Browns add DeFilippo

Yesterday news emerged that the Browns had added Oakland Raiders QB coach John DeFilippo as their new offensive coordinator to replace Kyle Shanahan who left a month ago and has since become the Falcons OC. DeFilippo got a lot of credit around the league for the way he coached Derek Carr in his bright rookie year. DeFilippo will bring with him a more traditional offense to Kyle Shanahan’s which would suit Brian Hoyer more if he were to return next year rather than Johnny Manziel. DeFilippo is known as a QB guy though and could be a big help to Manziel development if he really is Cleveland’s QB of the future. DeFilippo has worked with Mike Pettine before as the QB coach at the Jets to Mark Sanchez (and Tim Tebow) during Pettine’s time there as DC. Hopefully DeFilippo can improve this offense with plenty of weapons such as Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron but just lack any real direction.
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DeFilippo with Raiders QB Derek Carr

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Bucks hunt Ducks

Last night in the inaugural Playoff Final it was all about one team. A team whose playoffs chances were supposedly gone when their starting QB went down with an injury before the season. A team that was much maligned after losing to Virginia Tech way back in September in JT Barrett’s second start. A team that played in a conference that was supposedly down with traditional powers like Michigan having bad years and that was certain to be the conference that missed out on  the four team playoff. People said when the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin 59-zip in the B1G10 Title game that it showed how bad the B1G10 was as a conference rather than how good Ohio State were as a team despite it being third string QB Cardale Jones first start for the Buckeyes. They made the playoffs as the fourth seed but everyone said it should have been TCU and that with three weeks to prepare for a third string QB Nick Saban would kill ’em. They faced the #1 seed and the best of the SEC in Alabama and sent them home with their tails between their legs. They shutdown the runner up to the Heismann the week after they shut down the nation’s top back. They traveled to Dallas and played the unstoppable offense. Seven point underdogs for the second week in a row with everyone righting them off. How could a QB making his 3rd start beat the Heismann winner making his 40th ? How would the Buckeyes be able to stick Oregon and their breakneck speed for four quarters? Would the Buckeyes be able to hold onto the ball and not turn it over with a QB in his 3rd start against a defense that was in the top 10 in turnovers?

In the end the they silenced all their doubters and became the first ever winners of the College Football Playoffs. As if Urban Meyer need more proof of how good he was as coach he got after lifting it out of the Tattoo-gate scandal and the ensuing 6-6 season in the season before his arrival in Columbus to its first National Championship in 13 years. It wasn’t an easy National title by any means it was done the hard way with after losing to Virginia Tech way back at the start of the season before scraping in as the 4th seed. To give the team credit though it never stopped improving from the first game to the last with the O-line’s improvement nothing short of amazing and players like LB Darron Lee who had 8 tackles in the title game(4 solo) went from being nobodies to superstars over the course of the season.

ezekiel elliot national championship

Ezekiel Elliot get tackled on a big run

In the game itself the Buckeyes were remarkably efficient at stopping Oregon for most of the game. The Ducks did get on the scoreboard first with a Marcus Mariota throwing a 7 yard touchdown to Keanon Lowe but then on it never really looked like Oregon were going to come out and blitz Ohio State the way people predicted with the Buckeyes coming out and scoring 21 unanswered points while holding the Ducks to 5 consecutive scoreless drives including when the Buckeyes managed to stop the Ducks on their own 1 yard line on 4th down. The Ducks did manage to pull it back to within 1 with a 70 yard pass by Mariota to Byron Marshall  when a pass bounced off the hands of Jalin Marshall in to the waiting arms of a Oregon DB before Aidan Schneider made a 23 yard field goal. After that the Buckeyes never looked back with the Ezekiel Elliot scoring on three touchdowns on three out of their next four drives on his way to 246 yards and the Offensive MVP. the defensive line also came up big by getting constant pressure on Marcus Mariota and shut down the inside run for Oregon. With time winding down and up by 22 Urban MAyer got the Gatorade shower with two minutes left to go in the game. I must say I have admired the way Mariota has played a lot and really feel he example to all other college players with the class and dignity he handles things and it was pretty sad to see his Oregon career end the way it did with an INT in a losing effort.

