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Browns say "premature" to name Weeden starting QB

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Browns say "premature" to name Weeden starting QB

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Norv Turner will call plays for the Browns' next season. It's not yet certain who will run them.

First-year Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Wednesday that ``it's premature'' to name Brandon Weeden as Cleveland's starting quarterback in 2013.

At a press conference to introduce Turner, San Diego's former coach as his offensive coordinator, Chudzinski would not commit to Weeden, who had an uneven rookie season after he was drafted in the first round last year. Chudzinski is keeping his options open, which doesn't mean he's opposed to Weeden keeping his job.

But Chudzinski wasn't involved in the process to select Weeden and it only makes sense that he will do his own evaluation before making decisions on any players. Cleveland could opt to sign a quarterback in free agency, draft another one - they pick sixth overall - stick with Weeden or promote backup Colt McCoy.

There's time and Chudzinski intends to use it. He's been too busy hiring his assistants to judge what he's inheriting, which is why he won't pencil Weeden in as the starter.

It's too early to be sure of anything.

``That's premature to say any of that,'' he said. ``Until we all get together, we get the staff set, we get a chance to sit down and talk through personnel and everybody's on the same page with those things. You don't know watching tape necessarily how guys are. Sometimes guys will get out there and they get into the system and maybe it's a better fit. Maybe you see some things that you didn't see from tape, whether its game tape or practice tape so you just never know.''

Weeden won't be handed anything by Cleveland's new regime and Chudzinski, who was hired as Cleveland's sixth coach since 1999 on Jan. 11, isn't rushing into such an important decision. The Browns have opened the season with a new starting quarterback in each of the past five years.

Weeden, who was part of a talented rookie class that included Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill, was equally promising and perplexing in 2012.

The 29-year-old passed for 3,385 yards but completed only 57 percent of his throws in Cleveland's West Coast system. He had 14 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and his 72.6 rating was 29th among the league's 32 starters.

Turner will also coach Cleveland's quarterbacks and is looking forward to working with Weeden, who made 15 starts before missing Cleveland's finale at Pittsburgh with a sprained shoulder. Like Chudzinski, Turner would not offer a strong opinion - positive or negative - on Weeden, but said he's got some intangibles to build upon.

``I look at things where I know he has to improve and needs to get better to do the things we want him to do, but I think he has a lot of the skill set that we're looking for,'' Turner said. ``Again, this is early in terms of an evaluation, but he does have a big arm and he can throw the ball up the field.''

Turner wasn't modest in predicting he can get the most out of Weeden's potential.

``There's a lot of guys that I've been with that I think have had their best seasons while I was coaching them,'' he said.

As far as play-calling duties, Chudzinski was happy to hand them over to Turner, who he said has been ``one of the best play callers in the league for a long time.'' They worked together in San Diego - Chudzinski coached the Chargers tight ends under Turner - and already have a trusting relationship.

Chudzinski said having someone with Turner's vast NFL experience is a huge plus, particularly for a rookie head coach.

``One of the things you want to do as a head coach is recognize the people that are around you and the talents that they have,'' Chudzinski said. ``With Norv here, there's no doubt in my mind he'll do a great job as the play caller. I'll still be involved. The way that we've done this is from a game-planning standpoint and on game day when I was with Norv when we we're in San Diego together is that everybody's really involved through the whole process.''

After he was fired by the Chargers, Turner went on vacation in Hawaii with his wife, Nancy. It was a chance to unwind and plan the next phase of a coaching career spanning nearly four decades.

Turner said Chudzinski made a convincing sales pitch to join the Browns, who had one of the league's youngest rosters last season.

``He really got to me,'' Turner said. ``The youth of the team was extremely exciting to me and it looked like a great opportunity. We share a philosophy in terms of offensive football and the way you play football. You want to be a team that the fans love to watch. You have to be able to score points, you have to be able to make explosive plays, big plays, you have to be a team that plays fast, plays hard, plays physical.''

Turner became familiar with many of Cleveland's players when the Chargers were beaten by the Browns 7-6 in October. It's when he got his first look at running back Trent Richardson, who scored the game's only TD on a 26-yard, tackle-breaking run.

``An impressive, young player,'' Turner said. ``I've been fortunate through most of my stops to be with outstanding running backs, great running backs. Guys who have characteristics like a Trent. I've been fortunate to be able to coach five backs that have led the NFL in rushing. That experience will help me in terms of understanding what we need to do.''

3.22.19: Rick Horrow sits down with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly

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USA TODAY Sports

3.22.19: Rick Horrow sits down with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly

TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST, CLICK HERE

By Rick Horrow

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

 

