IRVING, Texas – For this week’s segment of The Other Side, we check in with long-time Cleveland Browns expert Tony Grossi, who works for ESPN Cleveland.
Away we go:
Todd Archer - Will the ownership change recently make much of a difference? Is this Joe Banner's show?
Tony Grossi - Not entirely. I think Jimmy Haslam will be very hands-on, much like Jerry Jones but without the additional roles of president and GM. Like Jones, Haslam has made a huge financial and emotional investment in the Browns. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and has quickly picked up on the frustration and disappointment of long-suffering Browns fans. He will rely on Banner a lot, but I expect Haslam to be in the draft room, on the practice field and in the Dawg Pound -- but not on the sidelines.
TA - Is there reason to believe Brandon Weeden is the guy for the Browns? They've gone through so many quarterbacks that you wonder if they're ever going to get it right.
TG - For a dozen or so years I've advocated the need for a more physical quarterback for the Browns to compete in the AFC North and also in their geography. Weeden has those tangibles -- big stature, big arm. He has an exceptional arm and also a nice release. I'm of the opinion that's where you start with a quarterback in this climate, playing outdoors, in an extremely physical division. The days of Brian Sipe magically floating balls into tight windows are long gone in the NFL. The jury is still out on Weeden's intangibles -- reading defenses, decision-making, etc. I'm liking what I'm seeing, though.
TA - Are we starting to see the Trent Richardson that had everybody excited back in April?
TG - Maybe not Sunday, but he's trending up, no doubt. He missed all of preseason after knee scope in August. He had 100 yards in his second NFL game. Then the coaches fell in love with Weeden's arm for two games and underused Richardson. Then he hurt his ribs. He played through a painful injury for two games and wasn't effective. Then he had two 100-yard games, still not at 100 percent. He said this week he's still not completely over the injury. I can't wait to see him totally healthy. Barring a setback, he should have the final month to show us the real Trent Richardson. He is the ultimate team guy.
TA - The Cowboys are going through some growing pains with Morris Claiborne and they use Joe Haden as an example for the rookie CB to follow. He was suspended for four games but seems to have come back and played well. Where is he in terms of his development?
TG - In training camp, Haden viewed this as his breakout year. He dropped 5 INTs last year and he was all geared up to establish himself as a shutdown corner, a Pro Bowl CB. The suspension kept him out Games 2-5. He had INTs in Games 1-6. He is their best player on defense -- a very good cover corner who is not shy about tackling. But I feel his size (5-foot-11, 190) will always betray him when covering the real giant elite WRs like A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson, etc. Green, one of the very best WRs, and also a divisional opponent, always seems to make the great catch over Haden. But Haden is very good and his absence showed his value. They were 0-4 without him and gave up 10 TD passes.
TA - I know I asked about Weeden already, but how has Colt McCoy handled this season and is there a future for him in the NFL if not in Cleveland?
TG - McCoy has impressed everyone the way he has handled his situation. You can tell it is eating him up. He is such a competitor. It's not like Weeden is lighting it up. I mean, they are 2-7, and Weeden has 12 INTs. I'm sure McCoy feels they'd have more wins with him. But he is a true team player and I respect him a lot for holding his tongue. I feel he's gotten a raw deal here, what with the concussion game last year, and then having to watch his job taken from him. Everyone says he's the ideal backup now, but, really, I've never seen him enter a game as a backup and manage the game from that perspective. I truly believe he has a greater chance at success in the NFL with a dome-based team or one in a milder climate. I wouldn't rule him out as a starter in the right situation, but I'm afraid it's not in a cold-weather, physical division. He can't spin the ball through the wind like Weeden.