Cleveland Browns: Tashaun Gipson

Defensive backs

Then: Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, T.J. Ward, Tashaun Gipson, Leon McFadden, Jordan Poyer, Julian Posey, Johnson Bademosi, Josh Aubrey (injured)

Now: Haden, Justin Gilbert, Skrine, Pierre Desir, McFadden, Poyer, Isaiah Trufant, Donte Whitner, Gipson, Bademosi, Aubrey.

The Browns signed Haden to a contract extension, drafted two corners and signed another in free agency. Oh, they also added a veteran safety, which should pretty much indicate what the new coaching staff thought of the old group. Haden is the bedrock of the defense, and if Gilbert can come in and play press-man coverage, Pettine will have his ideal pair. His defense is based on pressure that requires man coverage from corners. Gilbert has a ways to grow in camp, though. In the offseason results were mixed on him. At safety, Whitner takes over for Ward, bringing leadership and attitude. He's hard not to notice. Gipson is one of the more underrated players on the team. He and Whitner should complement each other well.

The positives: Whitner is a leader and a hitter, Haden should be a perennial Pro Bowler and Gipson is very talented. Add a fourth player and this group should be productive.

The negatives: The Browns seem to want Skrine to be a nickel back and cover the slot receiver, but that can't happen until Gilbert shows he can handle the starting job. The eighth pick in the draft is a key player on the team.

Previously: Quarterback, running back/fullback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker.

Coming: Coaching staff, front office.

Browns position outlook: Safety

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
2014 free agents: T.J. Ward will be an unrestricted free agent.

The good: Ward and Tashaun Gipson played pretty well. Ward went to the Pro Bowl, and at one point of the season former defensive coordinator Ray Horton said Gipson was the team’s defensive MVP. The two are young enough to be a formidable pair for several years.

The bad: Ward might not be around any longer. He is a free agent who has spent his entire career in Cleveland losing a lot more than he’s won. In Ward’s four seasons in Cleveland, the team has gone 18-46. Despite that, Ward says he likes playing for the Browns and he’d like to stay. His agent, though, has yet to field offers for him on the market. Barring a surprise franchise tag, Ward will likely test the market -- and find another team.

The money: What to pay Ward and whether to apply the franchise tag to him are two of the Browns' biggest offseason questions. The team may feel that Josh Aubrey can step in the way Gipson did this season, and the negative about Ward is that the Browns won 18 games in the four years he started. One might assume they can win that many games with just about anyone. If CEO Joe Banner’s history in Philadelphia is any indicator, the Browns will not pay a safety top dollar. Just ask ex-Eagles star Brian Dawkins.

Draft priority: If Ward leaves, the Browns will have created another need on a team that already has many needs. Addressing it somewhere in the draft will be important.

Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Browns

December, 22, 2013
A few thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 24-13 loss to the New York Jets:

What it means: That the Browns have a lot of problems, and all the folks saying how close they are and how the 2014 NFL draft can make the difference might want to realize the depth of their problems. They start at quarterback and go throughout the offense and defense, which has given up long fourth-quarter touchdown drives in the past four games. Sunday’s 80-yard Jets drive lasted more than six minutes and gave New York a 24-13 lead -- after the Browns had cut the deficit to 17-13.

Stock watch: How can a team’s stock not be plummeting when it loses six games in a row heading to the finale in Pittsburgh? One year after new ownership and leadership promised a new approach and smarter decisions, the Browns must win in Pittsburgh to match last season’s five-win total.

Dropped chances: The Browns can lament a lot of mistakes from this game. Wasted timeouts. Twelve men on the field for the defense. Two interceptions of Jason Campbell. A penalty that wiped out a touchdown. But they may most lament dropping two passes in the end zone in the first half, wiping out touchdowns. For good measure, they even had a penalty wipe out a touchdown run in the fourth quarter. This was a bad, bad, bad game.

