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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Browns News and Notes

Browns News and Notes

Latest Browns Notes

The offseason is here and the wheels are turning for the Cleveland Browns. Both the staff as well as players has been discussed in the news recently. Let’s breakdown both aspects of this franchise and what it means.

Gordon Status

The time might be coming soon where wide receiver Josh Gordon gets reinstated from his one-year suspension. The new personnel department could possibly have a huge decision to make. Whether they keep the troubled wide out or not, the Browns need to reinforce the position heavily in the coming months as this current crop will not cut it.

An option would appear to be getting a reliable free agent in the coming months. Having Hue Jackson at the helm, a pair of his former players in Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones might be strongly considered as acquisitions. In the NFL Draft, I do not expect the team to go for LaQuon Treadwell with their first pick, but would not be surprised if either Michael Thomas or Josh Doctson (to name a few) is chosen in the second round.

New Hires

For his second tenure, Ray Horton will man the Cleveland Browns’ defense. Many are upset at this hire, however the defense was better statistically in 2013 than it was the two years since. I’d like to believe the unit will be improved from Horton’s first year, but I can’t be too optimistic yet. Jim O’Neil did no favors in his two years; Horton appears to be an upgrade.

Al Saunders has been hired as the senior offensive assistant. The longtime coach in the NFL comes to Cleveland and brings a great deal of experience (over thirty years to be exact) with him. While he’s not an offensive Dick LeBeau, the Browns could do much worse than Saunders. I will miss John DeFilippo and wish him all the best, but hope that Saunders can help me forget about the former offensive coordinator quickly.

The associate head coach on offense will be Pep Hamilton, the former quarterback coach for Andrew Luck (both at Stanford and Indianapolis). While his last tenure ended prematurely, Hamilton got some great stats (and wins) from his signal caller. However it can be debated whether that was due to Pep’s leadership or the talent at quarterback. Kevin O’Connell was brought here to help with Manziel, now that both will likely be gone – Hamilton could get another shot at working with another top five draft pick.

Former running backs’ coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Kirby Wilson now becomes the running game coordinator for the Browns. After coming from a franchise that includes Adrian Peterson, the coach will have to tinker with (at least) two young backs in Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. I liked Wilbert Montgomery in the same role last year, but it seemed like he was not on the same page with the offensive coordinator.

Hal Hunter leads the offensive line, while Robert Nunn will be the next defensive line coach. The former was with the Colts and Chargers and has many years of experience, while the latter was most recently with the New York Giants. The Browns’ offensive line when through a tough situation following the dismissal of Andy Moeller just prior to the start of the 2015 season. Nunn needs to give a shot in the arm to a group that has had its issues in getting to the quarterback.

Conclusion: On paper, it appears that this assembled staff is much more experienced than the guys they replaced. Of course it will come down to how much they can get from the players – that’s where the draft and free agency is vital for major improvement.

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Posted by on January 29, 2016 in Offseason

 

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Another New Coach for the Browns

Another New Coach for the Browns

On to the Next One – Cleveland Browns’ Coach

Well the next Browns’ head coach has been announced to be Hue Jackson, the former offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. I am in “wait and see” mode and am far from excited, but I am willing to give him a chance. I must admit that Hue’s personality comes across much better than his predecessor’s. Jackson appears genuine, friendly, personable, and eager to attack this new opportunity.

Quarterback Whisperer 

A positive that could possibly come with this new coach, is that he actually knows how to groom signal callers. Andy Dalton is a pretty good example; while not one of the most talented athletes in the league, the quarterback has improved over the past few years and was exceptional this season (prior to his hand injury) while leading his team to another divisional crown.

Here in Cleveland, fans are used to quarterback controversies and poor play at this position on an annual basis. I’d like to believe that the Browns will take their franchise quarterback with the second draft pick, provide him with great leadership, and see him bloom into an All Pro and a multi Super Bowl champion.

Chasing Greatness

It’s extremely early but this looks to be the new theme of Hue Jackson and the Browns’ locker room. Is it better than “Play Like a Brown”? I suppose, but like anything else with this franchise – I just want to see some wins first before I get excited about new players, coaches, or mantras.

