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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Browns vs. Pittsburgh – Game #16 Preview

Browns vs. Pittsburgh – Game #16 Preview

The Final Game of the 2015 Season – Browns vs. Steelers

It’s finally here; after many months of bad football the Browns will finally end the campaign at home against the black and yellow. I have (painfully) witnessed fifteen contests for this franchise over the past few months, so I will fight though one more. Can they win? Sure. Will they compete and actually come out ahead of a playoff-hopeful team? We will discuss below.

Offense:

Quarterback – Since the last time Johnny Manziel faced the Steelers, the quarterback has had some highs and lows (both on and off the field) – but more importantly he has gained vital experience. He reverted more to running last game, but I anticipate he will stick primarily in the pocket and tossing passes to his targets. He will find the end zone in this game, and I do not see a bad interception like his past two contests.

Running Back – Both backs have continued to improve this season; why can’t this continue against the black and yellow? Isaiah Crowell will not get more than seventy-yards on the ground, but should be able to get into the end zone. I would like to think that Duke Johnson could both help in the passing game (as a receiver) as well as providing a decoy on designed runs for Manziel. Hopefully the rookie can do his job exceptionally this week. 

Wide Receiver – Once again, I do not foresee a tremendous amount of output from Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel, and company, as that appears to be the norm since Brian Hartline’s injury. The wide outs should be able to haul in passes and move the chains – but that’s all one should anticipate. A score would be icing on the cake in this matchup, but don’t hold your breath. 

Tight End – Gary Barnidge continues to display an ability to be a reliable weapon for this offense. However staying on nine touchdowns should give him (and the team as a whole) a desire to break the franchise’s single season record for touchdowns caught by a tight end. I would be disappointed if he was unable to score a touchdown, but the defense he will face is a stingy one. Perhaps Jim Dray can possibly get involved and help this offense as well.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront continue to look respectable, despite looking lost early and succumbing to injuries late. Even Cam Erving was not terrible last game – I would like to believe he is working through rookie issues but this game will be a tremendous test for the guard. Will this be Alex Mack’s final game as a Cleveland Brown? This would not surprise me, and I hope he goes out a winner and does a fine job during this contest.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Can the Browns make it two games in a row, in terms of limiting opposing running backs from rushing for a great deal of yards? The way things are going; the odds are against this from happening. Danny Shelton is making a play or two but still is not consistent enough to be a force in the middle of the defensive line. Perhaps Desmond Bryant can fill gaps on the edge and meet DeAngelo Williams in the hole – prompting to shorter running plays.

Linebacker – As usual both Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby will be able to provide their services in run support, however struggle in pass coverage. On the outside, I have no idea what to expect from any of the guys. Paul Kruger can still rush the quarterback well, but he is asked to do that only a portion of the time. Rookie Nate Orchard is coming along; maybe he can be the wildcard if the Browns want to score the upset. Getting sacks and securing turnovers would be a reason why the team can earn this victory. 

Secondary – Hopefully K’Waun Williams and Charles Gaines can take their next step improving as professional cornerbacks. They (along with Tramon Williams) had their issues at Heinz Field, but were able to keep up with receivers over the past few games. I really hope both can keep it up, as the opposition will try its hardest to embarrass the secondary. I would be all for Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner being active in this matchup and making an impact – but do not envision this occurring yet again.

Special Teams: I look for fakes on punts; onsides kicks, and changes to blocking in the field goal unit for the Browns this week. This could actually be a part of the game that the Browns can win in – however they must be smart when punting to Antonio Brown.  A winning kick would be a great way to end the season, but many other positives must occur first.

Coaching: I hope John DeFilippo continues to call plays they way he has been the last few games. The offense has not been clicking on all cylinders, but they have been executing more as of late (especially via the running game). Defensively, the Browns pitched a shut out in the second half last week. Whatever Jim O’Neil did needs to be replicated for all four quarters in this game.

Prediction (My Record: 10 – 5): The Browns keep this contest close in the first half, but the Steelers blow it wide open in the third quarter. That leads to a defeat of 30 – 14 and the end to this bad year of Cleveland Browns football.

