The Cleveland Browns have announced that today is Mike Holmgren's last day with the Browns.
Following Jimmy Haslam III's appointment of Joe Banner as the new CEO, Holmgren previously announced this season would be his last in Cleveland. Everyone believed he would finish out the season though and the timing is certainly odd. Holmgren has been met by much criticism due to the team's performance, Holmgren's interaction with the fans and media (and at times lack thereof), and most recently due to his open attempts to vie for the Cowboys coaching job. A job which happens to be filled for the time being.
Fans are especially irritated with this due to the fact that Holmgren showed zero interest in coaching the Browns after firing Eric Mangini. If that weren't bad enough, he subsequently hired Pat Shurmur after assembling what most would call a weak pool of candidates.
While I can't say for sure what prompted the timing of this decision to happen now, it wouldn't surprise me if his antics related to the Cowboys played a role. I can say however, that people in Berea have confirmed that Holmgren and Joe Banner "got into it" earlier this week.
I don't know what about and I don't know if it's related to this announcement, but it's definitely interesting.
As if it weren't bad enough that Joe Haden reportedly missed the Browns meetings and most of the Special Teams portion of practice on Thanksgiving morning, a new report comes out this morning.
I'm told by someone with knowledge of the situation that both Joe Haden and TJ Ward were not in their rooms when the Browns performed their routine "bed check" last night.
The Browns stay at a Cleveland hotel the night before home games to help keep players focused and to ensure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. As a part of this routine, they also enforce a curfew (they do the same for away games as well).
When the 10 PM deadline came last night and Browns personnel performed the "bed check" for Haden and Ward, they were not in their rooms. At this point I do not know where they were or when they returned, but I know they were not there at the deadline.
The players are not required to be in bed by 10 PM, but they are required to be on the floor by 10 PM and accounted for. Many players will get together to play cards or watch TV together after the 10 PM deadline.
It continues to astound me how little some of these players care about and respect their profession. It confounds me even more how this type of behavior continues to persist over and over again without recourse.
Perhaps their absence was completely harmless and there is nothing to be concerned about. However, given their pattern of behavior over the past several years (and especially this year), it's awfully hard for fans to continue to give these players and this team the benefit of the doubt.
Joe Haden, who has taken a lot of heat this year for his mistake that lead to a 4 game suspension (reported here first) and most recently for being seen "out all night" during the week in which he was battling an injury, is at it again.
He ultimately pulled himself out of that game last week against the Cowboys too, by the way.
Today, the Browns' meetings started at 7:15 AM. At the time of this post, Haden has still not arrived at the facility in Berea according to reports. Keep in mind, practice begins at 10 AM...
As a side note, Greg Little was significantly late for the meetings as well, but he ultimately showed up.
If these reports are accurate, and they've never been wrong, I honestly don't understand how the team allows this behavior to persist. And, oh by the way, it's Steelers week... and the team is 2-8!
As we approach the beginning of practice, I'll keep you posted when I hear when and if he actually decides to grace the team with his presence. I suppose it's possible the coaches are aware and this is an excused absence, but given the fact that no one else in the facility seems to know anything about where he is, I doubt it.**UPDATE** 10:38 AM - I was just told that Haden showed up about 15 minutes ago. 3 hours or so late for the day, and significantly late for the special teams part of practice.
Josh Cribbs is undoubtedly a special return man and special teams player. After negotiating what most people in the league believed to be too high of a contract for a special teams player, Cribbs and the Browns attempted to get more value out of him by utilizing him at WR.
It has not worked out very well for a variety of reasons. My sources inside the Browns have confirmed that Cribbs is just as much to blame, if not more so than anyone else. Until very recently, he has not taken being a WR very seriously, skipping offensive meetings or leaving them early, not putting in the extra work to learn the playbook or to improve route running, etc. In fact, I'm told that at this point, he still routinely runs the wrong routes/yardages and makes it nearly impossible for a QB to get the proper timing down with him.
