When the Pro Bowl kicks off tonight, we'll be one week away from seeing this year's Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. Both teams definitely deserve to be there as they were the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences during the 2009-2010 campaign.
In today's edition of Around the Pound, we take a look at Terry Pluto's Sunday column, some notes on former members of the Browns an their coaching careers, and more...
Pluto: Second-Rounders and Vickers' Impact
Pluto had two points to make in his column today. The first one was about the failure the Browns have had in drafting players in the second round. While Mangini's picks from last year are still up-in-the-air and D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Wright were quality picks, the rest of the crop hasn't been too rewarding:
The second round has been a big problem since the team returned in 1999. From 1999 to 2002, the Browns took four receivers in a row: Kevin Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, Quincy Morgan and Andre' Davis. Only Johnson was worthy of being picked that high. ... In 2003, Butch Davis delivered linebacker Chaun Thompson in the second round. Most believed he was a fourth-round or lower talent, and he played like it. In 2004, Davis picked Sean Jones, a so-so safety. In 2005, Phil Savage took a safety that he hoped would be better than Jones, but Brodney Pool has been sidetracked by concussions and inconsistent performances. Savage's biggest mistake in this second-round area was the Williams trade.
In comparison, how has new general manager Tom Heckert fared with his second-round picks?
Here is a list of Heckert's recent second-round picks in Philly: 2009: RB LeSean McCoy (637 yards, 4.1 yards per carry as a rookie). 2008: WR DeSean Jackson (made the Pro Bowl this year). 2007: Kolb. 2006: T Winston Justice (who sat behind three-time Pro Bowl player Shawn Andrews for three years, but started 16 games this year). Beckman's point is, "Why not let Heckert do his job?"
In Pluto's second point, he discusses the impact that FB Lawrence Vickers had on the team's strong running game to close out the season:
Vickers also dueled with coach Eric Mangini early in the season and saw his playing time cut. But he began to buy into Mangini's discipline and paid greater attention to the different blocking assignments. By the end of the season, the Browns believed Vickers was one of the best fullbacks in the NFL.
In the rest of Pluto's column, he talks about how profootballfocus.com ranks the members of the Browns' offensive line on an individual basis. You might be surprised to hear how low Eric Steinbach is ranked.
Another Buddy of Holmgren's Getting Set to Join
The Browns are reportedly close to bringing former Seahawks offensive coordinator Gil Haskell on board as a special adviser to Mike Holmgren. Exactly what would Haskell's job be?
Haskell, 66, is expected to be appointed as an adviser to the Browns president. In that capacity, he may be called on to conduct a thorough evaluation of the Browns' offense and have major input in the direction it takes in the second season of coach Eric Mangini.
Haskell was the Seahawks' coordinator during the successful Shaun Alexander era. If he can provide some input to improve the offensive gameplan next season, mainly with regard to pass plays, then it sounds like another fine addition to the club. I'd like to see the bill for bringing all these guys to Cleveland though. It can't be very cheap to lure so many people with years of NFL experience, on top of Holmgren and Heckert.
Palmer Retiring, Byner to Jaguars
Former Browns head coach Chris Palmer has retired from the NFL. Palmer served as the quarterbacks coach with the New York Giants for the past three years, helping guide QB Eli Manning to a Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. The Browns were 5-27 during his reign.
Former Browns RB Earnest Byner was unexpectedly fired as the running backs coach of the Tennessee Titans. Considering Chris Johnson's successful season last year, Byner himself remains puzzled with the decision:
"If I'm a boss, I want someone to tell me what they're thinking, tell me about the position," Byner said. "We disagreed sometimes; we agreed other times. Nobody bit their tongue, nobody felt like they had to bite their tongue. … All of us had our opinions at different points. If I'm a head coach, that's what I want."
No worries for Byner though, who quickly found himself a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars a day or so later.
- I'll miss seeing QB Kurt Warner in the NFL. One thing quickly comes to mind though: we're going to see a new NFC West Champion next season. I don't see Matt Leinart being able to lead the offense in the same manner; it should be the 49ers' division to take next year.
- On the NFL Network, I've been watching their special on recapping the recent Super Bowls. It's a nice refresher and a way to recap all of the close contests that have taken place over the last decade. The Colts' victory over the Bears was really the last "comfortable" Super Bowl victory.
- SB Nation will be represented at the Super Bowl this season:
"Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride is going on behalf of SBNation.com, Brad Wells of Stampede Blue is actually taking a road trip from New York to Miami to cover the Super Bowl from a Colts perspective (he stopped in DC recently) and Dave Cariello of Canal Street Chronicles is going down to cover the Super Bowl pretty much the day of the big game."
All three writers should have tremendous coverage on their sites and on SB Nation.com. I'll try to link to some of their special pieces in upcoming editions of Around the Pound.
- When I start having dreams about LOST, I know the premiere date is getting close.
- We'll have an open thread for the Pro Bowl game later tonight. I don't expect many people to stop by, but if you feel like chiming in a comment or two, feel free to. Joshua Cribbs and Joe Thomas will be taking part in the game.