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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Previewing the Next Game for the Browns

Previewing the Next Game for the Browns

A Look at Browns vs. Cardinals – Game #8

The team looks bad and is coming off an awful performance, now the Browns are playing one of the best teams in the NFL. Once again the odds are not in their favor – it would take a herculean effort to finally earn a win. Let’s take a gander at what is in store for this matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback – The team might as well see Johnny Manziel for the rest of the season – for evaluation purposes. He will be facing a dominating defensive unit that will likely test him on every play. As long as he can avoid making poor mistakes that his predecessor succumbed to, then there’s a chance that he can succeed with this team. Finding the end zone a few times will be critical.

Running Back – I want to see Robert Turbin get at least twenty carries in this matchup. This litmus test for the veteran might give the Browns assurance that they can actually move the ball via the ground. Duke Johnson should still remain a receiving option, with a handful of carries. Finding out what Isaiah Crowell can do best should be one of John DeFilippo’s priorities going forward.

Wide Receiver – There’s got to be a guy to step up for the Browns’ receiving unit in this contest (outside of Travis Benjamin). If Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel can haul in a long gainer – and more importantly, hold on to the ball – then that will be a big step forward. I would like to see a Browns’ wide out find the end zone in this meeting, but the chances of that happening do not look great.

Tight End – Will anyone besides Gary Barnidge get involved in the passing game (at the tight end spot)? Jim Dray was slightly active last matchup, but the staff refuses to see what E.J. Bibbs is made of. Hopefully they wise up and the undrafted rookie can finally see the field and make plays the way he did in the preseason.

Offensive Line – I don’t know what it’s going to take for the offensive line to finally play well. Is it a change in scheme, play calls, or personnel that will make the difference? The answer is probably a combination of each; however not committing dumb penalties would be a tremendous improvement for the offensive line.  Unfortunately the issues upfront cannot be pinned on a single guy – all five have got to pick it up.

Defense:

Defensive Line – The sieve known as the Browns’ defensive front should give way to many yards to Chris Johnson and company. I really wish I felt more positively about this group, but they have not give me reason to be hopeful. Guys like Randy Starks, Desmond Bryant, and Armonty Bryant can make the occasional play – but not do it on a consistent basis. One of the two rookies might want to pick up the professional game and soon. 

Linebacker – Hopefully Craig Robertson can get back in the lineup and help out the inside linebacker group. Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey have played more than adequately these past few contests. The guys on the outside have been extremely disappointing. I cannot point to one guy who can either rush the passer exceptionally or be reliable in pass coverage.  Like the defensive line, perhaps a rookie can finally be the spark plug for this unit.

Secondary – Having two starters sit out the past few weeks has not been a good thing for this franchise. I would like to see both Joe Haden and Tashaun Gipson back on the field; while Pierre Desir has been performing reasonably well, Jordan Poyer has had his issues in preventing the big play. Going against a wide receiving group that features Larry Fitzgerald is a tall order for any team – the Browns need all of their playmakers available to limit these athletes.

Special Teams: Travis Benjamin has not been able to break the long return in the past few weeks – as teams have punted away from the speedy veteran. I like the duo of kickers for the Browns but this game will likely not come down to a field goal by Travis Coons. Overall, this should be a pretty much even matchup between the two teams. 

Coaching: The defense must luck their way into stopping opposing running backs. I do not know what Jim O’Neil can do to put his guys in the best spot possible to succeed. Offensively, if the coaches do not trust the power of the line – they must lean on the passing game to provide an opportunity for rushing attempts. 

Prediction (My Record: 3 – 4): There’s no wavering for me in this contest; the Cardinals will pick up where the Rams left off. I envision the Browns falling behind and never being able to catch up – losing at home by the score of 27 – 13.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Another Defeat – Browns Analysis of Game #7

Another Defeat – Browns Analysis of Game #7

Browns @ Rams – Breaking Down Game #7

Ball security was clearly not a priority for the Cleveland Browns today and it showed. The Browns surrendered four fumbles, and also got dominated in the trenches. Overall, the team played uninspired football and it was their worst lost of the year – let’s remember the game. 

