Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Indians Trade For Ubaldo Jimenez Looking Good Now

Written By Larry M. Glicken "LG"

Ubaldo Jimenez Shuts out AstrosUbaldo Jimenez came to the Cleveland Indians last season and many of the Cleveland Fans felt the Indians gave up too much for this pitcher. Jimenez has struggled since coming into the American League, those struggles look like they are coming to an end.

Jimenez threw a shut out last night in Texas as he shut down the Houston Astros in the 6-2/3 innings he pitched. Jimenez struck out 8 and walked four. Since coming to the Cleveland Indians Jimenez has been battling problems with his mechanics. The Indians pitching staff has worked to help Ubaldo find his way back and it looks like it is starting to pay dividends.

Jimenez who is 7-5 on the season has shown some consistency in his last four starts. Ubaldo has pitched into the six inning three times out of four and made it into the seventh once. There was time not too long ago Jimenez's pitch count wouldn't allow the big man past the fifth inning.

 Ubaldo is still having some problems with his control, the great thing is he is able to work his way back as he helps the Indians get some wins. Out of Ubaldo's last ten starts he only had to leave the game before the fifth inning three times, he has made it into the sixth inning this season more often than not which is huge for Tribe skipper Manny Acta and the Indians Bull-pen.

The Indians front office personal who put the trade together to get Jimenez, were hoping this day would come, especially since the Indians sent two young pitching prospects packing in the Jimenez deal. Looking at the deal now, the Indians and the Cleveland fans have to feel pretty good about the deal some left for dead earlier in the season and at the end of the 2011 season. Overall the trade is one of the better deals the Indians front office has pulled off. Only time will tell the real story,as the chapters are written, the end of the book is starting to look pretty good.

Larry Glicken is the owner of and the host of the Cleveland Sports 360 Show, an online streaming sports video show at

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is Tony Sipp's 6.95 E.R.A. Sinking The Indians Ship?

Written By Larry M. Glicken "LG"

Tony Sipp 6.95 ERAThe Cleveland Indians have been known for the bull-pen the past couple of season, (The Bull-pen Mafia) Tony Sipp doesn't fit. Every time the Indians put Sipp into the game the team risks the chance of producing a win. Sipp just doesn't fit the bill, Manny Acta has to know that. The fans know it why doesn't the teams manager know it? Sipp has a 6.95 earned run average and he is a reliever.

The Indians when the game is on the line can't afford to put Sipp into the game. He has been the weak link in the bull-pen and the Indians are watching as they fall in the A.L. Standings. Now the Tribe were swept by the Reds and they risk losing the series against the Pirates today. The Indians offense is having a tough time against the National League and the last thing they need is a guy like Sipp who is UN-dependable.

If the Indians want to make a serous run in the A.L. Central, they are going to have to have guys the team can count on. Tony Sipp is not that guy. Lets make some changes and lets make them now Indians...

Larry Glicken is the owner of and the host of the Cleveland Sports 360 Show, an online streaming sports video show at

