Who will be Cleveland Browns’ New Coach?

adam-gase-brownsSo goes another Cleveland Browns head coaching stint, as Mike Pettine was fired from the gig after just two years. Rumors had been swirling about whether or not Pettine would be back even before Cleveland’s 28-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the move was confirmed after the Steelers game, which dropped the Browns’ record to a dismal 3-13. So now that Pettine is out, who will be the new coach of the Cleveland Browns?

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the team’s first choice is Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Cleveland targeted Gase before they hired Pettine in 2013; however, Gase removed himself from consideration to focus on the Denver Broncos’ playoff run. And sources confirm that the 37-year-old offensive coordinator is scheduled for an interview with Cleveland.

An interesting twist to this story is that Peyton Manning recommended Gase to his friend and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. Manning is interested in playing another season somewhere after a foot injury derailed his current season in Denver. And it’s possible that this somewhere could be Cleveland if Gase lands the job.

However, it should be noted that all this information is merely based on reports and speculation. Gase will likely have plenty of other offers in 2016, with ProFootballTalk.com reporting that the Dolphins, Eagles and Lions (if Jim Caldwell is fired) will be in the hunt as well.

Gase has helped various quarterbacks experience great seasons. The Bears’ Jay Cutler is a prime example since he’s completed 63.9 percent of his passes while tossing 19 TD’s against only 8 INT’s. So far Gase has dealt with big pocket passers, meaning he might be skeptical of this job if Johnny Manziel is the best quarterback option in 2016.

In 2013 and ’14, Gase led the Broncos offense to league highs in points (34.0 PPG), passing (315.2 YPG) and total yards (430.1 YPG). Two years ago, Denver broke the NFL record for points scored (606) and touchdowns in a season (76). The same year saw Manning break records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) in a season.

Of course, it’s easier coaching perhaps the greatest quarterback in history to record highs. But what Gase did with lesser talents might be a true testament of his abilities. In 2011, he coached the duo of Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow to a combined 20:13 TD-to-INT ratio. That same year the Broncos won the AFC West title and a postseason spot, despite mediocre play at the game’s most important position.

Mike PettineGiven all that Gase has done, he might be wise to consider another coaching opportunity when thinking about what’s happened in Cleveland over the last decade. Pettine lasted two seasons, Rob Chudzinski lasted one year, Pat Shurmur lasted two years and Eric Mangini also lasted just two seasons. The last coach to leave the franchise with a winning record was Marty Schottenheimer in 1988, and the last coach to tally 65 wins was Bill Belichick who was fired in 1995.

Besides the coaching carousel, the team has suffered a number of embarrassing draft mistakes over the past decade and a half. Tim Couch (1999), Courtney Brown (2000), Gerard Warren (2001), William Green (2002), Brady Quinn (2007) and Justin Gilbert (2014) are among the team’s most-memorable draft bust since re-starting their franchise in 1999.

It’s looking like Manziel (2014) could be yet another player added to Cleveland’s growing list of first-round draft busts. The former Heisman Trophy winner has suffered a number of alcohol-related, off-field incidents that have cast shadows on his character. So it remains to be seen if he’ll be on the roster when a new coach is brought in to the Browns organization this offseason.

Will Browns cut Johnny Manziel?

Cleveland Browns v Washington RedskinsIt’s always hard for an NFL team to cut ties with a first-round selection. After all, this is essentially the front office admitting that they totally botched what should have been a sure-fire pick. But for the Cleveland Browns, the time to finally admit their mistake with Johnny Manziel could be arriving by the end of this summer.

He seemed like a future star after becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy. The Texas A&M star then put up another strong showing in his sophomore season, despite not winning the Heisman again. This was all the push Manziel needed to convince himself that he was ready for the NFL.

Johnny Football made himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, eventually going to the Cleveland Browns, as they traded up to draft him 22nd overall. This should have been a great marriage, given that Manziel was an excellent college quarterback and Cleveland hasn’t had a decent signal caller for the past decade and a half. What’s more is that it seemed like a great choice for the fans of Cleveland, who’ve been looking for any kind of spark that could make the normally dismal Browns worth watching.

