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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Browns Training Camp News

Browns Training Camp News

Browns’ Tidbits

Going through the dog days of training camp, there are a few things surrounding the orange and brown that does not involve the Josh Gordon suspension decision.  For the first time in a good while, the three topics all relate to things on the gridiron (very refreshing).  Although the preseason starts next week for the Browns, training camp
(so far) has opened the eyes of fans and media alike.

Offensive offense:

Tell me if you heard this one before, but the Browns’ defense is defeating the offense at a consistent rate.  This refers to making tackles, stopping drives, and frustrating athletes (just ask Ben Tate) when facing each other.  The defense has been rewarded with newly
coveted orange jerseys – Pettine’s got to come up with some sort of incentive.  For many years, the defense has been the dominant side of the ball not because they were a tremendous unit – but more because the offense has been extremely poor.  I hope the 2014 results are due to inexperience of the unit and their infancy in learning Kyle Shanahan’s system.

Pettine’s philosophy:

Earlier in the week, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the type of contact the head coach installed – known as “thumping”.  Here players make solid collisions with their teammates and wrap them up, without actually taking them to the ground (which was employed in other practices).  For many this does not seem like a big deal – but the Browns seem to rarely practice hitting in the summer months.  The end result has been horrible tackling (and bad defense) in the fall. Hopefully these drills, spearheaded by veterans Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner, can transform the defense to a more tenacious unit.

Jim Leonhard’s signing:

After reading the book “Collision, Low Crossers”, the signing of Jim Leonhard was a no-brainer.  Mike Pettine has employed the former University of Wisconsin safety during his stops in New York and Buffalo – and has given the athlete much praise.  While with the Jets, Pettine said Leonhard was the most important player on the defense and his season-ending injury destroyed the unit’s effectiveness.  The safety knows Pettine’s defensive scheme more than any athlete and will be a great teacher.  At age thirty-two, he may be more on the field during special teams for 2014.  But I look forward to him providing tips to Tashaun Gipson, Jordan Poyer, and even Donte Whitner.  In my opinion, there was only upside in this signing by the Cleveland Browns.

Conclusion:  I cannot wait until next week, as the Browns will face off against players on another team.  For now, it’s just competition against their teammates.  It has been rather competitive, even combative at times.  I know the team has a long ways to go but I am (probably foolishly) confident they can make strides in 2014.  It all starts in training camp; I believe the mindset has changed – they are a tough bunch that will not be pushed over.  Now, the Browns must prove it on the field against opponents.

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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Players, Training Camp

 

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Ending the Regular Season: The Cleveland Browns in 2014

Ending the Regular Season:  The Cleveland Browns in 2014

Rounding out the Final Four Contests of the 2014 Schedule

Previewing Games 13 – 16:

Assuming the four opponents play to their capabilities, what a difficult way to finish off the regular season for the Cleveland Browns.  In it, they face three teams coming off playoff appearances and the other is a perennial Super Bowl contender.  It’s hard to predict (right now) whether the Browns will need to go 3 – 1 or 4 – 0 here to clinch a spot in the playoffs, or whether these matchups will, once again, be irrelevant.  Nonetheless, let’s see what the squad is up against.

Sunday, December 7th – vs. Indianapolis

Outside of a Peyton Hillis-led drubbing of Kerry Collins and the Colts in 2011, the home team has gone down in defeat each time they faced the Colts since 1999.  Battling Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck are not simple tasks, but the Browns were due for at least one upset, right?  Hopefully 2014 is the year where the team comes together and finally
takes down the blue and white.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 4

Sunday, December 14th – vs. Cincinnati

As much as the visiting team struggles in this rivalry, the home team should be attributed to doing its job as well.  Brian Hoyer was the hero last time the Bengals visited First Energy Stadium in 2013.  Should we expect a repeat performance?  I believe that Johnny Manziel will be under center for this contest, but I have been known to be wrong (from time to time).  Again, I might be mistaken, but a win here should be ripe for the picking.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Sunday, December 21st – @ Carolina

A rare matchup between inter-conference foes is the scenario for both the Panthers and Browns.  It’s unlikely that the home squad will repeat their 12 – 4 record from a year ago; but they should still remain a solid bunch.  Cam Newton is a dynamic quarterback who can give defenses fits – especially if they are not properly prepared.  I cannot wait to see what coach Pettine draws up as his game plan for this one.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 4

Sunday, December 28th – @ Baltimore

Should the Ravens clinch a berth in the playoffs before kickoff (via wildcard or division crown); do not expect a “let up” for their guests.  The Browns will have to fight tooth and nail in this contest if they want to spur an upset.  Like many away venues, this has been a cruel one over the years.  I can only hope that lady luck is on the side of the orange and brown – the way it was for Phil Dawson’s game-tying kick in 2007.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 2

Conclusion:  Many Browns fans are trained to be pessimistic, largely to the team’s underperformance and overall bad football.  While I have been accustomed to that type of thinking, I sense 2014 can be different.  Despite feeling less than 50/50 in three of these four contests right now, one never knows what can happen when the game is actually played.  I believe the Browns make the leap to the playoff hunt this season and what occurs in December will decide the team’s fate (I’m praying for a miracle).