Friday, June 15, 2012

Full Transcript of Mike Holmgrens Press Conference 6/14/12


(Opening Statement)- “Good afternoon everybody.If I could for a couple of minutes before we get started here, I think it’s important that I talk just a little bit about the plan moving forward. I’ve talked to you about this before and I’ve mentioned it to some of you individually, also some of you collectively I think, but I think it’s important to me that it’s understood that we’re approaching our third season here with the new group. Philosophically, it was really important to me as the President and a new president, something I’ve never done before, to come in and support the coach in any way I could, first of all, and secondly, not take anything away from his time. As a coach for a long, long time, I think I told you that anytime the president got involved with football stuff it used to irritate me a little bit and we had many discussions about that. If something was going to be said about the football team, I would like to be the one that says it. I think it’s important to have one voice, so on and so forth. That was my thinking coming into this job and this position so I’ve to do that, honestly, for a couple years Not that I’m hard-headed, but I have started to listen to some people and some people in this room quite honestly and then also people that I meet around town and at various things that Kathy and I are involved in, saying that, “We’d like to hear a little bit more from you about things, it’s fun,” and whatever they say. This year that’s what I am going to try and do. Now, exactly how that is going to manifest itself, I couldn’t really give you the blueprint for that yet. But, I’ve talked to both Pat (Shurmur) and Tom (Heckert) about this idea and they have to know and your coach has to know that the president is on your side. You’ve got to know that and there can’t be any controversies created by things that I would say and Pat would say and Tom would say. The hard part about it is that at times there will be a little thing that comes out where it will be easy to say, ‘Well wait a minute, he said this and he said this, what does it mean?’ That is kind of the danger of this, a little bit, but as long as they know that I have their back and we don’t want that to happen and that we have talked about most things football before any press conference takes place, either by Pat or Tom or me, but the bottom line is that I am going to try and be more available. I have a great young coach and I have a tremendous general manager and my motives in setting up the things for the first couple of years, I think were the right ones. I have no regrets about that, but in listening to, again as I said, a little bit of what people asked me when I am out and about and again, what some of you have asked me in a private moment or two, that’s how we are going to try and do that. We’re kind of starting the ball rolling today. I know Pat had his press conference with you this week. I’m going to do this today and then when we come back in the fall I am going to be more available to you. If you ask and it doesn’t happen please understand that I’m trying to do this a different way, so that’s how we’re going to do it. It’s going to be a little bit of a change, but we all have to understand this, this is really important, that Pay Shurmur is the coach of this football team, he will make football decisions. Tom Heckert and Pat and I talk about every football decision, but the head coach has to have that responsibility otherwise it doesn’t work very well, in my opinion. That’s how it’s going to be set up. Having said that, now fire away. We have some time here and then guys are going to go on vacation, the players are cut loose after tomorrow, the coaches go on vacation, the building kind of shuts down a little bit over the summer as you know. Then we’ll come back and kind of tee it up around the time I have my motorcycle ride, which you’re all invited to participate in if you own motorcycles. Spend a little money, it’s okay (joking). I would like to see you there actually.”

(On if the team plans to move either Seneca Wallace or Colt McCoy before training camp)- “Right now the plan is not to. I think that position, heck the first two years we’ve had to go to the third quarterback because of injury, so that’s not to say we might change something, but right now, no. Right now they are all practicing very hard. Our quarterback position is a strong position, in my opinion and something might happen as we approach training camp or during the training camp season, but that’s how we’re looking at it right now.”

(On his impressions of Brandon Weeden and if he is the franchise quarterback)- “Well that term, and Tom (Withers) you know this better than anybody, that term
is a tough term. Franchise quarterback, are you talking about a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana or whoever. He’s a rookie. Does he display his talent on the field, his ability to throw the ball? I think you’ve all seen that. He’s gifted that way. There is a maturity level because of his age, he is a different rookie because of that. I think lastly, if you pick a player in the first round, you are saying something. You’re telling everybody something. Now having said that, nothing gets handed to anybody and that’s essentially what I told him, but if he’s the player we think he is and can be, I think he has the chance to have a fine career in this league, but he’s going to have to show us now. We believe that that can happen, but he has to come in and play. Keep in mind everything we have done so far is in shorts and t-shirts and so on. It’s a little easier to play the position when you know you’re not going to get hit, but right now it’s a healthy competition. It’s going to be Pat’s decision and at some point moving forward, you have got to name one. I think he was asked the other day why he didn’t he do it now. Well we aren’t ready to do it now. Well Washington did it now, I don’t care. I don’t care what they do. I do know this, you can’t get too close to the first game and still have it going on because of the reps involved and how you have to get that guy prepared to play so it becomes fairly obvious I think as we approach, who’s getting the most time in practice and that’s going to be the guy that’s the guy.”

(On at what point do you have to name the starting quarterback)- “I don’t know. It’s a good question, but as you go through this I think they both have had a lot of chances to throw in our minicamps and our OTAs. I don’t know and I don’t think anyone could tell you exactly when. When the time comes you kind of know. There’s a practice, you’re approaching the preseason games or the regular season and you go to get whoever it is ready for that first game, we better make the decision and again that’s the coach’s decision.”

(On if there is any awkwardness to having all three quarterbacks on the roster)- “I don’t think so. It’s probably fun to write about. You guys kind of like it, but as far as the individuals involved, but say we have to deactivate whoever the third quarterback is, there’s a rule where we might not have to deactivate him, but that guy gets his feathers ruffled a bit, which is understandable. They are all competitive. They all have played in games, but that’s the business. They are big boys and that is how they have to handle it.”