With that said, Cribbs is once again making noise about his offensive production, or lack thereof.
Josh Cribbs told the Cleveland Plain Dealer the following yesterday:
"I feel like I'm trapped. "I feel like a caged athlete."
This season, he has six catches for 54 yards and two runs for 8 after having career highs with 41 catches and 518 yards last season.
I think anyone with an unbiased perspective would also be able to compare the WR talent and depth on the Browns roster from last season to this season and understand why that may be. The Browns drafted ultra talented (and ultra raw) WR Josh Gordon in the 2nd round of the supplemental draft and added Travis Benjamin and Josh Cooper just this season.
Perhaps even more importantly, Cribbs is in the last year of that overpriced contract. It's highly unlikely the Browns will allocate new dollars (especially at the level Cribbs thinks he deserves) to an aging special teams player who's production on special teams has dropped. Why would the Browns feature Cribbs and take reps and experience away from the young WRs they invested in just to appease someone who will likely not be around next year? They wouldn't.
Cribbs, however, doesn't seem to understand how the NFL works.
"Me going from being able to run the wildcat, to playing receiver last season and catching 41 passes and four touchdowns to nothing -- I can't believe it," said Cribbs. "By me not playing, I feel like they think I'm not good, that I've lost it. But I haven't. I feel when I'm out there I can contribute, but I'm not able to."
Cribbs says he's already talked to Head Coach, Pat Shurmur about his role earlier in the season and said the following:
"There's no point," he said. "Obviously they feel like everybody that's in front of me is a better athlete. I disagree. I feel a different way than the coach feels about me. They must feel I can't produce. We have a difference of opinion."
While Cribbs undoubtedly wants to be more involved in the offense because he's confident in his abilities, perhaps the real motivation behind his public complaints lie within this quote:
"There's something wrong when one of your best athletes doesn't get the ball," he said. "I'm tired of people saying they don't know how to use me. Get creative. Find ways.
"I can't even showcase myself. I'm more than a special teams player. I've proven that. I belong on the field more than this, more than what they're allowing me to do. I've tried to not to say much, but it's upsetting. We're nine games into the season and I haven't gotten a chance."
Perhaps Cribbs knows his time in Cleveland is running out (at least he should) and he's frustrated that he's been unable to audition for other teams this season to help him land another big contract. But that is a strictly selfish position. As I've stated, why would the Browns hinder the development of the young players they've invested in for the future just to appease someone who won't be around next year?
Cribbs has long been a fan favorite and he has long used the media to manipulate fan sentiment (an example right here):
"It's because of these fans," he said. "I'm going to try to stay here. If Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam will have me, I'll stay. If not, I'm sure I'll be playing football somewhere else."
It seems many fans are becoming wise to his antics however and Cribbs may be wearing out his welcome in Cleveland sooner than he thinks.
Browns CB, Joe Haden is known as much for his nightlife activities as he is for his immense talent. Joe is beloved across northeast Ohio for his friendly demeanor, fan interaction & support of local teams. His extracurriculars, while loved for many reasons, may however be turning into a problem.
Earlier in the season, I reported weeks before anyone that Haden had failed an NFL drug test. The information I received and which was reported by others indicated that Haden failed the test due to taking Adderal (a stimulant) so he could stay awake to party all might in Vegas. This cost his team 4 games.
After I mentioned yesterday morning that Haden has been battling an injury this week that threatens his chances of playing against the cowboys Haden ended up missing practice because of it.
I'm told this morning that many people have reported seeing Haden "all night long" at the new Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland. For those familiar, this is one if Joe's favorite spots. I'm also told that "everyone in the building knows and they are not happy".
Healthy or not, it's not a good idea to be out all night a few days before a game. Especially if you're battling an injury that threatens your ability to play in a game. If true, it's my opinion he should be doing nothing but resting, rehabbing if possible, and preparing for the Cowboys.
