So what went wrong ?
I’ve read with a great deal of interest a number of articles of fans and analysts alike, who are now somewhat bemused by the Cleveland Browns’ (0-2) sudden decision to trade Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a selection of future picks . Given the start of the AFC North franchise and the very fact that the growth of the quarterback Brandon Weeden appears to be moving at a snail’s pace . It seems to give credence that the Browns’ front office are now looking to head in a completely new direction with the arrival of Joe Banner as the de-facto general manager and Head of Football Operations . Team owner Jimmy Haslam outside of owning the team, has some serious legal issues of his own still to deal with, that could be indeed far-reaching if an amicable out of court settlement cannot be reached with a dearth of nationwide plaintiffs , seeking to sue Haslam’s company Pilot Flying J for grand larceny , breach of contract and fraud .
The fact of the matter is , with the sale of the Browns to Haslam , it seemed only natural that the new owner would deem to bring in his own people into the into executive and managerial structure of the organization . Outgoing Head of Football Operations Mike Holmgren along with former GM Tom Heckert , departed under a somewhat somber and sour note , along with former head coach Pat Shurmur , whose two-year tenure and record of 9-23 would have gotten any head coach with that type of mediocrity , fired , no matter who the hell, they might have been . Shurmur’s successor Rob Chudzinski is off to an inauspicious start with the team already having posted an 0-2 record , leaving the franchise afoot of the AFC North . And going into this weekend’s fixture with the equally abysmal Minnesota Vikings , this match-up of two win-less teams , might just be one of the worst games on the weekend schedule of the NFL during week three .
In terms of the challenges facing the Cleveland Browns, it is abundantly clear this organization and team are definitely lacking confidence on both sides of the ball. Acquiring a seasoned veteran such as Willis McGahee may well buffer the team’s offensive woes , but I do believe that the offense is at best, mediocre and the defense suffers from a lack of veteran leadership. . In my honest opinion, I believe that the Browns have simply given up on their season and are using everything within their PR arsenal to alleviate the understandable anger of their fans after this trade of Trent Richardson , who was by far the team’s best player . Yet , in this day and age, the fans should not be surprised at all , by anything a professional sports’ franchise tends to do , and then seeks to offer an explanation that simply makes no sense whatsoever . Given the recent draft choices made over the past three seasons by this franchise , there is nothing to suggest that in 2014 they are likely to make the picks that are likely to make the franchise considerably better .
Speaking of teams taking a downward slide, within the state of Florida , two of the NFL franchises residing within the state, remain win-less. The NFC South’s … Tampa Bay Buccaneers and from the AFC South the Jacksonville Jaguars , who are spiraling out of control, faster than a passenger aircraft in a tailspin . If things continue as they are, both of these teams are likely to finish with sub .500 records . Greg Schiano is now at a crossroads concerning his starting quarterback , with Josh Freeman’s play continually being indifferent , but if there is any blame to be apportioned, then it would have to rest squarely on the shoulders of an ill-disciplined defense and the complete lack of maturity being shown by those players. My question for Greg Schiano and the fans , if acquiring Darrelle Revis was meant to bolster the team’s secondary , is he also being asked to take on the role of a leader not only on the defense, but also for the team as a whole ? It was clearly never provided by Freeman , once seen as the future and the face of the franchise . Four years into his NFL career and Josh Freeman continues to be more of a conundrum and an enigma all rolled into one.
Seeking to avoid an 0-3 start , the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face not necessarily a daunting task, but still a tough one, when they take on the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium , in Foxborough , Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon . Tom Brady and the Patriots, have yet to find the form shown throughout much of the 2012 regular season . The Buccaneers might just prove to be, the perfect adversary for Brady and the Patriots’ offense to tee-off on, as Tampa’s secondary remains extremely weak .
. With rumors now swirling as to an apparent trade request made by Josh Freeman , which has not been substantiated , there clearly seems to be a tepid relationship between the coach and his starting quarterback. The options for Schiano , by way of a backup, are his rookie first round draft pick of this year , Mike Glennon or former Detroit Lions’ starting quarterback , Dan Orlovsky . Not as enticing an option as one might think, given the limitations of both players in a non-too familiar role as a starter in the NFL . Orlovsky’s career is best summed by saying field awareness, is not one of his most accomplished traits. In the case of Glennon , a baptism of fire at this stage of his career in the NFL , would be like leading a lamb to the slaughter.
Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick and Greg Schiano are said to be close personal friends, strange when one thinks that the famed head coach is not viewed as someone who has a wide circle of friends within the NFL . Yet, much of that may well lie in the fact that Buccaneers’ GM Mark Dominik consulted with Bill Belichick before making the final decision to hire the former Rutgers’ head football coach. Add in the fact that Belichick’s son, Stephen Belichick , now an assistant on his father’s coaching staff, played his college football at Rutgers under having been a walk on under Schiano , but originally being a member of the school’s lacrosse team , and one can well understand why that bond of friendship has been maintained beyond Bill Belichick endorsing Dominik’s choice of hiring Greg Schiano . Yet, it should also be noted that a number of players having played under the Buccaneers’ head coach are now established stars in the NFL, with one or two now on the Patriots’ roster . That friendship is likely to be put aside on Sunday, when these two head coaches square off , in one the day’s more intriguing adversarial match-ups . A loss for the Buccaneers, would indeed prove to be dire and there would likely be calls for Freeman to be removed from his starting role, based upon his performance on Sunday. At the same time , I cannot help but wonder, what this might also mean to the psyche of a team , where the head coach has himself shown, just as much a lack of discipline, as his defense is also said to lack, as well as their being, a complete lack of leadership on the team altogether.
I will say this for the Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan and his intentions to make the franchise more a family-friendly atmosphere and more welcoming not just to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ fans, but also the opposing fans who may well have traveled to see their team play at Ever-Bank Field in Jacksonville , Florida,. As I much as I admire his mission and gravitas, I do believe he would be better served, if the on-field product would be considerably better , if it is his intent to grow the team’s fan-base within the local area, as well as statewide , nationally and globally. Over the past two seasons , the Jaguars have just been a franchise aimlessly, going nowhere. The team’s quarterback Blaine Gabbert has continually struggled to find his game and it would appear that at this point, head coach Gus Bradley and his coaching staff will use this season to assess whether not the player is simply good enough to lead this team in the long-term. Given the player’s results since being inserted in his present role as a starting quarterback , having been selected as the tenth overall pick in the first round by the Jaguars in the 2011 NFL Draft . The meager returns for the franchise has to now be a cause for concern , beyond the obvious financial implications for the franchise in terms of Gabbert’s contract.
A loss , in week one to the vastly improved Kansas City Chiefs and a subsequent week two defeat, suffered at the hands of the Oakland Raiders , and the manner of those losses, must have sent a loud and clear message to GM David Caldwell, that this team simply does not possess the depth , talent or quality players needed not just to compete in the AFC South , the AFC itself , but also the NFL as a whole . What clearly is so disturbing about the Jaguars, is that the team’s defense is so bad , and that the offense , is as equally abysmal . With those type of displays, the last team that the Jacksonville Jaguars would desire to meet would be the Seattle Seahawks and their high-octane offense and their equally as devastating batting ram of a defense . Anyone who witnessed the Seahawks` dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers cannot deny that this team might now be the most balanced in the entire NFL and undoubtedly to my mind, the best team not just in the NFC , but the entire NFL, and that is with due respect to the rest of the unbeaten teams in the league . The Jaguars will have the pleasure of visiting Q-West Field in Seattle, Washington , where Russell Wilson and his teammates await their opponents like a school of sharks, ready to circle their prey, before devouring the entire carcass. I am sorry, but this could very well be a contest, where the inevitability of the result is already a foregone conclusion, before the game has even kicked off . I wonder what odds, they are now offering on the over and under, as well as the spread ?
Off to a 2-0 start , the . Miami Dolphins and their head coach Joe Philbin are likely to be the sternest test to New England Patriots o making a successful defense of their AFC East title. Philbin and the coaching staff have the team playing with a great deal of resolve through the first two games of their season.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill finally seems to have a team around him that complements his skill-set , alongside what now appears to be a very good all-round offense . Yet the Dolphins’ biggest improvement may well be on the defensive side of the ball and the fact that they are now holding opponents to fifteen points a game by comparison to last season’s 19.8 points per game . Reggie Bush’s off-season departure to the Detroit Lions , may well have come as a surprise to many ,but the running back’s unfulfilled expectations were never really met as a player with the Dolphins.
