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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Bears @ Browns – Preseason Game #4 Review

Bears @ Browns – Preseason Game #4 Review

Reviewing Preseason Game #4 – Browns vs. Bears 

Well it was a game that meant very little for the Browns, but they had to play it anyway. The starters flexed their muscles against the opposing backups, as they should. Whether it was false hope or not, it was excellent to see the orange and brown be dominant on both sides of the ball (at least early on). Let’s take a look back at what was…

Offense: Brian Hoyer led a magnificent drive for his only one as a signal caller. He converted multiple third downs on the team’s touchdown drive. Hoyer also was able to hit several receivers on different patterns – I hope this can continue in a week and a half. When Manziel can play the way he did at A&M, he succeeds. That’s exactly what occurred on his touchdown drive; scrambling and finding a way to make a play. We’ll see what happens going forward.

Ben Tate looked about as solid as he has been all preseason long, which is a positive. Terrance West and Dion Lewis ran extremely hard; their continued desire makes fans feel a bit better about this offense. The running back position appears to be locked up and reliable – I really have high hopes for this group.

Andrew Hawkins, Jordan Cameron, and Taylor Gabriel each contributed on the first scoring drive for the Browns. Perhaps Gabriel is really clinging on with this team and can be a part of the first unit. Charles Johnson continues to disappoint, the only memorable play he was a part of was one where his helmet got knocked off.

The positive for the offensive line was that they were not extremely exposed. The vanilla offense did not show a large amount of complexity and therefore couldn’t prove their ability. I believe the starting unit will be fine and some backups could help provide depth in the regular season.

Defense: Billy Winn and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen were two reserve defensive linemen who stepped up in this contest. The starting group didn’t see a tremendous amount of time on the field and the guys after them on the depth chart filled in admirably. I wouldn’t be surprised if a trade came from this group, as the Browns have a surplus at defensive line.

It was excellent performance by the first groups of the linebackers. Barkevious Mingo notched a sack, while Craig Robertson took down the opposition. It’s really hard to gauge this position group on a game like this – but playing well (even against backups) is definitely a positive.

I’m extremely torn on Leon McFadden; the second year pro is so hit-and-miss. He has shown an ability to break up passes with ease, but also commits penalties and allows receivers to secure passes on him. The other secondary was not really picked on, so I can’t really evaluate their performance. I just look forward to the days with Joe Haden and Buster Skrine.

Special Teams: The punting and kicking units appeared to be in midseason form for the Browns. Taylor Gabriel continues to excel as a returner; I feel he can definitely compete with Travis Benjamin. The coverage units were solid as well, that needs to be the norm during the regular season.

Coaching: Shanahan opened up the playbook a little more this contest, and it definitely showed. Hoyer and Manziel each flashed ability on looks not seen in the previous few weeks. I really hope this preseason was one giant tease and the Browns are actually a competent offense. Nonetheless, the exhibition season is over and now it’s time for some real football!

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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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The Last Preseason Game of 2014 – Browns vs. Bears

The Last Preseason Game of 2014 – Browns vs. Bears

Browns vs. Bears – a Preview of Preseason Game #4

Now that the rosters have been trimmed to seventy-five guys, with little surprise cuts (maybe Anthony Armstrong or Edwin Baker), it’s time for teams to get their final looks in before the regular season begins. Once again the finale is against the Chicago Bears; a game with many reserves and backups fighting to make the team. While not the most exciting contest ever, let’s take a glimpse into the matchup…

Offense: Brian Hoyer will get about a quarter to get his final preparation as the exhibition campaign winds down. He must continue to improve from last week’s game; it’s only going to get harder from here on out. I anticipate the veteran finding the end zone once (in three drives), a three-and-out, and a mediocre drive ending in a punt. It won’t be enough to appease many fans, but it’s better than what’s been going on recently. Manziel might play through the third quarter. His running ability cannot be questioned; however, I would like to see several deep tosses by the rookie. No one has succeeded in “hitting” these, why not Manziel here?

The release of Baker leaves Chris Ogbonnaya and Isaiah Crowell to possibly battle for the final running back position. The former has excelled on special teams, and the latter can latch onto the practice squad if released. With the three top backs (Tate, West, and Lewis) all but locked up, there’s little drama in this position group. Will Ray Agnew become a member of the roster? Or will MarQueis Gray be a tight end/fullback and leave an extra spot open for another athlete?