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Posted by on December 31, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Yet Another Loss for the Orange and Brown

Yet Another Loss for the Orange and Brown

Another Loss – Game #15 – Browns @ Chiefs 

It was a miserable start, but at least the Browns made it interesting before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs. There were ample errors, a turnover, and several missed opportunities for the Browns. The end result was a tough defeat and yet the team hanging their heads at the end of the contest. Let’s remember what went down for the orange and brown.

Offense:

Quarterback – I guess you could say that Johnny Manziel had a decent game. The signal caller made several plays – via mostly by his legs. However, the quarterback missed a few targets and heaved a costly interception early in this matchup. I still feel he should get the shot to start the final game next wee, but worry about his future going forward (a fair amount will be dictated by the front office, however).

Running Back – Both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson was active in this matchup – both as rushers and as receiving options. I still feel each can help with this offense, provided the guy under center can move the ball at a reasonable pace. Duke once again displayed a solid ability to catch and run, while Crowell carried the ball well between the tackles. It will be interesting to see what happens between the pair.

Wide Receiver – It appears that finally the injuries to the wide receiver spot have taken a toll on the group. Travis Benjamin and Darius Jennings were less than stellar; Manziel targeted his tight ends and running backs more as a result. I guess Dwayne Bowe played in this matchup – he was as productive as expected. Maybe next season the Browns can get guys who can move the chains and excel as athletes.

Tight End – Gary Barnidge made a few plays when given an opportunity to catch and run. Several time Manziel over through his target and missed connection was a result – unfortunately that hurt the offense. Jim Dray mad a few receptions, but it was not enough to help the offense. I was disappointed to see E.J. Bibbs not get any chances, but what is new.

Offensive Line – I was extremely pleased to see Cameron Erving not get blown up and destroyed by the defensive line. I do not know whether the rookie has improved or if he was not getting challenged as much as he usually has been in contests. However, Manziel and the backs were not being harassed at the point of attack the way they have been.

Defense:

Defensive Line – I guess keeping Charcandrick West from getting 100 yards plus on the ground was a positive for this defensive line. They ground was far from dominant, but they could have been a whole lot worse. Danny Shelton was around the ball a decent amount, but I would have liked to see Xavier Cooper, Randy Starks, and Desmond Bryant corral Alex Smith in the pocket.

Linebacker – Along the lines of limiting the signal caller, I was terribly disappointed to witness the opposing signal caller run down the field on occasions. I guess one could argue that Craig Robertson and Nate Orchard made a few plays (including teaming for an interception), however there were many missed opportunities by this unit. Barkevious Mingo whiffed on a wide open shot at a sack – one more game until this awful bust is hopefully off this squad.

Secondary – Maybe Charles Gaines has turned a corner at cornerback? The rookie was not burned as badly as he usually has been, and was actually somewhat respectable. Tramon Williams, on the other hand, was picked on and could not help his teammates in defending the pass. I though K’Waun Williams did a decent job this game, at some point he may have to get an increased role in the NFL.

Special Teams: The fake punt was a thing of beauty – I was expecting it, and they were able to execute the play. However, another blocked field goal occurred in this matchup – this is beyond frustrating.

Coaching: In the second half of this game, the offensive staff finally turned Manziel loose and allowed the quarterback to run and pick up yards while not throwing the ball. While it will not work most of the time, it was successful at times in this contest. Defensively, they were not embarrassing – it will be too little too late for this unit and many will wonder why the Brown could not limit teams all season long. Another defeat and a game against the black and yellow is next.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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A Preview for Browns @ Chiefs – Game #15

A Preview for Browns @ Chiefs – Game #15

Looking into #15 – Browns @ Chiefs

Outside of an incredible opening offensive drive, the Cleveland Browns looked miserable on the road last week. They now face the playoff-hopeful and red-hot Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. In another difficult venue, I (once again) give the Browns little hope that they can come in and earn the victory. Regardless I will take a peek into this match up.

Offense:

Quarterback – The light is starting to come on for Johnny Manziel. He is being smarter in the pocket, getting the ball out quickly, and throwing passes where he needs to. While he is not facing a great defense like the Seahawks – the Browns will go against an opportunistic unit who turns teams over and puts points on the board. Manziel should be able to get at least one score on Sunday; hopefully he avoids giving the ball away to their defense.