Dolphins’ GM Jeff Ireland sought to use the 2013 NFL Draft as a blueprint to improve the roster in the necessary areas of need, and using his astute acumen plied the free agency market for a number of players looking for a fresh start as well as looking to be productive . Sunday afternoon, the Dolphins will host the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Sun Life Shark Stadium in Miami , in a meaning infra-conference game , which pits Matt Ryan against Ryan Tannehill , in a match-up of two very pass oriented quarterbacks . A victory today for Miami, over a Mike Smith coached Atlanta Falcons’ team would do a long way in signifying that the Dolphins are heading in the right direction and push the Falcons into a somewhat unlikely position of being 1-2 and amongst the lesser lights within the NFC South and NFC as a whole.
If Major League Baseball (MLB) , is said to have handled the issue of banned substances haphazardly and at times almost with utmost incompetence . Then it has to be said, that the NFL’s failure to initiate in and out of season testing for anabolic steroids and human growth hormones (HGH) is a testament to Roger Goodell’s continued incompetency and the NFLPA’s (Players’ Union) continued excuse making, as to why a policy that was agreed to, voted upon and ratified by the union in their collective bargaining agreement in 2010 , has yet to put into place. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, has his reservations , albeit, that they are nonsensical and without merit . Smith believes that there is no full-proof test available for steroid testing or any other illicit substance mandated by the league. In reality , the union’s top-ranked executive knows that there is widespread use among his members and is simply looking save himself and that of his union, further embarrassment and an already unwanted PR image , as it relates to the NFLPA’s treatment of some of their senior most retired veterans , which has been well-chronicled down the years . In the case of Roger Goodell, he is simply too afraid to further anger the union and create an even wider impasse and situation of distrust between the two parties.
While this issue is now placed on the back-burner , much to the annoyance of the House Commerce Committee , the commissioner’s latest cause-celebre’ would appear to be, having additional regular season games be played outside North America. With an increasing presence in Europe by way of the league’s fan-base and support, as well having offices in London , Paris , Rome and Berlin. It must be said that the European Union’s 325 million population , is likely to the NFL’s next target for expansion, before looking towards the Far East and Pan Pacific Basin. Having reached saturation point in the North American market and with the advertising dollars now even less accessible, because of the growing competition and presence being provided , most notably from the NBA and Major League Baseball. Growth, outside the North American market, now seems to be the obvious choice and the way to go. Add in the very fact, that there seems to never ending dialogue that continues , concerning the establishment of an NFL franchise in Europe , and a case could be made that the commissioner will now seek to make this a reality , if he is unable to get a franchise reestablished in the Los Angeles area , the nation’s second largest ad-market .
With uncertainty said to be surrounding the San Diego Chargers’ future in the San Diego area and the organization’s dialogue with the city of San Diego concerning Qualcomm Stadium . Team owner Dean Spanos could very well come to the decision to uproot the franchise and relocate it to the more lucrative market of Los Angeles. Cases were also being made that the Jacksonville Jaguars with its low fan-base of support and lack of attendance , would be the franchise interested in relocating . That now seems to be out of the question as team owner Shahid Khan has made the commitment to remain in the city of Jacksonville, for the long-term . Khan has actually shown his commitment to that issue, by spending $15 million of his own money in refurbishing the team’s training facilities as well upgrading many of the amenities at Ever Bank Field. Although, I am more inclined to believe that the Jaguars were unwilling to break the lease agreement with the city of Jacksonville , which would bring about a steep financial penalty for the franchise , were they to break that agreement . And as asinine as it may seem, one major journalist insisted that the NFL was considering the move of actually relocating the Jaguars to the the United Kingdom , with the team playing their home games at Wembley Stadium in London , England. Would the NFL actually consider such a move ? Given the input, but more so, the right financial inducement , then just about anything is possible . Let us not forget, who we are dealing with , in terms of the NFL commissioner, as Roger Goodell is lured by the lust of money and his avarice in that context, simply knows no boundaries . If pushed, Shahid Khan could be amenable to such a proposal, with the league making it worth the franchise’s wile, , by way of an additional financial incentive and then adequately reimbursing the city of Jacksonville for the team’s departure from the city.
Picture gallery .
