Nov 14, 2012

Browns Head Coaching Search: Part I

As we head into Week 11 of the 2012 NFL season, it's about time we begin our biennial search for a new Browns head coach. I heard an interesting question raised on 850 today: what if the Shurmurator rips off 7 straight wins to end the year? I have two points to make regarding this question. 1) Never going to happen. Absolutely not. Might as well not even raise the question. and 2) I'd still fire his ass.

I've seen posts on Dawgs By Nature talking about names of potential candidates for the Browns after Shurmurs inevitable release. I've seen them on Bleacher Report, on Yahoo, on, etc. The big names like Chip Kelly and Bruce Arians are always there, and I think they are absolutely worth mention. Then there are the names that have no business being mentioned such as Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, and Butch Davis. All that being said, I'm going to sit down every few days (this is being optimistic) and write up a bio about a head coaching candidate I think the Browns either should consider or will consider after they do everyone who proudly wears Brown and Orange a favor and fire Pat Shurmur.

The one name that always comes back in my head, though, is Gus Bradley. For those of you who are like 95% of NFL fans and don't give a damn about west coast football, Bradley is the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. Since Bradley got to Seattle with Jim Mora Jr., the defense has steadily improved. As of right now, the 'Hawks rank #4 in scoring defense, #4 in pass defense, #4 total yards defensively, and #12 in rush defense. They have arguably the best secondary in the NFL. Their pass rush is ranked 2nd in the league and I'd be willing to bet most casual fans can't name one defensive lineman on the squad. I attribute this to Bradley. If you get to watch Seattle this year, watch how hard their defense plays. Really. In Cleveland it seems like we're so used to watching a team line up and run a set play. Watching Seattle play defensively you see a group of 11 guys running around wreaking havoc on the football field.

When Mora took the Seattle job after the departure of now-Cleveland-legend Mike Holmgren, this is the call he got from a long-time friend of his father.

'Hey, J.L., J.L., I got to talk to you about this guy...J.L., listen to me. I have got a guy here in Tampa that is one of, if not, the finest football coaches I have ever worked with. He's an A-plus. He's a once-in-a-lifetime coach. You need to talk to him. J.L., this guy is special. You have to bring him in. You have to talk to him.'

That guy, of course, is my man-crush Gus Bradley. The long-time friend of the elder Jim Mora that 'J.L.' (Jim Lawrence Mora aka Jim Mora Jr.) spoke to was former Buc's defensive coordinator and grandfather of the Tampa-2 defense, Monte Kiffin. When one of the greatest defensive minds of our generation is calling a young coach a "once-in-a-lifetime-coach," people ought heed notice. 

A defense inspired
So don't just take it from me that Bradley is the real-deal. Take it from Monte Kiffin. Take it from your own eyes if you get a chance to see Seattle play this season. And you probably will, because if Seattle makes the playoffs, as I'm willing to bet they do, it's gonna be almost primarily the work of Gus Bradley that got them there. 

One final note. I'll mention Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, and Pat Shurmur. Passion doesn't always make a great coach, just ask Rex Ryan. But after seeing those stoics pacing the sidelines since 1999, how much more would you rather have a guy with passion

As always, comment away. 

Nov 8, 2012

Mid-Season All AFC North Team, and Browns Awards

Since everyone on the internet is putting together mid-season All-Pro/All-Division Teams, I figured I'd get in on the action. Analysis and explanation is included when 1) I felt like it and 2) I thought it was necessary.

First for the All-AFC North Team:

QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
RB: Ray Rice, Ravens: Going over the stats it was a surprisingly close call between Rice and Trent Richardson, and I attribute that to Cam Cameron not utilizing Ray Rice properly. However, Rice has to get the call here with most rushing td's and yards.
FB: Vonte Leach, Ravens: Sure as hell wasn't going to be Owen Marecic.
TE: Heath Miller, Steelers
WR 1: AJ Green, Bengals
WR 2: Mike Wallace, Steelers
LT: Joe Thomas, Browns: It seems like every year we say Thomas isn't playing up to his exceptionally high standards, but every year he's a top tackle.
LG: Clint Bolling, Bengals
C: Alex Mack, Browns: Is Maurkice Pouncy overrated? I think so. He's solid, but if you need further proof that Mack is the real deal, check out what Haloti Ngata said about him last week.
RG: Marshal Yanda, Ravens
RT: Kelechi Osemele Ravens: No real clue here, but I saw on that the Ravens ranked 1st in yards off the right tackle. Good enough for me.

DE: Michael Johnson, Bengals
DT: Geno Atkins, Bengals
DT: Haloti Ngata, Ravens
DE: Brett Kiesel, Steelers
OLB: Lamar Woodley, Steelers
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson, Browns: In the midst of another great season in Dick Jauron's 43 defense.
OLB: Vontaze Burfict, Bengals: Having a great season since falling out of the draft last April.
CB: Joe Haden, Browns: Yes, he missed 4 games for Adderall. Yes, he's that good, even after a down week against the Ravens last week.
FS: Ed Reed, Ravens
SS: TJ Ward, Browns: Boss Ward is having his best season yet.
CB:  Sheldon Brown, Browns: He's not as bad as people tend to say he is, and he's putting together a solid 2012 campaign.

Now for the Browns Mid-Season Awards.

MVP: D'Qwell Jackson: Defensive leader is responsible for a unit that has over-achieved to amazing lengths at times this year.
Offensive Player: Trent Richardson: Imagine how effective he'll be when he gets to 100%
Defensive Player: TJ Ward: See above.
Breakout Player: Josh Gordon: Anyone see the kind of deep threat he's emerged as coming so soon?
Unheralded Player: Frostee Rucker: He's been a stabilizing and steady force on the d-line. 

Now, let's start talking about head coaching candidates and potential first-round picks!