Could Taylor Gabriel be more than a special teamer for the Cleveland Browns? I would like to see the rookie perform as a receiver and feel he will get that shot on Thursday. Charles Johnson has been extremely disappointing so far in camp; perhaps he can turn some heads. I’m really trying to get excited for this group but like many NFL insiders, the odds that the Browns’ wide outs are even average are fairly long. As mentioned earlier, a nice deep completion would make me feel better – even if it’s short lived.

Depending on which quarterback gets the nod in the second half; this might be a run-heavy game for two reasons. First, it will be a good test to see if any guy is able to play in the NFL. Secondly, running the ball consistently will eat up more clock and get both teams closer to the regular season on an expedited pace. There won’t be a great deal to take away from this contest, especially for the offensive line. Hopefully Ray Farmer knows which guys should be kept for the fall.

Defense: Thursday’s contest should be one where the Browns can flex their muscles, in terms of depth on the defensive line. While the Bears will employ unreliable offensive linemen in the second half, the home squad could trot out athletes like John Hughes, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, and Billy Winn. Despite multiple rushes, I would be surprised if the Bears were able to move the ball on the ground with ease. Pettine should dial up some four-man fronts, to not only force the opponent to pass but also to see which members can adapt to different in-game situations.

This should be an excellent opportunity for Zac Diles and Justin Staples to get some playing time. Assuming both are on the roster, they will primarily be on special teams in the fall – but injuries or inconsistent play by starters could change things up. Tackling was extremely poor in last week’s contest; they must turn it around this week. All the better if the backups can do it, if one guy has a chance to stand out he must take advantage.

The secondary continues to be in flux, with injuries to Joe Haden and Buster Skrine (albeit minor). Justin Gilbert and Leon McFadden should start out on the outside. I previously wondered about the status of the latter last week, but with many athletes sidelined, it appears that McFadden should be afforded another opportunity with this club. I thought Josh Aubrey was underrated in the 2013 campaign. He and Johnson Bademosi should be lined up a majority of the night in the safety positions. Each are young and hungry, but neither are guaranteed a roster spot.

Special Teams: Pretty much all of the spots are secured for the Browns in the kicking and return units. The only exception is that Taylor Gabriel could possibly steal some returns from incumbent Travis Benjamin. The real key in this contest is to avoid silly injuries – especially during kickoffs.

Coaching: As previously mentioned, this play calling will probably be bland and largely run-oriented in the second half of the contest. But why not try from some home runs for Hoyer and Manziel? Neither have really attempted any fade nor go routes for intended targets. Realistically it will likely more of the same – quick, boring throws to the outside. The positive side is that once this game is over, it’s time to look forward to the regular season!

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Rams at Browns – Preseason Game #3 Review

Rams at Browns – Preseason Game #3 Review

Preseason Game #3 – Rams @ Browns Review

Well, at least the team took a few steps forward in this contest. The starting offense found the end zone, while the defense was able to get to the quarterback multiple times. However, like the two previous contests, the Browns could not find a way to get the victory. Fortunately, this game does not count, but let’s take a look at what happened…

Offense:  Well, he didn’t look like the second coming of Tom Brady, but at least Brian Hoyer finally led a drive that resulted in a touchdown. The veteran had a marginal performance (frankly, I’m being nice), which also included a poorly thrown interception and a fumble lost. Whether it was by design or not, the quarterback was limited to shorter throws in the open field. One thing I did like seeing was his ability to throw away passes instead of forcing them into coverage. Manziel did not fare too much better against the backups. He ran in a score but avoided a costly turnover. The growing pains for the quarterbacks continue, hopefully the duo gets better faster.

 

This was not a contest for running backs (which I successfully predicted). The team only toted the football fifteen times for thirty-two yards. Tate and West both ran hard in limited time. It appears that Deion Lewis might have the edge at third-string running back for this roster. I would understand if that’s the way the team goes, as Lewis is a smaller rusher whose speed gives opposing coaches something to think about.

 

Initially I was a bit surprised by the benching of Josh Gordon, who was suited up to play. Coach Pettine referenced his injury that held him out – but I wonder if it was due to Gordon’s loafing last week (or that news possibly arrived about his suspension). The wide receiving corps was unspectacular, which has been the norm since training camp. A couple drops and missed connections were present, but at least Andrew Hawkins secured a fine grab for a score. I firmly believe Taylor Gabriel will make this roster; the rookie flashed a bit of speed in the return game and made a couple nice catches.

