One would have imagined that now that the NFL Draft has passed, the dust would finally settle and the media would stop highlighting Johnny Manziel’s every step.
Well, think again.
The 21-year-old rookie quarterback of the Cleveland Browns can’t catch a break. Since being drafted, the negative press has only escalated for the former Aggie.
Small things like Manziel wearing Nike slippers in a rookie photo shoot led to incredible backlash on Twitter. People interpreted it as Manziel not being interested or caring about Cleveland’s rookie photo shoot.
Another huge headline came when the Browns’ front office named Manziel as the backup quarterback heading into training camp this season. And another when rumors swirled about the possibility of A&M’s beloved Kyle Field being renamed “The House that Johnny built.” None of these things have made Johnny’s short career in the NFL any easier thus far.
To some extent it’s hard not to feel bad for Johnny Football. As an undersized pro prospect his play on the field has been highly scrutinized, and now the media is watching his every move off the field, looking for something to put on the front page.
Most recently, Manziel was scrutinized for his decision to spend a weekend in Las Vegas. Many have questioned the timing of the trip, saying that he should be more concerned with winning over the starting position instead of partying with NFL star Rob Gronkowski.
Of course, naysayers will jump on any opportunity to critique Manziel, but if you ask his coach, he’s doing everything they ask of him.
“The playbook has not been an issue for him,” Browns head coach Mike Pettine said. “I told him to have fun. He’s a young guy.”
Pettine makes a good point. Manziel deserves a chance to prove himself as a professional football player before we jump to criticize him.
Should he really be blamed for his behavior this far? Ask any 21-year-old what they would do with millions of dollars and all the fame and they would probably handle it similarly, if not worse.
It’s difficult to have everything you do magnified in the national spotlight. But if he’s keeping up with the playbook and working to move up the depth chart, then he deserves a chance to enjoy himself.
Sources say head coach Mack Brown may step down at the end of this season.
The official said Brown’s prospects as head coach figures to take a hit if the Longhorns drop their fourth consecutive game against Oklahoma on Saturday. He also speculated that Brown, who remains under contract through 2020, could resign at the end of the season due to athletic director Deloss Dodd’s decision to step down Aug. 31, 2014.
“I'm not sure he wants to work for another athletic director,” the official said in the report. “My guess is this is his last season."
Brown has said in the past that he plans to remain head coach through the end of his contract.
Entering the fifth week of the offseason, NFL rosters already have had some significant changes. Atlanta released three former Pro Bowl players in Dunta Robinson, John Abraham and Michael Turner, and Kansas City has already called dibs on Alex Smith to come and compete for the quarterback position under newly hired Andy Reid. But not all changes have occurred on the roster.
The Cleveland Browns coaching and managerial staff has been broken down and rebuilt since Jimmy Haslam purchased the franchise last October. Mike Holmgren retired from the team presidency while general manager Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur were fired.
Since then the front office hired Michael Lombardi as vice president of player personnel and named Rob Chudzinski head coach, Norv Turner offensive coordinator and Ray Horton defensive coordinator.
After going 23-57 in the past five seasons, it seems obvious that some changes need to be made. But what does this mean for the roster?
With the large struggles the team has had both offensively and defensively, the new staff will have to figure out which players will best fit their system in an effort to turn the organization around.
So what will become of Colt McCoy?
The name that hangs from the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in architectural eternity has almost been completely forgotten in the NFL. Ever since his concussion-filled career sent him to the bench, he has yet to break through as a starter in competition with Brandon Weeden.
Weeden struggled in his first season at the helm, but will the UT all-time passer have a chance to compete in a Norv Turner-style offense? The real question may be whether or not McCoy will still be around when training camp begins.
Trade rumors circulated around McCoy at the beginning of the 2012 season, but with the available market they may decide to keep him around.
With limited quarterback talent in this year’s draft, it is likely that the Browns will address other needs with their sixth overall pick. With Jason Campbell and Matt Moore as the plausible available free agents (there’s no way the Ravens are letting Joe Flacco go), they don’t seem to be players that could take the job from Weeden, either.
With the managerial and coaching staff only a month into their new positions, there is little clarity in what plans they have for the quarterback position.
McCoy may just end up getting another shot in Cleveland. If not, he can always rely on his Dunkin’ Donuts stores for his revenue.
The first came with six seconds remaining in the game, only minute after the Browns scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:07 left. Before that point the Cowboys had the momentum after stuffing Cleveland on the goal-line with less than two minutes remaining, but a nice Josh Cribbs return coupled with a horse collar tackle by John Phillps put the Browns on Dallas’ 17-yard line and in position to win the game.
