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Thoughts & Jots: From Donovan Peoples-Jones to the Bengals to Colin Kaepernick

Things on my mind

Baltimore Ravens v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

1. I was expecting to see Chase Young be traded but for a single third-round pick? His teammate Montez Sweat was traded to Chicago for a second. Young joins a playoff contender whereas Sweat will go to a team that is competing for the first overall draft pick. Both players would have been free agents this off-season so at least Washington got some value for their efforts. If they had beaten the Eagles this past weekend, none of these trades would have happened.

Young played well until his injury history caught up with him. He joins a defensive line that also signed DE Randy Gregory and has struggled to generate any type of consistent pass rush. Young was teammates with 49ers great Nick Bosa while at Ohio State.

San Fran’s defensive line group now has five former first-round picks in Bosa, Young, Clelin Ferrell, and DTs Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw, and two former second-round picks in Drake Jackson and Gregory.

Cleveland Browns fans are happy all this happened after their matchup came and went.

Indianapolis Colts v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

2. Why, oh why haven’t the Browns brought in an experienced warm body to play the QB position until Deshaun Watson is healthy and ready? This is insane to me. I get it, the available free agents have issues. Matt Ryan’s arm is gone, Cleveland has done the Colt McCoy show before, and Carson Wentz is horrible. But Nick Foles? Joe Flacco? Tell me that there are those who prefer P.J. Walker to either of these dudes and I will show you a guy who owns a support alligator. Well actually, there is a guy who has one of those.

The alligator’s owner is Joie Henney of Jonestown, PA. His gator is named Wally and is listed as a support alligator. Yeah, it’s true. Henney tried to take Wally to a Phillies game on September 25 because of the animal’s support status but was denied entry into the game. Something about a rule that the team can’t allow anything that eats people inside.

I agree that the franchise needs to wait for Deshaun to get completely healthy before playing him again. This team is stuck/attached/joined at the hip with him for the remainder of 2023 and for three more seasons. Love him or dislike him, he is our quarterback. But until he is ready to play, this offense is turnover-prone and is ranked dead last in the league in passing. Although Walker played reasonably well at times against the Seahawks, his QB ratings this year are 45.2 (Niners), 51.3 (Colts), and 59.6 (Hawks). Numbers don’t lie.

Reportedly, Cleveland was in trade negotiations with Washington to get back Jacoby Brissett. Yet, they only offered a sixth-round pick for the QB with Washington having issues with their starter Sam Howell which means they will need Brissett at some point. My question is this: if Browns GM Andrew Berry recognizes that Walker and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson wasn’t getting the job done and are in full need of a stand-in if and when Watson returns, then why isn’t another experienced quarterback not signed right now, today?

3. Did you catch the very fake story about Colin Kaepernick getting fired as coach of that high school football team? In the report, it says that Kaepernick took a coaching job at Joseph Barron High School in Iowa.

Here is what it states:

“As the sixth game of the season came to an end, with six more to play, the principal of Joseph Barron Senior High School in Des Moines had no choice. He had to fire the new head coach- former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick took the job quietly to stay tethered to football, but from the start, things went poorly. ‘The kids couldn’t stand him,’ said Principal Jack Bowman, ‘He just had a way of… pissing people off.’”

This was first reported on the website “Latherland” and was copied and then ran as a news story on numerous valid sports websites. Hence the rub. Latherland is one of those sites that has nothing better to do than to make stuff up, and state on their site that their content “should be considered altered and satirical.” Ah, got it. Made up. Nevertheless, it was a Kap sighting.

(Editor’s Note: Goes to show you how easily things can become “true” despite no truth. That Kap story was aggregated by a ton of sites.)

4. Former Browns QB Josh Dobbs being shipped off once again to Minnesota for a seventh-round pick is a sign that QB Kyler Murray is on the mend and will be back soon for Arizona. Murray probably won’t play against Cleveland this week as backup Clayton Tune is slated to start. So far, Tune has thrown one pass for one completion. There is a slight chance Murray could play or even start, but the timing of Murray’s return to the field will be dictated more by the Cardinals than by whom they’re playing. Dobbs is known for being super intelligent and will need that great brain as he will be asked to cram once again for his third offensive playbook this season. Yikes.

Arizona Cardinals v Minnesota Vikings
Clayton Tune

Following the season-ending injury to starter Kirk Cousins, the Vikings were forced to do something and will likely start rookie Jaren Hall for one week. Browns fans know all too well what starting a rookie signal caller entails and the grief it brings. Dobbs should be ready the following week. Another former Brown, QB Nick Mullens, would have been slated to play but was placed on IR recently because of a back ailment. Dobbs had started the first eight games for the Cardinals while Murray was in rehab from a knee injury. The Cards’ OC is former Browns QB coach Drew Petzing so the match seemed to align at the time Dobbs was traded from Cleveland to the Cardinals. Cousins is a pending free agent which may do well for Dobbs who just could remain their starter going forward if he plays well and shows that he can be a cheaper option going forward.

5. The Browns are dead last in the league in passing, so what does the franchise do at the trade deadline? Trade Donovan Peoples-Jones. But get this: which WR had the most snaps this season? Amari Cooper? Elijah Moore? It was DPJ. The savings are about $1.5 million, but the dude had a very good catch radius with his long arms and frame. Good thing the Browns got good value for him. No wait, a sixth-round pick? Really?