 

The offensive line had a difficult task against the opposing front of the Rams, but held up fairly well. The running game had lanes to move – on the few attempts that occurred. Hoyer and Manziel were both under pressure a couple of times but that is to be expected against a defense like the one they faced. The downfall of this offense will not be due to the five guys up front – if the signal caller and his targets do not get on the same page, Spencer Lanning could have a tired leg by mid-season.

 

Defense:  Unfortunately, the defensive line took a few steps back on Saturday night. They could not make some impactful plays like they have done the two games prior, but they were still relatively solid. The held opposing rushers to fewer than forty yards on the ground (individually), but several guys had a few, sizeable dashes. Armonty Bryant actually got the starting job, filling in for the injured Desmond Bryant. The second-year pro had a pair of tackles and put a hit on the quarterback. My confidence in this group could not be any higher and for good reason. If Pettine puts them in position to pressure quarterbacks, then the defensive front has a shot to be great.

Chris Kirksey saw what Craig Robertson did last week and tried to outplay his linebacker counterpart. The rookie led the team with seven tackles, had a pass defended, and made a magnificent interception and return. I have been more than impressed with his play and cannot wait to see him over the course of the season. Karlos Dansby highlighted the team’s only sack for the Browns. Paul Kruger was able to build off of last game’s performance – with three tackles and a hit on the quarterback. Zac Diles also came away with three stops; he continues to prove to be a rotational guy in this defense.

 

No Joe Haden or Buster Skine for this secondary made defending the pass a bit more difficult for the Browns. Thankfully, they were not flagged a million times for defensive holding or illegal contact – so there’s a bright spot for the secondary. Rookie Justin Gilbert had an up-and-down performance, having Haden alongside should more than help reduce his burden. Leon McFadden had an opportunity to display that he can be a nickel or dime cornerback with the defensive unit, but surrendering a few receptions did not help his cause. In my opinion, he is in danger of making this final roster.

Special Teams:  There were multiple ho-hum performances by Spencer Lanning and Travis Benjamin, which is not the worst thing. Taylor Gabriel continues to impress, with a sixty-eight yard kickoff return. I have high hopes for the rookie and would like to see him with the football in his hands in the fall.

Coaching:  The play calling in this contest is what fans should likely expect in the regular season. Pettine and Shanahan dialed up short, quick passes to help out the quarterbacks and receivers. Most were completed while there were also a few drops, but I anticipate these plays will be installed to set up deep bombs starting in a few weeks. I noticed a few unsuccessful blitzes with multiple guys coming off the edge; those should be ironed out before September seventh.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Rams @ Browns Preview – Third Preseason Game

Rams @ Browns Preview – Third Preseason Game

Preview of Preseason Game #3 – Rams @ Browns

With the newly crowned starting quarterback in Brian Hoyer, the Browns take the field against a young and improving team in the St. Louis Rams.  Hopefully the change of scenery can help the home team, who has looked extremely lethargic in their first two exhibition games.  I am definitely looking forward to this contest, mainly to forget about the last one.  Let’s break it down…

Offense:  Now that the veteran got the nod for the season, hopefully the Cleveland native can take some deep breaths and simply relax. Hoyer has missed several throws against the Lions and Washington, whether they were too high or just ahead or behind of the intended target.  It’s imperative he nails down his timing in this contest; I would be surprised and disappointed if he did not.  As far as Manziel goes, I just look for progress in the rookie.  He has taken measures to improve as a passer but the execution was still lacking.  Hopefully Saturday’s game is a stepping-stone.

I firmly believe Ben Tate knows what he’s doing and will perform on Sundays.  That being said, other runners should get a bulk of the carries versus the Rams.  Terrance West should see around fifteen touches in the first half, and then the battle between Isaiah Crowell and Deion Lewis should ensure after halftime.  That leaves Chris Ogbonnaya and Edwin Baker left to duke it out (for a roster spot) late in the contest – there’s a possibility that neither makes the final roster.