Poor finishes: The Browns gave up 10 points in the final 1:18 of the first half. That makes eight of the past nine games in which they gave up a scoring drive in the final two minutes of the half -- for 53 points. The defense is failing to get off the field in quarters other than the fourth.

Not smart: Safety Tashaun Gipson helped give the Jets their last-play field goal at the end of the half by pushing Jets quarterback Geno Smith when he was a few steps out of bounds. It appeared that Smith took a dive after the shove, but there was no reason whatsoever for Gipson to even touch Smith. He was out of bounds, the play was over, and the league has made it clear the quarterback is sacred.

What’s next: The season comes to a merciful end in Pittsburgh, where the Browns face the Steelers.
It’s come to this with the Cleveland Browns as they stagger to the finish line of another dreary season: Kellen Winslow made news in Cleveland with something he said.

As if that’s never happened before.

“Winslow, he plays for the Jets, don’t he?” said Willis McGahee, a former teammate of Winslow’s at the University of Miami.

He does, and he told that he doesn’t believe anyone in the league can cover him. Then he added: “Who’s going to guard me over there? Nobody.”

“It’s funny,” cornerback Joe Haden said with a smile. “What would you expect him to say? Is he gonna say, ‘Yeah those dudes are gonna cover me.’ I don’t know him that well, but hearing about his personality, that sounds like the kind of thing he’s going to say.”

Cleveland folks are used to Winslow, who is apt to say almost anything about his abilities.

“He’s thought that for years,” said coach Rob Chudzinski, who coached Winslow in Cleveland and Miami. “That’s the confidence that you want football players to have.”

The two guys who will see the most of Winslow also treated it with a grain of (Cargill) salt.

“I saw it,” safety T.J. Ward said. “It’s irrelevant. Your play speaks.”

Calvin Johnson said that, it’s different,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. “No, in all respect .... we’re already going in there [wanting to] showcase our dominance. He can say what he wants to say. He’s still got to go out there and perform. What he does Sunday, I guess, will tell it all.”

Gipson said some players joked about the remarks during practice, but it was never a focal point of discussion. Ward made reference to Winslow’s status as an aging veteran.

“He’s a decent tight end,” Ward said. “He was good in his heyday. He’s a little past his prime, but he’s still a good tight end.”

Ward called it an interesting league with a lot of characters, but both Ward and Gipson said they feel the same way that Winslow does, except in reverse. They both feel they can cover anybody.

“Absolutely, and I respect that he feels that way,” Gipson said. “You have to feel that way.”

“You should have that confidence that your’e unstoppable,” Ward said. “Just like I have that confidence that I can stop anybody. If you didn’t have that confidence, you wouldn’t be a player in this league. You wouldn’t be here. I don’t think there was any shots fired. It was just how he felt. You have to respect it, but at the same time you got to go out there and play football.”
CLEVELAND -- Three factors played important roles in the Cleveland Browns 38-31 loss to Chicago on Sunday. And the first came with the flip of the coin before kickoff.

The Browns won the toss, but instead of taking the ball they chose to defer. That gave the Bears the ball first, and the Browns the choice to start the second half. It’s not an uncommon decision these days.

And once the Browns kicked off to start the game, there was no way they were going to give the ball to the Bears to start the second half. Rob Chudzinski chose to receive.

Bears coach Marc Trestman wisely chose to take the wind in the fourth quarter. And that wind was strong -- blowing from east to west right across the field.

Any pass that was thrown into the wind died, like a key third-and-10 throw to Josh Gordon with the Browns down seven in the fourth quarter. Any thrown with the wind sailed, like a couple of Jay Cutler’s early throws.

One Browns defender said the Bears never threw long going into the wind, but did take chances throwing with it.

Trestman wanted his quarterback, Jay Cutler, and his receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery working with the wind in the final quarter.

File that little thought.

With 3:59 left in the third quarter came factor two: The Browns lost cornerback Joe Haden to a hip pointer when he was kneed inadvertently by Bears lineman Jermon Bushrod.