Offense:

Quarterback – He tossed for over 200 yards, but Josh McCown also lost a pair of fumbles and did not find the end zone. I guess the positive is that he did not hurt an interception – but not trying the deep pass surely did not help. McCown left the contest with a right shoulder injury, so his availability for next game is still in question. 

Running Back – Robert Turbin was the leading rusher for the Browns on Sunday, however he was only able to garner thirty yards on the ground. The lack of the run game is utterly disappointing, and the fact that this is occurring on a regular basis is beyond alarming. At least Duke Johnson has been a dependable receiver, as he was able to collect seventy-three yards on Sunday.

Wide Receiver – Without Travis Benjamin breaking out in this matchup, the wide receiving corps was less than stellar. Couple that with the fact that Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel lost a fumble – and this unit was a weak point. Brian Hartline finally got involved in a contest; he needs to build upon this performance going forward.

Tight End – Despite the fact that Gary Barnidge did not find the end zone for the first time in weeks, the athlete still put up pretty good numbers (six receptions for 101 yards). I am confident this will continue, but would like to see a counterpart step up. Jim Dray hauled in a pair of passes for ten yards – that is not enough to help out this position group. Maybe E.J. Bibbs can help at some point this year.

Offensive Line – I cannot explain how frustrated I am at the level of performance of the Browns’ offensive line. They cannot open holes for any running backs – and their pass protection is average at best. Oh yea, and they commit dumb penalties that kill drives.  Cameron Erving replaced John Greco at right guard late in the contest, I doubt this will be the answer but I would like to see what he can do next contest.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Well on the positive side, Desmond Bryant, Armonty Bryant, and Randy Starks all made impactful plays for the defensive line. However, that was not nearly enough as rookie Todd Gurley made light work of the run defense of the visiting squad. Danny Shelton could not muster any stats – I know he is a great player, but he must figure out a way to make a consistent impact during contests. 

Linebacker – The duo of Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby were more than solid in game – as they combined for fifteen tackles and were always around opposing receivers. However, once again, the edge rushers could neither put pressure on the quarterback nor make a play in coverage. Nate Orchard led this group with two tackles, but has to got to be much better than he has been. 

Secondary – The cornerbacks and safeties were not expected to make big plays, and they limited Nick Foles to less than 200 yards through the air. Unfortunately the run support was a second or two late consistently and it cost the Browns. Jordan Poyer is trying is best, but he cannot find himself at the best spot during plays.

Special Teams: I guess the Browns won this area, as Travis Coons won the kicking battle. The Rams easily won the field position battle, as the Browns could not move the ball when pinned deep in their own territory. 

Coaching: The calls have already arrived for the departure of defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil. The defense cannot stop any opposing running back, and it is not allowing any wiggle room for victories for the orange and brown. I know there is a better way to help this unit, but I (and the team apparently) cannot figure out the answer.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Rams

A Glance into Game #7 – Browns @ Rams

Previewing the Browns @ Rams – Game #7

These tough losses have somewhat hurt my enthusiasm for the Browns, but I am still ready to preview their upcoming matchup.  They travel to visit a well-rested Rams team, who will be another difficult matchup for the orange and brown.  I don’t feel they need a huge overhaul and are very close to finally getting over the hump.  Will they be able to slay the demons and win in St. Louis?

Offense:

Quarterback – The real Josh McCown was (likely) the one on display last week – but here’s hoping he can be better than that this week. Turning the ball over three times is unacceptable; I anticipate the Rams to bring pressure consistently to force the signal caller into the same kind of mistakes.  Not throwing that mind-numbing interception will be vital in this matchup, but that still may not be enough to earn a victory for the Browns.

Running Back – Now the Browns have a stable of three running backs. Robert Turbin’s style would appear that he is best man to run between the tackles.  I would still like to see Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell get carries, but their ability as receivers should be on display more often.  Pairing Turbin with one of the other backs would be an interesting move and could give the Rams’ staff something extra to think about.