What if anything , has been the biggest surprise for you as an NFL fan through the first two weeks of the NFL regular season ? In your honest opinion do you believe the league to be overly ambitious and are setting their sights too high in possibly seeking to establish an NFL franchise outside North America ? Finally , who do you believe that the league hierarchy and union have yet to initiate regular and off-season testing for anabolic steroids and HGH ? Is it a matter of the NFL not wanting to face a legal challenge in the courts by or a multitude of players , or was it simply the NFL seeking to appease the federal government in the first place ? Chime in with your thought on this and anything you believe to be of relevance concerning this subject matter .
Picture and slideshow gallery details below .
(1) Trent Richardson is seen here on Draft Day , alongside NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell . The running back , having been drafted by the Cleveland Browns as the third overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft . One year removed from that day , the player has been traded by AFC North franchise to the Indianapolis Colts . The explanation offered by Team President and Head of Football Operations Joe Banner does seem to be filled with a great deal of rhetoric and Banner’s statement that the trade was done in the Browns’ best interest , as they seek to get better. It does seem to ring “hollow” in so many ways . As to how the fans may well about this trade , well the sports’ talk radio within the greater Cleveland has been abuzz , with many leveling their criticism at the management and team owner Jimmy Haslam, in particular , whose first year as the team’s owner has been littered with a great deal of controversy and suspicion . Cleveland Plain Dealer / Mitch Hughes ….
(2) Cleveland Browns’ Head of Football Operations Joe Banner , left, is seen here alongside team owner Jimmy Haslam . The two remain defiant by way of the decision to trade Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for future draft picks’ consideration . Fans of the Browns have called into various local radio sports’ talks shows to voice their criticism of the team owner and the front office executive , in particular . Cleveland Plain Dealer / Tucker Reeves ….
(3) Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Brandon Weeden attempt a pass during the game against the Baltimore Ravens during week two , in a match-up of the two AFC North teams, which was played at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore , Maryland on the 15th September , 2013. Weeden has struggled this season and with the loss of running back Trent Richardson , his options do appear to be limited and that is even with the signing of veteran rusher Willis McGahee . AP Photo / Patrick Semansky ……
(4) Saints’ kicker Garrett Hartley is congratulated by teammates after kicked the winning field goal during the waning moments of game that they seemed destined to lose against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was the second such loss for the Buccaneers , having suffered a heartbreaking loss to the New York Jets during week one after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalized the team allowing the Jets to make a last minute field goal to win the game . Penalties , stupidity and a lack of disciplined by Tampa’s defensive players have been a boon for the team this season . Head coach says all of the right things , but noting seems to change concerning the defensive errors made . AP Photo / Phelan Ebenhack …… .
(5) Running back Doug Martin (22) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers takes a hand-off from quarterback Josh Freeman (5) against the New Orleans Saints September 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Getty Images / Al Messerschmidt ……
(6) Blaine Gabbert (11) of the Jacksonville Jaguars is sacked by Dontari Poe (92) of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at EverBank Field on September 8, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. A game time decision will be made as to whether or not Gabbert or Chad Henne will be the starting quarterback on Sunday in the game against the Seattle Seahawks, to be played at Q-West Field in Seattle , Washington . Getty Images / Sam Greenwood ,
(7) Missouri Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert answers questions during a media session at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gabbert was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2011 NFL Draft and his career with the franchise has been nothing short of exacerbating and a major disappointment for fans of the team. Getty Images Joe Robbins ….
(8) Jacksonville Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan , foreground , is seen here along the team’s general manager David Caldwell . Both executives have reiterated it is their intent to have the franchise remain in Jacksonville for its long-term future . Continuously, rumors swirl that the team is likely to be relocated because of a poor fan-base and a lack of attendance for the team’s scheduled home games at Ever Bank Field in Jacksonville , Florida . Home games for the Jaguar’s regular season have been blacked out in the local area market , because of their failure to meet the league’s requirements of having sold 85% of general admission tickets within 48 hours of the commencement of a scheduled regular season game. AP Photo / Marcus Hilton …
(9) From left to right Miami Dolphins’ general manager Jeff Ireland , team owner Stephen M Ross , quarterback , Ryan Tannehill and head coach Joe Philbin . After a somewhat inconsistent rookie season in / 2012 , Tannehill now seems to have found his footing in 2013 , leading to the Dolphins for a 2-0 start and the team sits atop of the AFC East alongside the New England Patriots . Miami Herald / Matt Dominguez …..
If at all interested do take time to participate in the two polls indicated . .