Giants’ Kitchens on calling plays against Browns: ‘That’s kind of ironic’

The Giants’ tight ends coach will be the team’s de facto offensive coordinator on Sunday against the team for whom he was the head coach last year, proving again that in the NFL in 2020 the unusual and unexpected are imbedded in every game plan.

Freddie Kitchens will call the offensive plays when the Giants face the Cleveland Browns in MetLife Stadium in the home team’s first Sunday night game in more than two years. Kitchens, whose full-time job is the Giants’ tight ends coach, assumed the added duties because coordinator Jason Garrett tested positive Wednesday for COVID-19, is in quarantine and is prohibited from have having contact with the team during the game. So, Kitchens will match wits with the team he led to a 6-10 record in 2019 in his only season as a head coach.

“That’s kind of ironic,” Kitchens said on a Zoom call today. “But really, it’s the next game. It truly is just the next game. It could have happened… We’ve kind of prepared for this throughout the year in training camp and things like that. It’s just kind of the next game. It just so happens we had a guy go down this week.”

The Giants have not yet announced whether quarterback Daniel Jones will be another such guy – not because of COVID-19, but with the hamstring and ankle injuries that have limited his practice participation this week. Jones is listed as questionable. If he can’t start, Colt McCoy will, as he did in Seattle two weeks ago.

Their quarterback uncertainty notwithstanding, because remote meetings have become standard procedure this season due to the pandemic, the Giants’ have had a relatively normal work week – off the field. Garrett has participated in the meetings via Zoom. The Giants did cancel practice yesterday out of an abundance of caution but added extra meeting time. And the NFL’s decision to shift the game to prime time has given them additional time to prepare.

“It truly has just been kind of what we normally do,” Kitchens said. “Nothing will truly change until we get to Sunday. Jason is still in the Zoom meetings with us and things like that. Really, at the end of the day, on a weekly basis, our game planning for practice or the games, it’s really a group effort, which it should be. That’s continued. Nothing has really changed, except for Sunday.”

And during the game, the Giants’ attack will be structured and run as it has been all season.

“Nothing is changing with our offense,” Kitchens said. “Our offense is our offense, and we’re just going to try to execute on a consistent basis truly. I couldn’t be any more truthful than that.”

No two coaches will call a game exactly alike and Joe Judge acknowledged there will be situations when Kitchens might call a run or pass when Garrett might do the opposite.

“The offensive staff has done a good job putting together the game plan,” Judge said. “That’s a very cooperative process. They all work together, they share ideas, they ping things off each other. Obviously, I’ve been involved talking with the coordinators the way I may see a game being played or adjustments I want made as well. But once you get into the game, the play caller has to call it how he sees the game. You can’t script an entire game, you can’t go by some template of how the game is supposed to go. You have to have a feel within the game of how you see it, how the quarterbacks are seeing it, what’s working, what adjustments they have made and what we have to do to adjust on our own part. When he (Kitchens) gets into the game, he has to be able to call plays as he sees fit to help this team. We’ll discuss those situations and scenarios before we get to Sunday, like I do every week with all of the coordinators, and make sure that we’re on the same page.”

Although Kitchens downplayed the significance of him calling the plays instead of Garrett, one significant difference exists. Garrett was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, when Kitchens coached seven of the 11 defenders who started for the Browns in their loss to Baltimore Monday night. He is well-versed in each of those players’ strengths and weaknesses.

“There are a lot of guys that were there when I was there, but there is also a significant number that weren’t,” Kitchens said. “Of course, the ones that are there, I know a little bit more about than I would if I wasn’t there. I don’t know that you gain a tremendous advantage with that.”

No matter who calls the plays, the Giants’ offense needs to be more productive than it was last week, when it finished with 100 net passing yards, Jones and McCoy were sacked eight times and each was responsible for one of the team’s three lost fumbles.

“Protecting the ball and protecting the quarterback is of the utmost of importance for us, as in any offense,” Kitchens said. “That’s where it all starts. A lot of times, those two things go hand in hand. Of course, it’s always a priority for us. Cleveland is very good upfront. The better you are upfront, the more difficult that is. We have to do a good job of putting these guys in position to be successful.”




Marrone on Schobert: ‘He’s a true middle linebacker and has played it at a high level’

The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent and fifth-year LB Joe Schobert on a five-year contract, the team announced today.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a five-year, $53.75M deal. He gets an average of $10.75M per year. $12M to sign and $22.5M guaranteed.”