That sent Haden to the locker room, and put rookie Leon McFadden in the game. McFadden was targeted a week ago in crunch time by Tom Brady in New England, and Cutler went after him too, throwing a deep ball to Jeffery from his own five.

McFadden ran into Jeffrey as he tried to come back and was called for pass interference, a call the Browns disputed.

“Not a PI at all,“ safety Tashaun Gipson said. “I watched the whole time. I’m running over there and he snapped his head around at the appropriate time. If I was a ref I wouldn’t have called it. I think he had good coverage. Of course I’m going to say that, but I truly believe it.”

On the next play, with the wind, Cutler again threw deep to Marshall, who had used a double-move to elude Buster Skrine. Skrine did the wise thing and grabbed Marshall, giving up a five-yard holding penalty to save six points.

Six plays later, Cutler threw deep again to Jeffery, this time covered by Julian Posey, who if everyone were healthy would be the fifth corner.

Cutler was hit in the head as he threw -- it would have been roughing the passer regardless -- but still got the ball off. He thought it was a duck, and it was. But the duck flew farther than anyone thought possible.

Gipson, playing deep middle, settled under the ball at about the three, but the ball suddenly sailed past him where Jeffery made an athletic catch.

Gipson tried to leap and knock it down, but the ball went past him.

“The ball seemed to literally sail over my head,” he said.

Thanks to the wind. Though Gipson did say he took "full responsibility" for missing the ball.

Who knows how things work out, but had the Browns taken the ball to start the game they could have forced the Bears to throw into the wind in the fourth quarter.

The Browns didn’t.

The Bears had the wind.

Haden was injured.

Chicago had the big receivers -- the third factor.

And the Bears were able to take advantage on some key plays en route to a victory.
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns' defense talks a good game.

The Browns can recite numbers with the best of them to show where they are ranked league-wide, and what they need to do to be ranked high if they’re not.

But there is also is this fact: For the third week in a row, the Browns had a fourth-quarter lead and the defense squandered it.

Sunday the Chicago Bears scored 21 points in the final 15 minutes en route to a 38-31 win.

[+] EnlargeAlshon Jeffery
AP Photo/Mark DuncanThe Cleveland Browns had trouble stopping Alshon Jeffery and the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter.
Which would project to 84 points a game, which is pretty good.

Early, the Browns were buoyed by two defensive touchdowns -- an interception and a fumble return -- that had the defense off to a great start. But late, the defense did not come through when it mattered most. It collapsed, buried under the weight of its mistakes and the Bears' athletic plays.

That makes three games in a row the defense did not stop the other team when it mattered most.

Jacksonville (!) drove 80 yards in the final minute for a game-winning touchdown.

New England had officiating help on its last drive, but the 82-yarder that made that last drive meaningful was against the Browns' defense.

And Chicago saw Jay Cutler salivate at the loss of cornerback Joe Haden to a hip pointer, then lead the Bears to three scores in the final 10:59.

The first was an athletic catch by Alshon Jeffery behind Tashaun Gipson, with the help of the wind. That play was set up by an interference call on Leon McFadden and a holding call on Buster Skrine, the two corners playing with Haden out. (Julian Posey wound up covering Jeffery on the touchdown.)

On Chicago’s next two possessions, the Bears ran the ball down the vaunted Browns' throats.

Twenty-two of 36 yards came on the ground on the next TD drive, then 74 of 78 on the drive that sealed it.

The Browns played a team that had to go on the road after playing Monday night, a team that had a quarterback starting his first game in a month. The defense gave up 179 yards rushing, 127 to Matt Forte, and 265 and three touchdowns passing.

The fourth quarter was the worst.

While the Browns have been giving up 12, 16 and 21 points in the fourth quarter the past three games, they’ve scored 21 -- seven against the Bears on a late TD when the Browns were already down 14. In fourth quarters all season, the Browns have been outscored 128-66, or just less than 2 to 1.