But so far, everything has gone terribly wrong…

johnny-manziel-browns-starterFirst off, Manziel made more headlines for his hard-partying ways and wide range of celebrity friends than he did with practice habits or work ethic. The result was an under-prepared Manziel putting up little resistance to Brian Hoyer, who walked away with the starting job unscathed. It wasn’t until Week 15 that Johnny Football was finally able to unseat Hoyer and get his chance to shine.

The result was a disaster as he completed 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards and two interceptions. What’s worse is that the Browns got skunked 30-0, ending the miserable NFL debut of Manziel. The following week he was off to another terrible start against the Carolina Panthers, only to pull his hamstring and end his rookie season.

This was only the beginning, though, because he checked into a rehab facility after the Super Bowl as a final hope for turning around his out-of-control lifestyle. It was at this point that Cleveland inked a deal with 35-year-old Josh McCown, who showed flashes of brilliance with the Bears. Given everything that Cleveland has already been through with Manziel, they seem more than ready to move on from the talented, but troubled quarterback.

McCown will enter the preseason as the starting quarterback, but there’s still a competition open. If Manziel can outplay McCown in camp, it would at least justify keeping him on the roster, despite the potential for his antics. However, assuming he shows a lack of improvement from last year, where he looked nothing like the guy who dominated college teams while at Texas A&M, then it would be easy to see Cleveland cutting him. After all, what team wants a high-profile backup around who creates a media circus wherever he goes.

2014 NFL Rookie of the Year Betting: Where does Johnny Manziel fit in?

johnny-manziel-brownsIf you’re looking for a favorite to win the 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel is certainly an intriguing name. According to our sportsbook at GTBets.eu, he currently carries the second-best odds at 8-to-1, tied with Detroit Lions TE Eric Ebron and Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans. All three currently trail Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins, whom we’ve given 6-to-1 odds of winning the ROTY.

Anyways, focusing on Manziel, does he really have what it takes to be a dominant player in his rookie season. Well if we’re judging this based on offseason activities, Johnny Football may not be the best-prepared player when the 2014 NFL season kicks off. He set an unofficial record for partying with the most celebrities in his very first offseason, something that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has finally gotten tired of. “I think the really great athletes make their news on the field, not off the field,” Haslam said. “Has that message sunk in yet? We’ll see.”

Of course, few people are doubting Manziel’s on-field skills. The Texas A&M product became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy award after passing for over 3,000 yards and rushing for over 1,000 yards. In all, he tallied 7,820 passing yards, 63 passing TD’s, 22 INT’s, 2,169 rushing yards and 30 rushing TD’s in his two years with the Aggies. And that’s what Manziel would like everybody to remember going into the season as he stated:

johnny-manziel-browns-1Here’s the thing I want to say. The reason I’m popular, the reason people follow me and there’s been such a buzz around me, when I went out on Saturdays at Texas A&M, I played with an extreme amount of passion and I played with my heart on my sleeve. But more than anything I had fun. I had fun playing this game, I had fun going on out on this field playing football. That’s what I live for, that’s what I do. The same thing off the field. Whether I’m going out and playing golf, whether it’s going out and having the nightlife, whatever it is, I’m having fun. That’s what my life is. And luckily for me I’m living out my dream of playing in the NFL, having a ton of fun.

Manziel went on to say that he doesn’t want to use being 21 as an excuse, but he still has some maturing to do. These aren’t usually the comments that we hear from future rookie-of-the-year winners. So this definitely casts some skepticism on how the quarterback could perform in 2014. Another thing that Manziel has to worry about is Brian Hoyer, who showed some major promise last season.

Hoyer played high school ball at Cleveland St. Ignatius, went undrafted from Michigan State, then backed up Tom Brady in three seasons at New England. He’s an unheralded, gritty player who’s spent most of his career as an understudy – pretty much the opposite of Manziel. If the latter doesn’t look ready, Hoyer is more than capable of starting a portion or all of the year, as he proved by racking up 615 passing yards, 5 TD’s and 3 INT’s before getting injured.

