gary Barnidge are the only offensive “skill” players worth keeping for the long haul. Everyone else should find their way out of town.

That fact, however, is absolutely putrid.

Joe Banner has made some good decisions during his Browns tenure- Barkevious Mingo, Trent Richardson, Rob Chudzinski- but still has a long way to go before turning this franchise around.

Continue to stockpile draft picks, find THE quarterback, find offensive talent and continue to take this franchise in the right direction.

That’s what I would do, if I were Joe Banner.

Brandon Weeden: Here’s you second and likely last chance.

Several weeks ago the Browns made a personnel move that shocked the entire football world.  Trent Richardson was headed to Indy in return for a first round pick. Believe it or not it was easy for Cleveland to replace Trent’s 3 ypc with a collection of previously unemployed running backs. Now that Trent isn’t facing a stacked box, he still can’t find holes or running lanes. Early returns  are that this was a home run for the Browns. Things can change, but the same old Trent is what Indy seems to have.

The Browns have yet to lose a game since they traded Trent.  In addition to the Trent Richardson trade was an injury/demotion that placed Brandon Weeden on the bench and returned Josh Gordon to the lineup. And thus, wins ensued.

The Trent Richardson trade sent a real message to the entire locker room. No one is safe, not even their own self-proclaimed “face of the franchise.”  If Trent can go, anyone can. This front office likes very little of what the Holmgren brain trust accomplished in Cleveland and they seem to be doing all the can to stockpile some draft picks to correct the deficiencies.

While all this was happening, something bigger happened. Brian Hoyer was inserted and he won. The struggles of the Weeden led offense were gone.  Routine three and outs disappeared and the offense actually resembled that they were a collection of paid professionals.

Suddenly it was apparent how god-awful Brandon Weeden was at quarterback.  In my opinion this was a huge wake up call to Weeden. His job was not safe, continued poor play will find him unemployed.  Injury or not I am willing to bet that Brian Hoyer was starting week 3. It just so happened that Weeden suffered a thumb injury in Baltimore to make it appear that it was an injury replacement.

When Hoyer went down and Weeden came in Thursday night, it was the same old piss-poor Weeden performance. But oddly enough, it only lasted a couple drives.  All the sudden he seemed like a component NFL quarterback.  Leading the Browns with a lot of help from their D and Jeff Tuel to their 3rd straight victory.

There is zero chance that Brandon Weeden is a member of the Cleveland Browns next year. He knows that now, as does any fan of this team. A healthy Hoyer and Weeden probably never plays another snap for the Browns. He’s been given a second chance.  And from the little sample size we saw Thursday night, it appears that he wants to make the most of it. If it’s the same old Brandon Weeden, he will be unemployed. He has 11 weeks to prove to the other 31 teams that he the ability to be a serviceable QB in this league. If he can in fact prove that, it will indirectly lead to Browns wins.

I’m done with Weeden as a Cleveland Brown, but right now he is our only option. Like it or not, he’s our QB moving forward. Let’s hope he makes the most of his second chance.

Cleveland Sports Week in Review: Winning Breeds a New Kind of Fool




WOW! What a week on the Lakefront! My head is still spinning (with joy) from all the amazing things that happened last week to CLEVELAND TEAMS OMG OMG OMG!

Quickly recapping, the Indians limped through a series in Kansas City, only to come home and sweep the Houston Astros in a four game set setting the stage for a “control their own destiny” kinda week of Indians baseball. We’ll break down the Tribe’s postseason outlook and discuss the Houston sweep, and also – BROWNS WIN! BROWNS WIN! Your favorite football team (and mine) did something on Sunday for the first time all season. They won. We’ll break-down the road win at Minnesota, Brian Hoyer, lousy fans, and much, much more as the Cleveland Sports Week in Review: Winning Breeds a New Kind of Fool gets rolling tonight, the last night without Indians baseball before we know how this crazy baseball marathon ends, and we’re gonna do it…as always…right now.





Hoooooo boy. Now that’s how you close-out the second-to-last week of the season. Yet another 5-2 mark this week (it’s seriously become a habit), as the Tribe lost a little ground in Kansas City, losing 2 of 3, only to make it up with a bullet and a biscuit by sweeping 4 at home from the downtrodden Houston Astros.