The Browns took advantage of the opportunity.
On the very next play Brandon Weeden made his best throw of the game with a strike over the middle to Benjamin Watson for the go-ahead touchdown.
The score put the Browns up by three, but a gutsy last-minute drive led by Tony Romo put Bailey in position for his game-tying kick.
In overtime each team failed to score on its first possession, making the game a sudden death contest. But Dallas got the ball back and wasn't about to waste another opportunity to win.
The Cowboys began the drive on Cleveland’s 48, but after a few short slants between Romo and Miles Austin they quickly reached the Browns 20.
From there, Bailey’s automatic leg ended the game on a 38-yard field goal. Bailey went 3-of-3 on field goal attempts and his teammates didn’t doubt for a second that he’d win them the game.
“I call Dan Bailey golden toe,” Cowboys safety Danny McCray said. “To me he’s automatic within his range... It was never a worry, we’re pretty sure Dan’s going to make every kick.”
Trent Richardson’s strong play this season should continue into this week. He is among a group of rookies that are making big contributions to their teams this season, and could be gold mines for fantasy owners.
Fall is upon us, and so are the early rounds of bye weeks for players. Shuffling a roster to adjust for a key fantasy player’s off week is always difficult, so here are a few suggestions for players who are sure to be taking the field this weekend:
1) Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
RG3! RG3! In case you haven’t heard, this Griffin guy is pretty good. Despite being a rookie, he has put up the most fantasy points of any quarterback through four games this season. The key to his success is versatility in the running and passing game. Coincidentally, this week Griffin will face the Falcons, a team that had a ton of problems containing dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton. Expect RG3 to continue playing at a high level.
2) Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
The rookie trend continues with Richardson looking like a strong starting option this week against the Giants. Despite playing alongside rookie QB Brandon Weeden, who has struggled mightily, Richardson has managed to score in the Browns’ last three contests. Whether or not the Browns have a good day in the Meadowlands Sunday, Richardson should produce.
3) Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints
Holy cow, no one saw the Saints stumbling out of the gate to a 0-4 start. Despite his team’s struggles, Sproles remains a consistent fantasy threat. Thanks to his ability to run the ball and catch passes out of the backfield in the Saints’ creative screen game, Sproles is a versatile weapon for QB Drew Brees. With the Saints in desperation mode and his former team, the San Diego Chargers, coming into town for a Sunday Night Football showdown, Sproles should be in store for a big game.
1) Michael Bush, RB, Chicago Bears
With starting running back Matt Forte out with an ankle injury for the past several weeks, Bush became a fantasy starter. However, with Forte healthy and back in the starting lineup, Bush’s workload is sure to decrease this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although he remains a viable threat in deep fantasy leagues because of his potential for goal-line touches, avoid Bush if you can.
2) Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots
Bolden exploded onto the scene in week four against the Buffalo Bills, racking up 137 rushing yards and a touchdown. However, New England players are always risky fantasy starts due to the Patriots’ propensity to spread the ball around. Considering he is behind RB Stevan Ridley on the depth chart and the Patriots are facing the Denver Broncos’ top 10 rushing defense, don’t expect Bolden to have a similar outing this week.
3) Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
You know a quarterback is struggling when fans are already calling for him to be replaced by the fifth game. You really know he’s struggling when his backup and sudden fan-favorite is Brady Quinn, who has not started an NFL game since 2009. With the Ravens coming to town and the pressure mounting, Cassel could be in store for more boos from his home crowd.
Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: Richardson among rookie fantasy locks
In yesterday’s Daily Texan, the Texan sports opinion staff informed readers that they could pass on the first 20 minutes of the draft. Hopefully you tuned in soon after because Radio City Music Hall got pretty interesting on Thursday night.
Three surprising top-10 trades shook up the draft. But at the end of the night, Trent Richardson landed in Cleveland, Justin Blackmon went to Jacksonville and Morris Clairborne ended up in Dallas.
Oh yeah, Andrew Luck was selected by the Colts first and Robert Griffin III was chosen by the Redskins with the second pick.
The Browns moved from the No. 4 sport to Minnesota’s No. 3 before the draft began and selected Richardson — the running back from Alabama. With this trade, the Vikings got fourth, fifth and seventh round picks.
With the fourth pick in the draft, the Vikings took USC left tackle Matt Kalil.
The Buccaneers traded their number No. 5 pick to the Jaguars for the seventh pick and a fourth round pick. The Jaguars chose Oklahoma State receiver Blackmon. The Buccaneers chose Alabama safety Mark Barron with the seventh pick.