So the first step for Manziel will be proving that he can play the position better than Hoyer, which is no small task. Assuming Johnny Football can win the starting job at some point, the next task will be rekindling some of that magic he showed at Texas A&M. Given his multi-threat skills, this isn’t an impossible feat. But Manziel is going to have to remain 100% focused moving forward.

Johnny Manziel to Second Round of NFL Draft?

johnny-manziel-nflTrying to predict where Johnny Manziel is going in the 2014 NFL Draft is like trying to predict which numbers will win the lottery. Every mock draft that comes out has the Texas A&M star heading to a different team, with the Houston Texans (#1 pick), Jacksonville Jaguars (#3), Cleveland Browns (#4) and Oakland Raiders (#5) often coming up in the discussion. But former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King has a different take on the matter:..

In a recent mock draft of the first round that King did, he doesn’t even have Manziel going in the first round. This is pretty shocking when you consider how mesmerized some teams like the Browns have been with Johnny Football’s duel-threat ability. So what’s the deal here? Has King bought into all of the insults that Barry Switzer hurled Manziel’s way? Is he turned off by how the Heisman Trophy winner measured just under six feet at the Combine?

Actually, King just thinks that the unpredictability that Manziel brings is enough to make head coaches and general managers worry about risking their jobs to draft him. Here’s an excerpt from King’s Yahoo post:

shaun-king-footballThe Johnny Manziel conundrum is one the more interesting evaluation dilemmas to hit NFL evaluators in a long time. I don’t have him being drafted in the first round. Not because I don’t think he has a chance to be a good player, but because I don’t think teams will be able to come to an internal consensus on him.

When a team takes a quarterback in Round 1, a lot of jobs are on the line. If that player doesn’t pan out the general manger and head coach generally aren’t there to choose a second one. Jacksonville, Cleveland and Minnesota all need QBs now, yet they all drafted one in the first round in the last three years. Only Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is left standing; the rest, including all three head coaches, are gone.

Nobody is going to take Shaun King’s mock-draft advice over Mel Kiper Jr’s. However, his reasoning for not putting Manziel does bring up a legitimate point in that Johnny Football may be too risky for one of the top five teams to bet their jobs on a running QB who’s not even six feet tall. There’s a good chance that Manziel comes out and plays like RG III did in his rookie campaign, however, there’s also the chance that he becomes the next Christian Ponder/Blaine Gabbert/Brandon Weeden.

Going back to King, he believes that Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is the “most complete NFL ready QB since Andrew Luck,” and he has the Texans grabbing Bridgewater with the top overall pick. Predictably, Auburn OT Greg Robinson goes to the Rams at number two, while South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney goes to the Jaguars at number three. King also sends Clemson WR Sammy Watson to Cleveland with the fourth pick and Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald to the Raiders at number five.

We doubt that UCF quarterback Blake Bortles falls out of the top-5 range, especially with four teams who could really use a QB sitting there. But it’s still interesting to see a mock draft that doesn’t think teams will still be desperately reaching for the next Luck.

Don’t expect Raiders to pass on a Good Quarterback

teddy-bridgewater-louisvilleOnce again, the Oakland Raiders are coming off a very disappointing season where they finished 4-12 and were nowhere near the playoff picture. And once again, they have the opportunity to land a high draft pick who could make a huge impact on the struggling franchise.

The Raiders pick fifth in the 2014 NFL Draft and their immediate focus appears to be on a quarterback. Head coach Dennis Allen indicated this by saying that QB is “a position we’ve obviously got to look at.”

The word “obviously” definitely fits here because Oakland’s returning quarterbacks, Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, don’t yet seem capable of leading a team to success. Pryor initially caused a spark after beating out Matt Flynn for the starting job in training camp. He rushed for 162 yards in the first two games of the 2013 season and led Oakland to a 1-1 record. Pryor was knocked out of the third game with a concussion and never developed any passing rhythm after coming back.