This is especially troubling when a veteran on the team (Sheldon Brown) has already directly called him out saying he needs to "play through the injury", according to reports.
As the Cleveland Browns come off their bye week and prepare to face the Dallas Cowboys, there is some potentially troubling news in Berea.
I've been told from a reliable source that Joe Haden is battling a rib injury & has been struggling at practice. At this point, he's still likely to play against the Cowboys, but facing a prolific offense like Dallas could be problematic with the team's best corner banged up.
Additionally, another Browns CB, Buster Skrine reportedly tweaked his ankle this week. His injury appears less serious & he's expected to play as well, but this is certainly not great news for the Browns.
If you have Dallas offensive players on your fantasy team, you may want to start them.
**Update** Haden was held out of Thursday practice and Cleveland Plain Dealer Browns beat reporter, Mary Kay Cabot confirmed my report of Haden's injury later in the day.
While there have been whispers over the weekend relating to Trent Richardson, I cannot confirm with anyone inside the facility so I will not speculate or comment at this point.
With that said, its been reported that Richardson is on the field for practice this morning, but he is not practicing with the 1st team offense. This is obviously a rare occurrence as there is no doubt that the #3 overall pick is the Browns' starter.
I do not believe its related to injury as I'm told that if it were due to an injury he'd be in the training room & not on the field. If I'm able to get any info on why he's not with the 1st team ill pass it along, but its certainly intriguing nonetheless.
The story I got was that the trainers were choosing to rest him. I've seen or heard nothing to indicate that's not the case.
Trent Richardson and several members of the Cleveland Browns spent some time playing video games with troops in person and in Afghanistan this morning. Pictured above is Cleveland Browns RB Trent Richardson and LB Craig Robertson.
Pretty cool of them to take the time and hang out with troops if you ask me.
Another day, another interesting report about the Cleveland Browns and new owner Jimmy Haslam. A source with the Browns indicated that Haslam recently visited The Ohio State University to take in a practice session with the football team.
Now this could mean absolutely nothing, or it could mean absolutely everything. While admittedly unlikely, some people I've talked to have speculated that Haslam's presence could mean that he is trying to lure Urban Meyer away from Columbus to be the next Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns.
It could also just be a routine visit, he could have friends or business associates in Columbus, or it could be a way to gain some publicity for his new team. With that said, I haven't seen any media reports about his visit and if it were a publicity stunt, I assure you the media would've been all over it.
I'm not saying Jimmy Haslam intentionally hid this visit, but he certainly didn't publicize it from what I have seen.
Some have speculated that Haslam may have been there to scout prospects rather than to court Meyer. While I'm not sure he was there with the intent to steal Meyer from Ohio State, I'm fairly certain he wouldn't be there personally to do scouting for the draft.
While I highly doubt Meyer will be the next coach of the Browns, and I'm not even sure I buy into the idea that Haslam is recruiting him (or laying the groundwork for the recruitment), it is interesting nonetheless.
Why won't Urban Meyer coach the Cleveland Browns?
1. Meyer walked away from one of the top collegiate jobs in the country at Florida after winning two national championships and being poised to compete for the foreseeable future. He then walked away from a low stress, lucrative job with ESPN for what was deemed his "Dream Job" in returning to Columbus. I highly doubt he would walk away from that job with the foundation in place to compete for a title in the next several years after just one year on the job.
2. Meyer makes $4M/year in base salary with job security. This doesn't include other media contracts, perks, and performance bonuses. The highest paid coach in the NFL is Bill Belichick at $7.5M/year. While nearly double Meyer's salary, there is a strong likelihood that Meyer (or any new NFL Head Coach for that matter) wouldn't make it beyond his first contract in the NFL. While it is easy to say the best move is to keep the consistent paycheck for as long as he wants to coach the Buckeyes, the only wildcard is what Meyer or any top collegiate coach is looking for. A challenge to compete and win at the highest level? The biggest paycheck? Consistency?