The Indians have a weakness for teams over .500 for sure (36-52), but it is equally amazing how they destroy teams under .500 at a .735 clip (50-18). On the one hand, you have to be good to be so dominant against the bad teams, but being 26 games under average against the teams that are worth a damn is a bit troubling.





I mean, I dunno. I suppose anything can happen once you make the postseason. We’ve seen a few recent examples of that lately like the Tigers and Giants, who were alright to moderately okay in the regular season but played like their hair was on fire in the playoffs, so we’ll see. There’s precedent. It has happened. Teams like the Indians have shocked the world before.


So. Here’s how the American League playoffs shake down with less than a week to go.



al divisions 9-23-13



The AL Central isn’t “locked”, but it’s close. Detroit is holding a 5 game lead with 6 games to play. Which makes their magic number something around 1ish, so we can kiss-off the division barring something unforceen (and awesome).



ad wildcard 9-23-13



Ahhhh. Yes. Now this is a little more up to speed. Wildcard standings. As you can see, the Indians are currently in possession of the #2 WC spot, which would mean that they would play the Wildcard Game on the road (at Tampa) if everything held true. However, things very well may not hold true, and the Tribe has just as much of a chance to win the WC1 spot than they do neither of them and a ticket home before the postseason. Tampa, Cleveland, Texas, and to a lesser extent Kansas City are all fighting for 2 sports. There’s one week to go. No matter what happens, it’s gonna be close.





So this is where all the money spent in the offseason, including money on a championship caliber manager, have gotten you. One week to go, your destiny in your own hands. Win through and you’re in no matter what anyone else does. Lose a few to the White Sox and Twins and the team could be watching the Wildcard Game from the comfort of their own living rooms. That’s all you can ask for, isn’t it? A chance to control your own destiny? We don’t need X, Y, or Z team to lose or any hocus-pocus black magic to play some extra baseball. We just have to win. It legitimately is that simple.





Let’s see where we are next week at this time and go from there. Next week’s week in review is either going to be a eulogy or a celebration. No in-between. The regular season is coming to a close, the Indians are in the thick of it, and nothing short of a collapse is going to keep the Wahoos out.





SIDEBAR: Stop pretending that other Cleveland sports fans lack the ability to multitask. We can juggle support for two teams just fine. Shame on the following elitist-Indians fans who apparently lack the mental capacity to root for 2 teams, and therefore assume that nobody can. Disgraceful.







And believe me when I tell you, this ridiculousness could go on for hours. Now as usual, I’m going to call out everyone who’s tweet appears in the Week in Review through my @CommonManDZ account. Will one of you people listed above who believe that Clevelanders lack the ability to root for more than one team at a time please explain to me what supporting the Browns has to do with supporting the Indians? Please? I just…just…I can’t wrap my head around this. And I don’t want to sit here and call all of you elitist-self-absorbed-divisive-asshats, but I will until one of you fans can explain this mentality to me in a way that makes sense. The American culture is built on channel-flipping and team-swapping. Why in Cleveland does that have to be different? As if we don’t have enough things to angst about in this town, you people have to go and invent more…





Me either brother. Me either.






A funny thing happened on the way to irrelevance yesterday in Minnesota.








This one’s special…







Browns win! Yahoo! Finally! All it took was trading away your “best offensive player”, getting your starting quarterback hurt, pushing a third-string ringer out there, 2 trick special teams plays, and the balls to decide the game throwing into the end zone instead of playing for the tie, damaged kicker or not. That’s it. That’s all it takes! 14-2 is virtually assured, right?


Just kidding. I know. This was one of the busiest and…weirdest weeks of Cleveland Browns news/football that I can remember, and my memory goes back pre-The Drive so that’s encompassing a pretty large chunk of history. We’ll get into the game and all that craziness in a bit, but lets first go back to the day of….”The Trade”.


First up. The tweet heard round the world. Adam Schefter dropped “The Bombshell”:





And with that, Cleveland. Came. Completely. Un. Freaking. Glued.