Running Back – Being able to utilize Duke Johnson out of the backfield was something to watch last game. I anticipate this will be the norm in this contest; as well as giving the ball to the rookie between the tackles. Isaiah Crowell should have fresh legs against the Chiefs – (he was not used to a great extent last game) and she should still churn out yards. Maybe the threat of Manziel running is actually opening lanes for these backs – why not keep using it (until they get shut down)?

Wide Receiver – The injuries are piling up and apparent – the guys left are doing their best but not scaring any secondary units. Travis Benjamin made a couple nice catches but can still be a downfield threat. Marlon Moore is definitely a special teamer playing offense – he is blocking and running routes as hard as possible, but this position needs athletic guys who can make big plays.  Dwayne Bowe even make some catches last week, maybe he can be inspired to have a big day against his former team.

Tight End – Despite being bottled up for most of the game, veteran tight end Gary Barnidge found the end zone last meeting. I would not be surprised to see him surpass the franchise single season record for touchdowns by a tight end – hopefully he can accomplish this on Sunday. I guess we should not anticipate seeing E.J. Bibbs in action once again. Other than a couple of opportunities for Jim Dray, this position group is a one-man wrecking crew. 

Offensive Line – Cameron Erving is not having a stellar rookie season. A pair of injuries to guards has forced the Florida State alum into the starting lineup. I would like to think that he can get his act together and help out his teammates, but more than likely Manziel will have to evade defenders rather quickly in the “A and B” gaps. I’m not sure he can overcome this for a majority of the matchup and can see at least three or four sacks for the opponent.

Defense:

Defensive Line – I fully expect Charcandrick West to breeze through the Cleveland Browns front seven this Sunday. Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper have both made plays here and there against the run, but neither are consistent enough to shut down the opposition. Randy Starks was at least in the screen a few times last week, but I expect the veteran to disappoint in the game. I would predict that the Browns surrender over 150 yards on the ground. 

Linebacker – Armonty Bryant might be playing the best on the outside for the Browns right now. He is doing a moderate job at setting the edge and has been getting to the quarterback at times. Other than that and a few plays by Paul Kruger, the outside linebackers are not playing up to expectations. Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby have been asked to make open field tackles, which occur on a frequent basis. However, the duo needs to make “impactful plays” (i.e. forcing fumbles) each game. 

Secondary – At this point, it doesn’t really matter who is in a cornerback – the Browns cannot cover their opponent during passing plays. Charles Gaines is at least promising, as the rookie has had a few deflections. But by and large, it’s pitch and catch for the opposition. The safeties have been invisible all season long; I have been really down on Tashaun Gipson and wonder how his play could have fallen off this badly. Jeremy Maclin should have a big game for the Chiefs.

Special Teams: I suppose the Browns somewhat had a respectable game in this department last week. The kick returning game was vastly improved, and if the offense can capitalize with the improved field position – then they might not get blown out. The Browns need to force a turnover by the home team. 

Coaching: There’s not really a ton of changes needed for this offense. John DeFlippo has been making he most with his guys and is putting them in spots to succeed. I have to throw my hands up with this defense; I don’t think anything can be done for them to improve. Jim O’Neil is not doing a good job but the same can be said for the play of the guys on the field.

Prediction (My Record: 9 – 5): After the 49ers win, I thought the Browns had a chance to win in Kansas City. However, I’ve come back to my senses and realized that a victory is not possible. The Chiefs win this game 34 – 17.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Who Didn’t See that Coming – Browns Lose

Who Didn’t See that Coming – Browns Lose

A Recap of Game #14 – Browns @ Seahawks 

Well it was a great start to this game, but after that it was all downhill for the orange and Brown. Johnny Manziel and the offense were decent but the defense was once again awful. In the end, I came away thinking less of the Seahawks. I don’t believe they are a great team – they simply feasted on a weak team. Let’s look more into this game.

