Redskins

AP Sources: Browns meet 2nd time with Whisenhunt

AP Sources: Browns meet 2nd time with Whisenhunt

CLEVELAND (AP) The Browns are taking a second look at former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, who could rejoin Cleveland following a stint as an assistant 14 years ago.

Two people familiar with the meeting said Whisenhunt had a second interview with the Browns on Thursday.

Whisenhunt, recently fired after six seasons with the Cardinals, visited the Browns away from their headquarters in Berea, Ohio, said one person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search.

The team met with Whisenhunt last week in Arizona, where Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are known to have conducted interviews with at least four other candidates. Whisenhunt went 45-51 in six regular seasons - he was 4-2 in the playoffs - and led the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance.

The Browns are expected to interview Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. The Colts granted permission for the Browns to speak with Arians, who was released from the hospital on Wednesday after being treated for an inner ear infection that forced him to miss last week's playoff loss in Baltimore.

Already during the second week of their search, the Browns have interviewed Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. The team will not comment on any interview or candidates until they have an agreement with the 14th coach in team history.

The Plain Dealer was first to report Whisenhunt's visit.

A second interview would seem to indicate a strong interest in Whisenhunt, a former NFL tight end who worked as a special teams coach with Cleveland in 1999 - the Browns' expansion rebirth. He's the first candidate known to have a second interview with the Browns, who fired Pat Shurmur one day after completing a 5-11 season - their fifth straight with at least 11 losses.

The Cardinals also let Whisenhunt go on Black Monday, Dec. 31, cutting ties with the winningest coach in franchise history and the one who helped resurrected a sad-sack franchise.

Arizona started this season 4-0, but the Cardinals lost 11 of their last 12 and finished with the NFL's lowest-ranked offense.

Included in that season-ending slide, Arizona was shut out 58-0 by Seattle. Afterward, Whisenhunt apologized ``to our fans and everyone associated with our organization. That was embarrassing.''

The Cardinals have only had three winning seasons in 28 years, and two came under Whisenhunt, who had one year left on a $5.5 million contract when he was fired.

Whisenhunt spent six seasons as an assistant in Pittsburgh, the final three as offensive coordinator under Bill Cowher before he was hired by the Cardinals.

He inherited a team given little chance to compete and turned them into a .500 squad in his first season. The next year, with Kurt Warner at quarterback, the Cardinals made an unexpected run to the Super Bowl, where they lost a 27-23 thriller to the Steelers.

Arizona won a franchise-record 10 games the next season and beat Green Bay 51-45 in an overtime playoff classic. But the Cardinals were routed the next week by New Orleans and Warner retired.

Warner's departure began Whisenhunt's slide in the desert. The Cardinals went 5-11 in 2010 and 8-8 in 2011.

As a former minority owner with Pittsburgh, Haslam is very familiar with Whisenhunt, who would come in with an understanding of the AFC North.

Last week in Arizona, the Browns interviewed Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Oregon coach Chip Kelly, Syracuse's Doug Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien.

Kelly was once thought to be the top name on Cleveland's list, but the club backed off because he seemed uncertain about jumping to the NFL. Marrone was hired by Buffalo and O'Brien, the Big Ten's coach of the year, returned for a second year with the Nittany Lions.

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The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the top players in the 2018 NFL Draft pool may push the Redskins into continuing a short-term draft trend that appears to be working out fairly well for them. 

For seven straight years beginning in 2009, the Redskins went along with the conventional wisdom in the draft, taking a player that primarily impacted the passing game or stopping the other team’s passing game, with their top draft picks. 

Their top pick (whether in the first or second round) in every draft from 2008-2014 was at a traditionally high-value position associated with the passing game — wide receiver (Devin Thomas), edge rusher (Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy), left tackle (Trent Williams), quarterback (Robert Griffin III), or outside cornerback (David Amerson). 

This was the Redskins going along with the conventional wisdom. Since 2000, 62 percent of first-round NFL draft picks have been players at those positions even though they account for just 32 percent of a team’s starters. 

The Redskins have shifted away for conducting the draft focused on the passing game at the top in two of the last three drafts. The Redskins selected guard Brandon Scherff (No. 5) in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and interior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (No. 22) in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In between, they went the old way, selecting wide receiver Josh Doctson (No. 22) in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

This trend is likely to continue due in part to the makeup of the top talent in the draft.

If you’re not looking for a quarterback, the top half of the first round is very light in talented players playing the positions that are most important to the passing game — outside cornerback, edge rusher, left tackle, and wide receiver. Cornerback Denzel Ward is a top-10 player as is edge rusher Bradley Chubb. But that’s about it at those positions and there are no wide receivers or left tackles worthy of consideration in the top 15.

That leaves players like interior defensive linemen Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne and inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds as players who have the potential to be the best available players on the board when the Redskins are on the clock. Traditionally, these players play positions that teams are looking for in the latter stages of the first round at the earliest. 

They could go the non-traditional way for the third time in four years with Vea, Payne, Fitzpatrick, or Smith. In fact, unless Ward slips or they pull off a major surprise it’s likely that they will.

Scherff has worked out well and Allen was getting the job done as a rookie before he got injured so perhaps the way the draft plays out will work out well for Washington.

More Redskins Draft News

 

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John Wall said he's not listening to Drake's music during Wizards-Raptors playoff series

John Wall said he's not listening to Drake's music during Wizards-Raptors playoff series

The friendly feud between Wizards guard John Wall and Raptors superfan Drake nearly tilted to Washington over the weekend as the rap star apparently floated the idea of showing up for Game 3 in D.C. 

Drake, in fact, was going to bring with him a prop to show just how confident he was after his team went up up 2-0.

"I told him to be here for Game 3. He told me he was going to be here," Wall said. "He didn't show up. He told me we was getting swept and he said he had the broom for us."

Wall and Drake exchanged trash-talk throughout the first two games held up in Toronto as Drake sat courtside. Their back-and-forth was caught on camera and went viral.

Wall now has the upperhand with the Wizards having won two straight games as the series shifts back to Toronto for Game 5 on Wednesday.

"I wanted him to know that they wasn't going to sweep us," Wall said. "We did what we were supposed to do. We came home and took home court, won two games."

Wall continued to say that him and Drake "are just having fun." He has referred to Drake as a friend in the past and Drake is a fan of the University of Kentucky, where Wall starred during the 2009-10 season.

But that friendship is currently on hold. Wall, in fact, says isn't listening to any of Drake's songs during the series and that includes 'Nice For What,' Drake's latest single. The song is being played everywhere, but Wall is avoiding it. 

"I can't?" Wall said when told he can't get away from 'Nice For What.' "I always have my headphones on."

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