I should also mention that the Richardson trade came on the heels of promoting 3rd string quarterback Brian Hoyer to the starting spot because of Brandon Weeden’s thumb issue. Hoyer leapfrogged veteran NFL signal-caller Jason Campbell to get the starting nod, news which angered a few Browns fans all by itself….






So the decision to start a 3rd string quarterback, the trade of the team’s “best offensive weapon”, and a recent history of 5-year plans that would make the LA Clippers blush all pointed to one…single…undeniable…truth. Right? I mean, there’s only one reason for all this change…





Now look, I’m not calling out or making fun of anyone here. Truth be told, I kinda thought that they were doing the same thing. Tanking. Not so much for the whole starting Brian Hoyer thing, but trading T-Rich for a draft pick, and a crappy one at that, kinda had the look of a boat taking on water in order to collect a bunch of insurance money, being honest. And I know that there’s a metric ton of revisionist history going on in the media now in regards to Trent Richardson and everyone’s “take” on how they didn’t think he was any good anyway, which is mostly lies and sucking up to the organization outside of a select few, but whatever. Point is, Richardson was traded for a mediocre pick after Week 2, and Browns fans got bent. None of us listened as CHUD took to the airwaves and preached patience and reiterated on more than one occasion that the season was not over, and that the Browns would indeed compete and try to play and win at a high level, Richardson-be-dammed so-to-speak.


Yeah. Whatever CHUD. What’s he supposed to say?


But then, Sunday came. And as the game began to unfold, something strange started to happen. The Browns indeed were playing hard, and there wasn’t a tank job anywhere to be found. The Browns had come to play, and that included their backup-understudy QB turned-starter, Brian Hoyer.





As the game continued, Browns fans kept having to pick their jaw up off the ground. A touchdown pass to Josh Gordon (Hi Josh! We missed you!) here, a fake FG for a touchdown there. Going for it on 4th down. Throwing at the end zone instead of being afraid of it. Fake punts for touchdowns, it was unbelievable. Hoyer had his ups and downs for sure (threw a couple of ugly picks, spent the entire 3rd quarter peeling himself off the turf, etc.), but when it really mattered…and the Browns were down 3 with a little over a minute to go…the “Legend of Brian Hoyer” had a pretty good first act written for it.






Touchdown. Ballgame. Browns win. Good stuff, right? I mean, it looks like we were all wrong about the tank job – which is a good thing. Who wants to watch another season of crap football if they don’t have to? Could a win actually be a bad thing?


Depends on your perspective. Not for these people.





Now see, that’s fun. Real excitement. Real Browns fans psyched out of their minds that the Browns stormed-up to Minnesota and took care of some business. I love to see that, I truly do. Your excitement is contagious and makes doing a column like this fun. Thanks for that.


Oh. And then there’s this guy.












Don’t be torn, just shut up. Fans can only take so much losing. I don’t care what pick we get, I just want to watch my football team win some damn football games, regardless of the “strategy” or sense of it all. People like Chris Fedor don’t get it, because they aren’t a fan. Chris is a personality. Chris is paid (less now, but still) to be that guy. The so-called “smartest guy in the room”. Talking heads like Fedor use a cover of fandom to try and make themselves look smarter and more strategic then the common fan. That’s their schtick. It’s tired and totally transparent, but that’s what it is. Let me ask you this, how many times have you seen or heard Chris Fedor cheer for anything sports related in Cleveland? Not analyze or breakdown, not offer his opinion. But…cheer? Ever? Has it ever happened? Has Chris Fedor ever stopped trying to prim and pose and position himself to the fans of Cleveland as a smart guy to ever…once…just let go and cheer for a Cleveland team? I’m not saying he has, and I’m not saying he hasn’t, it’s just an observation. Maybe he has on Twitter, but it has never happened on the radio. Not in a long time at least. And the issue with that is that a guy like Fedor has hundreds of little mimickers who follow him and parrot everything he says because;


a) It sounds smart, even though it’s not.


b) They aren’t smart enough or deep enough thinkers to come up with their own opinions. They need a guy like Chris to come along and tell them how they should feel about whatever.