  • * This year, March Madness could cost employers over $13 billion. According to the annual study done by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., every hour spent on games can cost employers $2.1 billion, for a total of $13.3 billion over the length of the tournament that will end with the NCAA National Championship game on April 8. Research done by staffing firm Office Team indicates that workers spent an average of 25.5 minutes of their workday on March Madness-related activities. And a survey by TSheets and QuickBooks showed that at least 48% of people participating in March Madness won their brackets during work hours. However, the basketball tournament can foster a little excitement among coworkers. “Streaming games during work hours, heading to a local restaurant to watch the games, filling out brackets or just discussing the games with co-workers will mean hours of distractions during the three-week tournament,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President.  But Challenger adds that employers should use the tournament games to build morale and not restrict employees. About 97 million people watched March Madness games last year, according to CBS – tens of millions of them during work hours.
  •  The purse for the just-completed The Players Championship increased for the second consecutive year. The purse at TPC Sawgrass expanded from $11 million in 2018 to $12.5 million this year, making the purse the “largest currently on the PGA Tour schedule,” according to Golf Channel. This marks a “dramatic bump considering that last year’s increase for the Tour’s flagship event was $500,000.” The Masters and PGA Championship had $11 million purses in 2018 and the Open Championship was at $10.5 million. Golf Digest noted 2018 Players winner Webb Simpson’s share of the $11 million purse was $1.98 million while 2018 U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka “took home” $2.16 million of the $12 million purse. Based on the same formula of 18% “going to the winner,” this year’s Players champion Rory McIlroy earned $2.25 million. McIlroy, who bested 48 year-old Jim Furyk to win The Players title – Furyk pocketed $1.35 million – is clearly the man to beat heading into The Masters next month. While The Players is a benchmark win for Rory and his brand, The Masters is the sole Slam trophy missing from his extensive trophy case. 
  • * Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed upon a series of rule changes that will kick in over the next two seasons, subject to ratification by all 30 clubs. Changes set to begin this year will include (but are not limited to and subject to broadcast partner buy-in) inning breaks being reduced from 2:05 to 2:00 in local games and from 2:25 to 2:00 in national games. The All-Star Game will now see fan voting conducted in two rounds, a “primary round” that mirrors the All-Star voting of old, followed in late June or early July by an “Election Day” in which the top three vote-getters at each position will be voted on by fans. In addition, total player prize money for the Home Run Derby will be increased to $2.5 million with the inner receiving $1 million, while in typical games, maximum number of mound visits per team will be reduced from six to five per game. Changes for 2020 will include an opening day roster increasing from 25 to 26, while the 40-man active roster for September will be eliminated. The changes are meant to make America’s pastime more fan friendly – and less time consuming. 

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Mike Trout raised the red flag about free agency, and Nationals players took notice

Mike Trout raised the red flag about free agency, and Nationals players took notice

WASHINGTON -- Mike Trout was everywhere, especially for the supposedly tough-to-market star of the game. 

Anaheim made Trout’s 12-year, $426.5 million extension official Sunday. Trout was the center of a large press conference in California, hopped on MLB Network, made the rounds expected of someone who signed the largest deal in American sports history.

Trout made a telling remark at each stop: He noted watching Manny Machado and Bryce Harper slog through last winter as free agents. He then talked to both. The conversations and visual prompted him to label their situations a “red flag” when he thought about free agency.  

That term, from that player, is eye-popping, despite the heft of his current extension and others being struck around the league. It holds force even after Harper set a record with a new contract that was summarily crushed three weeks later by Trout. It also turned heads when read to players in the clubhouse before the Nationals played the New York Yankees on Monday in the final exhibition game of spring training.

“To me, that’s the red flag,” Sean Doolittle told NBC Sports Washington. “We’re not talking about a veteran guy that’s, you know...we’re talking about the face of our game. If he doesn’t want to go through the free agency process the way it’s been going for guys these past few years, like if he doesn’t think the process could benefit him and he could recognize his full value on the open market, that’s really tell you everything you need to know, right?”

Free agency, once referred to by Max Scherzer as the players’ “golden egg,” has pivoted. Players previously groused about the veteran player who was left jobless. Teams moved away from paying players 30-plus for past performance, both learning a more efficient way to run their team and more financially viable one. Younger players -- unproven players in the eyes of many major leaguers -- were receiving jobs based more on market forces and perceived value than actual value. The process rankled those already in a clubhouse.

“It’s not about players,” Ryan Zimmerman told NBC Sports Washington. “It’s about the valuation or the way that they use it to say it’s going to change their organization. I’ve always said you have to have young guys come up and play. I get it. But my whole thing is to not sign legit big-league players, who you know what they’re going to do at the big-league level, because you have the best farm system in the league, two of those kids might be something. The other eight you’re never going to hear about them again once they leave Baseball America. I just think the percentage of people who become real big leaguers is not very high, and they hold it at a very high value.”

That portion of the debate is receding. What free agency has become is at the forefront. The recent cluster of extensions suggested players realized their best path under this collective bargaining agreement was to stay. The plight of Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel -- who remain unemployed just days before the season begins -- shows that premise is correct.

“[I do] recognize the free agent process has changed,” Scherzer said. “Teams used to covet players, marquee players, and be aggressive trying to bid on them -- don’t feel like that’s the case. That’s what I’ll say.”

Doolittle continued to churn through how the idea related to Trout. If he entered free agency, what could be the possible knock on him? 

It’s not on-field skill. It’s not how he interacts with fans. It’s not how he conducts himself off the field. 

“It would have been really fun to see him go through the free agency process,” Doolittle said.

Instead of finding out, Trout decided to take a lifetime deal to stay in Anaheim. The cash haul was enormous. The terms record-setting. The process? Not so good.

“We need to make some adjustments to the system,” Doolittle said. “Because, yeah, it’s good Manny and Bryce got those deals. It’s unfortunate it took so long. I think it’s very concerning and very notable the face of the game, one of the best players in the history of the game, didn’t want to have to go through that because of the way it’s been going.”

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