Offense:

Quarterback – Johnny Manziel made several plays and avoided a few key sacks. I did not expect the signal caller to excel in this contest (and he didn’t) but figured he would be respectable. That was pretty much the case in this matchup. If the Browns want to keep the quarterback and pair him with playmakers, the franchise might actually have something under center. That is a long ways a way, however.

Running Back – The more productive back in this contest was Duke Johnson. The rookie had a couple decent runs between the tackles, but he was also able to catch and run as a receiver. I was not surprised to see the running game struggle mightily, but the fact that DeFilippo was able to still utilize the backs was something that was sorely needed. Hopefully they can improve upon this output next game. 

Wide Receiver – Drops, drops, and more drops for the wide outs – that’s what happens when you have a depleted unit. Terrelle Pryor, Marlon Moore, and Travis Benjamin each missed on great opportunities in this contest. It is beyond obvious that this team needs a top-flight target for their quarterback who can command double teams and haul in passes in traffic.

Tight End – It was Gary Barnidge doing Gary Barnidge things in this game. The tight end hauled in a touchdown (his ninth of the year, tied for the most in franchise history) and made a tremendous play to pick up a third down. Once again, he was only guy within this group to make a play – unless you could Jim Dray breaking up a possible interception in the first quarter. No E.J. Bibbs in this game, and I continue to be disappointed.

Offensive Line – John Greco got hurt early and left the game in the first quarter. Filling in, rookie Cameron Erving continued to look rough and was dominated consistently. I hope he is just learning the tricks of the trade and will pick up the professional game – but I do not have a lot of confidence at this point. The other guys held up their end of the bargain; which is a tall order against the Seattle defense.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – Facing a third (or fourth) string running back, I would like to believe that the Browns were decent against the running game. They did allow a fair amount of yardage to several backs (including the quarterback) – but it could have been a ton worse. Danny Shelton made some nice tackles, and Xavier Cooper was active upfront. Meanwhile Desmond Bryant did his best to be around the football all contest long. However that was not the reason why the defense failed today.

Linebacker – Once again the outside linebackers were invisible and could not take the shrimpy quarterback down with a sack. Maybe Nate Orchard can be a solid linebacker, but this coaching staff is putting him in spots to stop the run. Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo never rushed the signal caller and could not help in run support. On the inside, Karlos Dansby and Chris Kirksey had some tackles but there were far from disruptive. 

Secondary – I don’t care if it was Charles Gaines, Pierre Desir, or Johnson Bademosi – the cornerbacks were awful in all aspects of coverage. They simply could not cover Doug Baldwin – who is apparently Jerry Rice. It’s pathetic to see a little guy hit less than talented guys for multiple scores, especially when the Browns cannot do this. There needs to be some changes next year – I don’t care if it’s coaching or personnel but this is just sad. 

Special Teams: Raheem Moestert might have been the best player for the Browns in this game. The new returner made the most of his opportunities and actually returned kicks past the twenty-yard line. Realistically, this part of the roster was not why the team was defeated handily.

Coaching: I’m tired of defending this coaching staff (especially for the defense) – they are putting guys in bad spots and making them make plays they simply are not able to. I like DeFilippo and what he has done but the defensive game plans are terrible. Two more games of this garbage and then there’s more time off from watching bad football.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Looking at Game #14 – Browns @ Seahawks

Looking at Game #14 – Browns @ Seahawks

Browns @ Seahawks – Game #14 Preview

For the first time in many weeks, the Browns are coming off of a victory.  These have obviously been few and far between this campaign, and many odds makers feel that this will not continue in Seattle.  The orange and brown are expected to be defeated handily to a solid football team that appears to be heading once again to the postseason.  However, if the Browns can dominate the way they did last week (which is extremely unlikely) – there is a shot at an enormous upset.  Let’s take a peek into this contest.

Offense:

Quarterback – This game can be a huge litmus test to see how far along Johnny Manziel’s progression is coming.  The second year signal caller is getting much better each time he takes the field; however this Sunday he will more than likely face his stiffest test in the league.  If the quarterback can eliminate the dumb passes over the middle of the field and continue to play smart football – then the Browns will not get blown out.  It will come down to Manziel running and hitting open targets at a high rate to determine whether they can actually have a chance at victory.