I am about ready to throw my hands up with this receiving unit, Josh Gordon included.  I know it is preseason, but no wide out (along with Jordan Cameron) looked like they wanted to play last week.  I’m calling for a simple “catch the ball and hang on to it” philosophy in this contest.  It is simple and rather obvious but also a vital step in the growth process for this unit.  Andrew Hawkins, Miles Austin, and Charles Johnson are three guys I want to see remarked improvement from preseason games one and two.  Having Nate Burleson active would be ideal as well, as the savvy veteran has yet to suit up in the exhibition season.

 

Mitchell Schwartz can redeem himself from the poor performance against Washington.  However, going against Chris Long and Robert Quinn are not going to make it easy – but if he can hold his own, then there’s hope for the right tackle.  On the interior, I am anxious to see how the three starters push back Michael Brokers and rookie Aaron Donald. The offensive line can show how tremendous they are – but they have to work hard to keep the backfield clean for Brian Hoyer and company.

Defense:  Status quo should be the norm for the defensive line; the only question should be which guy steps up for the group.  Desmond Bryant’s injury is a bit worrisome (a wrist surgery), but other guys are filling in tremendously.  Personally, I’d like to see Billy Winn and John Hughes early in the contest to see if they can continue their solid play.  Of course Armonty Bryant has stood out during the exhibition season, and if he can figure to be a staple in the run defense – then his role should continue to expand.

With Craig Robertson balling out last week, it is Chris Kirksey’s turn to try to steal some playing time.  It is unlikely he will be a starter (at least early on) but the former Iowa linebacker can still see the field this year as a member of the defense.  Darius Eubanks will be one guy I will have my eye on, as he is the leading candidate to spell Karlos Dansby.  There may be a slight drop-off (in play) from the longtime veteran, but I’m pulling that it is not a large one – for the defense’s sake.  The trio on the outside has been unimpressive so far.  Mingo must play smarter and use his speed to his advantage, while Kruger and Sheard need to get involved in more than just situational pass rushes.

The secondary might as well use those gloves Pettine put on them (a few weeks ago) for this matchup.  Penalties are now easy to come by, and the Browns must make sure they are not committing multiple infractions.  Buster Skrine will once again sit this one out, so it’s up to Justin Gilbert to gradually improve and become a starter.  I enjoyed Donte Whitner’s physical play since being acquired via free agency.  However, his coverage skills have not been the same – Saturday would be a fine opportunity to be a factor against the pass. Tashaun Gipson secured an interception last week in his first game in 2014.  The safety must continue to get acclimated to the game before September seventh; I have confidence in this.

Special Teams:  Nothing needs to be done differently by the kicker and punter, as both are reliable.  As long as the coverage units tackle well and do not surrender a block – then I am content with those areas.  The return game has become interesting, with Travis Benjamin playing last week and hurting his ribs (albeit, a minor injury). Could the tides be turning for a new kick and punt returner?

Coaching:  Now that Hoyer is the man under center, let’s see some smarter coaching decisions.  He is not a zone-read quarterback, so there’s no need to see those (until Manziel plays).  Hoyer can throw the ball all over the field – a demonstration of that would be nice. They may be more run-heavy in the regular season, but expectations for that part of the offense are pretty much known.  I want to see more passes by the Browns in this contest.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Looking Back at Preseason Game #2

Looking Back at Preseason Game #2

Review of Cleveland @ Washington – Preseason Game #2

Well this one ranks up right there with the many poor performances the Browns have put on the field since 1999.  Drops, penalties, turnovers, and simply bad football reigned supreme for the visiting team on Monday Night Football.  On the positive side, the Browns have two more weeks until they play a regular season contest.  However, they have a long (very long, actually) way to go until they resemble a competent NFL roster.  Let’s see what went down in Landover, Maryland…

Offense:  What a putrid effort by the quarterbacks of the Cleveland Browns.  The most memorable part of the game (by the first two stringers) may have been Manziel saying to the opponent that he is “number one”.  Brian Hoyer threw for a whopping sixteen yards and completed just two of six passes (his incompletion in the end zone early really hurt).  Johnny went seven for sixteen and led a second-half touchdown – but he also consistently threw behind receivers throughout the contest.  It’s time for each to dust himself off and get ready for the home opener.

Ben Tate was the only offensive bright spot during the first half. The veteran toted the ball ten times for fifty-one yards, ran hard, and tried to find an open hole on every carry.  Terrance West had a decent outing (thirty-one yards on eight carries), and I feel he solidified himself as the top backup on this roster.  Both Deion Lewis and Isaiah Crowell didn’t get a ton of opportunities, but the former found the end zone on a short dump off in the third quarter.  The battle for the third-string role will intensify next Saturday against the Rams.