Wide Receiver – It would be nice if another wide receiver could step up and be as dependable as Travis Benjamin has been.  Andrew Hawkins has been progressing as of late, but he really needs to take that step forward and display separation on routes.  Brian Hartline is beyond due to get involved in games; hopefully he can secure a few key grabs in this contest.  Having another option in the passing game would be a sage move for this team.

Tight End – What more can you say about Gary Barnidge?  The veteran has been as solid as a rock and a touchdown machine in the process.  I anticipate he will find the end zone once again this week, but I would like to see him with more receptions between the twenty-yard lines. Rob Housler left last game with an injury – perhaps E.J. Bibbs can finally see the field this Sunday.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront got embarrassed on a few pass blocking assignments last contest.  I fear I will see similar results against a Rams’ front that features Chris Long, Aaron Donald, and many other talented athletes.  If John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz continue to get driven back with ease, as well as have their issues at the point of attack – the change to Cameron Erving might be around the corner.

Defense:

Defensive Line – This one could get ugly for the guys upfront – I fully expect Todd Gurley to continue the streak of 100 plus rushing yards against the Browns’ defense.  The coaches and players both know it’s coming – and yet they are still unable to slow down opposing running backs.  I don’t know if there should be personnel changes or if they should bring up an outside linebacker on the line of scrimmage, but the Browns are being the definition of insane in terms to trying to stop the run.

Linebacker – The positives are that Barkevious Mingo has had a knack for defending lob passes.  Other than that, the outside linebackers have been either invisible or unproductive.  They have been extremely distant from opposing signal callers – allowing them to complete passes with ease.  Should Mingo be a pure rusher?  Can Nate Orchard make the transition to an every down linebacker (and soon)?  Something has got to give.  That was one of the best performances by the Browns’ inside linebackers last game – unfortunately it was not enough.  I hope Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey can keep it going, but it won’t be easy.

Secondary – The drops by Demaryus Thomas made the Browns’ secondary look better than they actually were.  The missed tackles and blown coverage are visible on a weekly basis – Nick Foles will take advantage of this inferior part of the defense.  I am not certain of the availability of Tashaun Gipson and Joe Haden – but frankly I don’t even think that will matter in this contest.

Special Teams:  For the first time in a while, the Browns do not have a clear advantage in the matchup between special teams.  The key reason is Tavon Austin; the speedster can change this game in the matter of seconds.  I hope the Browns can limit his return yards – but a long gainer remains possible.

Coaching:  Last week coach Pettine started the game with an aggressive plan and finished with a conservative one.  He should look for the “ground and pound” to start this contest and see how things sort their way out.  Defensively, they know they will get run on – find a way to stop it!

Prediction (My Record: 2 – 4):  Another game, another loss is what I am seeing for the orange and brown.  The Rams hold off the visitors by the score of 27 – 23, and the Browns fall to a 2 – 5 record.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Yet Another Crushing Loss for the Browns

Yet Another Crushing Loss for the Browns

Browns vs. Broncos – Analyzing Game #6

Another game against the Broncos, and yet another heartbreaking loss against the orange and blue team. It’s beyond maddening that the Browns cannot get it done versus a team that is not superior in any way, but here we are. On Sunday, the home squad was unable to do what it takes to get the victory. Let’s review what when down at First Energy Stadium. 

Offense:

Quarterback – Two costly mistakes cost Josh McCown from winning this contest. The signal caller threw an interception to Aquib Talib for a touchdown in the first half, and tossed one late in the fourth quarter nullifying a possibility of a late victory. The team has been so close to winning for so long; it’s disappointing that they cannot get over the hump and Josh McCown has not been able to be the guy to do it.

Running Back – The rushing attacking of Robert Turbin, Isaiah Crowell, and Duke Johnson was not extremely effective on the ground (totaling just under 100 yards) but they gave the Broncos’ defense something to think about. I was intrigued with the play of Turbin, as he looked to pick up steam late in the contest, but he was not the difference in this contest – maybe next week.

