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Archive for the category “Alex Mack”

Even when the Browns do something right …

hi-res-158710743_crop_exact… it doesn’t pay off in the standings.

One of the long-held beliefs in the NFL is the need to build a team “from within” – meaning you should focus on having a strong offensive and defensive line.

The Browns have been doing just that the past few years and it is starting to pay off in one respect, as Pro Football Focus ranked the offensive line as the fifth best in the NFL.

Read more…

Browns vs. Colts – Week 7

Fresh off their first win of the NFL season, the Cleveland Browns head west on Sunday to take on the Indianapolis Colts.

Can the Browns win consecutive games for the first time since beating the Colts and Dolphins in Week 2 and Week 3 last season? Can they win their first road game in 10 tries? Can they give owner Jimmy Haslam his first win as an NFL owner?

Let’s see if we can find out at The Cleveland Fan.

(Photo by

The Browns are grown-ass men!

Alex Mack is the latest Cleveland Brown to go on the record about how things are different in Berea under new coach Pat Shurmur.

“It’s not acceptable to make mistakes (under Shurmur), but it’s — tolerable is the wrong word — a learning experience more than a lynching experience,” Mack told The News-Herald. “We had a lot of team corrections (the last two years). The theory behind it was as a team you’d see where people made mistakes and hold everyone accountable.

“On the same hand, other guys don’t know what you’re coached. If you keep it in your own meeting group and get it aired out, that’s better. Everyone knows you. But to have a DB get beat and have the coach yell at him — I don’t know how to cover anyone, and I don’t need to know. It’s hard for him to get embarrassed in front of the whole team. If it’s just your group of core guys, and they know how good the receiver is. It’s easier to bear.”

Mack joins a growing list of players who are embracing the changes in Berea from former coach Eric Mangini:

  • Joe Thomas: “I’ve been so impressed with coach (Pat) Shurmur and the staff that he brought in and the way he teaches the players. He won the respect of some of the leaders on the team right away with the way he treated them.”
  • D’Qwell Jackson: “(Coach Shurmur’s) created a great environment for us to want to come to work. You can tell the players are more involved. We have a lot more opinion about things.”
  • Scott Fujita: “Coach Shurmur is going to turn over the keys to us and say, ‘You need to run this thing the right way. I don’t need to be the guy policing the locker room. That’s on you guys.’ I think we embraced that. This is good for this group of guys.”
  • Sheldon Brown: “You have guys who go home to their families, to their kids. You’ll tell me I can raise a family, but I can’t behave and act like a pro? Give me the locker room. He understands that and I think that’s why the guys love and respect him.”

“The atmosphere is really nice,” Mack told The Plain Dealer. “To come to work and not be dreading it from what’s going to happen and how you’re going to get yelled at or what’s going to show up on the screen and just knowing that like, ‘Here, guys, we made mistakes, and let’s get better,’ and have a kind of lighter atmosphere is going to help guys stay upbeat. It’s easier to learn.

“It’s not acceptable to make mistakes, but it’s a learning experience more than a (chastising) experience.”

It’s not uncommon for players to have a positive reaction to a change in the coaching staff. But when you look at the names behind the quotes, you realize these are not just company men trying to get in good with the new coach. Fujita and Brown have been part of winning organizations, and Thomas and Mack are among the best in the league at their positions. When they say things like this, there is some credibility behind their words.

There are three things keys coaches have to do in order to maximize their chances of being successful:

  • Put the players in situations where they can succeed. If you are coaching the Patriots you can run a highly complex offense because you have Tom Brady at quarterback and he has built up a knowledge base over the course of his career. Try to be complex with a career back-up and an over-the-hill veteran and you are out of work.
  • Not everyone learns the same way and you have to figure out who on your team is an auditory learner, a visual learner and a tactile learner. Trying to teach everyone the same way doesn’t work. That’s why Shurmur’s approach of having the position coaches, who work with the players the most and should know how to teach them, work with the players to correct mistakes is a good approach.
  • Just like how not everyone learns the same way, everyone doesn’t respond to the same types of motivation. Some players need a pat on the back, some a kick in the ass. As a coach, you need to know the right approach to take; again you can’t treat everyone the same.

We seriously doubt players need to be humiliated in front of the entire team to understand they made a mistake. Sheldon Brown knows if he blew a coverage. Joe Thomas knows if he blows an assignment, all he has to do is look at the quarterback lying face down on the field. They don’t need to be treated like children.

But while the players can talk all they want about being treated differently, they have to show they have earned that right with their performance on the field each Sunday. That means no stupid penalties, no putting themselves before the team, etc. You want to be treated like adults? Then you better come through for the coach when it counts.

Look, there’s no universal way to coach an NFL team. Offensive coaches can win, defensive coaches can win, player’s coaches, hard-ass coaches, there’s room for everyone if they have the right approach.

We just hope that Shurmur’s approach is the right one for this Browns team.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

Browns blockers earn national ranking

Even with the Cleveland Indians in first place and the NFL lockout rolling along, that doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to think about the Cleveland Browns.

The Fifth Down blog at The New York Times spent the past week rolling out its Top 10 list for each position and the Browns are well represented – especially on the left side of the offensive line.

Joe Thomas repeated as the top tackle in the NFL, someone who “makes the game look easy, especially in pass protection. Not a mauler, but as reliable a run blocker as you’ll find.”

Alex Mack moved up one spot, and is the second-best center, a “superb technician who holds his own in a phone booth and gets out in front with ease.”