I understand that a few passes were thrown off the mark on Monday night, but the number of drops by receivers was frightening.  Jordan Cameron, Josh Gordon, and Andrew Hawkins were some of the members who let the football hit the ground after it hit their hands.  It’s been a “wing and a prayer” while hoping for production by the wide receivers up to this point; this will continue in the regular season for the Browns.  I had high hopes for Charles Johnson but one catch for three yards later, and he’s got to make some strides if he wants to play on Sundays.

The interior of the offensive line had a pretty decent outing for the Browns by not doing two things.  These are refraining from infractions and not succumbing to pressure from the defensive front.  Mitchell Schwartz got beat on a few occasions by Ryan Kerrigan, unfortunately, and the quarterbacks got sacked as a result.  On run plays, I feel the offensive front did a solid job – they ran and kicked out defenders regularly.  Hopefully this can continue in September, without a dependable running game this will be an even longer season.

Defense:  For the second game in a row, Armonty Bryant was the best defensive lineman for the Browns.  The second-year veteran had three tackles, a sack, and a hit on the quarterback.  I would be surprised if he didn’t get a huge increase in playing time in 2014.  Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin excelled at moving the pile a couple of times, while John Hughes made some great stops during the team’s goal line stand. The defensive front will be the leaders of this unit all season – assuming they consistently play to their capabilities.

I must admit that I was (pleasantly) surprised by the play of Craig Robertson.  He finished the game with six tackles, made exceptional pursuits in stopping the run, and covered the opponent reasonably well.  Karlos Dansby turned in a fair performance at the other inside linebacker spot – he never got beat but did not make any great plays either.  The speed of Barkevious Mingo was a huge detriment to the former LSU star.  Several times he got up the field and over pursued the quarterback, making it easier for the signal caller to run or toss the ball to a nearby player.

The injuries to Buster Skrine, Isaiah Trufant, and Pierre Desir were extremely noticeable in the secondary.  Jordan Poyer and Leon McFadden were thrust into the lineup in more predominant roles than they are accustomed to.  The former was a part of the duo that surrendered Robert Griffin III’s deep completion in the first quarter.  Joe Haden gave up a couple of shorter throws but was also on the receiving end of a great interception and return.  For his first game, I thought Justin Gilbert played admirably.  He was far from perfect, but was able to break up a handful of passes from the opponent.

Special Teams:  Both the punting and kicking games dipped in their performance from last week.  Billy Cundiff missed a field goal, while Spencer Lanning’s average was below forty yards, mainly due to short touchbacks.  Marlon Moore had a nice kickoff return for the Browns, however.  He may not be the returner (or even on the roster) in a few weeks, but at least it was pleasant to watch.

Coaching:  Pettine and Shanahan really hammered it into Manziel’s head about not running with the football.  The end result was a lack of offense; the rookie quarterback stuck to mainly drop backs and rollouts all night long. I enjoyed some of the blitzes sent by Jim O’Neil’s defense; pressure came from all different directions.  When this occurs in the regular season, the sacks will come.  But for now, it’s time to go home to First Energy Stadium for the team’s first game at home on Saturday.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in NFL Season

 

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Which Browns QBs Have Best Lived Up to the Hype?

You’ve seen the jersey by now. There have been so many different Browns under center that you’ve hopefully forgotten a few of them. The Browns’ passing game is taken as seriously as Tyler Perry at the Oscars.

Yet, the question begs to be answered: Which Browns quarterbacks have best lived up to the hype? We have seen first-round picks and journeyman veterans, local kids and NFL nomads. Each has come with his own set of expectations. Virtually none have lived up to them. But these things exist on a spectrum, and it is up to us to figure out exactly where they lie. So I put out a feeler to Browns fan Condoleeza Rice, and she assembled a crack staff of diplomats, advisers and statisticians to come up with the answer:

Browns QB Chart

This was a truly terrifying exercise. It’s common knowledge that Browns quarterbacks have performed only slightly better than VHS sales since 1999, but studying the names and statistics really drives the point home. Did you know that Bruce Gradkowski’s QB rating was 2.8 in Cleveland? Had you forgotten that Doug Pederson started eight games in 2000 when Tim Couch got hurt? Do you realize that one could make a strong argument for Couch being the best Browns quarterback of the century?