(On if there any concern over possibly starting a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back and how you get them through that process)- “It is somewhat a unique situation, but if you have to do it, these are the two young men I would do it with. Trent (Richardson) as a runner, I think the transition for a running back to come into this league as a runner, is maybe as easy as any position on the team because running is running and it is kind of instinctual. He got hit a lot in college, he is going to get hit in professional football. The learning curve there is not so great. Now, his challenge is as a pass blocker. That’s the big deal. That’s the big change. But he certainly can handle it and I like our depth at running back. The quarterback position, to have a rookie quarterback, even if he’s 28 years old is a challenge because he’s going to see stuff he hasn’t seen before and it just is. There’s a learning curve there. What you can do as a coaching staff, you understand that the runner certainly helps the young quarterback, absolutely helps the young quarterback. We have a good running game. It did two years ago if you remember. It helped Colt (McCoy). That’s a positive, but you certainly can help young players with your play selection, with your game plan, with the volume that you’re putting in and you can help them that way and our guys are smart and they will do that.”

(On if he has had a change of heart regarding quarterback competitions)- “I have not had a change of heart. The situation I came into here, as you remember, neither one of those guys were rookies. They had played and done some stuff. It was my impression and it still is my impression, if you get to see a guy for three or four years, you have to know. You’re not still going, ‘Well can the guy do it?’ You have to know by then and be willing to make a decision. In our situation, you have really young people. Colt hasn’t played very much. Seneca (Wallace) has played the most or been in the league the longest. (Brandon) Weeden comes in as a rookie, but an old rookie, so it adds a little something. I think that will sort itself out and the quote unquote, ‘quarterback competition,’ will go so far and then a decision will be made and that’s the way we’ll do it.”

(On Tom Heckert saying he expects Brandon Weeden to win the starting competition)- “Spoken like a true draft selector
right there (joking). You know what, I am more of the mind to let it play out. You’ve watched football for a long time, you’ve all covered games for a long time. Normally speaking, it falls a certain way given a certain set of circumstances, but let’s let it play out. Tom has certainly like all of his draft choices to start and I understand that, but Weeden is our first round pick. As I mentioned earlier, when you draft a quarterback in the first round, you are drafting him to play. When he starts to play and when he starts, that’s a little different thing. Look at Aaron Rodgers, drafted in the first round and it took him four years to start. That set of circumstances, and you can go to a lot of teams when they didn’t start, Joe Montana in my experience in San Francisco. Of course he wasn’t a number one pick, but he didn’t start right away so every team has to do what they think. Would it be nice if we all of a sudden knew we have a franchise quarterback and those types of things? That’s what we’ve been looking for since we got here and certainly that’s what this franchise has been looking for a long time. It would be one of the great things if it worked out that way.”

(On how he can avoid a messy situation with the quarterbacks)- “I think you just make decisions. There’s a way you can prevent that, in my opinion. First of all, you have to understand the people involved, the players involved. You have to be very upfront with them, you have to be making coaching decisions for the right reasons and you should be able to avoid that, you really should. If you even think that it’s starting to get a little squirrelly, then you have to make the big decision. Then that ends that.”

(On how Pat Shurmur is different in his second year as head coach)- “As we’ve talked about in here before, he went through a lot of things his first year that a lot of times you don’t even get for three or four years. I think he emerged scarred but healthy and raring to go. He just told me today, it’s made such a difference having an offseason program and having minicamps. He’s much more comfortable in his role. He understands and knows the players and they know him. We managed to keep the staff together pretty much, but added some really good coaches. I think like every good young head coach, you learn every year. He just had a lot of things to deal with last year that you don’t always have that many things in the first year. I still believe in him very, very strongly and he’s going to be fine.”

(On what he sees in Weeden that makes him a potential starter)- “I think those of you who’ve had a chance to visit with him, first of all, his skill level is excellent. He passes the ball very well. He does it easily, good velocity. He has the things necessary, I think, to play the position that way, which is the most important thing is to be able to pass the ball and pass it accurately. The second thing is, and you can’t discount this, he has a maturity about him because of what he’s been through first of all, and then his age, and the fact that after baseball he came back to play football. If you’ve talked to him, you sense that, you get a feel for that, his teammates do. He is as prepared to come in and start as a rookie as any quarterback I’ve seen in a long time because of his maturity level and his age. He’s already been through a whole bunch of competitive situations.”

(On how Weeden is adjusting from the way they did things at college)- “His big adjustment is taking the snap from center, they didn’t do that in college, but he seems to be doing fine with that. In our offense, it’s absolutely necessary that you do that because of the timing factor. We’ll still run the shotgun. I think in the passing game, there are a lot of similarities between what he did in college and this passing attack. The last thing I would say is, he seems to be a fast learner, a quick learner. He has absorbed the playbook very, very well, which means he studies. In minicamps, they throw a lot of stuff at him. Sometimes it looks a little reckless out there, as you know and he’s been handling it very well.”