“We really feel great about the things Joe has been able to do and what he adds to our team,” said Head Coach Doug Marrone. “He brings an ability to tackle and diagnose plays. He’s a true middle linebacker and has played it at a high level. He’s really going to help us, not only at the MIKE linebacker position, but he also helps us overall across our whole linebacking corps. This gives us the ability to move Myles Jack to outside linebacker, which I feel is a more natural position for him. Myles and I spoke about the change, and he’s excited.”

Schobert, 6-1, 245, was originally drafted by Cleveland in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. In his four years with the Browns, he played in 61 games, including all 16 games in three seasons, with 49 games started at linebacker and has totaled 394 tackles (228 solo), 20 passes defensed, 8.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, and six INTs. His 378 tackles since 2017 are the fourth-most in the NFL.

In 2019, Schobert, 26, led the Browns with 133 tackles, four INTs, and two forced fumbles. He was the only player in the NFL last season to tally at least 130 tackles and at least four INTs and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after posting five tackles, four passes defensed, and two INTs against Miami in Week 12.

The former Wisconsin Badger standout was selected to his first career Pro Bowl in 2017 after finishing with 142 tackles, tied for the second-most in the NFL, and four passes defensed, 3.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one INT. Schobert was one of only three players in the NFL to play in every defensive snap during the 2017 season.

Schobert definitely helps this Jaguars’ defense. The linebacker position was a strength for Jacksonville, but the unit took a big hit when Telvin Smith retired last season. Hopefully, for Jacksonville, who struggled mightily against the run(ranked 28th) last season, Schobert solidifies the linebacker position in 2020.



Vikings sign P Britton Colquitt

The Minnesota Vikings have signed P Britton Colquitt, the team announced today. Colquitt joins the Vikings after being released by the Cleveland Browns on Saturday. To make room for Colquitt, Minnesota waived P Matt Wile.

In 2018, Colquitt, 34, was voted a team captain by his teammates. He tied a Browns’ franchise record with 32 punts inside the 20-yard line and was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

The 10-year veteran has appeared in 144 career games with the Denver Broncos (96 games) and Browns (48 games) and has 718 career punts with a 39.3 career net average. Colquitt has punted in 10 playoff contests, including Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl 50, helping the Broncos win Super Bowl 50 after punting eight times, landing two inside the 20-yard line and posting a 45.6 net average. The former Tennessee Volunteer also set Broncos (42.1 in 2012) and Browns (40.6 in 2017) franchise records for single-season net punting average.

Britton and his brother, Dustin, who is in his 15th season with the
Kansas City Chiefs became the first pair of brothers to punt in the NFL since 1941. Britton joins S Harrison Smith as Knoxville, Tennessee, natives on the Vikings roster.

Cleveland to host 2021 NFL Draft

The NFL announced today that the 86th NFL Draft will take place in Cleveland in 2021 and will bring fans together for free celebrations at iconic downtown locations around FirstEnergy Stadium, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as on the shore of Lake Erie.

The announcement was made today at the annual Spring League Meeting in Key Biscayne, Fla. following a review of the proposal by the Super Bowl & Major Events Advisory Committee and full ownership.

“Cleveland has a passionate fan base and the city offers distinctive iconic locations and attractions that will bring the NFL Draft experience to fans in unique and exciting ways,” said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. “We look forward to collaborating with the Cleveland Browns, the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to celebrate the achievements of the next generation of players and create a memorable fan experience.”

As part of the event, the free NFL Draft Experience  a massive free football festival – will enable fans of all teams to participate and test their football skills, enjoy interactive exhibits and autograph sessions, and take pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Draft Experience will be open all three days of the event.

“We are incredibly honored to be able to showcase the City of Cleveland and the passion of Browns fans through the unique international platform the NFL Draft provides,” said DEE and JIMMY HASLAM. “This is an exceptional opportunity for Northeast Ohio that even extends beyond football, and we look forward to continuing the work ahead with Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the City of Cleveland, Destination Cleveland and the NFL to ensure that the 2021 NFL Draft is truly memorable for Northeast Ohio and football fans across the world.”

“The City of Cleveland welcomes the 2021 National Football League Draft,” said MAYOR FRANK G. JACKSON. “We are home to the Cleveland Browns and well-known as a city with passionate sports fans. Visitors will find Cleveland has an unmatched ability to provide Midwestern warmth and hospitality coupled with the amenities found in other major cities. We look forward to hosting the Draft and once again showcasing Cleveland’s ability to organize successful, world-class events.”