Wide Receiver – It really looks like Travis Benjamin is the main (and only) wide out option for this football team. Garnering nine grabs for over 100 yards is exceptional, but it would be nice if another target is able to get open and secure grabs for this offense. Brian Hartline has been a disappointment over the past few contests – and the veteran did not make a single catch in this game. The Browns need as many hands on deck during each contest, but it seems like they are unable to get it done. 

Tight End – It was a slow start, but tight end Gary Barnidge did enough to have a solid effort on Sunday. He only came away came away with three grabs, but two were for touchdowns. This has been very pleasant to see the veteran continue to put up great numbers on a weekly basis, but it was not good enough to win the game.

Offensive Line – Four sacks surrendered and less than 100 yards by Browns’ running backs means a losing grade for this offensive line. I understand the opponent is a very good one, but I could count multiple times were the right side of the line lost on a consistent basis (and that is without the services of DeMarcus Ware). Clearly Cameron Erving was not good enough to play in this game, but perhaps that can change down the road. 

Defense: 

Defensive Line – Going against the thirtieth ranked rushing offense, and the Browns gave up 111 yards to Ronnie Hillman. It has been disappointing to say the least, but it is also been extremely consistent by this unit to make their opponent look exceptional. Desmond Bryant and Randy Starks combined for nine tackles but that was not good enough to win at the point of attack. Danny Shelton was not a factor in this matchup – it’s beyond frustrating and Jim O’Neil must figure out some adjustments before it’s too late.

Linebacker – I was pretty pleased with the output by Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey at the linebacker position. The former had a pair of interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. Meanwhile, the latter made a couple of nice key stops on third down leading to Broncos punting the ball. Barkevious Mingo even had an interception – but two forced turnovers led to zero points for the Browns (and that was the difference in the game).

Secondary – If it weren’t for a few of dropped passes by Demaryus Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, then this secondary would have been embarrassed. Peyton Manning was off target most of the game, while his targets did not help most of the time as well. Pierre Desir gave a huge cushion consistently and was less than stellar. At the safety spot, Donte Whitner missed a few key tackles early and never recovered. The Browns need a solid safety who can make plays, but currently do not have that guy on their roster.

Special Teams: Clearly the team was not ready to give Travis Coons the shot to kick a fifty-yard field goal an opportunity. The offense turned the ball over on downs early in the contest and it was a blown chance for points. Other than that, the special teams were reliable as usual for the home team. The big play was not there – but not giving Travis Benjamin a shot to return punts was a part of the opponent’s game plan. 

Coaching: The game plan was good enough to get a win for the orange and brown but it simply was not executed to the point where they could get the victory. The offense either made one too many mistakes or did not make the most out of what they were given. Meanwhile, the defense could not capitalize on an aging Peyton Manning and his erratic passing. Alas, another loss for the Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns vs. Broncos – Previewing Game #6

Browns vs. Broncos – Previewing Game #6

A Preview of Game #6 – Broncos @ Browns

After splitting a pair of games on the road (both closely contested), the Browns finally head back home. Their next opponent is the undefeated Broncos and Peyton Manning, who has never lost to the orange and brown. The visitors boast one of the top defenses in the league – therefore, this contest will be an extremely difficult one. Let’s take a look at this matchup. 

Offense: 

Quarterback – I got to admit that I did not see that output from Josh McCown last week; however this game’s performance will likely not be nearly as great as the past three. The quarterback must be efficient against the Broncos; he will (more than likely) not eclipse the 300-yard mark, but playing mistake-free football is the bottom line. Keeping all of his guys involved surely helps as well. I anticipate McCown tossing for around 250 yards but will finally throw an interception.