(On saying a 5-11 record wasn’t unacceptable then the team going 4-12)- “I shouldn’t have said that, honestly. Of course it’s not acceptable, 4-12 is even worse, it’s not acceptable. I will say the same thing now. I’m not going to give you a win-loss record, but I will say what I’ve told the coaches and what I’ve told the team.  I expect us to take a good healthy jump this year on the field. Of course I’m talking about the record, and what that is I won’t make the same mistake I made last year, but that’s what I expect. I know we’re a better football team. We’re a more talented football team. There’s more continuity on the coaching staff. We’ve had the offseason program. I believe we are a more talented football team. We’ve added some things, we’re coming together nicely. That’s why I said what I said.”

(On reports on the Browns being for sale and
if he and Randy Lerner talked about that at all)- “No, the Browns are not for sale. I talk to Randy (Lerner) all the time, and I assume he’d tell me. We have a very open, honest relationship. No, there’s no truth to that.”

(On if he regrets not being more available to the media)- “Do I regret it? No, I don’t’ think so. I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing this time to be honest, but I feel like as long as you don’t involve me in a big controversy with my coach, then that’s how I’d like to do it. I don’t want you to ask Pat a question the day before I talk to you then, “Oh, gotcha.” Don’t do that, because then I will go back into my shell. As a coach, I was very open and very transparent and not too many things bothered me as far as my relationship with you guys. As long as I thought it was a fair and reasonable relationship. I really thought I was doing the right thing, and maybe I still was doing the right thing, but that’s how I’m going to do it.”

(On if they tabulate dropped passes and if he’s concerned that they are still happening)- “We do, and I asked that very question on the practice field today, Tony (Grossi). Yes, they keep track of that stuff, and yes, we had way too many last year and it hurt us tremendously. We are catching the ball better this year. Just take Greg Little as an example of one player that, while he had in my opinion a good rookie year considering all the stuff that happened prior to him coming here, but he dropped too many passes and he is better than that. He’s made a marked improvement, he’s not doing it. It’s a concentration thing as much as anything. The receivers that you see catch the ball, again you watch practice, and you see the receivers catch the ball easily. Some guys are easy catchers, it’s very natural. When you are a kid, playing baseball or catching with your friend, some guys can do it and some guys struggle. They slap at it, it’s just how it is. If you see a receiver able to do that and then all of a sudden he drops one, there’s a reason, and analyzing why he did that, there’s usually a very good reason why that happened. He took his eyes off it, he started to run, he didn’t concentrate, there’s a reason, and the good receivers are willing to listen to you as a coach and change that. We still drop one and it still happens. There are a couple young guys out there that struggle a little bit catching it. They’re not easy catchers, it’s a battle. You can almost see the balls in the air and you can almost see wheel going, and you know it’s a big adventure when it gets there. But most of the guys that we have at wide receiver are good receivers. Now we just have to get them the football. We have to get them the football and give them chances.”

(On if he thinks Colt McCoy had a fair shack last year with no offseason)- “I’ve been asked that before. I said it was tough last year. Essentially, we lost our running game early on, and we had some things to deal with there. We dropped too many passes, that’s another thing. It was hard. He got knocked around, he got banged pretty good. But a lot of times, it’s not fair, it’s not always fair, but what he did get, he got a chance to play a whole year. You learned how does he deal with this, and then as a coach or a teacher then you have to take the things that I just mentioned into consideration, that it was hard maybe harder than we thought it was going to be, but, how did we handle it. Did we get better? Did we handle it well? Those types of things are the things that you have to answer, be very honest about how you feel about that. That’s how you move forward I think. I like Colt McCoy. I’ve made no secrets about that. I think he’s a wonderful young man, and a good football player, and if you are asking me to say was it fair last year? He had a tough go and he didn’t get as much help as I thought he was going to get, but heck, that’s football.”

(On how he will measure the improvement for this season)- “I think the things that we did poorly last year, like dropping passes, I want to see a big improvement there. I would like to see a vast improvement in our running game, our productivity of our running game. I don’t want to see as many sacks from the offensive line. I want to see more interceptions, all the measurable that you would use to tell you if your team is doing the right thing. That should equate. If those things are happening it should equate to a better record, which ultimately is what you are judged on.”