Pryor’s Week 9 MCL sprain gave undrafted rookie Matt McGloin an opportunity to start. Although he proved to be a better pure pocket passer with 1,547 yards, 8 TD’s and 8 INT’s, McGloin only led the Raiders to one win in his seven appearances.

Given their options, Oakland could definitely grab a more heralded signal caller. And the 2014 Draft class has a number of strong QB prospects, with Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles leading the way.

The only problem is that there are three other teams with pressing quarterback needs themselves. The Houston Texans, Jacksvonille Jaguars and Cleveland Browns all pick ahead of Oakland and could take a QB. Houston might go quarterback or defense, while experts definitely expect Jacksonville and Cleveland to go QB.

But this certainly hasn’t stopped Oakland from spending countless hours looking at game footage of passers. After watching the tape, Manziel is one prospect who really sticks out in Allen’s mind as he said:

He’s accomplished a lot at the collegiate level he’s been a very good football player being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy speaks for itself. I think he’s a very talented football player, he’s a multidimensional football player. He’s able to throw the ball from the pocket and do things with his feet. As we get more into the evaluation process he’ll be a fun one to look at.

Once again, though, Oakland needs to prepare for a scenario in which they don’t get Manziel or the other two top signal callers. There are plenty of other potential stars in the draft, including South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Auburn left tackle terrelle-pryor-raidersGreg Robinson. Plus, the team doesn’t sound like they’re entirely down on the returning quarterbacks. “One of those things we have to determine,” said Allen with regard to who’ll start next year. “We’re going to look at that position very closely. In my opinion we’ve got two young quarterbacks with potential.”

However, Allen played devil’s advocate by saying, “I don’t know the answer to that yet. The quarterback position is the backbone of your football team. We’ve got to make sure that when we go out there this year, we put ourselves in the best position to have success with the quarterback position.”

Assuming Oakland really feels some urgency in this draft, they might consider trading up into one of the top three positions. But is it worth sacrificing other draft picks to move up for one player when you’re a team that needs so much? Maybe so, when you consider the large amount of quarterback failures that Oakland has experienced over the past several years.

2014 Super Bowl Outcome Likely to change Future of NFL Teams

cliff-avril-seattleIn a day and age where NFL teams desperately reach for the next great quarterback while ignoring the rest of their roster, the Seattle Seahawks are an anomaly. Their GM, Joe Schneider, in collaboration with head coach Pete Carroll, took no shortcuts en route to transforming a middling team with no identity into the powerhouse that destroyed Denver 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.

The league definitely took notice of this spectacle, as Seattle’s tall, lengthy corners, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell, held the Broncos’ star-studded receiving corp in check. The league saw safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas make crushing hits whenever Peyton Manning did find his receivers for mostly harmless chunks of yards. They watched as Seattle’s pass rushers, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Red Bryant, completely took one of history’s greatest quarterbacks out of his comfort zone. They witnessed the Seahawks’ offensive stars, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, make huge plays whenever they were needed. And now, the league is going to act on what they saw in the 2014 Super Bowl.

You can count on a dozen or more teams working to build a roster that’s more akin to Seattle. And this means that defensive players will gain a little more value this offseason. Greg Hardy, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are all set to make far more money this summer thanks to the Seattle Seahawks.

richard-sherman-seattleTeams have already been gravitating towards quarterbacks who can throw on the run. However, guys like Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater gain even more value in the draft after Wilson helped lead Seattle to a championship. Furthermore, the prototypical height requirement of 6’3″ or taller is diminished because of the 5’11” Wilson.

Running back committees have almost become automatic in this day and age. But when looking at the success Seattle had with a bruising, workhorse back like Lynch and a competent backup in Robert Turbin, getting somebody who can carry the load will be of extreme importance.

The Seahawks have definitely created the template here. And multiple teams will now be hoping to emulate Seattle’s roster. Obviously some organizations will fail badly at doing so. Others might achieve the success of San Francisco and Carolina, which are both very similar to Seattle. But will anybody be able to reach the heights that the Seahawks did this year? Or will it be the team from the Pacific Northwest repeating again as champs? You can bet that this will be a busy offseason as teams try to prevent the latter from happening again.