With the Buckeyes, it is far too early to look ahead to next year but one thing to remember is that 15 of the starters return next year including stars like Ezekiel Elliot, Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, Vonn Bell and Michael Marshall

Parting of the ways

The Browns announced yesterday that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan would be leaving the team after only year and that QB coach Dowell Logains won’t be coming back next  year either. Shanahan’s departure means the Browns will be on their fourth offensive coordinator in four years and their ninth in ten years which hardly help with continuity. Shanahan departure doesn’t look good either when trying to recruit a new offensive coordinator or just on the organisation as whole, why was Shanahan so desperate to leave? It be because of supposed lack of faith in his play calling abilities with reports from Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer suggesting that some executives had texted Shanahan suggested play calls during the game. If had take a guess as to who that person was and this only speculation, not fact I’d say it was Dowell Logains because a similar report broke about him texting Johnny Manziel on draft day before the Browns picked him and then urging Jimmy Haslam to pick him. Adam Silver of NFL Network also said that Shanahan didn’t like having a QB change “shoved down his throat” by the front office. With GM Ray Farmer a fan of Johnny Manziel getting rid of Shanahan who didn’t have a great deal of faith in Manziel’s abilities might be a play to get in a coach who wants to work with Manziel. Shanahan himself had an interview with the Bills for their head coaching vacancy and may have left the Browns with the intention of pursuing a head coaching job either in the NFL or in college.

Charlie Weis

Charlie Weis during his time at Notre Dame

On the replacement front there has only been two or three names linked with the job so far and some are a lot more preferable than others. Charlie Weis was the man to be named as a potential replacement with CBS Sports’ Jason La Confora saying that he had heard that there is some interest from the Browns. While in general I would be against hiring because I don’t believe him to be all that good of a coordinator it would even more foolish to hire him when he has stated in the past that he would have difficulty working with Johnny Manziel. I think Weis has lived off the fact that he coached a future Hall of Famer in Tom Brady to 3 Superbowls but in reality those Patriot teams of the early 2000s won those title with their defense not their offense. If you more proof as to why Weis isn’t a great coach just look at his time at Notre Dame and Kansas. At Notre Dame despite being able to recruit nationally with one of the best names in College Football he only managed to reach double digit wins once in his six years and his highest finish was #9. Kansas and Charlie Weis were an unmitigated disaster with a combined record of 6-22 in his two and a bit seasons. The only thing in his favour other than helping Tom Brady develop was his season with Kansas City where he help to lead the 9th best in total offense and 1st in rushing while also helping Matt Cassel to have his best season as a Pro. Weis has never coached a mobile QB like Manziel before though and I dont think he would be the worse coach to hire but I wouldn’t be a massive fan of his if he were to be hired.

Marc Trestman

Former Bears HC Marc Trestman

Another name that has been mentioned as a possible replacement is former Bears HC Marc Trestman who got fired on Black Monday. Trestman who has been the Browns offensive coordinator before way back in the 1988 and 1989 seasons. Trestman is known as a bit of a Quarterback whisperer which can’t be a bad thing with two young quarterbacks in Johnny Manziel and Johnny Manziel. One thing against Trestman is that despite having some great weapons in Chicago in the form of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett never really managed to turn Jay Cutler into the QB he could have been. He did help Cutler to two of the best seasons as a pro but the defense in Chicago was so porous that any step forward was canceled out by the defense. Trestman might be able to get the best out of Josh Gordon as he has helped receivers like Alshon Jeffrey realise their full potential. Trestman did help to get the best out of Matt Forté as well with him having 1846 yards from scrimmage and this would surely be a good thing with Isiah Crowell and Terrance West. The only other real problem I would have with Trestman being hired would be that his offenses tend to be pass happy which isn’t great with the Browns lacking a satisfactory QB.

