Tag:Peyton Hillis
Posted on: October 2, 2011 11:43 am
 

Did Hillis' contract affect his decision to play?

                                                                                                                                                                                        (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

This should go over well, either with Browns running back Peyton Hillis or his teammates, but ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that there are whispers in the Cleveland locker room that Hillis' decision to miss last week's game against the Dolphins might have had more to do with the new contract he's looking for than the strep throat that was the official reason he didn't play.

Hillis currently makes $600,000, and given that he's one of the Browns' few offensive weapons and one of the most dynamic running backs in the league, he's certainly deserving of a raise. But it's not just people in the locker room raising eyebrows, former players were critical of Hillis earlier in the week.

The man whose face dons the cover of Madden 12 spoke to the criticism Thursday. “The people that really care about me, and want the best for me would understand,” Hillis said, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. “And the people that don’t, then they don’t. But I can’t control that. And I’m going to do what’s best for me at that point. If it’s going to jeopardize my health in that situation, I’m going to take my own career and my own life in my own hands and do the best I can.”

Two days before the regular-season opener, team president Mike Holmgren confirmed to the Associated Press that the Browns were "trying like crazy" to sign Hillis.  "We're always trying to keep all of our good young players," Holmgren said through a team spokesman.

And Hillis, at the time, sounded like a player focused on the upcoming season. "When the Browns want to extend me, they'll extend me," he said. "I'm going to do my part and play hard and do what I can do to make myself a better player."

Now, almost a month later, some former players -- and allegedly some teammates -- wonder if Hillis' motives extend beyond his health. Given the way the man plays the game, we find that hard to believe.

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 9:08 am
Edited on: September 27, 2011 9:49 am
 

Hillis back at work and feeling better

HillisPosted by Josh Katzowitz

One of the more surprising inactives from Sunday was Cleveland’s loss of Peyton Hillis because of strep throat. Although he had to miss practice last Friday, Browns coach Pat Shurmur expressed plenty of optimism that Hillis would be feeling fine by Sunday afternoon.

He was wrong, as became clear when a stadium valet fetched Hillis’ car a few hours before kickoff, and the Browns running back took off for home.

Apparently, he felt better Monday, showing up for work and participating in team meetings.

Shurmur told reporters, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that Hillis spent Saturday night at the team hotel and that he hoped a good night’s sleep would cure him of his ills.

"He was in all the meetings,'' Shurmur said. "He was getting better. He got really sick in the middle of the week, then he was getting better, so he was at the team hotel on Saturday night. We were hoping he’d get a good night's sleep and then get better. Then it didn’t happen. We were going through the process of getting him ready to play and he felt like he couldn’t go. I made the comment yesterday, with his illness, I felt like if he couldn’t play, the best thing for him to do was go home and get better.”

Surprisingly, the Browns did just fine without him. Montario Hardesty (14 carries, 67 yards) was solid, and somehow, Cleveland survived the Dolphins for its first win of the season. But yeah, the Browns wouldn’t mind having Hillis back in the lineup anyway, and it looks like that's exactly what they'll get for next Sunday.




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Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:08 am
 

Peyton Hillis out; Hardesty will get start

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Browns running back Peyton Hillis has been battling strep throat since late last week, and scribes in Cleveland today have reported that Hillis didn’t look well and that, at about 10:30 a.m. or so, he  jumped into his car and drove away from the stadium.

Now, it’s official. According to many published reports, Hillis is out for today. Montario Hardesty will start in his place.

Hillis didn’t practice Friday with the illness, but the Browns held out hope he could improve his health in time for today’s game vs. the Dolphins. Said Pat Shurmer on Friday: "He just wasn't feeling well. It just happens this time of year. ... We don't feel like it's going to affect him on Sunday. My thoughts are that he'll be there." 

That obviously has not happened.

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 3:32 pm
 

Film Room: Colts vs. Browns preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Sometime around Thanksgiving, the Indianapolis Colts will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. By that point, their demise will have been dissected more times than the Roman Empire's. The general consensus will be that the absence of Peyton Manning (neck surgery) did them in.

Is it that simple? Actually, yes. We weren’t kidding all those years when we said this is a 12-win team with Manning and a six-win team without him.