(On Dick Jauron having the players work on tackling in training camp and his philosophy on that)- “Dick’s a wonderful coach and has been coaching a long time. He has a real good idea of how to coach defense. I think when you’re teaching tackling, it’s hard, and you’re a little bit nervous about doing too much of it in training camp because of the injury factor. So how do you do it? I think you have to be really smart in what drills you use. You have to talk technique a lot. In this day in age, it’s
my feeling, that the technique, often times if you watch a game there’s not as much wrapping up using the arms as there used to be when I first came into the league. There’s more of a knock you down type of thing instead of tackling. That works fine sometimes, but sometimes you miss and that’s what leads to those numbers. I will say this, for some of the defensive backs to wrap up, it’s a little more painful. It’s a little easier to just go for the legs and tackle that way. You just you have to have guys that are willing to use the technique that you teach. I think the one thing I’ve noticed in a year is that they listen to Dick, they listen to Ray Rhodes, we have Timmy Hauck now coaching the secondary as well. They are great communicators and our defense shows that. Our defense did a nice job last year. Now we’ve got to figure out how to score some points.”

(On if there is still a gap in talent between the Browns and the rest of the division)- “I never have, although I know some people do, you take your division opponent and you stack up and that always was a scary thing to me. I knew I always had a really good quarterback and I could be maybe, ‘lose this one, lose this one, lose this one,’ but I got the big one so that gave me a lot of points. I think all three teams in our division, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are the most obvious, and Cincinnati has improved in my opinion. They have set a pretty good bar in our division. They are pretty good teams and have been very good. What I was encouraged by last year and I think, we were very competitive in all of those games. Now, we fell short, but we were very competitive. Everyone is trying to get better, but our team compared to those as a very young team. We’re in different eras of the building process if you will. I saw it when I came into the league in the NFC North. I saw it when I was a coach for the 49ers in the NFC West and then when I went to Seattle. Things change, in Green Bay Reggie White retires. That changed my whole program. That happens. You get a great player, a couple of great players retire, a player gets traded, so you can’t worry too much about that. What you are trying to do is build your core and stay steady and you keep getting better and then the other guys have to worry about the other guys.”

(On if the team would be open to listening to a trade for Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace)- “With the quarterback situation, right now, I think I said right now, right now we have three quarterbacks that are going. Between now and the time we play our first ballgame against the Eagles, I would ask you, you shouldn’t be surprised by anything, but right now they are all doing fine. We are going to be talking to teams about a lot of different things, not just the quarterback situation. That’s what happens and then as you approach the regular season, when you get to final cut down, there is a lot of action that takes place. I think you are open to listen to every phone call, you talk about stuff. If we think it’s a good thing to make the Cleveland Browns better then we would consider it.”

(On if there are efforts to reach out to Jim Brown and mend that relationship)- “It’s an interesting thing. Jim is one of my childhood heroes, I’ve said that. He was a fabulous player. I think when I came in here, my very first press conference, he was the first guy that I shook hands with. How the Browns view Jim Brown hasn’t changed and will never change. I would love to see Jim Brown walk in right now or come to the Legends thing, be a part of this. The NFL Network, bless their hearts, they felt the need to rehash some stuff and because Jim’s role changed here, I could see where he got a little upset with me, perhaps, but I think Trent Richardson is going to be pretty good. Did he really say that? What did he mean? It’s all that kind of stuff. I would like Jim Brown to come and be a part of this and feel comfortable doing that and I would welcome him with open arms.”

(On what makes him think the receivers will consistently get open this open)- “That’s a good question, but you are working on a tremendous assumption there that last year they weren’t open. Where I would say they were open probably more than you thought and we just didn’t get them the ball, but I think you’re right. I am playing with you a little bit here. I think our offense is based on timing and it has to be taught right, the receivers have to be disciplined, you need right what we’re doing right now, to get it done right. This is important and I think it hurt us as much as any team. There were other teams that struggled because they didn’t have the lockout, we weren’t the only team, but it hurt us because of the nature of what we were asking the team to do. I just think getting open isn’t just a matter of being the fastest guy on the field. I think our receivers have good speed, not a sprinters type speed, but good speed. When you couple that with the teaching they are doing right now. They’re
more familiar with what we are asking them to do. I just think you’ll see a better group this year. I really do. I like the fact that we have that little guy from Miami (Travis Benjamin). The speed helps. It always helps and he has come in and done a nice job and we’re going to try and figure out ways if he’s with us, which we assume he will be, that he can get on the field and kind of help us that way.”

