Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Tom Heckert”

What’s the next move Jimmy?

12057000-mmmainThe Cleveland Browns made it official on Monday, firing coach Pat Shurmur after two seasons and general manager Tom Heckert after just three years.

Cue up the calliope music, the carousel is spinning once again in Berea.

As we learned with Mike Brown, Eric Mangini and Manny Acta, firing the coach is the easy part. Finding a replacement that is actually an improvement has proven to be far more difficult.

Do Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have want it takes to finally get it right with a new coach?

We start looking for answers at The Cleveland Fan.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

Advertisements

Beware the anonymous, single-source story, Browns fans

heckert-draft-10-jgjpg-b455db635d3c46beAnother day, another round of rumors surrounding the future of Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert.

First off comes Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk, who writes that a “league source” told him that if the Browns fire Heckert it will be because he was not willing to mortgage the team’s future in a pre-draft trade for Robert Griffin III.

So, if this “report” is to be believed, Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner will hold Heckert responsible for something that occurred before they were even involved with the team and with having no knowledge about any of the discussions the Browns had about a potential trade.

We guess, since they can only fire Mike Holmgren once, they need someone else to kick around.

Read more…

Browns Nation may need some Prozac

Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert spoke with the media on Thursday to offer up some very meager tidbits about the team’s plan for free agency and the NFL Draft.

And, judging by some of the comments from fans afterward, Browns Nation may need to re-up its prescription for Prozac before all is said and done.

Heckert said signing free agent quarterback Peyton Manning is “probably not a direction we’re going to go in.”

No problem with that.

The Browns believe there are four good quarterbacks in the upcoming draft: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weedon.

Read more…

Phase One Begins for the Browns

The Cleveland Browns started phase one of their off-season on Monday, signing linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to a reported five-year, $42.5 million contract that includes $19 million in guaranteed money.

“D’Qwell is thrilled with the deal,” Brian Mackler, Jackson’s agent, told The Plain Dealer. “He wanted to finish his career in Cleveland and this enables him to do that.”

Well we would certainly hope that Jackson is thrilled – that’s healthy chunk of change to hand out to a player who has only been healthy for a full season once in the past three years. But once the team decided it wanted to keep Jackson, they were going to have to devote some of their salary cap to him, the only question being how much.

Hopefully the team played the right side of the risk on this one.

Read more…

Browns start making some moves

Browns general manager Tom Heckert wasted no time getting back to work, signing a reported 23 undrafted free agents throughout the day on Tuesday.

As the majority of the players will probably end up as practice fodder for the veterans, we won’t spend too much time trying to analyze the signings (and WFNY has a great rundown, so why try to improve on that?)

The one positive we took from today is that Heckert and Co. obviously did their homework during the lockout. They knew which players they were going to target when the lockout ended and, once they had the OK, were able to move quickly.

That leaves us confident the Browns will be prepared and strategic when the full free agency period starts on Friday.

While the team can obviously use all the help it can get, Heckert has previously stated the Browns won’t be splashing cash around (see Charles Johnson’s six-year, $72 million deal with $30 million guaranteed as Exhibit A of reckless spending).

It would be nice if the team found another starter for the defensive line and the secondary, but they can’t go crazy with the money – they have too many other holes to fill.

We can dream about a cornerback duo of Joe Haden and Nnamdi Asomugha, but there’s no way the Browns are going to take up residence in that financial neighborhood – nor should they.

While the team does have money to spend – and will have to spend some to get to the league-mandated salary floor – we’d rather see them spend the money and effort continuing to build depth and get younger throughout the roster. Tying up a huge chunk of your salary cap in one player just doesn’t seem prudent for this team at this time.

It seems more likely that the Browns will look at the second-tier of free agents, players that are young enough to not command big money but with potential to improve – we’d rather the Browns pay players to perform for Cleveland, rather than pay them for the way they performed for their previous teams.

One player we were interested in seeing the Browns pursue was Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards, who is familiar with the 4-3 defense the Browns are going to start playing this fall.

But then River Burns alerted us to comments Edwards made on Monday about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and we started to rethink out stance a bit. While we are all for the Browns defense picking up some feisty players on defense, we have to worry about someone who might be a knucklehead.

It’s going to be an interesting weekend no matter what the Browns do. And until he shows us otherwise, we remain confident in Heckert’s ability to continue building the team.