Matt Cavanaugh

Matt Cavanaugh with Mark Sanchez during his time as the Jets OC

Another name that has come up and strong links with Mike Pettine is Bears QB coach Matt Cavanaugh. Pettine and Cavanaugh have worked together multiple times starting back in 1993 when they were both working at Pitt together (Cavanaugh’s alma mater where he won as a national championship as the starting QB). The pair worked together twice in the NFL first from 2002-2004 with the Ravens and from 2009-2012 with the New York Jets. Cavanaugh was a Superbowl winner with the Ravens in 2000 as their offensive coordinator. Under Cavanaugh Jamal Lewis rushed for 2066 yards in a season which is the third highest of all time. Cavanaugh was one of the main reasons Mike Pettine got his break in the NFL with him recommending him from their time together at Pitt. So it would be fitting for their roles to be reversed and for Pettine to be recommending him for a job. Pettine was paired with Shanahan last year despite the two never working together in the past and in would understandably be a lot easier for Pettine to hand over the control of the offense over to some who he worked with in the past and would have more faith in. Cavanaugh is known as a QB guy around the league while also has had plenty of success calling plays as well. The only concern again would be about how he failed to get Jay Cutler to play to his potential. In their tenure together in New York the Jets reached two AFC title games with Mark Sanchez at the helm and should he be hired he may reunite with Sanchez who is a free agent at the moment.

John DeFilippo

John DeFilippo with Raiders QB Derek Carr

Another named that has been linked to the Browns OC job is Raiders QB coach John DeFilippo. DeFilippo has gotten a lot of credit around the league for the way he has helped Derek Carr emerge in rookie season and worked with Pettine in the past in New York as the Jets QB coach in 2009. DeFilippo is supposed to have given an excellent interview last year to the Browns and is held in high esteem by the front office. If he were to become OC he may want to bring in Mark Sanchez after working with him in the past. There has been some talk about bringing in Mark Cavanaugh as the new OC and DeFilippo come in as the QB coach which would be the best of both worlds.

 

The only other name that has been mentioned is that of Bills OC Nathaniel Hackett who coached with Pettine for one year in Buffalo when both were coordinators. It seems it would difficult to pry away Hackett from Doug Marrone’s side though.

 

To conclude I feel this choice would be Matt Cavanaugh at OC with John DeFilippo as QB coach but I wouldn’t be against any of the other candidates except for Charlie Weis who just doesn’t seem to be as good as Tom Brady made him look.

Looking back at the Semis

This year for the year ever we saw the brand new college football semi-finals play out for the first time with #4 Ohio State beating #1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl while #2 Oregon annihilated #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl. I’m gonna have a look back on these games before putting up another post previewing the inaugural College Football Playoff final.

#2 Oregon 59 #3 Florida State 20 Rose Bowl

For a game with only four points between the teams this one really turned into a blowout in the 3rd quarter after Oregon does what only Oregon can really do which is punish you ruthlessly ever time you give them a short field be it from a turnover or a bad punt, not only do they do that they also do at warp speed and make you put your offense straight away again. Florida State did shoot themselves in the foot by committing the turnovers and if you want to win at this level or any level really you cannot afford to lose the turnover battle and especially against a team like Oregon. It wasn’t just that they committed one turnover, it was that they committed four on successive drives and looked like they had caught a turnover bug or something. It was just so painful to watch as well with Florida State appearing to have quit about two minutes into the fourth quarter with both teams bringing out their backups. To be honest watching this game kind of became painful in the way that watching The UK Office is, you know you’re watching a train wreck but you just can’t tear your eyes away in case you miss something. For the spectacle that the Rose Bowl is with the whole pageantry and everything that goes with it it was disappointin or it to be such a blowout but it did gives us a remarkable of view of what this Oregon team can do another top team when things go their way and showed us the pinnacle of this blur hurry up offense that Chip Kelly created and that Mark Helfrich continued on with Heismann winner Marcus Mariota. Mariota was superb in what was billed as the battle of the Quarterbacks before the game but in the end it really work out like that day. Winston wasn’t terrible with his pick coming off a deflected pass but Mariota was better on the day with 3 total TDs and 1 INT but there was a whole lot else to separate the two. Now that we know it is Winston’s final college game it is a bit disappointing for it to be the first and only time he lost and because of the way he played.