Running Back – I highly doubt that Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson will perform as well as they did in their previous outing.  Maybe that gave them the confidence to find running lanes and move the ball with ease between the tackles.  The short dump offs and screen plays also worked pretty well – perhaps John DeFilippo should continue this trend in Seattle.  If the Browns can rush for over 100 yards then a victory could be had by the guests.

Wide Receiver – Once again, another veteran wide out is now injured for the Browns.  I was disappointed to see Brian Hartline’s season over following a broken collarbone.  That means the other guys (outside of Travis Benjamin) will have to step up in his absence.  One receiver who saw playing time but did not amount to any output was Terrelle Pryor.  I would like to see him involved in this contest; will he be great against the Seahawks’ secondary?  That is highly unlikely, but seeing if he should remain with team is a necessary objective.

Tight End – What should be expected other than great things for Gary Barnidge?  I do not envision the tight end hauling in a touchdown in this game, but could see a handful of catches for many yards.  I am very glad he re-signed for three years after this campaign ends and look forward to many fine plays down the road.  E.J. Bibbs saw some time in the backfield as a blocker – I wouldn’t mind seeing the rookie as a route runner (especially with the Hartline injury).  Hopefully he can add something to an offense that needs firepower.

Offensive Line – Is it the personnel, the scheme, or did the Browns just play a terrible team?  Austin Paszor had his issues, but filled in nicely at left guard.  I am intrigued to find out if the Browns can continue to give Johnny time to stay in the pocket and find open receivers, as well as open running lanes for both Crowell and Johnson. This will not be an easy task – but the guys upfront could be inspired by guy under center.  I fear this week’s game could be an ugly one but keeping the quarterback clean can surely help.

Defense:

Defensive Line – This should be an interesting challenge for the guys up front for the Browns’ defense.  Thomas Rawls left last week’s game and could be replaced by Bryce Brown – therefore the team might have an opportunity to slow down an opposing rusher.  Xavier Cooper is coming off a decent game and I am looking forward to the rookie helping both against the run and passing game of the Seahawks.  Danny Shelton has to “get it” at some point – the nose tackle has displayed strength but has yet to be disruptive when facing opposing running plays.  I would love to see the light turn on for the youngster.

Linebacker – Chris Kirksey and Nate Orchard finally made some plays last week – I hope they both see significant playing time to figure out if they can continue with this trend.  Orchard did what he was drafted to do – get to the quarterback.  Russell Wilson will be much harder to sack, but it would be a good opportunity to witness the rookie from Utah running down the signal caller.  The guys in the middle were (shockingly) making open field tackles versus the 49ers!  This is a must if the defense wants to somewhat limit the opposition.

Secondary – I am fearful that Charles Gaines will have to be asked to do a substantial amount in this contest.  The rookie has been beaten repeatedly in coverage when given playing time.  Fortunately it has usually been for ten yards (or so) at a time.  However, Wilson could unleash the long ball on Sunday at the rookie’s expense.  Tramon Williams has improved at being around opposing wide outs while the football is in the air.  This could possibly take a step back when facing a guy like Doug Baldwin, but I am pulling that the veteran will be up to the challenge.

Special Teams:  This part of the Browns has been awful over the past few games.  Three consecutive contests giving up a blocked field goal?  That is unacceptable and changes need to be made to this unit.  I am not confident that the visiting team could matchup with Seattle in this department.  Hopefully this is not the reason why the Browns fall on Sunday.

Coaching:  Limiting Johnny’s mistakes and getting the ball out quickly was visible last game and should continue to be the blueprint for this offense.  The quarterback continues to make plays and is helping out his team.  On the other side of the ball, being physical at the point of attack should be a primary goal.  Making the opposing signal caller work extra hard can help – so can having the correct guys in coverage (Nate Orchard cannot be defending a team’s top receiver).

Prediction (My Record: 8 – 5):  I first thought that this game would be a beat down, then changed my mind to a close finish, then went back to a sizeable margin.  I believe the Browns will be in the contest early, but the Seahawks will pull away in a 34 – 20 final.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Yay! The Browns Finally Won!!

