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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Previewing of First Quarter of 2014 Schedule

Previewing of First Quarter of 2014 Schedule

A Very-Early Look at the 2014 Schedule: Games 1-4

It’s never too soon to examine the upcoming campaign for the Cleveland Browns.  In this four-part series, we delve a little deeper into the sixteen guaranteed matchups this upcoming fall and winter.  While it might be a bit premature to make predictions at this point, it’s never a bad idea to get your hopes up (there’s not really another option at this point for Browns fans).

Sunday, September 7th – @ Pittsburgh

It is not the easiest of season openers for this youthful team.  However, an upset victory at Heinz Field – could be a springboard for a potentially promising 2014 season.  I’m sick and tired of the Browns looking putrid and sluggish (and terrible) in their openers.  Hopefully coach Pettine understands this and the Browns hit the ground
running in game one.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 3

Sunday, September 14th – vs. New Orleans

Somehow the Browns won the matchup with the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints the last time these two squared off (in 2010).  The Saints are much better at home and are hit-and-miss when it comes to starting off the regular season.  So, while it appears that the Browns will have little shot to win it here, a W would not be surprising.  However, it will all come down to how well the defense plays.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 5

Sunday, September 21st – vs. Baltimore

Expect another tough, physical matchup between the Browns and Ravens; despite the fact that the visitors appear to be more reliant on their passing game.  A victory will require an entire team effort but I am much more excited and hopeful for this AFC North contest than the one two weeks earlier.  One big play could be the difference in this contest.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Sunday, September 28th – BYE Week

I was extremely disappointed when the NFL schedule was released and such an early bye was given to the Browns.  Playing thirteen straight weeks after this time off appears to be daunting, but perhaps the young squad can maintain their health at a reasonable level.  It’s unlikely that the team gains ground within the division while off – but that could also mean that they are beyond due for some things to go in their favor.

Sunday, October 5th – @ Tennessee

In my opinion, this is the most winnable contest during the first quarter of their schedule.  Despite being on the road, the Browns should have little to fear regarding a team that has not been consistent winners for multiple years.  While prior teams might be overconfident entering contests, I think this unit is much tougher mentally.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 7

Conclusion:  Escaping this portion relatively unscathed should be the bare minimum here.  I truly believe the Browns are a vastly improved team this year and can compete with all four franchises above.  Will they have a 4 – 0 record at this point?  I doubt it, but I would also not be surprised if they snuck out several narrow victories.

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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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From June to July in the NFL – What Happens?

From June to July in the NFL – What Happens?

That Slow Time:  In Between Minicamp and Training Camp

Another portion of the NFL season is upon us; a six-week period that occurs in between minicamp (a time that features players dressed in shirts and shorts) and training camp (when padded practices occur and the depth chart takes shape).  As is obvious, much will occur within this time period.  Along those lines, Browns’ fans should anticipate a few things from now until late July.

Josh Gordon Ruling:

I’m rather surprised the suspension of the top wide out has not been handed down as of this point.  In 2013, Gordon’s two-game ban had already been announced at this point for ingesting codeine without the necessary prescription.  Could we be surprised by a loophole and expect little to no punishment?  That is highly unlikely (as many fans are accustomed to the worst), but the timing of this situation is rather peculiar.  By the time the team takes the field in Berea in July – Gordon’s 2014 role should be known though.

Getting to Know the Staff a Bit More:

This has occurred already, to a certain extent.  Doylestown, Pennsylvania has been mentioned in a few articles – as the city where most of the Cleveland Browns’ coaches hailed from.  Having Mike Pettine Senior at minicamp further cemented this topic, as he is the lynchpin between his son, Jim O’Neil, and Chuck Driesbach (their coach at the high school level).  You should expect many outlets to delve further into this group – as Pettine and his staff are in their first season with the orange and brown and are still relatively unknown in these parts.