Eric Steinbach dropped two spots at guard, but is still the seventh best as “he was Cleveland’s most impressive lineman in ’10. Can get to virtually any spot on the field.”

The rankings for Thomas, Mack and Steinbach are even more impressive when you take a look at the defensive ranks, which are filled with players that the Browns have to deal with in the division:

  • At defensive tackle, Pittsburgh’s Casey Hamilton (No. 7) and Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata (No. 1) were in the Top 10.
  • At outside linebacker, Pittsburgh’s LaMarr Woodley (No. 7) and Jerome Harrison (No. 1), along with Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs (No. 3) were all Top 10.
  • At inside linebacker, Baltimore’s Ray Lewis (No. 8) and Pittsburgh’s Lawrence Timmons (No. 4) were both Top 10.

Gives you a good idea of what the Browns face twice a year and emphasizes the importance of building a solid offensive line.

The Browns were represented on defense, as corner back Joe Haden was mentioned as a player who could make next year’s list as his “uncanny change-of-direction ability alone will make him top-10 before Halloween.”

Now if we could just see these guys on the field again sometime soon, all will be good.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Sleazy people can be good at their jobs

Great read from Sam Mellinger at The Kansas City Star, who writes that just because Ben Roethlisberger is going back to the Super Bowl doesn’t mean he’s a good guy.

Mellinger writes: Roethlisberger is about to be deified by too many. He is the winner, the strutting quarterback fresh off helping the Steelers to a 24-19 win over the Jets in the AFC championship game on Sunday, and we’re about to get two weeks’ worth of redemption stories.

The narrative will be about a young man maturing, of working through mistakes and growing into an all-time great worthy of your admiration. Hopefully enough of us keep some perspective. One’s got nothing to do with the other.

Sleazy people can be good at their jobs.

Gerry Callahan from The Boston Globe came through as well:

This is, of course, is only the beginning. The two-week deification of Roethlisberger begins. It’s been less than a year since he plied a group of college girls with alcohol and allegedly had his way with one of them in the bathroom while his stooge cop friend stood guard. Now Roethlisberger kneels and prays on the field after games. Now there is hardly a reminder of the behavior that got him bounced from the league for six games (later reduced to four).

It will be interesting to see how Roethlisberger reacts when he arrives in Dallas and receives a daily dose of Milledgeville questions, but here’s a Super Bowl prediction for you: Somehow it will be easier for Roethlisberger to put his troubles behind him than it would have been for Michael Vick or even Brett Favre. By gameday, Roethlisberger’s story will be one of redemption and recovery, of a lost soul who is now found.

Mellinger and Callahan are right. After numerous stories came out in the preseason saying that Steeler fans and the Rooney family would never embrace Roethlisberger because he betrayed the “Steeler way,” that all went away as soon as he started throwing touchdown passes.

It’s going to be a long two weeks.


Peter King, in his Monday Morning QB column, had some soothing words for Browns fans still worried about the hiring of Pat Shurmur:

King writes: I start to seethe when I hear so many of the fans in Cleveland going crazy about the qualifications of Pat Shurmur to be the new head coach. Specifically, about how it’s agent Bob LaMonte’s hire, or that the fix was in because club president Mike Holmgren and Shurmur share the same agent, and LaMonte orchestrated the hire. Idiocy.

The Browns did what so many teams have done in the last five years: put a good franchise architect in place (or have a good franchise architect in place), then hire a coach to work with said architect.

The tote board: 12 of the 20 coaches hired into classic structures from 2006 to ’09 made the playoffs at least once; that’s 60 percent. Nine of the 20 (45 percent) won at least one playoff game. Five of the 20 (25 percent) won a conference championship game or Super Bowl.

Shurmur’s a smart, anonymous kid, on the same fame level as Mike Smith when the Falcons hired him. He might have the kind of accurate, smart kid who will make a good West Coast quarterback in Colt McCoy. I don’t know how good a GM Tom Heckert will be; we’ll see, but he has a good background in the game, the way Thomas Dimitroff had when he left the Patriots to run Atlanta. I know you’ve heard this before in Cleveland, but give the kid a chance, will you?

That’s the key part: Shurmur hasn’t run a practice, an OTA, a training camp or anything yet and some are ready to run him out of town.

And it’s not as if Mike Holmgren got rid of Paul Brown to bring in Shurmur. Eric Mangini was 10-22 with the Browns and 33-47 for his career. Shurmur deserves a chance to at least see what he can do before we start worrying about whether or not Holmgren made a mistake.


Speaking of the Browns and coaches, Mike Tomlin will be entering his fifth season as Pittsburgh coach this fall and will be facing his third Browns head coach in that time period.


Browns center Alex Mack is now on the Pro Bowl roster after Jets center Nick Mangold was injured in Sunday’s AFC Championship game. He joins left tackle Joe Thomas, who was named to the AP’s All-Pro team on Monday.

“I’m very excited to be able to go to Hawaii,” Mack said in a statement. “It’s unfortunate that Nick had to get injured for me to go, but I’m looking forward to representing the Browns. It has been a lifelong dream for me and from here on, it’s working to make many more. I’m excited to be going and I can’t wait to play in this game.”

This is the first time since 1981 that the Browns will have two offensive linemen at the Pro Bowl. That year, guard Joe DeLamielleure, center Tom DeLeone and tackle Doug Dieken were all selected.

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