This kind of rhetoric spreads like a virus, and I’m tired of seeing (and hearing) it. Contrarian radio (and contrarian media in general) is the oldest trick in the book. “How to get Attention 101”. I don’t remember Jeff Sindelar needing to be a contrarian. Adam the Bull? Andy Baskin? Ken Carman? Hell, even Tony Rizzo? Are any of these people contrarians? Short answer, No. They aren’t. because they have talent and can entertain people without making them mad. They can encourage discourse without the need to say something stupidly shocking. It’s people like Fedor and his little Fedorites who babble on about taking and draft pick nonsense all day that irritate people for no good reason. These tank for picks people usually have the loudest voices too, and therefore, make Browns fans look the worst.


Anyway. I’m just saying that telling a fanbase that has done nothing but lose since 1999 that they need to tank the season again for some arbitrary less-than-a-sure-thing quarterback out of a shitty conference in the middle of America just reeks of “smartest guy in the room” bs. It’s a cancer to real Browns fans. Stop it. Move on Fedor. Support another team, I don’t care. Just stop saying dumb things about mine.





iOS7 Edition


Hey, I don’t know if ya’ll heard, but Apple released a new OS this week. Being a noted Apple nerd, I was here for everyone offering moral support, tech support, no support…whatever the situation required. He’s a sample of my timeline. I call this, “Life as a Twitter Tech Support Guy”. Enjoy:
































Sure am!


#TwitterTechSupport – Sometimes you’d never know that I write about SPORTS!


I love it though, I’m glad I can help so many people install iOS7, lol.


See you guys next week!



Catching Up Cleveland Style

After taking a couple of weeks to myself to reconfigure my schedule and alleviate some of the stress that comes with heading back to school, I’m back and ready for another big run here at More Than a Fan.

I know you all didn’t miss me too much, but I missed a lot of action, so I guess it’s time to play some catch up.

Let’s start with the Tribe.

Here we are, just six games away from the end of what has truly been a magical run for the Indians in the 2013 regular season.

In a weird way, this Indians season has gone exactly how many people imagined it would.

Most Tribe fans and baseball analysts alike thought the Indians would finish at anywhere from 80-90 wins and would compete for the Wild Card until the very end. Well, as you can tell, that’s been exactly the case as the Indians are now 86-70 and could win as many as 92 games, should they win every game for the rest of this season.

While the record has been parallel to our collective thought process as a fan base, the the reasons for our accurate prognostication has been completely contrary to our previous beliefs.

Coming in to 2013, the Indians looked to win games thanks to their revamped offense and shutdown bullpen.

Clearly neither has been as good as advertised and instead, the pitching staff has blown everyone away and taken this Indians team to this playoff-caliber level.

Unbelievably, it all starts with the resurgence of Ubaldo Jimenez.

If you were to tell Indians fans that Ubaldo Jimenez would guide you to playoff contention in late September, they simply would have laughed you off and looked for other pitching options.

Well, it’s happened. Ubaldo Jimenez is earning major money in his contract-year, as well as the trust to pitch in some big games for the Tribe down the stretch.

The massive divide between Jimenez’ pre and post All-Star numbers is absolutely staggering.

Before the break, Ubaldo allowed 94 hits, 53 runs, 13 homers, and 53 walks while striking out 94 batters and posting a 4.56 ERA. Oddly, however, Jimenez had a 7-4 record heading into the Midsummer Classic.

After the break, again, Ubaldo has been a completely rejuvenated pitcher.

Thus far, Ubaldo has allowed only 59 hits, 19 runs, three home runs and 23 walks and has 80 strikeouts with a 1.77 ERA.

He’s truly been the Indians second-half MVP and if the first half of the season went the same way as the second, we might be talking about Ubaldo Jimenez as the unanimous AL Cy Young award winner.

It will be interesting to see what the Indians will do with Ubaldo next season. He’s certainly earned the opportunity to put on an Indians uniform in 2014, but the cost-benefit may not favor the Tribe, as he will be looking to make big money next offseason.

The Indians are so close to the playoffs you can almost taste it, but we must be patient. Let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. There are six games left and anything can happen. If we are patient and let things fall where they may, the taste of victory and a playoff berth will be that much sweeter.

I hope you’re ready for a wild week, Tribe fans. It all comes down to this!