However, many believe that the Manning-less Colts stink because they don’t have a guy audibling them into the perfect play call or throwing darts all over the field. This logic is sensible but also incomplete.
 
Instead of spending the next two months hashing out how bad the Colts are without Manning, and instead of putting up with all the armchair GM’s who crow that the rest of the Colts organization deserves some of the blame because “There are 52 other players on the roster!”, let’s be proactive and understand why, exactly, the loss of Manning dooms one of the most successful franchises in all of professional sports.

Then, we can move on and worry about the NFL’s 31 other teams.

1. Offensive Line Masking
The Colts have long had a below average offensive line. That comes as no surprise, really; with only a few exceptions (mainly at left tackle) Bill Polian has always turned to former sixth-and seventh-rounders or undrafted players to play up front.

That’s largely why Indy has been able to eat the heavy cost of having virtually all long-tenured first-rounders at the skill positions over the years (Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark).

Polian knew he could get away with a sub-par front five because his quarterback is brilliant in getting rid of the ball quickly and moving in the pocket. No quarterback over the years has made better use of the three-step drop than Manning, and no quarterback (aside from maybe Tom Brady) has better footwork in adjusting to pass-rushers.

Consequently, Manning has been sacked an average of only once per game in his 13-year career, which is about half the amount of a normal quarterback. When Manning does take a sack, it’s usually a result of execution, not misdiagnosing a defense. Thus, the hits never surprise him, which is why he almost never fumbles.

Last Sunday, Kerry Collins took three sacks and lost two fumbles.


2. The Run Game
Manning’s pre-snap adjustments did two things for the run game: They ensure that the Colts would always run to the favorable side (Manning decides at the line whether the run will be to the left or to the right) and it means the Colts run the ball out of the same personnel packages and formations from which they throw.

This prevents defenses from tracking Indy’s tendencies. It also creates a constant threat of throwing, which instills an inkling of hesitation in linebackers or safeties dropping into the box (hesitation always makes players jittery, which is partly why Manning’s play-action is so effective).

All of this prevents defenses from loading up and taking advantage of Indy’s undersized and ungifted offensive line. This often saves the Colts; when they’ve gotten away from the run-pass threat (such as in short-yardage situations), their futile ground game always has been exposed.

But now, this threat is gone, and there’s no reliable ground game to fall back on. Joseph Addai is at his best running out of passing sets (think draw plays) and Donald Brown is at his best running against college competition.

3. Helping the wideouts
The best kept secret in all of Indiana last year was that Reggie Wayne was slowing down. The numbers didn’t show it, but the film did. Wayne was not the same downfield threat he once was. He didn’t have the same burst in his redirection or tempo changes. Teams with good cornerbacks stopped rotating safety help to his side of the field. This changed the outlook for Indy’s other route combinations and forced the Colts to throw more underneath and inside.

Manning was able to recognize Wayne’s decline and adjust by either spreading the ball around or hitting Wayne earlier in his routes (when awareness and presnap alignment are more prevalent than physical execution). This is why Wayne’s yards per catch dipped to a career-low 12.2. Hitting a receiver earlier in the route isn’t normally an option, but Manning has uncanny chemistry with his wideouts (Wayne in particular).

This kind of chemistry can’t be replicated – no matter how savvy the hoary Kerry Collins might be. It’s chemistry that derives from a quarterback working with his receivers for several years and offseasons, and, more importantly, from working out of the same system all that time. Over the years the Colts have tailored their system more and more to Manning.

Even if Collins were intimately familiar with Indy’s system (which he’s not), it still wouldn’t click perfectly because it’s a system that’s custom designed for someone else. And, as we’ve already discussed, that someone else has pocket movement skills that 99.9 percent of the world’s other quarterbacks don’t have.

Without Manning’s timing and vision, Colts receivers now have to learn a new definition of "getting open."

4. The defense
The Colts have always had an undersized defense built on speed. It centers around the edge-rushing abilities of the defensive ends. Generally, as long as Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are potent, Indy’s other nine defenders just need to soundly execute basic zone concepts.