“Cleveland is honored to be selected as the host city for the 2021 NFL Draft and we are excited to once again show the world that this city can set a standard for hosting some of the world’s largest events,” said DAVID GILBERT, President and CEO of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. “This event will provide international media exposure and has proven to provide more than $100 million in economic impact to the host city. We look forward to showing NFL fans across the nation how Cleveland throws a party. Being awarded the 2021 NFL Draft wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering commitment of the Cleveland Browns, the support of the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, the State of Ohio and so many others who helped make this a reality. As Cleveland continues to shine in the national spotlight with the unique opportunity to host four major sporting events over the next six years, including the Draft, we are proud of this achievement which few destinations are able to accomplish.”

The NFL Draft has become one of the biggest and most-anticipated sporting events of the year. The 2019 Draft reached new heights and record numbers as the highest-rated and most-watched Draft ever, eclipsing previous records set in 2018. The 2019 Draft was broadcast over three days and attracted more than 47.5 million total viewers and over 600,000 in attendance. The NFL Draft achieved a combined 3.9 HH rating and average of 6.1 million viewers across the broadest distribution including NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, as well as NFL and ESPN digital and social properties.

The 2020 NFL Draft will be held in Las Vegas.


Draft Location City
1936 Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia
1937 Hotel Lincoln New York
1938 Hotel Sherman Chicago
1939 Hotel New Yorker New York
1940 Schroeder Hotel Milwaukee
1941 Willard Hotel Washington, D.C.
1942-44 Palmer House Chicago
1945-47 Hotel Commodore New York
1948 Hotel Fort Pitt Pittsburgh
1949-50 Bellevue-Stratford Hotel Philadelphia
1951 Blackstone Hotel Chicago
1952 Hotel Statler New York
1953-54 Bellevue-Stratford Hotel Philadelphia
1955 Warwick Hotel New York
1956 Bellevue-Stratford Hotel (Rounds 1-3) Philadelphia
Ambassador Hotel (Rounds 4-30) Los Angeles
1957 Warwick Hotel (Rounds 1-4) Philadelphia
Bellevue-Stratford Hotel (Rounds 5-30) Philadelphia
1958-61 Warwick Hotel Philadelphia
1962-64 Sheraton Hotel Chicago
1965-66 Summit Hotel New York
1967 Hotel Gotham New York
1968-71 Belmont Plaza Hotel New York
1972 Essex House New York
1973-74 Americana Hotel New York
1975 Hilton Hotel New York
1976-78 Roosevelt Hotel New York
1979 Waldorf New York
1980-83 Sheraton Hotel New York
1984-85 Omni Park Central Hotel New York
1986-94 Marriott Marquis New York
1995-2004 Theatre at Madison Square Garden New York
2005 Jacob Javits Convention Center New York
2006-2014 Radio City Music Hall New York
2015-16 Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University Chicago
2017 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia
2018 AT&T Stadium Dallas
2019 Downtown Nashville Nashville
2020 Las Vegas Boulevard and Surrounding Areas Las Vegas
2021 Downtown Cleveland Cleveland
2022 TBD TBD
2023 Downtown Kansas City Kansas City


Giants’ Jabrill Peppers is excited to be home

Jabrill Peppers is going home. Peppers, who is from East Orange, New Jersey, was acquired by the Giants along with guard Kevin Zeitler, and draft picks from the Browns, in the deal that sent Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to Cleveland.

The 23-year-old Peppers has an opportunity to play in front of his friends and family with the New York Giants, and New York is hoping that he can replace the departed Landon Collins, who recently signed with the Redskins.

On Monday, Peppers took part in a media conference call.

Here is what he had to say:

Q: What was your reaction to the trade?

Peppers: “I was excited. (I) get a chance to play football and do it in front of the home state. It was definitely an exhilarating feeling.”

Q: With losing a player like Landon Collins, what do you think about the expectations that will come with filling that void?

Peppers: “I’m just excited to play football again. Excited to go to the Giants and be one of the best players I can be. I hold myself to a high level and I intend to play at that level.”

Q: Have you had any conversations about how the Giants will be using you in their defense and have you been asking around about James Bettcher and his scheme?

Peppers: “No, no real conversations I’ve had but I’ve been looking at YouTube videos of when he was in Arizona. I’m just anxious to learn the scheme and see how I’m going to be used.”

Q: From where you’re at as a player, how would you give a scouting report on Jabrill Peppers, the player that the Giants are getting?

