AFC North Blog
Browns WR Josh Gordon has failed another substance test -- this time for alcohol -- and could be banned from the NFL for a full year as a result. A series of similar violations have plagued the 23-year-old receiver since his time at Baylor. Playing just five games in all of 2014, Gordon's future in Cleveland is decidedly undecided.
After four years in Cleveland, Browns TE Jordan Cameron will probably have to move on in 2015. Set to become an unrestricted free agent this spring, Cameron has struggled to stay healthy since being selected in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. Reports from inside the organization suggest that the Browns will not attempt to re-sign the USC product.
Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel struggled, to put it lightly, in his first season as a pro. And according to an ESPN report that cited nearly 20 team sources as well as league personnel, there's a good reason for that: Manziel just wasn't prepared.
Manziel "showed a lack of commitment and preparation, a failure to be ready when given a chance in his first start against Cincinnati and a continued commitment to nightlife, which affected his preparation and work while in the team facility," according to the article.
Manziel is presented as a player who was routinely late for team activities and, when he was named the starter for Week 15, didn't know the plays, didn't call the correct play in the huddle and/or had to be corrected by his teammates before the snap. One anonymous teammate said Manziel was a "100 percent joke" throughout the season.
Manziel strained a hamstring in Week 16, an injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of the season. But when Manziel didn't show up for a rehab session the day before Cleveland's Week 17 game versus Baltimore, team security went to his house.
"Two team sources said security found a player who they felt clearly had partied hard the night before," the article stated. "One source used the words 'drunk off his ass.'" Manziel was fined for missing treatment and watched that season finale from the locker room.
This lack of preparation and prioritizing fell in line with Manziel's actions while at Texas A&M. One university source said Manziel was lax when it came to studying film and practicing unless the Aggies were preparing for a high-profile opponent such as Alabama.
The article states that Manziel is still supported by the "business side" of the Browns' organization "because of the attention he commands in stadiums and merchandise lanes." But owner Jimmy Haslam and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo have wondered openly if the team's 2015 starting QB is actually on the current roster.
After seven years in the league, RB Justin Forsett has played for five different teams. Closing out a revelatory season with the Ravens, the journeyman back told reporters on Friday that the team has expressed an interest in re-signing him. Having played under Gary Kubiak in Houston, Forsett has obvious familiarity with his now-former coach's zone-blocking scheme. Taking over the offensive coordinator position in Baltimore, Marc Trestman has vowed to keep Kubiak's signature scheme in place. Despite Kubiak's departure to Denver, Forsett remains optimistic about staying in Charm City, though he admitted contract negotiations had yet to officially begin.
Speaking to the media this past Wednesday, Steelers team president Art Rooney II expressed his concerns over the team's inability to pressure opposing QBs in 2014. "I think that as a defense, we've got to get more sacks and put more pressure on the quarterback. That's a key piece of the puzzle we have to look at as we build this defense going into next year," said Rooney. Closing out the regular season with the franchise's fewest number of sacks in 26 years, Rooney's concerns have been echoed by head coach Mike Tomlin and newly promoted defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
The Browns are in the process of hiring John DeFilippo to be their newest offensive coordinator, as first reported by FOX Sports' Alex Marvez. DeFilippo, 36, has been coaching in the NFL for most of the past decade. He has served as the quarterbacks coach for the Jets and the Raiders. DeFilippo established a relationship with Browns head coach Mike Pettine while both were with the Jets in 2009.
Cleveland's sixth offensive coordinator in the past six seasons is a native of Youngstown, Ohio and was Oakland's QBs coach from 2012-14.
Marc Trestman flamed out in his second year as the Chicago Bears' head coach, but he is a well-respected offensive mind who gets results, especially from his quarterbacks. He made Josh McCown rich in 2013, and despite all of the drama, Jay Cutler had perhaps his most productive year as a pro in 2014.
Now the Ravens are hoping Trestman can work his magic with Joe Flacco and company. Baltimore hired Trestman to be its offensive coordinator Tuesday. He replaces Gary Kubiak, who took over as the Broncos' head coach Monday.
Under Trestman, the Bears had the league's second-best scoring offense in 2013. The overall numbers plummeted this season, but Cutler still posted career highs in completion percentage and touchdowns.
After declaring his intention to return to the Ravens in 2015, WR Steve Smith has been told by Baltimore's general manager, Ozzie Newsome, to "take three weeks" before committing to next season. Head coach John Harbaugh said he'd like to keep the 35-year-old receiver in Baltimore but seemed to agree with Newsome's advice, saying it "made a lot of sense." Smith just closed out his best statistical year since Cam Newton's rookie campaign in 2011. In his first year with the Ravens, the former Panther caught 79 balls for 1,065 yards and scored six touchdowns.
Ravens tight end Owen Daniels is scheduled to become a free agent in March, but he doesn't believe he will be free for long and would like to stay in Baltimore.
"I think I got a couple more [years] in me, at least," Daniels said. "... I train my butt off during the offseason, so I'll be ready to go and hopefully I'll be back."
There are some concerns that Daniels is slowing down as he turns 33 in November.
In the four years he's been under center in Cincinnati, QB Andy Dalton has yet to win any of his four playoff games. Despite this fact, the Bengals' organization appears to be sticking with the TCU product. Via the team's official website, editor Geoff Hobson admitted he didn't expect the Bengals to draft a QB this spring or bring in any competition for their current signal-caller. Hobson went on to say, "I'm not going to throw away a quarterback that has won 40 games in four years."