The last four games the opposition finished with 27, 32, 27 and 38 points, an average of 31 per game. Yes but, some might say. As in, but the offense turned it over, or the defense was tired, or the moon was in the seventh house. Last time anyone checked, the defense was on the field when many of the points were scored.

In 11 of 14 games this season, the other team scored 23 points or more -- 23.5 was the league average heading into the game. In five of them it was 31 or more. Opponents are averaging 26 points per game on a defense that touts itself as quite a bit more special than it is.

Sure, the Bears scored on an interception return, which means they scored 31 on offense. Hoo hoo.

A top defense does not give up this kind of scoring.

A top defense does not finish games this way.

A top defense makes a stand when a stand is needed.

Until that happens, perhaps it’s time to put away the numbers and metrics. Just go out and win a stinking game.

Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Browns

December, 15, 2013

CLEVELAND -- A few thoughts on the Cleveland Browns38-31 loss to the Chicago Bears:

What it means: The Browns' defense needs work. Players and coaches can point to numbers and stats and justify whatever they want, but against Chicago, the Browns gave up 21 fourth-quarter points. They started the fourth quarter with a lead, then gave up three touchdowns. On one, Alshon Jeffery made a circus catch; on another, a good punt return gave the Bears a short field. A good defense makes big stops when needed. The Browns' defense is not doing that.

Stock watch: Maybe Josh Gordon was simply due an off week. After four otherworldly games in a row, Gordon was average against Chicago. He missed a couple of passes that he had been catching. Jason Campbell missed him at times. And at others he was open, and Campbell didn’t look his way. Gordon’s stock should not drop, but the Browns clearly needed more from him than a late touchdown when the game was already decided.

Walk the walk: Browns free safety Tashaun Gipson had effusive praise for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler during the week leading up to the game, but he also said Cutler would give the Browns' defense a chance to make plays. Gipson proved he wasn’t kidding, with two first-half interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. The big blemish: Gipson misjudged a long pass and allowed Jeffery to make a circus catch in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

Safety awareness day: At one point it appeared the Browns' safeties were headed to a big game against the Bears and Cutler. Too bad games last four quarters. Gipson had the interception for a touchdown, and T.J. Ward returned a second-half fumble for a score. The two helped to produce 17 of the Browns' first 24 points, with Gipson’s first pick leading to a field goal. But in the second half, Gipson let Jeffery make the TD catch behind him, and Ward was nowhere to be found on the second-longest touchdown run of Michael Bush's career.

Haden injured: Browns cornerback Joe Haden left the game in the third quarter with a hip injury. It appeared Haden either hit the ground awkwardly trying to make a tackle on a Bears run, or he was kneed in the hip by Jermon Bushrod as Bushrod was blocking. Haden's leaving, combined with an earlier injury this season to Chris Owens, put rookie Leon McFadden on the field at corner with Buster Skrine.

What's next: The Browns travel to face the New York Jets on Sunday in the penultimate game of the season.

Browns: Jay Cutler a different monster

December, 12, 2013
Josh McCown threw for 348 yards and five touchdowns in Chicago's win Monday night over Dallas, but the Browns won't face him this Sunday.

Bears coach Marc Trestman announced Thursday that Jay Cutler will start for the Bears.

Cutler was the starter until he missed four games to a high ankle sprain. McCown took over and played surprisingly well (13 TDs, one interception this season). But the Bears and McCown maintained Cutler was always the team's starter and when he was healthy he'd start.

What do the Browns say about Cutler?

"Any time you're dealing with who I perceive [to be] one of the more elite quarterbacks in this game, Cutler, he's arguably a top-10 quarterback in this game," Gipson said. "I think that amplifies the situation. No disrespect to Josh McCown, but Jay Cutler is a different monster."

Gipson also knows Cutler's reputation as a gunslinger who isn't afraid to use his strong arm to make a throw.