Peppers: “They’re getting a hard worker. A guy that’s going to do whatever it takes to win. Me personally, I feel as though I haven’t even showed a third of what I can really do. So, I’m anxious just to get there and have a fresh beginning, and immerse myself in the culture and tradition, learn the schemes and be the best player I can be.”

Q: You mentioned coming home, what was it like being the top recruit coming out of high school around this area? What was that time of your life like?

Peppers:: “It wasn’t about being the top recruit, it was just more about the talent level that I was playing against. I was in a very competitive league and it brought the best out of me each and every game. I think that prepared me for the big games at the college level, and even at the NFL level, because some stadiums are smaller than it is at the collegiate level. Just being in that atmosphere, I definitely think that was the biggest factor.”

Q: What’s your family’s reaction been to this homecoming?

Peppers:: “They’re excited, they’re excited. It’s a much easier commute than Cleveland, Ohio. So, that works out.”

Q: Were you surprised when you got the call from the Browns that you’re being traded to the Giants?

Peppers:: “It’s a business, so nothing really can surprise you. It’s just more of a blessing in disguise and I feel as though God doesn’t make mistakes. If this is the path he wants me to walk down on, I’m going to embrace it. It was more of an exciting, exhilarating feeling. Just a new road to go down, and I’m excited to go down it.”

Q: Is there a part of your personality where you can raise your level of play if certain pressure is put on you?

Peppers: “Again, I’m just going there to be the best football player I can be. I hold myself to a high level and I attend to play at that level. That’s about as best as I can give to you.”

Q: Have you talked to Antoine Bethea? Seems like you two are going to be tied together there in the secondary.

Peppers: “I’ve talked to him briefly. He’s a hell of a player and I have fine knowledge of him. He’s a veteran guy who’s made a lot of plays on the ball, made a lot of tackles, he’s played in the system before, so I’m eager to pick his brain and play alongside of him and roam that secondary back there.”

Q: You obviously know Saquon Barkley. I don’t know the depth of your relationship, but have you spoken to Saquon at all? What’s that going to be like being his teammate after both being marquee players in the same conference in college?

Peppers: “It’s going to be a phenomenal thing. Just competing against him in practice every day. After playing against him for most of my career at Michigan, he’s a hell of a player. (I) haven’t really had an extensive conversation with him. All he said was, ‘Let’s get to work,’ and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ That’s kind of where we’re at right now. April 15 is right around the corner. We’re just all finishing up putting the final touches on the offseason training, and eager to come back and get to work.”

Ex-Brown Byner: ‘You wonder what was the process or what made them bring Hue (Jackson) back’

After winning only three games in two and half seasons, the Browns finally decided to part ways with head coach Hue Jackson on Monday. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was named the interim coach. Also, Cleveland fired offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Jackson was hired by the Browns in 2016 and compiled a record of 3-36-1.

The Browns have shown some promise this season, but at times they have been shaky, including yesterday as they were beaten up by the Steelers 33-18 at Heinz Field.

Former Browns RB Earnest Byner is a little confused about the decision to bring Jackson back only to fire him after eight games.

“You wonder what was the process that they went through, especially when they hired (John)Dorsey when they had maybe four or five games left last year,” Byner told TMZ Sports. “You wonder what was the process or what made them bring Hue back, especially after going through so much losing.”

While Byner is fond of Jackson, he believes that the firing was justified.

“You look at the record, a lot of people say he should have been gone after the first year, after the second year, and when you play a game the way they did yesterday, I didn’t like how that team looked, like a lot of people,” Byner said. “I never want to see someone lose a job. You’d have to say this firing has been earned.”

Jackson did deserve to get fired, but If the Browns were not going to give Jackson a full season, why bring him back? With a new quarterback in Baker Mayfield and a new GM in John Dorsey, the Browns should have just started over at the end of last season.

Raiders benefit from no call on fumble(VIDEO)

Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders got their first victory of the 2018 NFL season on Sunday as they beat the Browns 45-42 in OT at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum, but after what happened in the 4th quarter of this game, Browns fans are probably not happy with referee Walt Anderson.

With the Browns leading 35-34, Raiders QB Derek Carr appears to fumble the ball after being sacked by Cleveland’s Myles Garrett. The fumble was scooped up by the Brown’s Larry Ogunjobi, who would have had an excellent chance to score a touchdown, but referee Walt Anderson blew the play dead. He ruled that Carr was down by contact. However, the ball was clearly out before he blew his whistle.