(On if he sees a specific receiver who can make a significant jump from last year)- “I have already said (Mohamed) Massaquoi and I’ve said that all along. Not today, but I have said that before. I think he’s ready to have a breakout year. I think he’s healthy for one. Now he denied this as I would expect him to do, but I think when he got bumped in that situation with (James) Harrison I think it probably took him a little while to get back from that. Again, he and I might argue about that, but that’s my feeling. In talking with him all during this minicamp, having Nolan Cromwell as a part of the coaching staff who is very, very precise and on those guys to do the right thing, that a receiver like Mo who has good size and who catches the ball easy, smart. There is no reason to think that he shouldn’t be fine. There is nothing there to tell you this shouldn’t work. Now we have to pass him the ball. I talked to him the other day and I was at a practice and I charted, we went through the whole practice, he had one ball thrown to him. One and he ran a thousand routes, he was out there and he was running and running and running, but he had one ball thrown to him. So I go to the coaching staff and I said, ‘Hey,’ and they, ‘Well we’re working on these routes.’ I said ‘I don’t care, you have got to figure out a way in your scripting, he’s got to get some touches otherwise no wonder they get ticked off, no wonder they lose interest, no wonder they drift for a little bit.’ They have got to feel a part of it so that’s why. I think he’s going to be fine and then (Joshua) Cribbs, you factor Cribbs in there in specialty situations as an offensive player. Then his special teams stuff and we’re counting on him so much for the special team’s stuff that I think it’s an overload. He can’t do it all.”

(On if he thinks a portion of the Browns fans don’t trust him for reasons such as going on a Seattle radio show)- “I don’t know, I hope not. The Seattle radio controversy was one of the more amazing things I’ve been involved with in my whole life as a football coach or exec or whatever you want to call me right now. That was just a friend of mine that used to work on the radio station. I had no idea it would cause the ripple effect it apparently did. Other than that, if they feel that way, then that’s probably a good reason for me to be out there a little bit more and let them get to know me a little bit, if they feel that way.”

(On the perception of the fans that the offense would always go for a short passing patterns especially on third-and-long)- “You take any pattern, I could put a couple patterns up on the board for you and part of the pattern is an underneath route of some kind, but there are other places to go. Sometimes it looks back because it’s third-and-eight and you throw a four-yard ball. If the defense is doing their job then sometimes you’re hoping on the four-yard pass that the guy can break a tackle or do something. At times I felt the same way, but then I know a little bit more about it so it didn’t bother me quite as much. It seemed like that was happening a fair amount. Some of it, I think, had to do with our protection, we had protection issues. If you hold the ball too long he was going to get hit so you’ve got to deliver the ball quickly. You count on receiver on those shorter routes to break a tackle or make somebody miss, which happened, but it didn’t happen enough. I think there’s a conscious effort going on right now to expand our passing game to different routes and we’ll see. I understood the frustration because I would get a little frustrated at times myself.”

(On his response to people saying he isn’t committed to the organization)- “I’ve heard that. You can get really mad at me for just about anything and I don’t usually react too much. I do read you on occasion, but not all time. You have to have thick skin in this business. When I heard that, I was sensitive to that. It bothered me because if anything I think I care probably too much. I’m committed, I made promises to our owner, and he’s kept his promises to me. Everyone’s well aware of my contract situation and all of that. There was that thing, in fact a couple of you asked me at one point if I was going to CBS or something, and for the life of me I don’t know where that came from. No, I’m committed here. Kathy and I, we love the community. The people here have been great to us. We like it here. Now, the other reality is that again, my birthday is tomorrow, I’ll be 64 by the way, so I have some kicking to do still, but this is my last
job. It’s my hope and what I really want to do is make sure this thing is turned around and going in the right direction. So I can come in here and we can talk about those things before I ever think about retiring. I am sorry that that came up. Maybe a little bit of what I’m going to try to do is in reaction to that, because I felt bad about that. People that know me, and people in the building, I think they know how much I care and how much I’m trying to get this thing to go in the right direction.”