Running Back – Starting with dump off passes should be the game plan to get both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson involved. Hopefully those plays can continue to work, which should pave the way for rushing attempts (and some of a longer variety). It will not be an easy task, but I expect John DeFilippo to work his magic once again to make this offense click on all cylinders. Crowell and Johnson should be able to garner a combined 150 yards via the ground and air – but having them finding the end zone can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Wide Receiver – Travis Benjamin has cooled a bit in his production (and was covered well on deeper routes), but he still remains the team’s best wide receiving target. I am pleased at his development and am confident that will continue all season long. Both Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins are making plays as well – neither is producing tremendously but they are making the most when given the opportunity. Brian Hartline might get more looks in this contest as moving the chains on third down will be of utmost importance in this matchup.

Tight End – Some call him “Big Play Gar” – Gary Barnidge is playing out of this world. He is making huge catches, securing incredible touchdowns, and is fortifying the tight end position. I would love to believe that he can play like this every week, but the odds are against it. Jim Dray and Rob Housler finally got involved last contest – perhaps they can be options should Barnidge receive double coverage. That said, my stance on E.J. Bibbs remains unchanged (and he must play). 

Offensive Line – The unit upfront is continuing to build upon their improving performances. They are still a ways from being stout, but I can feel the gang getting better. This matchup with be extremely tough, as the defensive front tends to shut down running backs and get to signal callers on pass attempts. This might be a week that Cameron Erving is inserted to the lineup for help with pass protection. I do not see a ton of rushing yardage and a few sacks of Josh McCown, but I am hoping the offensive line outperforms my expectations.

Defense:

Defensive Line – It’s a struggling running offense going against a porous run defense. I’d like to say the Brown’s front three are starting to turn the corner, but the mistakes are still apparent. Danny Shelton had a decent outing last week but also made a pair of bone-headed penalties. The return of Desmond Bryant paid dividends early; if they can play that way the entire contest, the Browns will have finally shown a glimpse of how many thought they would perform. 

Linebacker – I do not really know what has to be done with this underachieving group. Scott Solomon’s latest injury will keep him out for a while – and so far no one has stepped up as a rush outside linebacker. Will Armonty Bryant finally break thru and be a force on the edge? Unlikely, and something must click for these guys otherwise they will be embarrassed on a weekly basis. Nate Orchard finally got some playing time late last game; maybe he is the key. With Craig Robertson hobbled, Chris Kirksey and Tank Carder played alongside Karlos Dansby. I am very worried about this position – I am praying they just start making plays.

Secondary – Joe Haden will likely not be available for this contest. Therefore Pierre Desir, K’Waun Williams, and even Johson Bademosi should expect to face Peyton Manning and his group of receivers. It’s time to finally give Justin Gilbert a shot and let him work out his funk. I anticipate at least one interception by the secondary – hopefully the team can make it count. Jordan Poyer was able to hold his own last contest, (provided Tashaun Gipson is held out again) so I would not be extremely concerned about the reserve athlete getting playing time. That “huge play” continues to be missing from the Browns’ safety group; Sunday would be a good point to see this. 

Special Teams: Another solid contest by all parts of the special teams; Travis Coons and Andy Lee have been kicking the ball both far and accurately. There was not much from the return units by either squad – I expect the same to occur against the Broncos. I got a feeling that Travis Benjamin could do something special, however.

Coaching: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, is a common phrase. While I completely agree with that statement – the Browns’ offfense must be careful to not have McCown heaving fifty passes on a weekly basis (especially against a tremendous defense). Defensively, just get it done no matter what. The team needs punts forced, turnovers, and to not give up yards and points. 

Prediction (My Record: 1 – 4): I really want to pick the Browns in this contest, especially with the enthusiasm that came with their win last week. However, I do not see it happening and the Broncos win by the score of 24 – 17.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns Win – Game #5

Browns Win – Game #5

Review of Game #5 – Browns @ Ravens

Wow, I still cannot believe the Browns pulled out that victory this afternoon. It was very close, but the offense pulled it out during the tough contest. I am very excited about parts of this team and disappointed about the other – it was a win but it could be a lot worse. Let’s see what happened.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Yep, Josh McCown picked up right where he left off – I am glad he was able to continue to attack defenses at a regular pace.   He dominated for a majority of the contest – including hitting for over 400 yards passing. He was stable in the pocket and pulled out a win; I am very complacent that the signal caller will continue this type of play going forward.