Take a look:

Officials are not perfect, and the rules are confusing, but in the end, they have to do better!

Jim Brown believes Cleveland can win the AFC North

The city of Cleveland is rocking right now after the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft Baker Mayfield helped lead the team to their first victory since 2016 when the Browns beat the Jets last Thursday night.

Many were surprised when the Browns picked Mayfield number one, including Hall of Famer and former Browns great Jim Brown, who has high praise for the former Oklahoma star:

“You have to understand that the administration drafted this young man number one,” Brown told TMZ Sports. “They had a reason for doing that. We are starting to recognize why now, right? He’s a gunslinger, he can throw the ball; he’s got a great attitude, he’s young. I like everything about him.”

Before the draft, Brown wanted Cleveland to draft RB Saquon Barkley, who was selected number two by the Giants after Mayfield, but Brown is happy that the Browns did not listen to him:

“They picked him because they had confidence in their ability to judge probably character and the talent,” Brown said. “And they didn’t go with what everybody said, including myself. They went with what they thought was correct, and I really appreciate being able to say to them, ‘Well, I guess you were right. It’s only been a couple of games, but I know you’re right.’ So, I give them my apology for not understanding how brilliant they were to pick a guy number one, and have it come out this way.”

Brown is so excited about Mayfield that he believes the Browns can make the playoffs this season.

When asked by TMZ Sports if Cleveland can win the AFC North, Brown had this to say:


At this point, it seems the AFC North is fairly wide open, and if Mayfield can continue to play well, the playoffs are a possibility. However, Mayfield is a rookie, and sometimes young players can be inconsistent. Therefore, it’s hard to have complete trust in Mayfield.

We’ll see if Mayfield can keep the magic going against the Raiders on Sunday.


Earnest Byner on Browns: ‘I’m predicting at least 8-8 this year’

It’s a new day in Cleveland. While LeBron James is gone, there is not the same gloom and doom as it was the last time he left.

What’s the difference? It might be because the Browns could be a decent football team this year. The organization looks different at the top with the hiring of GM John Dorsey. Furthermore, they have a QB that took a team to the playoffs last season in Tyrod Taylor. Plus, they brought in a three-time Pro Bowler in WR Jarvis Landry, and after Thursday night’s performance, they could have a franchise QB with the number one overall pick in Baker Mayfield.

According to former Browns RB Earnest Byner, there is a different vibe with the Browns this year.

“The mentality I think has changed,” Byner told TMZ Sports.  “When I met with the guys, not just me. When we had the rookie dinner, and was able to get a feel for Baker(Mayfield), for (Nick) Chubb, for (Denzel)Ward. But also, get a feel for some of the veterans who attended the dinner. It just felt different. I think there is reason for them to feel good about the Browns. To me, I’m seeing at least 8-8. I’m predicting at least 8-8 this year.”

Also, Byner is very high on Mayfield, and loves the rookie signal caller’s attitude:

“Yeah, he’s cocky. That’s okay. Be cocky,” Byner said. “But, also be a winner. And, the winner mentality is always learning, always growing, always developing. And, I think this guy has that.”

8-8 is a great starting point for the new look Browns, and if Mayfield indeed has the goods, the future is super bright for the Browns. Last season, in the AFC, 9-7 was good enough to make the playoffs, so they could sneak into the playoffs if Byner’s prediction is correct.

Even with LeBron in Los Angeles, the sun might still be shining bright in Cleveland.


Jim Brown on Barkley to Browns: ‘I would hope that they pick him number one’

For the Cleveland Browns, the past two seasons have been very forgettable. They went 1-15 in 2016, and 0-16 in 2017. That’s a combined record of 1-31 over the past two seasons.

One reason for the struggle is the Browns have not been able to find a franchise-caliber quarterback; partly because of their own doing. In the 2016 NFL Draft, they passed on Carson Wentz, while in the 2017 NFL Draft they passed on Deshaun Watson.

The Browns need a quarterback, and this draft has a few, but if it were up to Browns legend Jim Brown, Cleveland would draft a different position at one:

“I think Mr.(Saquon) Barkley would be a wonderful addition to the Cleveland Browns,” Brown tells TMZ Sports. “I would hope that they pick him number one, but of course, I don’t have all the information. I like him. I think he would make a great addition to the Cleveland Browns.”

The Browns have picks one and four, so if they don’t take a QB at one, they could take a QB at four.

We’ll see what direction the Brown go in on Thursday!