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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Can the Browns Mimic What the Cavs are Doing?

Can the Browns Mimic What the Cavs are Doing?

Look at the Hardwood

Unlike the Cleveland Browns; the basketball franchise for the city is in the midst of a deep playoff run.  There are a few things the football team can take from the Cavaliers – something the city would gladly embrace.  Obviously some tasks will be easier to accomplish than others, but let’s review several aspects (especially during the postseason) that can transform a good team into a great one.

Overcoming Injuries

The Cavaliers have now gone through the season without their starting center and power forward.  Fortunately, they were able to make a trade (and a shrewd one) to replace the man in the middle.  The loss to Kevin Love hurts greatly, but the team appears to have adapted to a new philosophy both offensively and defensively exceptionally.

In 2014, the Cleveland Browns lost a couple guys to injury for an extended period of time (Armonty Bryant, Phil Taylor, Miles Austin to name a few) and they were able to overcome those.  However, the loss to center Alex Mack completely changed the last half of the campaign. The offense was stagnant, as they were no longer winning at the point
of attack.  Hopefully the drafting of Cameron Erving will prevent this type of scenario playing out in 2015.

Stepping it Up

Whether it has been J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, or Matthew Dellavadova – it seems like a guy or two rises to the occasion unexpectedly during the 2015 Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff run.  Not having to rely on your superstars every single night is a luxury to have in the NBA, and it is unrealistic to believe that they will dominate every contest. Having other guys improve their game also puts doubt into the opposition’s mind.

Granted football is a different sport, but there were some similarities between the Cavs this year and the Browns last year. Taylor Gabriel (an undrafted free agent at the time) came up huge a few times during the early part of the season, and K’Waun Williams and
Buster Skrine filled in well in the secondary.  However, football requires many more players working together – therefore the actions of a few could not help wins games.  This is a difficult aspect to accomplish, but hopefully the Browns got enough stars in free agency and the draft that “stepping up” will be the norm in 2015.

Getting it Done in Crunch Time

This simply refers to finding ways to win games.  It can be excelling at forcing opponents miss shots, scoring at timely points, or not making a critical mistake – but the wine and gold have been coming out ahead during most contests this season.  This is a huge factor that teams must possess if they want to make the postseason and be the last franchise standing.

The opposite has largely been the case for the Cleveland Browns since 1999.  Turning the ball over late, not getting the key stop on defense, or failing to convert on third down has killed this franchise.  A few games last year (against the Saints, Titans, and Falcons – to name a few), the Browns finally seemed to turn the tide. I believe they can build upon that this season and get to a point where many expect them to pull out a win in a dire spot.

Conclusion:  While it would appear that the Browns are light years from the type of success that the Cavaliers are exhibiting – they might be closer than you think.  Injuries are a part of professional sports, and some teams deal with those better than others.  I believe the Browns are building depth and will be able to withstand those going forward.  Having a talented roster and being mentally tough are what the team needs – along with multiple athletes outplaying expectations and sealing key victories on a frequent basis.

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Posted by on May 27, 2015 in NFL Season, Offseason

 

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Gambling on the 2015 Cleveland Browns

Gambling on the 2015 Cleveland Browns

Las Vegas and the Cleveland Browns 

For the second year in a row, the Browns enter the regular season with the highest probability of winning six-and-a-half games during the 2015. Obviously, as many recall the team surpassed that total en route to a seven win campaign last fall. Could the team make a repeat performance, can they be head and shoulders better than that win total, or will they fall back to only winning a handful of games? Now that the draft is finalized, we will have a better picture of the team – despite multiple variables that will happen from now until September. But let’s give it a good guess anyways:

Divisional Opponents

Is going 3 – 3 within the division too much to ask for the orange and brown? While it has been a few years (eight to be exact) since the team has not had a losing record in the AFC North, the time is now to break that streak.

The Monday Night home contest against the Ravens is definitely a winnable contest – I would not be surprised to see the Browns come out and go all-out for their home crowd. The matchups against the Bengals and Steelers at First Energy Stadium occur in weeks thirteen and seventeen, respectively. I fail this to be a lost season, where the team mails it in the final month of the campaign. Why can’t the team at least split those two matchups?

Winning in Baltimore is a tall order, but not an impossible task. Hopefully the team can steal an early win at the venue, as it is much needed. The Browns face the Bengals on a Thursday night again, then the Steelers the following Sunday. I will be interested to see how the team handles this stretch; I am hoping for success.

NFC West Foes

The Browns head to St. Louis then go home to face the Cardinals in the middle of the season. In weeks fourteen and fifteen, the club hosts the 49ers and then ships out to Seattle. Several months ago, this portion of the schedule appeared to be extremely daunting. However, the mess in the bay area (with Harbaugh resigning, and several retirements by starting defenders) and the inconsistencies between the Rams and Cardinals gives me hope. I anticipate to witness at least a pair of victories for the Browns here.