Running Back – Both guys appeared to have dominated in this contest, but it was Duke Johnson who made it count for this franchise. I was surprised to see this unit play extremely well, however the dump off to running backs was key to this offensive unit. Both guys were solid in this contest and I am confident that they will produce going forward. Hopefully the team can continue this type of play going forward. 

Wide Receiver –Everyone got it going for the wide receiving unit, it didn’t matter if it was Taylor Gabriel, Travis Benjamin, or Andrew Hawkins but the guys got it done during the 2015 campaign. Every guy appeared to have got it done and I am very glad that the group did what they needed to do. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel are two guys who really took advantage of the situation they were presented – I expect this type of performance to continue. 

Tight End – Is that Gronk or Gary Barnidge?   Seriously, the tight end for the Cleveland Browns is making things happen. His acrobatic catch was huge in this contest, and that’s now a pair of important grabs for this athlete. Barnidge was gigantic in the victory; I anticipate he will keep it up going forward. Jim Dray had a catch as well; I’d still like to see E.J. Bibbs but that will have to wait for the Browns.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront finally played up to their capabilities and the Browns’ offense line was stout in this contest. No one got outplayed, including Michell Schwartz – the offensive line was stout was and was solid in this contest. I’d still like to see what the team can do – but would not be surprised if the athletes can dominate upfront.

Defense:

Defensive Line – I guess that the guys upfront finally played solidly in this contest. They did not surrender a great deal of yardage on the ground but there was still 30 points given up by the team. Fortunately the team was able to overcome this, and Jamie Meder and Desmond Bryant did their best to dominate in this contest. This must continue to occur going forward.

Linebacker – I would like to believe that the linebackers corps played up to their capabilities in this matchup. However, that was not the case and the unit still played solid in this matchup. The outside linebackers where not visible in this contest, hopefully they can continue to improve going forward. Karlos Dansby made some nice plays, but he was far from effective in this matchup. If the linebackers can finally get their act together, the Browns will win many games.

Secondary – Not a solid job by the Browns’ secondary, but the team did enough to get by. Tramon Williams, K’Waun Williams (when available), and Jordan Poyer have proved that this defense can be good enough to win in matchups. I would like to see if Ibraheim Campbell could step up in this matchup, perhaps that will come down the road. 

Special Teams: No turnovers and not bad penalties were apparent for the Cleveland Browns’ special teams. They played well and moved the sticks in this matchup, and I believed the special teams were good enough to win this contest.

Coaching: Mike Pettine got paid today – he and his staff did their best to put the team in the best spot possible to win this matchup. However it worked out, the Browns still do the win and scored at the best point possible. I am happy they won and look forward to next week’s game.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Breaking Down Browns @ Ravens – Game #5

Breaking Down Browns @ Ravens – Game #5

Game #5 Preview – Browns @ Ravens

A rested team coming off a big win ten days ago goes against a team that lost a heartbreaker and has its second consecutive road game – that is this week’s storyline.  From that alone, the Browns’ odds of winning are not great; toss in the fact this contest is in Baltimore and another loss appears obvious.  However, the team will still go out there and compete this Sunday; can they actually pull out a victory?

Offense

Quarterback:  Can Josh McCown make it three games in a row, in terms of surpassing the 300-yard mark through the air?  The odds are not in his favor, but I am intrigued to see if he can get many guys involved the way he has been doing.  This, in turn, has led to the defense being off-balance and McCown being able to attack all over the field.  I have a bad feeling about him turning the football over in this matchup.  Last week, he had one fumble but the defense rose up to prevent any points being surrendered.  I feel that the Ravens’ defense will be a bit more opportunistic.

Running Back:  Hopefully the duo of Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell can continue to work their magic.  Two capable backs who are weapons in both the run and passing game?  We have not seen that in Cleveland for quite some time – and that should give defenses enough to think about on a consistent basis.  Like last week, I would expect to see at least one score out of this unit and do not care how it comes about. A key will be playing keep-away if the Browns have the lead late and want to work the clock while still moving the chains.