"Cutler's definitely going to put some balls up for us to make chances," free safety Tashaun Gipson said. "So I'm definitely excited that Cutler's playing"

Cutler has thrown eight interceptions this season, which means three percent of his passes have been picked. McCown's interception accounts for 0.5 percent of his throws. In his career, McCown has thrown 3.4 percent of his passes for picks, the exact same figure as Cutler.

Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton faced Cutler and the Bears last season in Arizona, where Horton ran the same system. Horton addressed the challenge with Cutler.

"Playing him the last couple years, to me it's his feet," Horton said. "You know how strong his arm is and he's a smart quarterback and all that. When you watch his feet and the ability to throw off the wrong foot, to get the ball out quickly, I've been impressed.

"He's smart, strong-armed. Everybody knows that. To me it's his ability to move in the pocket and get the ball off, sometimes on the wrong foot."

Last season, Cutler was 12-for-26 for 152 yards in a 28-13 Bears win over the Cardinals.

Browns have to wonder: Now what?

December, 1, 2013
The quarterback who would have started missed the loss because of a concussion.

The quarterback who did start was diagnosed after the loss with a concussion.

The wide receiver who became the first player in NFL history with more than 200 yards receiving in consecutive games lost both games.

[+] EnlargeRob Chudzinski
Jason Miller/Getty ImagesRob Chudzinski's Browns are left looking for answers after their sixth loss in seven games.
And the cornerback who has been the team’s standout and stalwart was a bundle of emotions after the game.

Even coach Rob Chudzinski broke from his usual flat-lining self to show some emotion.

This is what happens when a team loses at home to a team ranked 32nd in the league in a large handful of offensive categories.

This is the Cleveland Browns, who have to wonder where they go next.

And the first place to wonder is at quarterback, where Brandon Weeden threw for 370 yards and then missed postgame interviews after being diagnosed with a concussion. Weeden was briefly at his locker after the game, but reported concussion symptoms to the trainers.

Jason Campbell already is sidelined after a hit to the head (which wasn't flagged), and his prognosis is unknown. If Weeden is out, the Browns could well go to New England and face Tom Brady with Alex Tanney at quarterback. And if Weeden and Campbell can’t play, they’ll have to face the Patriots with two quarterbacks who have been on the team less than two weeks (assuming they sign another).

Good luck.

But just as big a concern is the Browns' emotional state after such a staggering defeat. The Browns got nearly 400 yards from their quarterback, a 261-yard game from receiver Josh Gordon and four times held the lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Yet, they lost.

To a quarterback who before the game had four touchdown passes, but threw two in beating Cleveland.

Emotions were raw. Safety Tashaun Gipson called the loss a 10 on a 1-to-10 scale, and safety T.J. Ward said folks could blame anyone they wanted for this one. Indeed, there were so many gaffes.

Weeden accounted for three turnovers in the final 2:47 of the first half. Center Alex Mack had the first bad snap anyone could remember, giving the Jaguars a safety. The defense made Chad Henne look like Tom Brady. And Joe Haden, who has been so good and so responsible, got beat for the game-winning touchdown. The defense allowed 137 yards in the fourth quarter, and the offense’s turnovers and a safety led to 15 Jacksonville points.

It’s nearly incomprehensible to think that three weeks ago people actually considered the Browns a playoff contender. Now they resemble an old jalopy lurching down a rutted dirt road.

Three of their final four games are on the road.

Three of the four opponents have their playoff hopes alive.

The Browns built their playoff “hopes” on one win in the past seven games.

It borders on the incredulous.

After this loss, the Browns are an emotional wreck, and they're heading the wrong way in that beat-up old jalopy.

Browns' loss among worst since 1999

December, 1, 2013
There are losses.

There are bad losses.

There are really bad losses.

And there are fiascos.

The Cleveland Browns hit the jackpot against the Jacksonville Jaguars, losing 32-28 and reporting postgame that their quarterback had a concussion.

Meanwhile, the fans at home and in the stands might have hurt their palms smacking themselves in the forehead.

The Browns lost to a 2-9 team.

At home.