(On if he has second thoughts about putting Pat Shurmur in the head coach position with too many responsibilities)- “Pat had been a coordinator. I think if we had kind of a normal year, by normal I mean without the couple of unusual things that happened. I think you might not even be asking me the question. I think looking back on it, which you do about everything, you look back on your season and you correct. You start with yourself and you correct everything you think you could have done better, then you move forward. I think when Pat looks at it, there was a lot on his plate. There was a lot on his plate. He was in essence, his own coordinator. We wanted to get the right guy. We wanted to hire the right coach. It’s a very, very important position. Every coach I’ve ever met believes he can do everything all the time, whenever. Pat was a very effective coordinator for the Rams, he was, with a young quarterback, so that’s what we did. Now, we hired Brad Childress and that will make Pat’s life a lot better. It will free him up time wise to really dive into things that head coaches dive into. That should work out well. Should we have hired a coordinator a year ago? Maybe, but we didn’t have the ability to hire the guy we wanted. To look back, you make the corrections then you move forward. Pat is a smart guy, and he can handle a lot of stuff, but I think sometimes you ask the impossible of some people.”

(On what else he has learned about Trent Richardson)- “Other than his football ability, which I think we saw and I believe he’s the player that we saw on film. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit and talk to him. I enjoy him as a person a lot. I think his story is one of those great stories, and I don’t think there’s any way you can go through the things he went through as a young man, he’s still a young man but a young young man, and emerge the way he’s emerged without being profoundly affected and have it make up who you are. They talked about us moving up in the draft and was it too expensive? Heck, I think it’s going to be a bargain. When all is said and done, I think we’ll look back and it’ll be one of the great bargains we ever did.”

(On if he feels a special allegiance to Seneca Wallace when going through the decision making process)- “The decision making process, the coaches will make that decision, but Seneca, I know him very well. He played for me, he did some wonderful things for me, and so as a person, I’ve seen him grow up. When it comes time to making a decision for the football team, those types of feelings, you have to put them on the back burner, and you just have to do what you think is right for the Cleveland Browns. He knows that so we’ll make those decisions like we make all the decisions upstairs after a lot of thought and talking to each other about it.”

(On the factors he considers for the backup quarterback)- "The number two quarterback has to be able to prepare himself and get ready to play a game without much practice. Whatever that is that allows a player to do that, whether it's intelligence, whether it's just athletic ability or whatever. He has to get the game plan, be prepared to go in the game without any practice time. Not everyone can do that. Second, I've always felt that it helps to have a quarterback who can maneuver and get a first down running and put some pressure on the defense that way if he hasn't been able to practice as much of the game plan as your starter. Thirdly, I think the backup position, he is usually one of the more popular guys on the team. The guys like him, he has a pretty good sense of humor typically, the guys I’ve had, goof balls, but good players. You have to trust them. It's not a scientific thing, a lot of it is gut feeling and reaction. Physically, he has to be able to do that without much practice time."

(On balancing listening to fans criticisms and doing what is right for the team)- "The sensitivity came from the question of, ‘Am I leaving?’ or ‘Is this short term?’ or ‘I don't care,’ and those kind of things. As far as making decisions for the Browns on players, on coaches, I don't listen to too many people on that. We are going to do what we do, the way we think we need to do it, to be consistently good at some point for a long time. That's my message. Either in the draft, the character issues with players, how you formulate the team, how you do free agency, how you practice, all those things. We have great fans, I've learned that
in a very short period of time. The team has been struggling for a long time, yet they come to the games and they care. They care a lot. In my dealings at the supermarket where a guy would come up and go, ‘You know, why didn't you do this?’ I'll talk to them and I'll say this is why I didn't do that. Or I'll ask them, ‘What do you think I should have done?’ I'll say, ‘I appreciate that you are a fan, where do you sit in the stadium,’ and we talk. I said, ‘Understand and trust me that I'm doing what I think is best for the team.’ I'm not asking you to agree with me necessarily because there are a lot of opinions out there. I believe we know how to do this and even though I speak and I ask for patience and the people say, ‘I've heard that before please don't go there.’ The fact of the matter is we are building it a certain way and that's how we are going to do it. Like I said, I expect to have a good jump this year."

(On who he discussed his decision to me more available with)- "The first one is Kathy. If I didn't say that and she read about it, man (joking). We've been friends a long time, we've been married 41 years, she knows me. I'm not going to give you any names Tony (Grossi), but there are a couple of men in the league that I respect greatly who have been through the mill a little bit. Then, quite honestly, there are a couple of journalists that I respect greatly and knowing that everyone comes at it from a little different angle. Everyone sees it through a different lens. Lastly, I would say I just had a feeling. The question about not caring or leaving, I heard that one at some point and I said well, if I don't fix anything, that one I have to fix. Some of you have talked to me about this and I want it to help. I want it to help. I do not want it to be a burden on our coach or our general manager. If I can help and open things up and make things a little clearer for our fans, that's my goal. That is my only goal."