A zone-based scheme behind a traditional four-man pass-rush is the type of defense you construct when you plan on playing with a lead. More than that, it’s the type you construct when you plan on playing minimal snaps. The Colts have gotten by with having small linebackers because they’ve had an offense that can consistently sustain drives and allow those small linebackers to always be fresh.

It’s easy to say now that the Colts should have been building a stronger defense in recent years. But the salary cap doesn’t allow for that. Polian probably would have re-signed more linebackers and cornerbacks or brought in more defensive free agents…except he had to pay Manning.

5. Relevance to this week
Indianapolis’ laundry list of limitations may not be as problematic in Week 2 as it will be the rest of the season.

Many pundits peeked at the Browns’ soft early-season schedule and determined that Pat Shurmur’s club would get off to a fast start. But one of the 10,000 or so reasons that pro football is better than college football is that with pro football, you can’t simply look at a schedule and accurately predict what a team’s record will be six weeks down the road. There’s too much talent on every team, and too many dimensions to each matchup.

The Browns are amidst a massive rebuilding project – their fifth one since returning to the NFL, by the way – and might not match up well to Indy’s style. Defensively, Cleveland’s new 4-3 scheme lacks the pass-rushing talent to exploit the Colts’ subpar offensive line. The Browns linebackers also had some trouble identifying underneath route combinations against the Bengals last week – something the Colts, with Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme, can surely take advantage of.

Offensively, Pat Shurmur is carefully managing Colt McCoy’s mental workload. Virtually every downfield pass Cleveland attempted in Week 1 came off some sort of play-action or rollout. In play-action and rollouts, the quarterback’s reads are naturally defined, as he only has to scan half the field. It’s a smart tactic, but it will be dicey to execute against the speed of the Colts defensive ends. Look for the Browns to ram the ball with Peyton Hillis. They’ll have to survive with one-dimensionality.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Chris Johnson wants all of Tennessee's reps

JohnsonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Now that Chris Johnson has been paid – and paid quite handsomely, mind you – he realizes he’s going to have to start earning his four-year, $53.5 million ($30 million in guarantees) contract rather quickly. Which is cool by him.

“I’d like to get all the reps, that’s just the type of player I am,’’ Johnson told the Tennessean. “At the end of the day, it is more than just about the big contract and getting all the money. That’s the business side.

“But the type of player I am when I am out there on the field, I want to be the best and when it is time to win I want the team to count on me. I want to put the team on my shoulders and steer us to victory.”

Johnson returned to Nashville on Friday to sign his new deal and meet with his coaches, and on Saturday, he plans to practice with his teammates. And as far as his goals this year? Aside from helping his team to the postseason, he, not surprisingly, is planning to rush for 2,000 yards (you might recall that he said the same thing last year but managed “only” 1,364 yards).

But until then, he can count his money as the richest running back in the game.

“It looks like it is a great deal for both sides,” said Joel Segal, Johnson’s agent. “I think Chris got a great deal, I think the Titans got a great deal.”

And soon enough, Adrian Peterson will get a great deal as well. And maybe -- just maybe -- Peyton Hillis as well.

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:59 am
 

Should the Browns give Hillis a long-term deal?



Posted by Ryan Wilson

Last week, the Browns signed left tackle Joe Thomas to a seven-year, $84 million extension. And in Colt McCoy, they appear to have finally settled on their quarterback of the future. It's all part of the rebuilding process overseen by team president Mike Holmgren and implemented by new coach Pat Shurmur. Cleveland also took Greg Little in the second round of the April draft to bolster the wide receiver position. And in one season, Peyton Hillis, the guy the Browns got in the trade for Brady Quinn, went from an afterthought in Denver to one of the Browns' best players.

Hillis was so good, in fact, that he ended up on the cover of Madden 12. After spending the first two years with the Broncos where he managed 397 yards on 81 carries, Hillis ran for 1,117 yards on 270 carries (4.4 YPC, 11 TDs) and added 477 receiving yards (and 2 TDs) in 2011.

In addition to the Madden love, the Browns are now talking about extending his contract.

