Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Joe Thomas”

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.

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Browns lock up their cornerstone

Josh Cribbs, Peyton Hillis and Joe Haden may be the heart of the Browns, but Joe Thomas is clearly the hardworking soul of the team.

So it was no surprise that the team and the Pro Bowl left tackle have agreed to a seven-year contract extension worth $84 million, including $44 million guaranteed.

And you don’t have to read too hard between the lines to realize that the changes that team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert have made since arriving in town played a big role in Thomas staying with the team.

“We’re really building something special with Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren and I think this program is headed in the right direction,” Thomas told The Plain Dealer. “It was really important for me to make this a real long-term deal so that I can finish my career here.

“I’ve been so impressed with coach (Pat) Shurmur and the staff that he brought in and the way he teaches the players. Tom Heckert’s been drafting guys I really want to be around and I want to be part of this really great thing that’s going on now. The way the team has picked up the new offense, plenty of mistakes have been made, but you can just see the potential there. It’s so exciting to be part of it.”

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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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