The Rams, who originally had the sixth pick, traded their pick to Dallas for the No. 14 pick and the 45th pick. The Cowboys selected LSU cornerback Claiborne.
The Rams eventually selected defensive tackle Michael Brockers at No. 14. The Dolphins took Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the eighth pick and the Bills took South Caroline cornerback Stephon Gilmore with the tenth pick. Tannehill is the first A&M quarterback to be chosen in the first round. The Panthers chose Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.
The Cleveland Browns had one of the worst offenses in the NFL last year. Not only did the Browns add Richardson, but they chose Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden with the 22nd pick.
The Browns will have an interesting competition for quarterback with former Longhorn Colt McCoy currently at the helm.
The Kansas City Chiefs took Memphis’ Dontari Poe eleventh overall. The Eagles traded to get the 12th pick and they chose Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. With that trade, the Seahawks got the Nos. 15, 114 and 192 picks.
The Jets chose North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples at No. 16 while the Bengals chose Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was picked up by the Bengals.
The Lions chose Iowa’s Riley Reiff, the Steelers chose David DeCastro of Stanford and the Patriots chose Dont’a Hightower from Alabama.
The Texans picked DE Whitney Mercilus, the Bengals chose Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler and the Packers chose USC defensive end Nick Perry with the 28th pick.
Although the first two picks were decided before the draft even began on Thursday, there were plenty of change-ups and trades that kept things interesting.
When comparing Luck to Griffin Robert Griffin III, it’s easy to overlook Luck’s athleticism. But the Stanford product ran the fourth-best 40-yard-dash among quarterbacks, turned in the fifth-best vertical leap and had the furthest broad jump. He’s much, much more athletic than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Luck’s arm and touch could eventually put him in that upper-echelon of NFL quarterbacks, though: he ranked seventh in the NCAA with a 71.3 completion percentage, sixth with 8.7 yards per attempt and tied for fifth with a touchdown percentage of 9.2 — meaning for every 100 passes he attempted, roughly 10 of them were for touchdowns. But will he have anybody besides Reggie Wayne to throw to in Indy?
Bear with me here, but I like the Heisman Winner from Baylor better than I do Luck. In those aforementioned passing metrics, RG3 ranks better than Luck — third in completion percentage, first in yards per attempt, a tie with Luck in touchdown percentage and also a interception percentage that ranked among the best in the country (1.5, good for 12th). Luck, on the other hand, threw an interception 2.5 percent of the time he put the ball in the air — 46th in the country.
It really is arguable that Griffin III is a better passing prospect than Luck. It’s unarguable that he’s a better athlete (best 40 time of any QB, best vertical leap), one who put up whopping rushing numbers in college with 2,943 total yards and 10 games of triple-digit yardage in essentially three seasons.
One last stat: his passer-efficiency rating in 2011 was the second best ever.
USC tackle Matt Kalil has been penciled in at this spot since the combine, but it won’t be too surprising if the Vikings elect to go with this year’s best cornerback. In a division where you’re facing Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (not to mention, Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall) twice a year, you need to be able to stop the pass.
Offensive tackles aren't full-proof options, either. Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe and Trent Williams are recent examples of top-10 tackles whose teams (St. Louis, Jacksonville and Washington, respectively) rank among the worst in the league (32nd, 28th, 26th, also respectively). Take Claiborne and give yourself a secondary to build on.
Montario Hardesty, Greg Little, Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Chris Ogbonnaya…I don’t care who your quarterback is, or who you’ve got on the offensive line; you’re not winning many games with that core of skill players. That’s why the Browns have to get the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Cleveland traded down last year (and drafted a defensive tackle, Phil Taylor, at 21) in order to stockpile picks. Those picks need to be used to help give a quarterback — for now it’s Colt McCoy — a prayer at winning games in the AFC North. Richardson steps in and starts from day one.
With Claiborne and Richardson off the board, the Bucs have to reach a bit here to get a cornerback, but it’s a major position of need. Ronde Barber has very little left in the tank and the troubled Aqib Talib is being shopped.
From 2010 to 2011, Blackmon scored 38 touchdowns and hauled in 232 passes. His 3,304 receiving yards might be a byproduct of a system, but that’s insane no matter how you slice it (as is his ypc average of 14.6). He’s neither the fastest nor the tallest receiver in this draft, yet he is far and away the most productive and should immediately become Sam Bradford’s top target.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California
Since 2008, the Jags have chosen in the top 10 every year. And with little results to show for it: Derrick Harvey busted, Monroe has provided little semblance of a building block, Blaine Gabbert could be a disaster. The pick of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu is actually the best so far — and even that is saying something. So this pick needs to be right, and when you’re facing that kind of pressure, you take the best player available, regardless of need. Kalil, a potential franchise left tackle, is just that.