It’s stunning to look at the names and remember believing in some of these guys. Brady Quinn’s tumble down the draft board was hilarious—until we took him, then he was a godsend. Colt McCoy won 45 games and completed 70% of his tosses in college! Jake Delhomme’s veteran savvy! Charlie Frye’s moxie! Brandon Weeden’s…age?

The point is: The Browns’ recent QB history is absolutely as bad as you think it is, and maybe even worse. The psychic camels from the World Cup could do a better job of finding snap-takers. And despite the likes of Trent Dilfer winning a Super Bowl, one axiom holds true in the NFL: You need a quarterback—maybe not an “elite” one, but one who won’t snap defeat from the jaws of victory twice a season. One who can consistently be better than awful. Maybe even one capable of winning a game by himself. The Browns haven’t found that guy, and they had 20 chances through last season. Tonight, we’ll get a closer look at number 21.

No pressure, Johnny.

 

[Can’t name ’em all? Use the handy key and relive the misery! QBs are listed chronologically.]

 Browns QB Chart Key

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Offseason, Players

 

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Don’t Bring Me Down: Which Brown Should You Pin Your Hopes On (D/ST Edition)?

Earlier this week, we mined the Browns’ offense in search of the best players to follow throughout the season. Today, we look at the defense in hopes that there are some gentlemen worth investing in. Who should be your guy when the foes have the ball? Decide for yourself.

First, look to the secondary—Joe Haden, Donte Whitner and company. Haden is an actual, real-life Pro Bowl cornerback, and more importantly, he has gone all-out in support of the Cavs and Indians. Donte, as you likely know, is a proper Clevelander and Ohioan, having attended Glenville and Ohio State. I sat with his grandmother at training camp last week, and she was a delightful lady (She has not met LeBron yet, and she thinks it’s wonderful that Donte is playing at home again). With any luck at all, the DBs will embrace the Dawg Pound ideal and bark as loud as anyone since Minnifield and Dixon. If youngsters like Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine can follow suit, the defensive backfield will be in good shape. Long live #TeamDBSwag.

The defensive line looks solid, but there doesn’t seem to be any one player who will consistently generate headlines or big stats. Athyba Rubin is sort of like the Browns’ Varejao: We like him because he works hard, and he’s one of the few guys who has been here for more than two years. Phil Taylor is more mountain than human, but this will be his fourth season, and there are more YouTube clips of a professional dart player of the same name than the Browns’ defensive lineman. Still, he plays as though the other team stole his lunch money, and he clubbed Roethlisberger in the head a few years ago, so we can safely assume he is against sexual assault. And speaking of criminal behavior, here’s Desmond Bryant’s mug shot:

Desmond Bryant

The linebackers and rush guys could be the best bets of the bunch. Mike Pettine’s Bills had 57 sacks last year, good for second in the league. In Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger, and Barkevious Mingo, the hope is that the Browns have three edge rushers capable of making quarterbacks abandon the pocket and/or evacuate their bowels. Rookie inside ‘backer Chris Kirksey looked spry in the first meaningless preseason game, and his pass coverage drew especially good reviews. Karlos Dansby was an animal in Arizona last year, with 6.5 sacks, four interceptions and two defensive TDs. However, he’s 32 and has over 150 games under his belt, so there may not be much tread left on those tires.

And, of course, there are always the special teamers. You may scoff, but some of the greatest modern era Browns were specialists: Josh Cribbs, Phil Dawson, even the unblockable Chris Gardocki and unflappable (for a time) Ryan Pontbriand. There’s hope with the current bunch too. Travis Benjamin is an over-caffeinated roadrunner on kick returns. Billy Cundiff was pretty good last year, and more importantly, he helped screw up the Ravens’ chances in 2012. And Spencer Lanning is the punter, because a “Spencer Lanning” couldn’t possibly play any other position.

Again, this is an important decision. Seasons are defined by who your guys are. If you chose Charlie Frye in 2006 like I did, it was a long year. If you chose Lee Suggs in 2004 like I did, it was a long year. If you chose Brodney Pool in 2008 like I did – Look, the odds aren’t great. But football fandom is weird, and you’ve gotta do it. Do your best, cross your fingers, and enjoy the ride.

IF You Like...(D/ST)

 
 

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