Yay!  The Browns Finally Won!!

What Happened – 49ers @ Browns – Game #13

Well it was exactly what the doctor orders for the Cleveland Browns. The defense had nine sacks, the running backs found the end zone twice, and Johnny Manziel made several plays under center. When the dust settled, the Browns manhandled the 49ers; despite hurting their draft position, I am glad to see that the orange and brown had this in them. Let’s delve into the victory.

Offense:

Quarterback – Outside of a problematic pass (and interception) Johnny Manziel had a stellar outing. He appears to have progressed and is finding multiple targets during the contest – which has been problematic for the young signal caller. The next three games he will face tremendous defenses, so the odds are he will not excel the rest of the campaign. However, this was a good win for the quarterback and I cannot complain.

Running Back – Who knew that Isaiah Crowell had it in him? The running back belted out several long runs and found pay dirt twice in this matchup. Granted they were not playing a stellar bunch, but I am excited to see him finally play well. Duke Johnson also made a couple of nice gains as well; the rookie back was active in the running and passing game. I am eager to see what he can do in the next few weeks. 

Wide Receiver – It looks like Brian Hartline was the guy for Manziel in this contest. The veteran had over 100 yards and was all over the field in this contest – however he left the game with an injury. That said, he has proven to be a reliable commodity for the Browns. Travis Benjamin was somewhat active as well – he should continue to help out this offense for the final three games.

Tight End – Gary Barnidge did what he normally does in 2015 – and that is scoring touchdowns. The tight end was superb in this contest and was the recipient of a tremendous touchdown in the second half. I am glad to see him with the team for many years (hopefully three) to come. My guy E.J. Bibbs saw some playing time, but was not targeted.

Offensive Line – The guys upfront were exceptional starting out and ending the contest. They were dominated a bit in the time between, but no one is perfect. Even Austin Pazstor had his issues at left guard – it is not just Cameron Erving who struggled at the spot. However the guys were good enough to give Johnny time, as well as lanes for Crowell and Johnson room to run. It could have been worse, so I will take it.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – It took facing a Browns castoff with a depleted offensive line, but the Browns finally shut down an opposing running back. O yeah, and the guys dominated at the point of attack. I was happy to see Xavier Cooper, Desmond Bryant, and Randy Starks all be effective in this meeting. They are not the best at what they do, but they can be called upon when needed. 

Linebacker – Nate Orchard had a pair of sacks, which Paul Kruger was solid in getting to the opposing signal caller. Barkevious Mingo was active but not anywhere near the action, he appears to not be needed for this roster. On the inside Chris Kirksey and Karlos Dansby were solid on occasions and that was good enough for this unit.

Secondary – Charles Gaines was toasted a few times in coverage, but he stuck it in there and was somewhat reliable late in this contest. Tramon Williams held his own as well – he was very close to multiple interceptions and was nearby opposition wide outs for the opposition. The safeties were not great but not pathetic easy – playing Blaine Gabbert made this game very easy for the secondary.

Special Teams: No big deal, just another blocked field goal by the Cleveland Browns. Other than that, the special teams played well. It was Danny Shelton who allowed pressure up the middle – they have got to take him away from the field goal unit.

Coaching: This game plan was what Pettine and company had envisioned all season long. Run the ball and stop the run – that occurred and the Browns won handily. This is not a consistent happening; but for this week I will take it. It’s now on to Seattle and a extremely tough game next week.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns Next Game vs. San Francisco

Browns Next Game vs. San Francisco

Another Game for the Browns – vs. the 49ers

Apathy is setting in; sadness appears to be a distant memory for Cleveland Browns’ fans.  People are over this franchise and many don’t care to see, hear, or know anything about the orange and brown (at least right now).  It looks like the players feel the same way – there’s no passion and they do not care how badly they are beaten. However, this game on Sunday looks like it’s the final winnable one in 2015.  Below is some analysis:

Offense:

Quarterback – Well now Johnny is back in the saddle; after sitting out the past two contests the party boy gets another shot at being the starting quarterback.  The 49ers stink just as much as the Browns do (well maybe a little more maybe a little less); so I would expect the second year athlete to have some success even with a depleted roster.  Johnny should toss a touchdown or two against a mediocre defense, but at least one turnover would not be surprising.  That said, the quarterback is expected to play well enough to get a win.