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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The Next Quarter: Looking at Games 9 to 12

The Next Quarter:  Looking at Games 9 to 12

Continuing our Preview of the 2014 Browns Regular Season

A Look into the Third Quarter of the Campaign: Games 9 -12

At this point of the regular season, coaches (and fans) should pretty much know what to expect from the Browns on a weekly basis.  More often than not, amidst a putrid season, the Browns have faltered in late games.  Let’s hope that’s not the case in 2014, and the team continues for a rare successful year.  Unlike games five through eight, these are primarily on the road – but I would not count the Cleveland Browns out of these contests just yet.

Thursday, November 6th – @ Cincinnati

Known for sloppy play in recent history, it’s hard to believe that the nation will be extremely excited for the Thursday night battle between the Ohio foes.  Fans vividly remember the Browns’ game last year, where both starting quarterbacks had major injuries and Brandon Weeden finished out the victorious contest.  I’m looking forward to the Browns breaking whatever hex there is at Paul Brown Stadium, but that is a tall order.  It may take a huge effort – by the defense or maybe even Johnny Manziel.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 3

Sunday, November 16th – vs. Houston

In the first of three games that can go either way, I like that this contest is at First Energy Stadium.  A lot of new faces will be on the roster for the guests.  Can Jadeveon Clowney become that bookend star opposite J.J. Watt?  There’s a good opportunity for that to occur, but on the other side of the ball I’m one for betting against Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and Tom Savage.  A great deal of carries should be given to former Texan Ben Tate this contest.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 5

Sunday, November 23rd – @ Atlanta

I firmly believe 2013 was an aberration for the Falcons, who have a tremendous roster – injuries led to their downfall and a multitude of losses.  This appears to be an extremely difficult matchup for the Browns and should feature several touchdowns.  I am pulling for Joe Haden and the secondary to force a few errant throws by Matt Ryan. There’s a good probability that doing so might be the only way the visitors have a chance to leave the Georgia Dome (for the final time) with a win.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 4

Sunday, November 30th – @ Buffalo

An annual matchup between defending cellar dwellers (of their respective divisions), the Browns once again face the Bills.  This time Mike Pettine will be on the sidelines of the orange and brown, but with the number of changes that occur annually in the NFL it’s going to be difficult to believe he will have intimate knowledge of his former defense.   Both rosters appear to be improved from last season and another tight contest should be expected.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Conclusion:  Outside of the nationally televised contest to start this stretch, I am firmly on the fence (at least right now) in terms of the Browns winning games.  Things could become clearer in the near future – i.e. hot streaks, injuries, etc. – but I am far from guaranteeing anything.  It’s safe to say that while all contests in the NFL are important (specifically intra-divisional matchups); securing winnable ones are huge building blocks.  That is exactly the scenario for the Browns during games nine through twelve.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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The Next Four: Previewing the Browns’ 2014 Season

The Next Four:  Previewing the Browns’ 2014 Season

Looking at the Next Quarter of the 2014 Campaign

Games 5 – 8 and a Sneak Peek:

On paper, the next four games for the Cleveland Browns appear to be more winnable than the first four (of the 2014 campaign).  It is still the NFL however, and anything can occur during the three-hour contests.  Let’s take an early glance at a portion of the schedule that will be played primarily at First Energy Stadium.

Sunday, October 12th – vs. Pittsburgh

Will this contest feature a different starting quarterback for the Browns than the first contest against the Steelers?  Could Manziel start the opener and Hoyer get the nod on October 12th?  It is extremely early, but speculation will run rampant from now until training camp wraps up.  I’m in the camp of playing the guy who can get it done and beat the team just to the east of Cleveland.  I’ll let coach Pettine and Kyle Shanahan determine exactly who that is. Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Sunday, October 19th – @ Jacksonville

A perennial sub-.500 franchise, the Jaguars actually closed out their 2013 campaign rather well (going 4-4 during the final eight contests). The question then remains whether that momentum can be carried into this season.  The team is relying on Chad Henne as their quarterback and are content with letting rookie Blake Bortles hold a clipboard this fall.  However, as we all know in Cleveland, things have a way of not going according to script.  You can bet that the Browns’ defense will be salivating if Bortles is under center during this matchup. Current odds of victory (1-10): 8

Sunday, October 26th – vs. Oakland

Another contest against a team that does a lot of losing presents itself here (for the Browns).  Additionally, rookie signal caller Derek Carr might be playing should Matt Schaub perform the way he did in 2013.  Nothing is guaranteed in this league (as the Browns were a Fozzy Whittaker muffed onside kick away from beating the Patriots last
year), but this is one game I firmly believe the Browns should come out ahead.  I’m hoping the home stadium is rocking if the opponent, traveling three time zones over, succumbs to misfortune.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 9

Sunday, November 2nd – vs. Tampa Bay

Before the season begins, the visiting team appears as a group of pushovers.  However, I feel they will surprise a vast majority and give the Browns a difficult game.  Lovie Smith will have their defense ready to shut down the running game and limit whoever is under center. The winner of the Josh McCown/Mike Glennon quarterback derby might have a strong outing in this contest.  Turnovers will likely be the difference between a narrow win and a crushing defeat.  Current odds of victory (1-10): 6

Conclusion:  Rightly or wrongly, my confidence in the team exceling is rather high during games five through eight.  Hopefully, this is the portion where the Browns either make up ground or (somehow) distance themselves from the AFC North.  Going winless or just securing one victory in this portion of the schedule would be extremely deflating
and something this franchise does not need.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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