As the free agent period approaches, one of the hottest names and biggest difference makers for a franchise is Kirk Cousins. I think it’s safe to say that, with the signing of Alex Smith, Washington will not be putting a Franchise Tag on Cousins which means he can start looking for his next team on March 14th.
There are quite a few teams desperately searching for a franchise quarterback, but are they all viable options at this point? Do they have the money to pay Cousins the huge contract he wants? Do they have the cap space? Are they the type of organization that he would want to play for? Let’s look at the front runners…
Times, they are a-changin’. And so is the Cleveland Browns front office. With so many hires these past few months, here’s the current list so you can keep track at home!
With four games remaining in the 2017-18 season, the Browns fired Sashi Brown and replaced him at General Manager with John Dorsey. The brilliance of the timing was not lost on me. First, they avoided a bidding war as the New York Giants were about to shake up their organization. Second, Dorsey was able to see for himself what was going on with the team in the locker room, at practices, during games. These are key things for a G.M. to see in order to evaluate both the talent and the coaches!
The Chicago Bears have little to show for a dismal 2017 season. There was so much promise entering a somewhat easy schedule, only to be beaten down by injuries and a questionable coaching staff.
In the past four years, the Bears have lived in the bottom of the NFC North. Lead by two head coaches, (John Fox and Marc Trestman) three offensive coordinators, (Aaron Kromer, Adam Gase, and Dowell Loggains), and five quarterbacks (Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky). At least, for now, Trubisky is moving forward to next season.
But as silly as this sounds, it is now a matter of dignity for the Bears to beat the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Eve. They were already bested by the then 1-9 San Francisco 49ers by one point. The 49ers have managed to keep that momentum going winning four more with their future quarterback in Jimmy Garappalo.
However, the Browns are 0-14 and are looking to win at least one game this season. But it can’t be against the Bears. It just can’t.
I think my breathing might JUST be returning to normal today. Some people like close games, but if you’ve been reading my column for anytime, you know I can’t stand them! Two weeks in a row winning in overtime? NOT fun for me!
Sundays OT win was the third overtime win of this season – never before has that happened in Green Bay franchise history. Never before have the Packers won more than two overtime games in a single season. Another record? Sunday was the first time in Green Bay history that the team has won back-to-back games in overtime.
The Packers got a walk-off win for the second straight game when wide receiver Davante Adams ran for a 25-yard touchdown in overtime after first tying the game with 17 seconds left. At this point, Adams has to be one of the best receivers in the entire league.
And so it begins…. two years into the three-year rebuilding process, and a combined record of 1-27 over these two years, reports are flooding the market that the Cleveland Browns have fired Executive VP Sashi Brown. After being featured in the Sports Business Daily “Forty Under 40” column just two years ago, and being touted as the “right move” by foxsports.com writer Mike Garafolo, high expectations for Brown were clearly not met and he’s out.
I usually suffer from the Bye Week Blues at this time of year. Good or Bad – and we all know lately it’s been a whole lot of Bad – The Browns are my team and they are part of my Sunday ritual from August through January. However this week, I’m RELIEVED that there isn’t a Browns game on Sunday. Because they decided to let their off-the-field dysfunction become the hot topic of Trade Deadline conversation. Sigh.
It was not a fun game to watch and certainly not a game any NFL fan would want to have extended into overtime. Neither the Cleveland Browns or the Tennessee Titans were able to score a touchdown; it was a boring battle of the field goals.
This seems to be reminiscent of last week’s Titans game against the Indianapolis Colts. At least Tennesee came alive during the fourth quarter and scored 3 touchdowns for that game. But, there were no great scoring drives to end this week’s game, just another field goal in OT to give the Titans the victory.
Kicker Ryan Succop aka “Mr. Automatic“ had four field goals this game, clinching the win in OT with a 47 yard kick. He did have one missed attempt in the fourth quarter from 53 yards out. Succop did extend his NFL-for-consecutive-made-field-goals within 50 yards, his record is now 55.
The other bright star for the Titans was safety Kevin Byard with three, count ‘em, three interceptions off of two different Browns’ quarterbacks. Byard picked off rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second and third quarters and QB Cody Kessler in the fourth.
Another tough game to watch for Browns fans. While most seemed surprised at the blow-out, if you look at their schedule up until now (Jets, Colts, Bengals), it’s only going to get harder as the season progresses. Visions of an 0-16 record loom large in the minds of even die hard fans. And the fear that getting the first pick in the draft (again) will only bring disappointment as the front office seems to struggle with player selection and analytics is very real.
Week after week fans see players the Browns released making plays, like wide recievers Willie Snead in NO or Travis Benjamin in Los Angeles for the Chargers. They see players they passed on in the draft wining games; quarterbacks Carson Wentz PHI and Deshaun Watson HOU being the most popular benchmarks so far. And they question the ability of the front office – and analytics – to put together a football team. Rightfully so.
Yes, you read that correctly. No, this isn’t an article from 2016… or 2015…. or 2014…. or, well, you get the drift. After making a landmark trade to acquire quarterback Brock Osweiler in the offseason, drafting Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer in the 2nd round, waiving Osweiler, watching Kevin Hogan come into preseason games and move the ball effectively, and sending Cody Kessler off to oblivion, the Cleveland Browns decide to start Kizer.
Fans were happy. Rebuilding was starting. The franchise quarterback was here. And then the season happened.
The Week 5 match-up versus the New York Jets started off on a high note; the Browns won their first coin toss of the season! I know you think this is not really something worth noting, yet as the losers of the toss for the first four weeks, opponents have deferred. This forced a shaky young offense to take the field first, ending in 3-and-outs or blocked punts and eventually the depressing fact that they were the only team in the entire NFL to have never had a lead at any point in a game. Never.
After years of tough competition and league-leading stats, the AFC North seems to have fallen on hard times. Through four weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers are at the top with a predictable 3-1 record. They are currently ranked 5th on the Bleacher Report Power Rankings. Then, there’s the REST of the division. Down at #22 we have the Baltimore Ravens (2-2), at #23 the Cincinnati Bengals (1-3), and, pulling up the rear as usual, my Cleveland Browns (0-4).
Pittsburgh’s only loss so far came in overtime vs the Chicago Bears. They look good. Really good. Going to the Playoffs and maybe the Super Bowl good. (Man it hurts just to type that!). They host a tough and improving Jacksonville Jaguars team this week but their offense, which has put up a division-leading 90 points so far, is up to the challenge.