Running Back – I expect Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell to combine for about fifty yards on the ground in this contest – about status quo for this bunch.  Perhaps Crowell can bust a longer run or two, but I would not hold my breath.  Johnson should be used as a receiver, and I can see him moving the chains with the ball in his hands.  Johnny continues to improve and (on blind faith) the guys behind him should perform better as well.  The Browns have only a pair of rushing touchdowns this season; I am predicting number three on Sunday.

Wide Receiver – The top three targets for Manziel at the wide receiver position might be Terrelle Pryor, Dwayne Bowe, and Darius Jennings.  Everyone else on the roster is hurt for one reason or another – they could come back for this contest, but they will likely not be effective. Travis Benjamin is Manziel’s top target, so if he can return for this matchup it would be a huge bonus for the passing attack.  I am pulling for at least one receiving touchdown against the 49ers.

Tight End – Gary Barnidge is a solid athlete, but is only so good.  He cannot transform a passing unit by himself (as evidenced by last week’s contest).  I anticipate he will come away with a handful of grabs and move the ball on a few occasions.  A touchdown would be nice for the veteran, but I do not foresee this coming.

Offensive Line – Again, I know Cameron Erving is playing out of position – but his performance is downright embarrassing.  The guys upfront are getting pushed back and blown by on multiple occasions, which is killing this offense.  Manziel will likely be hurried all game long and will succumb to pressure leading to sacks.  This offensive line has underperformed so much I am feeling so many negative emotions – and am looking forward to next year already.

Defense:

Defensive Line – So it looks like former Browns’ running back Shaun Draughn will carry the load for the visiting squad.  Let’s review, a player not good enough to don the orange and brown faces his former team.  He’ll probably come away with at least 115 yards and will continue to make the Browns’ run defense look timid and pathetic.  Danny Shelton is trying his best and is looking to pushing the pile backwards.  However, when he does this a nearby hole opens up and allows the rusher to pick up yards in large chunks.  Maybe the unthinkable can happen and the front can actually stop an opposing runner; but we should all expect to see large rushing totals for the 49ers.

Linebacker – Can Chris Kirksey channel his anger and his aggression from last week into a solid performance?  I would love to see it – and am not ready to dismiss this.  Couple this with the fact that Karlos Dansby occasionally makes a huge play, and maybe the inside linebackers can actually help in this contest.  The issue continues to be the guys on the outside, as Paul Kruger can secure a sack once in a while – but everyone else is clueless when it comes to being a reliable NFL linebacker.  A mistake made by Gabbert leading to an accidental sack or two is ideal for the Browns’ defense.

Secondary – Even with Blaine Gabbert under center, the opposing quarterback should make the Browns’ secondary look foolish.  Two reasons for this are Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin – the veteran wide outs should find openings and make plays against Charles Gaines, Tramon Williams, and the rest of the Browns’ defenders.  Somehow they will force an interception, as they are playing against Blaine Gabbert.  Still the unit will be far from great in this contest.

Special Teams:  The field goal unit is now prone to blocks, after seeing this occur the past two weeks.  Knowing that this contest might come down to a field goal; I have little to no faith that the Browns can pull the game out late.  Andy Lee was less than stellar last week as well – everyone playing poorly around him has finally rubbed off on the veteran.  The 49ers should win this match up (by consolation).

Coaching:  If the coaches enter the contest with a similar offensive game plan to the one they had at Pittsburgh, then they actually might move the ball on a consistent basis.  It will come down to getting into the red zone (something that didn’t happen last week) and scoring touchdowns.  I don’t know about the defense anymore – maybe all-out blitz on every single play?  Could that be worse then what is currently going on?

Prediction (My Record: 8 – 4):  I struggle with this one, as the Browns have mailed it in and it appears that everyone will be fired not name Jimmy Haslam.  On the other hand, the Browns typically win a game that will kill their draft position (which is at #1 for the moment).  I am feeling a 20 – 17 final, with the victors being the 49ers.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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