Browns in good hands with Heckert

If for some reason anyone had any doubt the Browns are in good hands on draft day with general manager Tom Heckert calling the shots, today’s story from Nate Ulrich in The Beacon Journal should calm those fears.

The article talks about the system Heckert uses to help determine the players the Browns want to select. He has two players in mind for each of the team’s seven picks; if neither player is available he will look to trade.

“I think this year, there’s a chance we could hit on six guys that are at least playing,” Heckert said in the story. ”If you can get drafts like that, you’re gonna be fine. They don’t have to be all Pro Bowl players. They have to be good football players, and that’s how you build your team. I think if you stick with that philosophy, more of the guys are gonna make the team ’cause they’re not gonna be flakes, and you’re not gonna want to get rid of them. Once you do that, you start building your team, and you’re gonna be good for a long time if you keep drafting well.”

It’s so comforting knowing that, whatever happens come draft day, the Browns are prepared, have a solid plan and will stick to it. We can’t remember the last time we felt this comfortable heading into a Browns draft.

”Tom has an excellent feel for players,” coach Pat Shurmur told the paper. ”I think he’s done the research on so many, he’s got so many ways he can compare a guy. He’s been around the league so long, so he knows what a player is. He knows how to set up the draft. He knows how to pick the players. He knows how to trade around and do what you have to do — the game of the draft.”

If Heckert can come through with another solid draft to pair up with last year’s, the Browns may actually get this thing turned around sometime in our lifetime.

Just be sure to stay away from those quarterbacks.

Browns to draft someone next week

Breaking news out of Berea where Browns general manager Tom Heckert confirmed today the the team will select a college player with their first pick in the NFL Draft next week.

OK, Heckert wasn’t that vague, but he certainly played it close to the vest during a press conference Thursday to talk about the team’s draft plans.

“We have some holes to fill all over the place,” Heckert said. “We still have holes on defense and offense. We’re going to try to the best of our ability to stick with our philosophy of taking the best available player. I know everybody says that, but I think we’re in a better position to do that than some teams. Some teams may be one or two positions away from being really good. It’s probably a positive for us that we can take the best available player.

“I don’t know what the biggest need is. I know everybody has their opinion on that, but I think we’re in a situation where we can draft anybody and it will help us. I don’t know if it’s a ‘fill-a-need thing,’ but we’re not looking at it like that.”

So the Browns are going to draft someone that they believe is the best player for the team. Check.

What about LSU’s Patrick Peterson, who we are starting to really, really like at No. 6?

“He is a good football player. He is a rare guy just because of his size alone, size and speed.

“You are going to play close to 60 percent nickel so you are going to have three corners on the field 60 percent of the time. If you don’t have three of them they are going to find the one. They are going to and you have to roll coverage that way and then you are putting that guy on the island. The more cover guys you can have the better you are. You get a corner hurt, you can’t have enough corners.

“It’s the same thing with defensive and offensive linemen. Everybody talks about the starters and that’s great. On defense, the nickel guys, in the secondary and as pass rushers, it’s great to have an inside pass rusher or a nickel pass rusher. There are spots for that and the same thing with the offensive line. If one of your tackles goes down you better have someone who can replace him. That’s why those positions are so key that if you don’t have one you are going to be in trouble.”

All kidding aside, we wouldn’t expect Heckert to come out and specifically say who the Browns plan to pick – there’s no advantage for the team in doing that. From everything Heckert has said the Browns know what type of player they want and have done their homework.

Now it’s time to wait and see what happens with the teams picking before them in the first round. No matter what those teams do, the Browns are in a position to make the team better.

Just as important, Heckert doesn’t come across as someone who needs to use the draft to fuel his ego and show everyone how smart he is. He knows the time to do the work is now and then, on draft night, trust all the work the scouts did and all the time the coaches and front office put in evaluating players.

We get the feeling he won’t draft Gerrard Warren when everyone is saying Richard Seymour is the correct pick; nor will he fixate on just one player and then panic when it looks like that player will go off the board.

“If we end up staying where we are, we’re going to get a good football player,” Heckert said. “There are six guys and we’re going to get a good football player. That’s probably the nice thing. Obviously, you don’t want to pick up there all the time, but we know we’re getting a good football player. If we stay here, then we’re good. It’s really not going to affect us, what happens up there. It’s not a situation we’re that concerned about.