Lions GM Brad Holmes said this about getting the 24-year-old:

“He brings versatility. He’s a big guy, he’s got good contested catch skills, he can play outside, he can play inside,” Holmes said. “He’s a very smart player, he’s been very, very durable. He fits everything that we’re about. So, I think he’ll fit in just fine. He’s another flavor that we’re adding to our mix. So, it’s a lot of things that he can do for us.”

Is it me or with this transaction did the Browns seem to be robbed? That definitely opens up targets for David Bell and possibly Cedric Tillman. Other than Coop, none of Cleveland’s wide receivers have done anything this year. DPJ was definitely underutilized despite playing the most snaps. Oh, wait! Who is the punt return guy now? I suppose it becomes practice squad member Jaelon Darden by default or most likely Moore. The season-ending loss of KR Jakeem Grant remains one of those sad stories nobody is talking about.

6. One thing Berry did for the Browns this season that was a home run was to bring in K Dustin Hopkins. After spending all of training camp trying to fix Cade York, the Browns boss acted swiftly in trading with the Chargers for Hopkins. The dude is just money. The beauty of his presence is that as soon as the offense crosses midfield, his leg is in play if the offense sputters. If you have a mediocre offense, you must have a great kicker and punter - Cleveland has both. Hopkins is tied with three other kickers for second-most field goals made with 18.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

He is tied for first place with PAT attempts percentage at 100% and tied for third with most field goal attempts with 20. His FG percentage is now 90% having missed just two kicks which were both in the 40-49 range. His 50-plus range is a sterling 7 for 7 which leads the league. He has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice which was in consecutive weeks and is the only kicker so far to be selected two times. And zero blocked kicks! Hopkins is definitely having a Pro Bowl year which would be his first.

7. Best NFL clubs at the halfway mark? I believe it is the Baltimore Ravens. Their offense is clicking and defense is lights out on the same level as the Browns. The Number 7 ranked offense is a great running team that only uses its passing attack as needed.

They don’t score many touchdowns in the air and when they do it is usually to TE Mark Andrews which other teams can’t seem to cover very well. Second in the league in rushing with 14 TDs and a 4.4 yards average per carry. And they accomplish all this as a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of scrimmage plays. QB Lamar Jackson is the seventh highest-rated QB with a number of 101.0 with a PFF rating of 88.0. The Dolphins are putting up 36 total touchdowns to the Ravens 23, but Baltimore has the consistency to maintain leads and not blow games at the end. Right now, I would place them in the AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs, that is if the Bengals don’t rebound.

8. The NFL sent a cease-and-desist letter to the University of Houston over the football program’s use of throwback uniforms similar to what the Houston Oilers wore during their “Luv Ya Blue” era, according to the Houston Chronicle. The uniforms worn were almost a carbon copy in the opener against UTSA. The University stated they wanted to honor the tradition of football played in the City of Houston by donning the throwback threads.

UH says that the uniforms are:

“Part of a nostalgic moment, paying homage to a bygone era in the city’s football history while also recognizing the city’s connection to the light blue that was a recognizable fixture for years in the Houston Police Department.”

The issue is, however, that all Oilers logos, uniforms, color combinations, and assorted trademarks are still the property of the Tennessee Titans. In fact, the colors the Oilers used are the same the Titans are wearing now with the exception of adding a darker blue to compliment the red and powder blue. UH did not have the oil derrick logo on the side of their helmet and added the word “Houston” across the jersey chest which was not an Oilers uniform additive. It seems that UH was warned seven months before their opener, but used the unies anyway. UH has stated they will comply with the cease letter, but hey, they got in one game. Remember: Football is business, not family.

9. The division champion Bengals are currently on a three-game winning streak and giving up under 17 points a game. QB Joe Burrow is back from the dead and is playing well. And look at the standings in the AFC North: not a single club with a losing record.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor at The Blind Pig bar

Even if Cincy comes back to challenge for the division crown, their 0-3 conference record is going to be their Achilles heel unless they win out. That is a critical tie-breaker (fourth in line). They took care of both the Seahawks and 49ers in their last two games and now face the Bills. If they win that game, look out. They have a really tough schedule ahead with Buffalo, Pittsburgh twice, Jacksonville, Kansas City, and finish out against the Browns. Cincy seems old school to me. Did you know that after each home or away win, they collect the final football and then give it to a local Cincinnati bar? Head coach Zac Taylor just walks in and surprises everyone soaking up the fun, then hands over the game ball. Awesome tradition.

10. Browns RB Nick Chubb is already doing upper body work and we will see what timeline he will have getting back to this anemic offense. Regarding another injured superstar, there is no timeline on when Jets QB Aaron Rodgers will return. Rodgers went on the “Pat McAfee Show” recently and stated that his goal is to return this year. His team is planning otherwise because of the nature of the injury but isn’t ruling anything out. Rodgers is currently in the rehab process.

GM Joe Douglas stated:

“We’re obviously excited to see him progress through his rehab. Look, we’re taking everything day by day. Certainly, we’ll all be excited when he’s back in the fold just as a person and the leader that he is. But I’m not a doctor, so I can’t go into the specifics of the rehab, but yeah, we’re expecting Aaron to be back [with the team].”

That sparked the question of whether Douglas meant that Rodgers would return this season. Douglas then stated that again he wasn’t a doctor and that he did not have any breaking news about Rodgers’ return which ended that speculation. Rodgers is not even jogging yet and still has a long way to go. Would be just the Browns’ luck for Rodgers to have his homecoming against Cleveland on December 28 on Thursday Night Football. But the dude is special and nothing surprises me when it comes to Aaron Rodgers.