Given Hillis' importance to the Browns' offense, and that McCoy could use all the weapons he can get, the extension makes a lot of sense. Yes, page/TEN">Titans shouldn't pay Johnson">we're not big fans of overpaying for running backs because you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one capable of rushing for 1,000 yards, but we can't imagine that Hillis will be asking for Chris Johnson money. (Granted, it's still not clear what constitutes "Chris Johnson money," but it's more than what the NFL's highest-paid back currently makes.)

Still, the Browns blog, Dawgpound Daily, asks an important question: Would signing Hillis to a long-term deal be a good idea?
With just one solid season under his belt … there is no guarantee that he will come close to those numbers again or, worse, stay healthy. Hillis’ running style is not kind to his body, and it was evident in 2010, as he battled injuries for much of the second half of the season.

Most likely, the Browns will give Hillis a fair amount of guaranteed money and let him earn the rest of the contract. Luckily, the team is flush with cash to spend (they have more than $18 million in salary cap room) and can afford to take a chance on Hillis.
If the idea is to surround McCoy with playmakers then keeping Hillis is a no-brainer. But questions about his durability are certainly relevant; it's not like Hillis tiptoes out of bounds whenever he gets the chance and shies away from contact. He's a fullback by nature and seems to enjoy steamrolling defenders. That takes a toll.


The real reason we wanted to write about Hillis is to show this video. Because, really, there's nothing quite so awesome as Peyton Hillis vs. Chuck Norris.

For now, though, he's just happy to be playing football. "When you are playing a game, that’s when you know you are truly blessed," Hillis told Forbes.com recently. "I’m looking forward to another big season with the Browns to show fans how much we appreciate them."

And speaking of the fans, he has nothing but good things to say about those who voted him onto the Madden 12 cover. "This has been a humbling experience and I want to thank all the fans in Cleveland and throughout the country that got behind me and voted each and every week."

Enjoy it, Peyton. Because it's only a matter of time before fans start making fantasy demands and you just snap.

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Posted on: August 31, 2011 10:12 am
 

Browns talking extension with Peyton Hillis?

Posted by Will Brinson

If one thing's become abundantly clear since the Browns fleeced the Broncos for Peyton Hillis (they gave Brady Quinn in return and got some draft picks as well!), it's that Hillis goes with Cleveland like potatoes and perogies.

So it kind of makes sense -- knowing that general manager Tom Heckert wants to lock in "players we like and want to be here" and knowning that they've shored up the left side of the offensive line for the future -- to hear that the Browns and Hillis are talking about a contract extension.

That's according to Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, who reports that the "wheels have begun turning" in order to get Hillis more money than the four-year minimum of $455,000 he'll make in 2011.

Hillis has seen his Q-rating skyrocket over the last year, thanks to his explosive 2010 season when he rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns. That performance led to widespread love from fantasy football players and, eventually, a spot on the Madden 2012 cover.

The latter came about because of a grassroots campaign that was, as Hillis told me during the unveiling, absolutely overwhelming in terms of public support.

And now his success appears to be paying dividends, though the Browns and Hillis certainly aren't making a big, public fuss about getting the running back more money.

Which seems appropriate on all fronts.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 7:24 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 7:27 pm
 

Eric Steinbach might be lost for the season

E. Steinbach might miss the season with a back injury (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Browns running back corps, while still fairly deep, just got a little more shallow, and one of the anchors of their offensive line is hurt and might miss the season.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, guard Eric Steinbach might miss the season because of a back disc injury, while third-down back Brandon Jackson might be lost for a while because of a toe problem

With Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty already looking to split carries at the running back spot, the loss of Jackson, while certainly not a positive, isn’t devastating. But if Steinbach is gone for good, that would be a big deal.

"At this point, he's going through some treatments that we're hoping will get him back, and there's no real final call yet on whether he'll be back  -- or when actually,'' Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. The Plain Dealer writes Steinbach is seeking a second opinion, but if he needs surgery, the team would put him on the injured reserve list. Rookie Jason Pinkston would likely take his place in the starting lineup.

Jackson hurt his toe in the second preseason game vs. the Lions, and he’s been in a cast since then. Shurmur said, though, it could take a while before the team can determine how long Jackson would need to be out. ESPN's Adam Schefter is repoting that Jackson has turf toe and will be out a maximum of six weeks.

Either way, not such great news for a Browns offense that ranked 20th in rushing offense last year.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com