After their receiver gave them as exciting and uplifting a play as they have had in years. And after their self-styled standout defense gave up an 80-yard game-winning drive.

To Chad Henne.

This loss to the Jaguars was as bad as any since 1999.

And it had players either silent or extremely emotional in the locker room.

Joe Haden was near tears as he talked with expletives about being tired of losing and frustrated at the way things have gone. Three weeks ago, the Browns were 4-5 and people were talking about finally playing a big game in November. They now are 4-8 and headed toward a top-five draft pick.


“You’re going to come with the same questions every week and we’re going to give you the same answers,” Haden said, his voice cracking as he spoke to the media. “We’re gonna get better next week. We’re gonna get better next week.

“Until we do it, then there’s nothing else to talk about.”

He was right.

The Browns made enough gaffes to fill a follies film -- except for Cleveland fans the product on the field has been constant football follies since 1999. To win six times for the first time since 2007, the Browns would need to split their final four games -- which is more than highly unlikely.

Where to start is the question. Brandon Weeden had some pretty numbers (370 yards passing, three touchdowns) but a brutal finish to the first half. In the final 2:47, he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, turnovers that gave the Jaguars 13 points.

The probability of three turnovers in that time frame might make NASA scratch its collective head.

In the second half, the Browns had a 21-20 lead and had held the Jaguars to no first downs and five yards in the third quarter.

On first down from their 14, the Browns called for a run out of the shotgun, but center Alex Mack sailed the ball over Weeden’s head. Weeden didn’t take a chance and kicked the ball out of the end zone for a safety. Jacksonville followed with a field goal to take a four-point lead.

But the Browns had every reason to believe after Josh Gordon turned a short pass into a 95-yard touchdown. With 3:55 left, the Browns had the lead.

“I thought that we were actually going to have a momentum swing right there,” Gordon said. “We did for a second.”

Which is the problem. Good teams don’t hold onto huge momentum swings for a second. They seize them by the throat. They finish the job.

And the same defense that let the Jaguars have five yards in the third quarter gave up 137 in the fourth -- including a game-winning 80-yard touchdown drive.

To Jacksonville.

Which entered the game ranked last in the league in (among other things) total offense, yards per play, rushing yards, first downs, red zone efficiency and points scored per game.

“There’s no way they should have been down there, but they got down there,” safety Tashaun Gipson said.

The Browns have some impressive defensive numbers, but they have been lacking all season in red-zone and third-down defense. Both caught up to them on the final drive, with the Jaguars converting two third downs, including the touchdown.

The group in the locker room was frayed and rattled. Emotions were raw. Coach Rob Chudzinski talked about losses such as this being “unacceptable.”

But the only thing that’s really been unacceptable is the product the Browns have given their fans year after year after year.

How much longer fans put up with it remains the unanswerable question.

Upon Further Review: Browns Week 7

October, 21, 2013
An examination of four hot issues from the Cleveland Browns' 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers:

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
AP Photo/Mike RoemerThe Packers sacked Brandon Weeden three times and he completed just 40.5 percent of his passes.
Offensive offense: The Browns had some poor offensive numbers in the loss to Green Bay, a natural byproduct of scoring 13 points and not winning. Brandon Weeden threw for 149 yards on 42 passes. The Browns as a team ran for 83 yards, 20 of them came on two Weeden scrambles. Their only touchdown drive went 20 yards. Josh Gordon was targeted six times and caught just two passes for 21 yards. And the 216 total yards were the fewest by the Browns since the 2012 season opener -- also Weeden's first start. Weeden remains at the center of all concerns, but clearly the offense had many issues at Lambeau Field.

Third-down struggles: The Browns started the game 29th in the league in defensive third down stops, meaning they'd been letting teams sustain a lot of drives. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said the third down defense was a focus of last week's practice. What did Green Bay do? Without two of their better receivers? Convert 7-of-13. "Third downs are crucial in this league," safety Tashaun Gipson said. "And right now we're not very good at it."