“You could try to get cute and say, ‘Well, maybe he’s going to be there later in the second round’ and then you lose him and you’re like, ‘How stupid was that?’ If you like the guy, take him. Don’t get too cute.”

Don’t get too cute. Now that’s a philosophy we can get behind.

***

Real Madrid beat Barcelona in the finals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, setting off a celebration.

Is this the best victory parade not involving a Cleveland team? Yes it is.

After ending an 18-year wait to win the trophy, Madrid defender Sergio Ramos dropped the 33-pound cup from the top of the team bus during the victory parade – and the cup was crushed under the wheels of the bus.

“It is not in good shape, evidently, it was run over by a bus,” Madrid spokeswoman Marta Santisteban told The Associated Press in what is probably the understatement of the year. “It has to be fixed.”

It’s going to be a long time before someone can top that one.

Shedding some light on the Mangini Era

Starting with the release of six veterans this week – five of which were former coach Eric Mangini’s “guys” – the curtain has been pulled back a little bit on Mangini’s failed tenure as Browns coach.

General manager Tom Heckert explained that one the team decided to give Mangini a second year in 2010 the team owed it to him to give him the players he wanted – including Kenyon Coleman, Eric Barton, David Bowens, Robert Royal and John St. Clair

“Once we decided Eric was going to be the guy (and return), we knew that was going to be the case,” Heckert told The Plain Dealer. “And we were fine with that. We were trying to do everything we could to win and help Eric. And Eric wanted these guys, and that’s fine. We understood that. So there’s no sour grapes.

“If Eric was going to be the coach (in 2010), we weren’t going to say, ‘You’re the coach and we’re getting rid of these five guys.’ That’s not a good thing, either.”

It’s a very good sign that management is willing to give the coach what he needs and take a hands-off approach to let the coach do what he thinks best. But we’re left to wonder, in the wake of another 5-11 season, if Heckert and team president Mike Holmgren shouldn’t have taken a firmer hand in shaping the roster this past season.

Take, for example, running back Jerome Harrison, who the Browns traded to the Eagles in October. We didn’t mind the trade as it was obvious Harrison wasn’t going to receive playing time in Cleveland. But Mangini wanted Harrison gone, and Heckert gave in.

“I’m not saying we shouldn’t have (traded him) because Jerome … he wasn’t begging to get out of here, but he was acting like he wanted to get out of here,” Heckert told The PD. “It wasn’t going to do us a whole lot of good to keep him here. Jerome was kind of going through the motions. I think he thought he should have been playing more.

“I think (the RB depth) was good for a while. When we had Peyton (Hillis), Jerome and a couple of other guys here, we were OK. But once Eric wanted us to get rid of Jerome, that’s when it started (going bad). Once you get rid of that guy then it’s just tough to find guys.”

We all saw how that played out as Hillis wore down by the end of the season because the Browns had no viable alternative in the running game.

And even when the coach signed off on the Browns picking someone up, that still didn’t mean the player would see any game action. Take defensive lineman Jayme Mitchell for example, who never played a down after the Browns traded for him on Oct. 6.

“He was by far our best pass rusher and never got on the field, so I can’t answer that one,” Heckert told The PD. “Eric watched him (on tape prior to the trade) and Eric liked him. So I don’t know what happened after that. He’s a nickel pass rusher on third down. We thought he could really rush the passer.”

So on a team that only recorded 29 sacks on the season, the player who was “by far our best pass rusher” couldn’t get on the field?

Heckert’s latest comments help crystallize the comments he made at new coach Pat Shurmur’s introductory press conference:

“Like Pat said, from the day he walked in the door, we were on the same page,” Heckert said at the time. “Everybody says they want the character and hard work and stuff, but we’ve been through it together and we’ve done it with getting those players. I think we are on the same page when it comes to players and what we are looking for, and we’ve done it together before. That can’t be a negative.”

So now, in theory at least, the Browns have a trio all working together with the general manager getting the players that the coach wants and – presumably – the coach will actually put those players on the field on Sundays.

And as Heckert said, if that happens it can’t be a negative, right?

Of course, with the way things have been going around here lately, who really knows?

***

For more on this, check out:

Tom Heckert Gets Loose at Waiting for Next Year

And Cleveland Frowns touches on it in When Eric met Tony

Post Navigation