The Breakdown of Multiple Training Camp Matchups:

Everyone knows about the two guys who will square off under center.  However, a few more starting jobs still need to be won before the season opener at Heinz Field.  Three areas on the offense would include offensive guard, running back, and wide receiver.  On the defensive side of the ball – guys will compete to see the field at the inside linebacker and cornerback (including nickel back) positions.   This is under the assumption that the roster will maintain its health throughout camp; history has told us that has not been the case.  So for the average fan, getting to know (or become reacquainted with) interior linemen as well as linebackers typically occurs this time of year.

Conclusion:  For the most part, the NFL has become a twelve-month event for those die-hards.  Fans not only care about the season, but also scouting, the draft, and the practices leading up to games.  From mid-June to late July, we get a tremendous opportunity to see the players and staff for who they are – people, like you and me.  It’s hard to remember that sometimes, when we expect our team to feature “robots” who are 100% perfect in what they do and repeat that type of performance on every play.  So, while some could be bored or annoyed at this slower time of the year, a good perspective will be cast upon those who support the NFL.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2014 in NFL Season, Offseason, Players

 

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Where Will You Be When the Browns Win the Super Bowl?

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I was talking with my friend Brian at his apartment in downtown Cleveland.  It’s one of those cool converted warehouse apartments with big windows hugged by brick walls.  It is right in the center of downtown, with views of Lake Erie, Terminal Tower, and FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Browns.

I asked him a question that I’ve asked many friends: Where are you going to be when the Browns win the Super Bowl?

It’s a question that many young Browns fans ask themselves, one that can inspire tremendous hope and angst.  Despite the franchise’s pitiful history since its return in 1999, Browns fans hold fast onto tales of triumph.  They grow hazier with each passing season, but the legends of Otto Graham and Jim Brown still resonate in Cleveland.  All fans know the truism that the Browns were once dominant.  With every draft, today’s fans wonder who will be the player to take their Browns to the promised land.

So where will those fans be when the big day comes?  Some swear that they will be at the game, no matter the cost.  Others say they will be downtown, ready to join the party that no one can accurately predict because of the absurdity of the premise.  I posed the question to Brian.  He answered quickly, and with frightening conviction and amusement.

“Oh, I’ll be dead.”

The Browns are at a crossroads.  A great many Cleveland fans insist that they are the best fans in football.  They continue to sell out games and there have been no blackouts since 1999.  They have dealt with a crap team (or no team) for two decades, which is the best way to score fan street cred.  They are known as one of the most tortured fan bases in sports.

That said, there is evidence that Browns fans’ support is waning.  They did not crack the top 10 of Forbes NFL’s Best Fans list, which is based on five criteria: stadium attendance, TV ratings, merchandise sales, social media reach, and fan club presence.  They placed 15th in Sports Illustrated’s players poll of most intimidating fans, a far cry from the days of the old Dawg Pound.  A 2008 ESPN ranking, however, placed Browns fans as the third-best in the league.  What’s changed?

In short, nothing has changed, and that’s the problem.  The Browns have sucked since 1999, save a couple of seasons.  They haven’t had a strong multi-year streak like the Indians had in the 90s.  They’ve barely been competent during that stretch.  They have had eight head coaches since 1999, a number that actually seemed low to me.  Same goes for the six GMs.  Everyone gets fired every three years.

It’s getting harder every year to convince young Browns fans that this is a franchise worth investing in.  My then three year-old nephew was watching a game with his dad last season.  They live in Pittsburgh.  Trying to keep a potential Browns fan on track in enemy territory is no easy task.  When my nephew realized the Browns were on TV, he was incredulous.  He turned to his father and said, matter-of-factly,

“Dad, the Browns always lose.”

Smart kid.

What I’m getting at is that the next few years are very important for the Browns.  They don’t need to win a Super Bowl, but they do need to be competent.  Fans need to see progress during games and believe in the front office.  It doesn’t matter if Johnny Manziel is the starter or who the best player is.  This team just needs to be consistently less awful.  The tales of fifty year-old championships are gathering cobwebs, and the Browns are turning into the Franchise That Cried Next Year.  Few fans will come out and say that they are growing less avid, but the empty orange seats say otherwise.