Wide Receiver:  Will Brian Hartline return to the lineup this week (after exiting following the first series with an injury)?  Will that mean a lot to this offense and receiving unit?  Travis Benjamin continued where he left off a few weeks earlier, while Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins were frequently involved last contest.  Ideally Hartline will continue to play the role of chain mover on third down. I would like to see at least one touchdown from a wide out in this meeting.  I get a sense that Dwayne Bowe’s time in Cleveland is nearing a close – as the disappointing veteran has yet to record a reception.

Tight End:  The roles for Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge are pretty much pronounced – the former is the blocker, while the latter is the pass catcher (and is doing a fine job at that).  Barnidge has already surpassed his season-high in receptions and has a pair of touchdowns. Rob Housler has been useless, so now is the portion of the blog where
I insert my weekly plea to insert rookie E.J. Bibbs into the active lineup and deactivate Housler.  Who knows, maybe he can be another playmaker for this offense – there’s only one way to find out.

Offensive Line:  Improvement was finally on display last contest, but the offensive line is still a ways from where many expected them to perform.  Mitchell Schwartz is clearly getting beat on pass rushes, but at least the number of times is reducing.  I guarantee that the home squad will throw the kitchen sink at the guys upfront – and I would love to see them rise to the challenge.  It has not occurred many times this campaign, but the Browns have utilized a lineup with Cameron Erving as an additional blocker.  This should be witnessed on Sunday; if they can get a result like the touchdown versus the Titans (or even close to that) then using it will have been a brilliant call.

Defense

Defensive Line:  Up to this point, the first three things I think about this defensive line are slow, out of place, and uninspired. They have picked up where the 2014 defensive line left off – and that is worst in the league.  Danny Shelton was drafted to help
tremendously in this department, but that has not been the case over the first quarter of the season.  I hope he can find his way and quickly, as the unit needs a leader to rally around.  Having Desmond Bryant return from injury would not hurt this group either; of course he still has got to make plays once he gets back on the field.

Linebacker:  There’s a chance that Scott Solomon can be active for this contest – the outside linebacker group seriously needs some good news.  Paul Kruger is in coverage (not his strength), and the guy opposite of him (be it Mingo, Orchard, or Armonty Bryant) was nowhere to be found in San Diego.  A 3-4 Defense is predicated on their linebackers; they must help in the run game, perform in pass coverage, and (most importantly) get to and sack the quarterback.  None of the three are currently happening for the Cleveland Browns.  The guys on the inside were of little help as well last week.  Karlos Dansby made a couple nice plays early on, but that was it for the inside linebackers.  Jim O’Neil has his hands full with trying to make this unit a productive one.

Secondary:  The performance the secondary put forward (in San Diego) was appalling – they could not stop or cover anyone.  Joe Haden being inactive was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps he can return and somewhat resemble a solid cornerback this matchup.  I would have thought that this group would be one of the better parts of the team, but the opposite has been true.  People want to see Ibraheim Campbell, and it’s only two more weeks until Charles Gaines comes off the PUP list.  Unless K’Waun Williams can return this game and really help out in stopping the pass – it could be another long day for the Browns’ defensive backs.

Special Teams:  I don’t expect to see much of a difference between these two franchises’ special teams.  Both have solid kicking and return units.  It might be one great return or costly turnover that could tip the scales between the Browns and Ravens’ units.  I am pulling that the visitors come out on top.

Coaching:  All eyes are (and have been) on defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil – will Mike Pettine assist his protégé in the game plan and play calling?  I don’t care how it happens, just fix the defense please.  The Browns will not win another game if their defense continues to be a sieve against the run and out of position against the pass.

Prediction (My Record 1 -3):  I expect another loss by the Browns this week, this time by more of a wider margin.  The Ravens beat up the orange and brown to the tune of 26 – 13 and leave the Browns limping home at 1 – 4.

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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