#4 Ohio State 42 #1 Alabama 35 Sugar Bowl

The second semifinal was a whole lot closer than the first game and was a whole lot more fitting for the stage it was set on. The logic coming into the game was that a Nick Saban coached defense simply couldn’t lose to a third string QB when they had three weeks to prepare for them and that the Buckeyes would have no chance of stopping the one man machine that is Amari Cooper. Although these were legitimate concerns coming into the game the turned out to be fairly irrelevant in the game itself. Ohio State got off the mark first with Ezekiel Elliot breaking off a 53 yard run to setup the Buckeyes on the Tide 5 yard line but all they could manage was FG. Then after Ezekiel Elliot fumbled and Landon Collins recovered, Derrick Henry scored a 25 yard TD after Ohio were just overwhelmed up front. Then Cardale Jones unleashed his Howitzer of an arm and hit Devin Spencer for 40 yards on the one yard line only for them to settle for a field goal again to take it to 7-6. ‘Bama drove down the field in typical methodical fashion and scored a 15 yard pass from Blake Sims to Amari Cooper in which Doran Grant was completely sold on a double move by Cooper. When Ohio State punted and then Cardale Jones was intercepted before Alabama ran in another score it really felt like things could get ugly really quickly if Alabama maintained this pace but then just as they looked like they were going to bottle it the Buckeyes turned it on with Ezekiel Elliot running in for a three yard TD and then with the 00:12 left on the clock and knowing that only being a point down going into the locker room could really swing the moment their way Tom Hermann called on the Ballsiest calls I have ever seen by calling a double end around pass with Evan Spencer hitting Michael Thomas perfectly on a Goal line fade. The best part still to come though as the catch and the play Thomas made to keep the ball in-bounds was absolutely ridiculous as he turned his foot and had less than an inch between his foot and the line. That turned out to be a bit of a momentum swinger with Ohio State scoring on their next drive after receiving the kickoff to begin the second half as Cardale Jones exploited Alabama’s secondary again on a 47 yard pass to Devin Spencer who beat his man out wide in Man Coverage. Both teams started to trade punts for a bit before on a 3rd and 7 Luke Fickell guessed that Blake Sims would try and find Amari Cooper on a slant and had DE Steve Miller drop back in coverage right in front of Cooper and picked it off and returned it for a 41 yard score. Alabama managed to recover a bit by forcing the Buckeyes to punt from the back of their endzone and got an insanely fortunate bounce that took about 20 yards off the punt to set them up at Ohio State 23 yard line but it wasn’t to be the momentum changer they seeked. On the very first play after the punt Blake Sims under-threw a ball to Amari Cooper that would have been a certain TD otherwise and instead it resulted Vonn Bell intercepting it. With the imminent attack on their endzone relieved the Buckeyes were able to clear their lines with a deep punt. The game was really put to bed with three and half minutes left in the game when Ezekiel Elliot rushed 85 yards to the Alabama 3 yrad line to setup a 3 yard pass to Michael Thomas. The long run helped Elliot to set a Sugar Bowl record for rushing yards with 230 at 11.5 yards a carry. Although with 3 minutes left the Buckeyes weren’t completely done for the evening with Alabama getting aTd on the ensueing drive to make a one score game. Then after forcing a three and out from the Buckeyes, the Tide had one more chance with one second left on a Hail Mary but Blake Sims was intercepted by Tyvis Powell to seal a historic victory as the Buckeyes stormed the field.