(On how he knows at this point that Brandon Weeden is going to be successful)- "You don't know for sure. You are not going to go and bet the ranch on it. You base it on experience, you base it on guys you’ve coached, you base it on instincts, you base it on physical ability. The other thing that has to happen is that the supporting cast around the quarterback have to play and protect him. You have to do those things. If you look at the Browns history, the number one draft picks, where you swear, and you look back and it didn't work for whatever reason. You can do that for every team, draft picks that didn't work. You go how did that not work? I just think this young man has a great upside. It's a feeling. It's an experience."

(On if the Brown uniforms will return this season)- "Yes, they are. We have this group in the building that monitors all that. I watch for dropped passes and they monitor fashion trends (joking). We really do listen to our fans and the people about that. There are certain things they don't like and then there are certain things they are okay with and certain things they love. The all-white is a historical thing and people like that, but then they missed the brown jerseys. Our owner has a say in this too. What we are doing is at home, where you can make your choice, we are going to have brown and white. The main factor behind that is weather. That's the main factor. Early on when it's hot and teams do that around the league. Unless you have a philosophy that you are going to wear dark at home and light on the road. That was probably the main consideration so at home games we are probably going to split it."

Courtesy of: WEWS TV

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kardiac Kicker: Don Cockroft Discusses the 1980 Season and Cleveland Fans

 By Brett Crow

Don Cockroft, both a punter and kicker for the Cleveland Browns from 1968 to 1980, was on the Sports Fix this past week to discuss his new book “The 1980 Kardiac Kids, Our Untold Stories: A Season of Destiny, A Moment of Despair, and a Lifetime of Memories.”

Don almost immediately went into how he felt about the Cleveland fanbase, saying “Cleveland is one of the greatest cities in the world and especially the sports fans. When I started my book, I knew exactly who I would dedicate this too, and that would be the Cleveland fans. It’s just great to be part of the sports history of Cleveland.”

Throughout the night, Don was always quick to talk about the love affair between the Browns and the fans:  “Let’s put it this way, the Cleveland Browns fans who are listening, you deserve a winner. I’m hoping and praying that you guys get this winner, you deserve it... The fans connected to us, and we connected to the fans... Unlike anytime else in the history of the Cleveland Browns.”

The placekicker was also quick to lament that today’s athletes didn’t seem to have that kind of connection with the fans, stating that “It’s unfortunate today that our players don’t understand Cleveland fans... We’d go and have lunch, people learned we were there and people just came and we talked. It’ll never be that again.”

Despite having many personal accomplishments, such as being elected to the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, becoming a Cleveland Browns Legend in 2007, and his many accomplishments in leading the team in scoring for twelve of his thirteen seasons, and having the record longest kick in franchise history, Cockroft shied away from talking about his personal accomplishments to highlight the success and meaningfulness of the 1980 Cleveland Browns.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before they talked about the infamous “Red Right 88,” the pass play thrown by Cleveland Browns Quarterback Brian Sipe in the closing moments of the 1980 AFC Divisional Championship game. The pass was intercepted and sealed the fate of the Browns, allowing the Raiders to advance to the AFC Championship game, where they would lose to the San Diego Chargers.

“I should just tell you to read the book,” joked Don, “But no, I probably understood [Coach] Sam’s decision more than most. It was horrendous conditions. Brian Sipe had something like 13 out of 44 passes completed that day. My feeling was, it wasn’t ‘Can we make the field goal,’ it was ‘Can we get the ball in the air?’”

As a member of the Cleveland Browns, Don Cockroft took up the mantle of placekicker after Lou Groza retired from playing. Don is placed 3rd all time in field goals made and in all-time scoring in the entire franchise behind only Lou Groza and Phil Dawson.

With his final words in the interview, Cockroft was also quick to praise the current Cleveland Browns front office: “I’ve got that same hope that people are carrying. You’ve got to have hope... I heard both Holmgren and Shurmer speak in the last month and I was impressed. I’m just hoping and praying that they can get things going, they can start winning and let it become a habit, Lord knows the Brown’s fans deserve it.”

For anyone interested in checking out the Don Cockroft’s new book, you can check out his web page at You can listen to the whole interview by going to the Sports Fix Facebook page or by clicking on the audio players below. And don’t forget you can also listen to the Sports Fix every Saturday Night at 10pm on Newstalk 1420 on an AM radio or by listening online at