While the Indians have filled the heart of Cleveland with hope and pride, the Browns front office did the exact opposite on Wednesday evening.

Seemingly out of the blue with no trace of a previous mention of the deal, the Cleveland Browns traded away 2012 first-round pick and number three overall selection, Trent Richardson, to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round pick.

On the surface, it seemed as if the Browns were giving up, cleaning house and upsetting their fan-base all at the same time.

Callers made their way through the airwaves to tell local sports-radio hosts that they were “done with this organization” and “had enough” with the way the Browns handle their business.

It was a sad day for many Browns fans, but not for me.

I was never a Trent Richardson fan from the beginning. This has been well documented.

Consider this Browns fans, Trent Richardson absolutely could have been- and was- a product of one of the best offensive lines in the history of college football.

It was Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and DJ Fluker lead the way for Richardson to be the back he was, yet no one realized that until it was too late.

Richardson proved from day one that he was a product of the men up front, as he danced and juked his way to one-yard gains, two yard losses, and three-yard dives.

When the hole is there, he absolutely is one of the better running backs in the game, just based on his toughness and incredible agility. The problem is, however, that those holes don’t exist at the NFL level. The defensive players are too good to allow for the gaping holes that paved the way for Richardson’s success at Alabama.

While Browns fans whined and moaned that this team gave up too soon and Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and Jimmy Haslam should all be fired immediately, the Browns got a first round pick for a backup backup running back.

The Browns absolutely won the deal.

If anything, this trade proved the inability of the previous regime. Holmgren and company moved up in the draft to acquire Richardson, who is no longer with the Browns.

Do you sense a problem there?

There are other moves that further the trend, but watch this move play out in the Browns favor and watch the ineptitude of the previous regime become more and more obvious as the new regime settles into place.

Of course, after the Browns trade Richardson and start Brian Hoyer, they win a game.

It’s typical, as nothing ever seems to make sense in Cleveland.

Except that it does.

The Browns got a win Sunday because Minnesota struggles through the air and struggles on defense. The Browns have an strong front seven, an awful secondary and a struggling offense. If they were going to win a game this season, it was going to be against the Vikings.

While the Browns did have to pull some trickery to get the job done, they did come away with a victory and Chudzinski proved that he has more guts and more determination than any coach we’ve seen in Cleveland since 1999.

I wouldn’t expect too many more W’s from the Brownies this season- unless Brian Hoyer proves that he’s the real deal- but expect more moves from the front office and expect them to make this team better in the near future.

Understanding the Trent Richardson Trade

by Ryan Isley

I figured I would give everyone a little bit of time to sit back and let the Browns trade of Trent Richardson sink in before I wrote about it. I was hoping that by doing so, people would start to realize that this trade is not only not the end of the world for the Browns, but just might end up being a good deal for them in the long run.

Unfortunately, people are still making statements out of anger and not looking at the facts that surround this deal.

First of all, the Browns were not in a spot to compete for the playoffs this season. Those who thought so before the season started were doing so out of hope and not actual reasoning. Once the team fell to 0-2 with two dismal performances on offense and their starting quarterback was hurt, it was apparent to everyone – or should have been – that the Cleveland Browns were headed for another decent pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

It has become clear that the new regime of the Cleveland Browns – CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi – do not agree with what the prior regime – President Mike Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckert – did in the 2012 draft. That included the pick of Richardson, who was only drafted after the Browns traded up one spot in the draft with the Minnesota Vikings, not only giving up their first pick but also three later picks as well.

After hearing head coach Rob Chudzinski say on Wednesday that Brandon Weeden was not guaranteed his starting quarterback spot back once he is healthy, the plan was starting to be set in place to look at the future. And when the Indianapolis Colts were willing to part with a first round draft pick for Richardson, the Browns had no other alternative than to trade the No.3 overall pick from the 2012 draft.

Browns fans predictably freaked out and called this a fleecing by the Colts. But fans were speaking from emotions and not facts. The fact is that Richardson has not been as good as advertised since coming into the NFL. In fact, it may have been one of the best jobs of false advertising that has ever been seen.