I hope they turn it around.  I hope that my Super Bowl plans come to fruition one day.  I know that when the Browns get there, I’ll be downtown, running around like Jimmy V. in ’83.  It doesn’t matter where in the city I am.  I just want to be in Cleveland and around Clevelanders.  I’ll be hugging weird-looking strangers like it’s the end of Major League.  I just hope that I’m alive when it happens.  I hope Brian is, too.

 

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Expanding the Intentional Hounding Family

Expanding the Intentional Hounding Family

BREAKING NEWS: INTENTIONALHOUNDING.COM TO BROADEN

After about two years of flying solo at intentionalhounding.com, I am excited to announce I now have a compadre that will post alongside me about the Cleveland Browns!

Will Gibson (wjcgibson) is now a part of the family, and will also share his thoughts and wisdom regarding the orange and brown.  Expect double the posts, quality, and excitement on a weekly basis!  His arrival will also signify some new changes to the website, which will likely be implemented in the near future.  Feel free to welcome Will as he delves further into all things related to the Browns.

Cheers,

Eric

 

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Set Up

 

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Why Possibly Moving Training Camp is a Good Idea

Why Possibly Moving Training Camp is a Good Idea

Exiting Berea Would Be a Wise Decision:

It recently came out that Cleveland Browns’ fans would be required to “register” for training camp practices this July and August.  This is a free, online process – however it guarantees entrance when others will be denied.  The reason for this, is due to the higher demand to see the players (particularly one rookie quarterback) up close and in person.  Not being able to accommodate fans is unacceptable in today’s NFL – and the Browns’ front office knows this.  Searching for different venues is the likely next step in this process, and in my opinion, the smart thing to do.

Greater Attendance –  This goes beyond the obvious, as larger fields would be able to support more individuals to watch the orange and brown.  Should the Browns look for areas with seating (i.e. metal bleachers), they could implement a solid selling point.  For every die-hard fan that attends training camp, there are multiple supporters who would not mind “taking a load off” during sessions that span over two hours.  It appears relatively simple and straight-forward, but it could be a way to get more customers.

Increased Exposure – Being accepted into the national spotlight has been something foreign to this franchise over the past twenty-five years.  However, in the span of a few weeks – the opposite has been the norm.  Getting more into free events would only exacerbate this, especially when large media outlets would want to be a part of the action.  In addition to the headlines for the on-the-field product, you can bet that several vendors will supply hats, jerseys, and shirts for people to purchase.

For those who live further away from Berea, (now) having training camp closer could mean family trips to watch the Browns.  Again, die-hards will go no matter the locale – within reason.  The front office needs to determine where are the best venues that will produce spikes in attendance by the casual football fan.  Will getting this faction turn the next generation to the good side (instead of waving yellow toilet paper)?   The team can only hope; of course, winning in the fall can also work wonders for youngsters new to the game.

Changing the Culture – A repeating theme of the 2014 squad has been to shed itself of its previous losing mentality.  Since last season, there has been roster turnover, coaching and general manager changes, and discussion of new uniforms (to be implemented 2015).  Perhaps moving the team during summer camp can further along this process, as the Browns have seen little success in the approximate twenty years at the campus of Baldwin Wallace.  Sometimes a positive psyche can provide an advantage that translates to success during games.  I understand the culture change may not occur overnight, and not all shifts will be good ideas.  However, this owner has proven that he is willing to think outside the box and put his stamp on the Cleveland Browns.

Conclusion:  I am excited to hear the team could move summer practices to other areas in Ohio (and possibly multiple).  The fan base could be broadened, as well as the team getting more notoriety than in previous years.  I have faith the team can get it right; hopefully that time is just around the corner.

 

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