Here’s what I don’t like about Tannehill: He has only 20 games at quarterback under his belt and he was perhaps the main culprit in A&M’s choke job of 2011.
Here’s what I do like: He’s a confident, stand-up type of guy with an above-average arm.
Here’s what I hate: His 61.6 completion percentage last season, his seven yards per attempt, his 2.8 interception percentage.
And here’s what I love: He was sacked only nine times last year, so I know the former wide receiver can avoid the pressures of the Jets, Patriots and the newly-revamped pass rush of the Bills in the AFC East, and he can throw on the run. When a play breaks down, or when a receiver just can’t get open — with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, this could happen quite often — Tannehill can make things happen with his feet.
Look, Tannehill is the ultimate project quarterback. But the Dolphins can afford to be patient. Matt Moore is a serviceable option and it’s not like the team is about to challenge New England or New York for the division. He’s worth the risk here at 8.
With Cam Newton and Steve Smith doing their thing on offense, it’s time for Carolina to shore up things on the other side of the ball. The NFL’s seventh-worst rushing defense would be buoyed by the addition of Cox, who had five sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last season.
Despite the offseason signing of Mario Williams, there’s still work to be done to improve Buffalo’s D, which ranked 28th in total defense and 30th in run defense. Kuechly, who led the NCAA in tackles last season, gives the Bills one of the best front sevens in the league. Offensive help — mainly, receiver — can come in the later rounds.
Probably a reach here. Then again, they said the same thing about Jason Pierre-Paul at No. 15 a few seasons ago. The Seahawks put up pedestrian sack numbers in 2011 (33, for a sack percentage of 5.7). Coples never put up huge numbers at UNC, but it’s his potential — a 4.7 40 time at 6-foot-6 and 284 lbs. — that has Seattle pulling the trigger.
The Cowboys have taken three defensive backs in the first round the last decade — safety Roy Williams in 2002 and cornerbacks Terence Newman in 2003 and Mike Jenkins in 2008. Barron becomes No. 4 here and it’s easy to believe he could be better than any of the three.
Philly chose a guard with its first-round pick a year ago, but it’s been a long time since it used such a high pick on an offensive tackle — 1998 ,to be exact. With left tackle Jason Peters possibly out for the season, now seems as good a time as any to break the streak.
For a team that’s made the AFC Championship game two of the last three years, the Jets sure do have a lot of holes. The “ground and pound” offense hasn’t gone anywhere behind Shonn Greene (22nd in team rushing last season), the passing game is in a state of disillusion (21st) and the Jets finished in the red in takeaways. But dangling Poe in front of Rex Ryan — who loves taking on defensive projects — is just too tantalizing.
With a boatload of draft picks after dealing Carson Palmer to the Raiders midseason, there’s plenty of time later on for the Bengals to make a sexier choice, possibly at corner or receiver. Take the draft’s best guard prospect off the boards.
What is it that has caused the Chargers to fall short so often? Among other things, the team failed to establish the run it its six-game losing streak in the middle of last year, posting a paltry 98 yards per game. You’ve got a capable runner in Ryan Mathews, now give him somebody to run behind.
Unless the plan is to turn Jay Cutler into David Carr, it’s high time to improve the offensive line. Stick Glenn at right tackle and hope last year’s top pick, Gabe Carimi, is healthy enough to play a full season at left. Then bid adieu to J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis, the weak links of a unit that allowed 49 sacks in 2011.
In a division that will one day be run by Andrew Luck, it’s imperative to have somebody who can get after the passer. Upshaw (8.5 sacks last season) can put his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 defensive set or play upright in a 3-4.
Randle is just the kind of deep threat the Browns need to stretch the field, and clear out the box for fellow rookie Trent Richardson. His 17.3 yards per reception ranked among the top 20 in the nation a year ago.
Character issues, schmaracter issues. When you can get this kind of talent this late in the first round, and fill a need while doing it, you take a risk. (Jenkins was dismissed by the Florida Gators after a myriad of drug problems and he’s fathered four children with three different women.) If Jenkins can stay out of trouble — granted, a big if — he can help the Lions.
It has been a game of musical chairs at the right guard position for Steelers, where Darnell Stapleton, Ramon Foster and Trai Essex have been used as temporary replacements until a franchise-type player comes along. In the rugged AFC North, with Ben Roethlisberger feeling the heat, here’s the opportunity to grab a long-term starter.