Running on empty: The Browns put up decent numbers running the ball, but it's worth asking if the team as it's constructed can actually run the ball, and run it consistently and successfully. Willis McGahee is aging with bad knees. Chris Ogbonnaya is a fullback. And the fans can now say they were there for the start of the Fozzy Whitaker era. The Browns gained 83 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry, but called 20 runs compared to 40 passes. Some of that was because they fell behind. But most teams down 14-0, as the Browns were, would not totally abandon the run. The Browns might not believe they can run efficiently.

Eye of the storm: For the second time this season Gipson finds himself at the center of a hit that caused an injury. Gipson sidelined Buffalo quarterback EJ Manuel for a month with a hit to the knee, then drew the ire of the Bills for looking like he celebrated the injury. Against Green Bay, Gipson hit tight end Jermichael Finley in the head with his shoulder at fullspeed, and Finley could not move on the field after the hit. "When I'm breaking out of the post and I'm running fullspeed I'm not thinking about settling down," Gipson said. "At the same time I'm thinking about getting the ball on the ground. Not under these circumstances, unfortunately." Gipson said he felt awful about Finley's injury, and would try to get in touch with him.

Locker Room Buzz: Cleveland Browns

October, 20, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Observed in the locker room after the Cleveland Browns' 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Angry faces: The angriest people in the locker room seemed to be the Browns' receivers. Interpreting their anger probably isn't wise, but their answers were ... curt. Said Josh Gordon of the offense: "We just didn't get it going as well as we should have." Said Greg Little: "Have to get better. That's it." There was a bit of an edge to their voices.

Evening grimace: This came from Brandon Weeden when he was asked how frustrated he is that he can't get the offense going. It either meant, "Geez, I'm doing my best" or "of course I'm frustrated."

Stay the course: Coach Rob Chudzinski said he gave no thought to pulling Weeden during the game, even though Weeden finished just 17-for-42. As for the future, Chudzinski said: "We'll always put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win."

Against the wind: Chudzinski said he eschewed a field goal on fourth-and-15 from the Green Bay 31 because the wind in that direction was strong and unpredictable. Kicker Billy Cundiff said Mason Crosby told him he hit a 52-yard try in that direction well, but it came up three yards short. Cundiff said the wind would have had to die to make the 48-yard kick worth trying. "(Coaches) get paid big bucks for a reason," Cundiff said.

Concerned for Finley: Safety Tashaun Gipson said a prayer for injured Packers tight end Jermichael Finley after Gipson's violent hit left Finley laying on the turf for several minutes. "I shot a prayer up for him and if I can reach out after the game I'm going to try to get in contact with him and let him know my condolences go out to him," Gipson said, adding the hit was all shoulder and it went so fast he still doesn't know what happened.
The last word on the “classless” Cleveland Browns comes from Tashaun Gipson, the Browns safety whose hit knocked Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel out of the game Thursday night.

Gipson admitted his demonstrative gesture over Manuel -- who was grabbing his knee after being hurt -- was not because Manuel had been injured. He simply was celebrating the play.

“I was not celebrating the injury,” Gipson said. “At the end of the day, we all in here are brothers in some way.”

He added later he “did not know the significance” of Manuel’s injury when he gestured.

Manuel will miss a month after Gipson hit him on the knee while making a tackle at the end of a run. Nobody complained about the hit, just the gesture after. Earlier in the game, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Gipson said he heard that Bills center Eric Wood called the Browns “classless,” and that Wood said he had been told T.J. Ward told a Buffalo teammate the Browns were going to get Manuel after Hoyer was injured. Ward denied making the statement.

Gipson called it “he says, she says.”

“I highly doubt that any of our guys would say anything like that,” Gipson said. “I know me personally, suffering an injury myself last year, I definitely wouldn’t be over celebrating that I hurt somebody. That wasn’t my intention when I made the tackle.”

He added “football is an intense game (and) maybe a little too much adrenaline came over me” when he gestured.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Sunday Gipson would not be fined, a decision Gipson appreciates.

