Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday leftovers

So Seneca Wallace wants a shot at winning the job as the Browns’ starting quarterback next season.

Two words: Fat chance.

Wallace, who filled in admirably (but not successfully) for Colt McCoy in the final three games of the season, said he intends to lobby for the job. The seven-year veteran sounded serious, but he’s smart enough to know that’s not going to happen.

He’s a career backup quarterback in the National Football League who apparently does not know his place. Perhaps it’s the ease with which he ran the Cleveland offense in those three games that emboldens him to step up and think he can be an effective starter.

No question the Browns’ offense looked better with Wallace than McCoy under center. Not good, mind you. Better. There seemed to be less confusion and plays were executed more crisply.

But the (generously listed) 5-11 Wallace completed less than half his passes (53 of 105) for just 550 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and generated a paltry 33 points in those three outings. He is clearly not the answer at quarterback for the Browns.

Once Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert Jr. or Pat Shurmur, or a combination of all three, sit Wallace down, they will snap him back to reality. Either that or the Browns will seek another backup for whomever does win the starting job.

* * *
Now that the reality of a 4-12 season has set in, Shurmur has resorted to spin mode. “We’ve got to win games and I’m obviously not at peace with that,” the coach said. “Now we’ll get to the business of doing what we have to do to get our team as right as we can make it for next season.”

Not certain exactly what all that means unless he was saying in a roundabout way that he didn’t like the losing and would try something different next season in order to correct whatever went wrong this season.

He said he would relinquish his duties as offensive coordinator and play-caller if he can find the “right guy.” That, of course, leaves the door slightly ajar because we won’t know if anyone fits his description of the right guy.

The two NFL head coaches recently fired, Raheem Morris in Tampa and Steve Spagnuolo in St. Louis, are defensive coaches. Retreads Brad Childress and Mike Sherman are available. Shurmur declined on Childress last year. Sherman, who coached under Holmgren in Green Bay and Seattle, was fired as Texas A&M head coach a month ago.

Let’s see how serious Shurmur is when it comes to ceding play-calling authority to someone else. It might not be as easy as one thinks. Once a play caller, always a play caller.

* * *
Sheldon Brown doesn’t see the savior of the Browns arriving anytime soon. No sir, he’s not waiting. “I’m definitely not and if you are, you’re crazy,” said the cornerback after the season finale against Pittsburgh. “This game is too hard. There’s too big a jump (for someone) to come from college and think he’s going to come in (and make a difference right away). Who does it?’’

But Brown believes the club is close to winning. “We’re very close,” he said. “It’s just one or two plays each game. You just have to find the playmakers and they have to understand the sense of urgency and make the play.”

Talk like that will land Brown a coaching job somewhere when he decides to retire. He sounds just like many head coaches in the NFL. How many times have we heard “we were just one big play away from winning that game” or “we make one or two more plays and we win”? Right out of the coaching manual.

* * *
Brown is right about one thing, though. Half of the Browns’ losses were by seven or less points, including both Pittsburgh setbacks. But he neglects to flip that coin over and discover that three of the team’s four victories were by four points or less and the fourth was by eight points.

All it proves is the Browns, mainly because of the defense, were able to keep a preponderance of games close. At the same time, they proved they were incapable of winning most those games.

* * *
Stream of thought: Congratulations to D’Qwell Jackson for playing all 16 games for the second time in his career. The linebacker, as usual, led the team in total tackles with 158. . . . Joshua Cribbs saved his best game of the year as a wide receiver for the finale, catching seven passes, several of the spectacular variety, for 91 yards. . . . Mo Massaquoi is thisclose to being considered a draft bust. Saddled by a concussion early in the season, the third-year wideout caught just 31 passes for 384 yards in the 14 games he played. His career totals are 101 catches for 1,491 yards and seven touchdowns. . . . Fellow wide receiver Greg Little led the club in receptions with 61 for only 709 yards. The rookie, however, scored just two touchdowns. . . . Middle-round pick Owen Marecic was a colossal flop and a virtual non-factor in his first season, gaining only eight yards on four carries and catching five passes for 31 yards. Made many Browns fans yearn for Lawrence Vickers. . . . Rookie defensive end Jabaal Sheard came on strong after a slow start and wound up leading the team in sacks with 8½. . . . The team surprisingly finished with a turnover ratio of +1. Their 19 giveaways were second-fewest in the AFC and fourth-fewest in the league. . . . They wound up 28th in the league in rushing, 24th in passing and 29th in total yards. Defensively, they ranked 30th against the run, second vs. the pass, 10th overall in yards allowed and third in red zone defense. . . . The offense scored 20 touchdowns, the lowest total since the 2000 team racked up 17. . . . Quote of possibly the season from Cribbs: “We almost win most of the time.”


  1. richard, did you get a chance to listen to holmgrens presser? was wondering what your thoughts were...

    betcha a milkshake the OC they hire is a bob lamont client

  2. Only a milkshake? Nothing more potable?

    And yes, I listened to most of it. For the most part, Holmgren spoke defensively as if he didn't like being on the hot seat. The more I see him and hear what he has to say, the less I like him and wouldn't be sad to see him return to Seattle.

    His greatest asset in football is as a coach and that's not what he's doing in Cleveland. His track record as anything but a coach is highly debatable.

    If the Browns struggle again next season, it wouldn't surprise me if he bolts before being eaten alive by the fans. And it'll be "here we go again" time.

  3. Thoughts on what the Browns should do to improve the roster? And what do you think they will actually do?

  4. They should concentrate in the first two or three rounds of the draft on the side of the ball that needs it the most. The offense. This team lacks playmakers on both sides of the ball, but the defense this past season played well enough for the Browns to break even were it not for the awful offense.

    Based on what Holmgren and Heckert have done the last two seasons, it is impossible to guess which direction they'll take in the draft and free agency. Don't be surprised, though, if you see a new quarterback, maybe two new quarterbacks.

    The offense will be unquestionably better now that Shurmur has decided on hiring an offensive coordinator. But that's only if he allows that coordinator to call the plays. Otherwise, all bets are off.

    And they must address the right side of the offensive line. Winning the trench warfare is paramount in winning football games and the Browns' offensive line was one of the worst in the league last season. If they don't do that, it'll be the same old, same old this year.

    And next time, pls sign your name. Tnx.