If you remember, I was completely against drafting Richardson in 2012 and I was dead set against the idea of trading up to get the job done. There was a pretty good reason for that – I had watched Richardson play in a number of games that previous season for Alabama.

Richardson finished the 2011 season averaging 5.93 yards per carry on 283 carries, running for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns. Sounds like a great season, right? Well yes – if you just look on the surface. Fact is that Richardson was much more productive in the second half than he was in the first half. That means he was getting most of his yards once that Alabama offensive line was able to wear down their opponents.

In the first half of the 13 games Alabama played in 2011, Richardson ran for 697 yards on 148 carries – an average of 4.71 yards. In the second half of those games, Richardson ran for 982 yards on 135 carries – a 7.27 yard per carry average.  That is a product of the offensive line just dominating the line of scrimmage.

How good was that offensive line? Two of the players were drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft when the Tennessee Titans took guard Chance Womack at No.10 overall and then the San Diego Chargers took tackle DJ Fluker with the next pick. The St. Louis Rams also took center Barrett Jones – the Rimington Award winner for the best center in college football – in the fourth round.

So to say that Richardson had some help at Alabama would be an understatement.

Also, keep in mind that Alabama had a running back – Mark Ingram – win the Heisman Trophy in 2009 after rushing for 1,658 yards. In 2010, Ingram and Richardson split carries and combined for 1,575 yards. Last season, Alabama split carries between Eddie Lacy (a second round pick in the 2013 draft) and TJ Yeldon. The two running backs combined for 2,430 yards with each eclipsing the 1,100-yard plateau.

Richardson found out quickly in his rookie season that he was no longer at Alabama, where they have the premier players at every position and can just force their will upon other teams.

In 2012, Richardson was 11th in the NFL with 267 carries, one of 23 players who toted the ball 200 or more times. Of those 23 players, he tied for 21st in yards per carry at 3.6 yards, tying him with Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons. Turner was released after last season. The only player with a worse yards per carry average than those two with at least 200 carries? Oakland’s Darren McFadden at 3.3 yards.

Add to those numbers that 149 of Richardson’s 267 carries (55.8%) went for three yards or less and 55 of those runs (20.6%) went for zero or negative yards. Richardson also had only 14 carries of 10 or more yards. The 2013 season started off with more of the same, as Richardson was averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and 17 of his 31 carries had gone for three yards or less.

Those numbers might be easier to handle if Richardson passed the eye test, which he did not on many occasions. The second year back has shown the tendency to have happy feet and not hit the hole quickly when it is opened. He has also shown on multiple occasions that he will give up on a play too quickly, not allowing it to develop.

It also does not help that Richardson can never seem to stay healthy, going back to his days at Alabama.

With all of this said, I can understand why the Browns front office did what they did by trading Richardson. While some fans are upset that the Browns have seemingly given up on the 2013 season just two weeks in, teams have to strike when the iron is hot if they want to make a trade. The iron will never be hotter than a first round draft pick when it comes to Richardson.

They realized that they are not going to be a contender this season and when a team offers a first round pick for a non-elite running back, you have to take it. Had the Browns passed on this trade, who knows what they would have been able to get for Richardson later in the season or after the season was over?

As much as Browns fans don’t want to hear it, the team is in a rebuilding mode once again. This time it is with new ownership plus a new front office and coaching staff. This staff has to be able to do what they feel needs to be done to get their players and plan in place to move forward.

By trading Richardson, they give themselves another pick in the first round of the draft which could be more valuable to them at this point than the running back was. You have to figure that the new regime will be looking for their quarterback of the very near future in this upcoming draft, plus the team has many other holes to fill. Stockpiling draft picks allows them to not only get better through the draft, but also gives them the option to package picks to move up if need be to get the player they want.

Making this move was a bold one to say the least, and now the pressure is on Banner, Lombardi and Chudzinski to make the right moves in the draft to show that this trade was one worth making. Should they completely miss in this upcoming draft, then the trade becomes a disaster going forward and might put them in a deeper hole than any other regime that has come through town since 1999.

Unfortunately this trade needs the one thing that Browns fans don’t want to give in order to see if it was the correct move or not – time. But if you are asking me right now if I like the deal for the Browns? The answer is simple:

Most definitely.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net