Thursday, February 9, 2017

News & views

News: The Browns release quarterback Josh McCown and cornerback Tramon Williams.

Views: Addition by subtraction.

McCown only clogged up the quarterbacks room and at 37 (he’ll be 38 in July), it’s time for him to move on and add one more destination tag to his luggage stash and then retire.

Williams was signed as a free agent after a half dozen decent seasons with Green Bay, but his best days are long gone and he contributed little to the cause in Cleveland. His days as a Brown do not belong in the Hall of Fond Memories.

McCown, the epitome of the journeyman quarterback, merely filled a void in the offensive structure of the team for a couple of seasons until the so-called franchise quarterback is identified and signed. His statistical contributions with Cleveland were 11 starts in two seasons with a 1-10 record.

That lone victory was a 33-30 overtime thriller in Baltimore in game five of the 2015 season when he threw for a career-best 457 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and completed 36 of his 51 passes.

His release immediately turns one’s attention to and further heats up rumors that the Browns have serious designs on New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. It also ignites notions that Robert Griffin III could be the next to depart in an effort to totally repopulate the quarterbacks room for the 2017 season.

That most likely will not happen because the club needs to keep The Third as insurance if efforts to obtain Garoppolo fall through. Rookies Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan also return, but neither conjures up thoughts of winning football.

Williams, who swiped just two passes in his two seasons, was on the backside of his career when he arrived and saw action this season only because injuries racked the Cleveland secondary. With the emergence of Brien Boddy-Calhoun and Jamar Taylor, his departure will not be felt.

News: Browns claim local kid and former Ohio State free safety Tyvis Powell on waivers from Seattle.

Views: Can’t hurt.

The Bedford native, who went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Seahawks last season, certainly has the size at 6-3, 210 pounds. That’s the kind of size the Seahawks like in their secondary, so placing him on waivers came as somewhat of a surprise.

The knock against Powell, who says he always wanted to be a Cleveland Brown, is that despite his size, he does not attack ball carriers. The scouting report labels him a “waist-bending head ducker into his tackles. Waits on running backs to get up on him rather that attacking downhill.”

One Big Ten Conference offensive assistant coach in that same scouting report said, “Our game plan was to run at him and away from (Vonn) Bell.”

As a pass defender, again according to the scouting report, Powell “lets deep ball responsibility get behind him when locking in on the quarterback.” Troubling for sure for a free safety, but very correctable.

He turns 23 years old in a week. He wants to play for his hometown team. Right now, that’s good enough for a team struggling to recover from a season that can’t be purged quickly enough from the memory bank.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Say no to Belichick

One of these years, sanity and the right thing to do will return to 76 Lou Groza Blvd. in Berea. This will not be that year.

That feeling is based on lingering rumors that continue to link the Browns with backup New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in an off-season trade. Those rumors refuse to disappear despite their absurdity.

Let us be perfectly clear about one thing. The Browns definitely need a quarterback. The talent at that position on the roster right now is not adequate enough to field a representative offense. That is an absolute.

But Garoppolo, who hasn’t proven a thing in his three seasons as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, is not the quarterback to take the Browns to a level they haven’t experienced since the old Browns left Cleveland for Baltimore in 1995.

There is no question he will be the flavor of the offseason when it comes to National Football League quarterbacks who will change teams. His name will be the most uttered the day after the Super Bowl ends as the rumor mills heat up even more.

Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns. Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo to the Chicago Bears. Get used to it. All those teams need quarterbacks. And they just happen to be 1-2-3 in the opening round of the NFL’s annual college draft.

All have high picks to deal when the Patriots come calling. The Browns also own two second-rounders and can easily offer the Patriots more that the 49ers and Bears.

The most envied man in that swirling world will be Patriots coach/dictator Bill Belichick, who runs his franchise autonomously. You can bet he will try to extract every ounce of blood and whatever other body matter from the team he will eventually swindle.

The problem here is the Browns are his No. 1 target, mainly because they own two first-round picks (Nos. 1 and 12) in the lottery in late April. First-round draft picks are precious. They are like gold, especially if they are high.

So why is that a problem? Because the Browns are the NFL team that most typifies Murphy’s Law. That’s the one that states, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” The Browns have become the league’s poster child in that regard.

How else can one explain what has transpired on the field since the NFL (sarcasm alert) magnanimously (end sarcasm alert) allowed Cleveland to reenter the league after three undeserved seasons of absence? It has been one blunder after another for 18 consecutive seasons.

And now, if the aforementioned rumors are to be believed, the Browns are on the precipice of making yet another mistake of disastrous proportions that will cost them for seasons. They have the goods to deal and Belichick is frothing in the shadows.

The Browns’ front office needs to answer the following questions.

Is Garoppolo the next Aaron Rodgers, who languished behind Brett Favre for three seasons in Green Bay before taking over and carving out a career that most certainly will end with him holding a Hall of Fame bust in Canton five years after his retirement?

Or is Garoppolo the next Scott Mitchell, who parlayed one great season in Miami in the 1990s into a mediocre career in Detroit? Or is he the next Kevin Kolb, the quarterback who failed miserably in Arizona between Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer?

Perhaps Garoppolo is the next Brock Osweiler, who shepherded the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl a year ago when Peyton Manning went down, ditched the Broncos for Houston in free agency and performed with such mediocrity with the Texans that he lost his starting job late this past season.

Is Garoppolo the franchise quarterback the Browns have sought for so long? Is he worth the ransom Belichick is certain to ask for? This 25-year-old, wet-behind-the-ears quarterback who has thrown only 94 NFL passes?

He was supposed to start the Patriots’ first four games this past season while Brady served a four-game suspension, He made it through one and a half, exiting the second game in the first half with a shoulder injury. Fragile maybe?

Is he worth the gamble that almost certainly will rob the Browns of the opportunity to improve a roster that needs help in so many different areas? The correct answer is no, although I’m not certain the poobahs in Berea realize it.

Belichick dangling Garoppolo will be an intoxicant for Sashi Brown and the boys. They must resist for the greater good. Let the 49ers and Bears fight over him. Let them make the mistake of paying way too much for an unknown quantity.

New San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan, when he coordinated the Cleveland offense a few years ago, loved Garoppolo when he entered the draft. And Chicago is home territory for the Eastern Illinois product.

It’s high time the Browns’ front office did something right.  The only problem is the current crew has not shown any evidence they know what they are doing.

There is still plenty of time between now and the draft for the Browns to firmly toe the line and say no to any efforts by Belichick to entice them to part with any of their first four selections.

An untested quarterback cannot help the current Cleveland offense at the expense of any of those picks. It can be helped, though, by wise drafting that plugs holes in vital areas (the offensive line, for one). It all starts up front.

In their seemingly never-ending search for the quarterback of the future, the Browns have trotted 26 starters through the gristmill since the resurrection in 1999. One would think simple odds would have been in their favor to end that search.

Flawed thinking, such as what we have witnessed in the last year, indicates that trend is going to continue if the Garoppolo rumors are true. He will be just another name added to the list of failed Cleveland quarterbacks if that’s the road Brown and his minions choose to go down.

I said it before and I’ll say it again. Jimmy Garoppolo is worth nothing more than a third-round pick and even that is being generous.