AFC West Opponents

In the early games of the campaign, the team faces the Raiders and Broncos at home and travel to San Diego. Getting out of this portion with a winning record will be rather difficult. Couple that with a late season trip to Kansas City, and this worries me as a fan. Realistically, I should only figure the Browns to win one game against the AFC West – but the irrational side of me expects a win nearly every game. 

Remaining Games

Ironically, the Browns start off against the Jets and the Titans – the two franchises who they play based off of last year’s position within the AFC North. Is it greedy to believe the team can start out 2 – 0? The Jets had a solid draft, but are far from scary (especially under center). Additionally, Marcus Mariota will likely be the quarterback for the Titans in week two. Like the way they took down David Carr last year, the Browns must make the rookie take his lumps.

Conclusion: Adding up the totals of wins by group (which will likely not be accurate, but who knows) and my faith in getting over the six-and-a-half wins is strong. Three intra-division wins, three wins against the AFC and NFC West opponents, and beating the Jets and Titans adds up to a total of eight victories in 2015. Clearly some things will be better than anticipated, while others will go awry.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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What Can the Draft Do for You?

What Can the Draft Do for You?

Getting Giddy for September

The NFL season is not for another four months, and even the preseason is three months away. However, probably unwisely so, I am very excited to see what the 2015 Cleveland Browns can do on the field. Do I expect them to go 12 – 4 and have a first-round bye in the playoffs? No, but why couldn’t they finally make the leap from a bad-to-mediocre club to a feared one on an annual basis. Let’s see why I am positive on the orange and brown…

Achieving High Marks from Outsiders

Whether it was the Poll on NFL Network, Andrew Siciliano, Charlie Casserly, or Dane Brugler (to name a few) – the Browns drafted head and shoulders above many other franchises in the league. Some dubbed it as safe, while others label it as solid. I personally don’t care what they call it, as long as the team is both better as a result and narrows the perceived talent gap deficiency from several elite teams.

Last season the Browns made headway into the division, getting two victories in the AFC North. A solid draft, and exceptional coaching and development could continue to help the orange and brown. I feel the team is still on the right path and is improving well; securing more than two wins within the AFC North is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Getting Football Players who Love the Game 

Signing talented athletes is obviously the key of draft weekend. However, having the right guys is also a major aspect. This includes athletes who eat, breathe, study, and live football. Guys that not only love the sport, but treat this as a full-time job appears to be what was lacking from the first round of the 2014 draft (subject to change) for the Cleveland Browns.

I am getting a sense of excitement from these guys, for an opportunity to play in the league and improve the team for which he plays. I never got that Johnny Manziel or Justin Gilbert – they said some positive things, but enthusiasm to be a professional athlete was not one of them. If this duo takes a page from Shelton and Erving, and more importantly play to what we expect from them, the Browns can be well ahead of where they were not too long ago.

Conclusion: I know the Browns “won” the draft in 2007, according to many experts. While that was not the case (outside of All-Pro Joe Thomas), they still made some wise moves. In 2015, I expect a majority of the twelve selections to make a huge impact on this team. As we all know, there are so many facets that go into a successful NFL franchise. However, for the first time in awhile – most of these areas appear to be good-to-great. It’s now time for the team to getting top play across the board, following several weeks of practice and training.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2015 in NFL Draft, NFL Season, Players

 

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Cleveland Browns – Round One Picks – Analysis

Cleveland Browns – Round One Picks – Analysis

Quick React – Day One of the NFL Draft

Many are touting both picks for the Cleveland Browns as safe and not exciting. That’s definitely fine by me, so long as they can get guys who can play and excel in professional. I was a bit surprised Ray Farmer did not trade up or down with either pick, but nonetheless let’s review his decisions.

Danny Shelton – Defensive Tackle – Washington

The twelfth selection was not much of a surprise (and #4 on my big board), and a welcomed addition to this team. While I would have preferred wide receiver DeVante Parker, Shelton is still a tremendous prospect. I cannot wait to see him in a rotation with Phil Taylor, John Hughes, and Desmond Bryant (to name a few). I am not worried about whether if he is a one-down, two-down, or three-down player. If he’s good, Shelton will be on the field. Finally, he comes across as a nice and genuine person – one cannot complain about that.

Conclusion:   I would rate this pick as a B+, he fulfilled a need with this franchise but might not have been the best player available. A draft full of these types of picks would be exceptional for the Cleveland Browns.

Cameron Erving – Offensive Guard – Florida State

I must admit I was more surprised with this pick for the Cleveland Browns. While he was also #4 on my big board at this spot, I was expecting the franchise to scoop up pass rusher Bud Dupree. However, the Browns got another good guy who is extremely versatile (and the only lineman who was deemed acceptable for this team in the first round of the draft). Erving should start day one, but will it be at right guard or right tackle? Also, with the possibility of Alex Mack leaving after next season, the Browns may have already found his replacement.

Conclusion: This pick is a sold B, in my opinion. Again, there appeared to be better players on the board during this point – but Erving is far from a consolation prize. If he can be a stalwart on this line for the next decade, then I will be extremely joyous.

 

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