"It was a clean hit,” he said.
Two quarterbacks went down in Thursday night's game in Cleveland, one lost for the season and the other for a month to six weeks.

This is life in the NFL, where a quarterback who does not go out of bounds immediately risks his livelihood.

[+] EnlargeEJ Manuel, Tashaun Gipson
AP Photo/David RichardTashaun Gipson's hit on EJ Manuel didn't look dirty, but his antics afterward weren't necessary considering the Bills QB was injured on the play.
But the Bills had a bigger complaint regarding how the Browns conducted themselves after the injury to their quarterback, EJ Manuel. They may have a point.

Neither the Browns nor the Bills thought the hits by Buffalo's Kiko Alonso on Brian Hoyer or Cleveland's Tashaun Gipson on Manuel were dirty.

"I don't think there was any intention there," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. "Brian was sliding and as he was sliding there was contact. That was just an unfortunate thing. I think he just got caught up."

The hit was high, to Hoyer's shoulder, so it will be interesting to see what the league decides after it reviews the tape. Viewed at full speed, it did not seem dirty.

Nor did Gipson's, which took place on the sideline as Manuel was running and about to head out of bounds. Gipson did his job and tackled Manuel, but he went low. The days of running through a player to get him out of bounds or simply pushing him out are apparently over.

The contact with Manuel's knee was traumatic and led to a sprained ligament.

"It's the game of football," Gipson said. "Things like that happen."

What didn't need to happen was for Gipson to stand and gesture with his arm toward Manuel as he lay on the ground clutching his knee. Gipson admitted that gesture "didn't suit it well," and he's right. It didn't.

It wasn't too long ago when the Browns and their fans were irate when Hines Ward stood and stared at Earl Little after knocking him out on one of Ward's patented blocks. Gipson seemed to celebrate the injury.

The Bills were in his face afterward, and the next day center Eric Wood called the way the Browns acted after the hit "classless." One Bills player accused Browns safety T.J. Ward of saying to Alonso that he "told him to warn [Manuel] that we were going to get him."

Ward denied saying anything of the kind, calling the claim "completely inaccurate."

Pressed on whether he said anything at all, Ward said: "No, I didn't."

The Bills' reactions on the field might indicate otherwise. They were in the faces of the Browns defenders for several plays after the injury -- and especially after the extra point following the touchdown set up by Manuel's run.

Gipson intimated that there might have been a one-for-one discussion.

"Our quarterback took a shot, their quarterback took a shot," he said. "Not to say that we were trying to one for one, but it's the game of football."

Who's right on the claims is up for debate. The statements by Gipson, Wood and Ward are emphatic.

Gipson's tackle was fine, but his gesture after wasn't.

Simple respect would indicate there's no reason to celebrate another's misfortune.
Let's take a look at some headlines on the Cleveland Browns beat:
  • Coach Rob Chudzinski didn't seem worried about not having a kicker yet, even though he won't have many days to get his timing with long snapper Christian Yount and punter Spencer Lanning, the holder. "In places I've been before, we've had different kickers throughout the course of the season," Chudzinski said, via The Akron Beacon Journal. "It's probably the one position where a guy can come in. It's unique in that way. There's not a lot of interaction with teammates and getting to learn systems. It's pretty much an individualized skill. I'm not concerned about it. Between the pool that's there and the guys that have been here, we'll find the guy that we need."
  • As The Plain Dealer points out, Trent Richardson is the last running back standing. His top three backups at the start of the preseason -- Montario Hardesty, Dion Lewis and Brandon Jackson -- are all gone.
  • The Akron Beacon Journal believes running back Bobby Rainey is the headliner of the six players signed by the Browns on Sunday.
  • Only once since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 has the same quarterback started all 16 games (Tim Couch, in 2001). That's why The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto likes the Browns' current depth at quarterback.
  • Safety Tashaun Gipson has the mind set of an undrafted free agent even though he is a starter now, according to the team's website.