3. If Meyer walked away from two great positions before and held out for his "dream job" at Ohio State, why would he leave after 1 year? And why would he leave for what has been a relative train wreck in the Browns? If Meyer were to leave Columbus, I'd have to think he'd only consider it for a franchise that is well positioned to win now.
4. I'm not even sure Haslam is interested in Meyer as Head Coach for the Browns. If he were seriously trying to lure him to Berea, I don't know that he would flaunt it right in front of Ohio State by recruiting him during the season and right at their practice.
At this point I can't say what Jimmy Haslam is thinking as it relates to the head coaching position. For all we know, he's full steam ahead with Pat Shurmur... But one thing is for certain. Mr. Haslam is making things interesting for once.
While I have not seen official reports from the Browns or any television networks, I have received word from someone close to the situation that the Browns will soon be starring in what is described as a "Hard Knocks Type" reality series.
The special is rumored to be airing on the Travel Channel and filming is scheduled to start next week. From what I understand, it will give viewers a "behind the scenes" look at the Browns on and off the field, very similar to the successful HBO series, Hard Knocks.
While this seemed a bit odd to me at first, especially mid-season, after a bit of investigation it made a little more sense. Haslam's wife, Dee, is CEO of RIVR Media which has produced very successful reality shows such as "Trading Spaces" and "Whale Wars" and continually pitches new shows to networks like HGTV, Animal Planet, and others. Whether this new special will be on the Travel Channel or some other cable network, the connection is clear.
Given the current state of the Browns on and off the field, this could be very interesting. Just today the sale of the team to Jimmy Haslam III officially closed and I was told today was Haslam and Joe Banner's first official day at the facility. One day after former team President Mike Holmgren walked away from his duties.
With Pat Shurmur's record (5-18), an 11 game losing streak that was snapped with a win over Cincinnati, and a 1-6 record, there is also rampant speculation that Shurmur will be the next to be on his way out of Berea.
Even ignoring his poor record and questionable coaching, one could make a strong case that Jimmy Haslam III may be looking to bring in his own coach at the end of the season. If the Browns continue to underperform, however, that could come sooner than later.
While much is uncertain as it relates to the Browns, one thing is abundantly clear. Jimmy Haslam III is the anti-Randy Lerner. This is just the next of an already long list of examples to that end.
Last week Browns Safety TJ Ward missed most of Saturday's walkthrough practice and morning activities due to an unexcused absence. A report from someone close to the Browns seems to indicate that Ward hasn't learned much from last week's events.
Ward reportedly was "almost left behind" for the team's trip to Indianapolis as they are getting set to play the Colts tomorrow. The flight was said to have been delayed due to Ward's absence and it even elevated to the point that discussions took place about allowing the plane to take off without Ward.
If this report is true, this is certainly a troubling pattern of behavior for one of the Browns key defensive players.
Cleveland Browns offensive guard, Jason Pinkston was taken to hospital this week due to a blood clot. This is obviously a very serious ailment. I have learned from a source close to the Browns that the situation could've become tragic. Pinkston was reportedly struggling through practice and spit up blood during and/or after practice. Rather than stop practice, pull him out of the drills or get him immediate medical attention, the Browns coaching staff allowed him to continue practicing even after visibly struggling through the drills.
Thankfully, he made it to a hospital before things got worse, but only due to pure luck. The Browns should consider themselves fortunate this didn't become a tragedy. I hope the Browns' new owner, Jimmy Haslam III deals with this immediately.
**Update 9:35 PM
Jason Pinkston tweeted me to tell me the story is 100% false. He says he was only battling through bronchitis and that no one forced him to practice. According to Pinkston, he didn't practice at all on Wednesday and the blood clots were only found yesterday from a CT scan. Pinkston praised the Browns organization and medical staff for handling his situation.
I have no idea if his complications earlier in the week were related to the blood clots and were just not evident or if the struggles the past few weeks and earlier in the week in practice were purely a coincidence. Either way, everyone is glad he's doing well.