Those who didn’t flip the channel in between Tim Tebow’s series on offense most likely noticed Denver’s glaring weakness. In eight losses, the Broncos gave up an average of 150 rushing yards a game. Peyton Manning won’t be nearly as effective if he’s sitting on the sidelines watching the opposition run at will.
It’s a choice here between Wright or Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech. Because Houston needs somebody to step in opposite Andre Johnson immediately, the best bet is it’s the uber-productive Wright (one touchdown in every seven catches last season) over a raw talent like Hill.
Last year’s sack leader (16) winds up on a team that has twice seen, firsthand, what an effective pass rush can really do (the New York Giants of 2007, 2011). There's a hole to fill, too, with Mark Anderson signing with the Bills.
Like Clay Matthews, McClellin is a bit of a late-bloomer who’s just now starting to pick up steam. Funny timing. Green Bay is in desperate need of a pass-rushing ‘backer to draw some attention away from Mr. Matthews.
This pick might fall into the hands of a team trying to trade up for Brandon Weeden. Among the contenders, Cleveland has the most to offer in terms of draft picks (Nos. 37 and 67). If not, Patriots should go defense again.
One minor cost of the Giants winning the Super Bowl in Feb. was that two of their tight ends, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, suffered knee injuries that could cause them to miss the entire 2012 season. Fleener averaged about 20 yards a catch in his final year at Stanford and also hauled in 10 touchdowns.
Colt McCoy oversees a drill focusing on ball security at the Colt McCoy Football Camp held at Westlake High School on Friday and Saturday. The camp was held for children up to 18 years old, and allowed them to participate in various drills, as well as meet Colt McCoy.
By now we’ve all heard about the NFL lockout, but what have the players been up to if they aren’t allowed to talk to coaches or practice at their team’s facilities?
For Colt McCoy, the answer lies in passing on his skills to the youth.
Holding camps have become the easiest way for athletes to give back to the community and to take their minds off the mess that is the NFL right now. For two days, he wasn’t running sprints or working on timing with his receivers. Instead, he was teaching children fundamental skills they can use to grow as athletes.
McCoy’s two-day camp at Westlake High school allowed hundreds of children to participate in games and drills for several hours each day. McCoy made his rounds to every group of children and even posed for photos and signed autographs for all of the attendees. Much of the McCoy family was also on hand to lend help to the campers. Colt’s younger brother, Case, helped out with drills after an early workout with the Longhorns on Friday morning. The children in attendance really seemed to enjoy their time with Colt and were very appreciative of the star’s presence.
And as far as working with his Cleveland Browns teammates since the lockout, McCoy has that covered.
“We’ve met up like four or five times, and we’ve got another [meeting] this weekend here in town,” McCoy said. “I’m thrilled to get to work with them.”
It’s not easy to organize workouts with teammates during the lockout, but McCoy realizes it’s up to him to take the initiative.
“You can’t have any contact with coaches, and it falls on the quarterback to become a leader,” McCoy said.
By now, becoming a leader is second nature for McCoy. After four years as a starter for the Longhorns, he quickly became the centerpiece of the Browns’ offense when he was named the starting quarterback early last season. However, after a disappointing 5-11 season for the Browns in 2010, McCoy admits there is still a lot to be done for his team to be successful.
“We haven’t won in Cleveland, and we’ve got a long ways to go, a lot of work to do,” McCoy said. “The time we’ve spent together this summer will help.”
After an equally disappointing 5-7 season, the Longhorns are hoping that they can learn a little something from McCoy while he’s in town. McCoy has been on hand for multiple practices with the team during the summer, keeping both himself and his younger counterparts in top form.
“Since the lockout, I’ve been able to train at UT a lot,” McCoy said. “Those guys are working their butts off up there, and there’s been some drills I’ve almost wanted to drop out of.”
With talks still ongoing between the Players Association and team owners, patience is key for the players waiting to officially begin the offseason. Having a busy schedule also helps to take the players’ minds off of the stress of the situation. McCoy will continue to hold similar camps for children around Texas, in addition to coordinating more meetings with his Browns teammates. It hasn’t been a typical offseason so far, and McCoy and Co. are ready for a return to normalcy.
“We’re all anxious for it to get over with,” McCoy said.
It could be some time before things are settled in the NFL, but for now, it is up to the players to train and organize meetings on their own. So far, McCoy has found different ways to stay busy throughout the turmoil, and the children at his camp couldn’t be any happier.
Printed on 7/11/2011 as: Gone Camping: Former UT quarterback teaches children the basics