Maybe the word greatness can rub off on players, which will allow them to fight harder day in and day out – towards excellent output. Heck, we need any sort of hope at this point.

Done it Before

Another thing that Jackson has gone though that Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski, and Mike Pettine have not is prior NFL head coaching experience. Granted it was for only one season and he finished with a modest record, but many feel this will help in 2016 and beyond.

Hopefully the head coach will be able to use what he learned in Oakland and improve upon that in Cleveland. Jackson ought to know that much more goes into being “the man” on the sidelines as opposed to a coordinator position. It all comes down to getting everyone on the same page and executing the way they should be.

Conclusion: Who knows what will happen with the hiring of Hue Jackson in Cleveland. The head coach faces an uphill battle and will encounter many challenges (hopefully none of which are internal) with his job. Yet, it would appear that it was a good hire by Jimmy Haslam – something that has rarely been said since he’s owned the team. Now the Browns need to surround the coach with excellent assistants as well as guys who can play the game at an exceptional level.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Front Office/Coaching, Offseason

 

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L.A., St. Louis, and Cleveland – Why I Hate Moves

L.A., St. Louis, and Cleveland – Why I Hate Moves

NFL News:  Feeling for St. Louis

Much like what happened to the Browns around twenty years ago, the Rams will be moving from St. Louis and their fans will be left (again) without a professional football team.  Every time there is news, rumors, or debate about a franchise moving – it always takes me back to when I was a kid and the orange and brown left town.  Therefore typically support teams staying put and am against the relocation of teams (however, there can always be exceptions).  The move from the Midwest to Tinsel Town is no different.

Earning a Team

I understand that the Los Angeles market supports the NBA pretty well, and to a lesser extent the MLB and NHL.  However the NFL is at its highest point of popularity ever and it appears that they are doing fine without a franchise in the second-largest city in the country.

What I usually contend is that Los Angeles is largely a transplant city – where the residents already have their favorite NFL team
(likely from the area where they originated).  Also, I believe the vast majority of those living in the metropolis simply do not care
about football on Sundays.  There are many other things going on in the city, and frankly this sport is a blip on the radar (whether this is stereotypical or not).

Lost Teams Before

It is extremely ironic that St. Louis lost its second professional football franchise (the Cardinals preceded the Rams’ exit), as Los
Angeles is in the same situation.

Both the Rams and Raiders deserted southern California twenty years ago, and the Chargers left after being there one season in the 1960s. To this I ask, what gives Los Angeles the edge over other areas to obtain an NFL team?  I really wish there were studies conducted to determine the best fit for the Rams – assuming they had to move.  All things being equal, I would figure that Los Angeles would be far from the top of the list of options.

All Mighty Dollar

The greed continues for Roger Goodell and his minions; what would be the best way to make even more money (as if they don’t have enough)? Put a team in L.A. and charge a hefty fee in order to move a franchise (over half of a billion dollars).  Once the team actually is within the city limits, there is new merchandise to be sold as well as the price of admission (which figures to be rather high) and any other costs with supporting this new franchise.

Conclusion:  The rich keep getting richer and I am against this greedy move made by the NFL.  St. Louis is an awesome fan base who was saddled with a poor owner in Stan Kroenke.  For the second time in about forty years, they are left holding the bag while another city gets their (former) football team.  Now, I’ll finally be able to watch games in Los Angeles in stadiums filled with visiting fans and rich locals who do not care as much as supporters from the city that just lost the Rams.  As a Browns fan, I feel nothing but sympathy and disappointment by this decision – time will tell if this was the right move.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Offseason

 

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Can’t Get Excited This Time Around

Can’t Get Excited This Time Around

Struggling to Find Hope in the Cleveland Browns

Historically, I have been excited about the prospect of a new head coach and general manager search for the Cleveland Browns.  The optimism that the new hires will “get it right” and have the franchise was typically apparent for me – no matter if it was Romeo Crennel/Phil Savage, Ray Farmer/Mike Pettine, heck even Eric Mangini/George Kokinis.  However, yesterday’s firings and Haslam’s press conference led me to a poor understanding that the right guys will likely never come along.  I have finally come to terms to accept this.

There’s no hope on the horizon for the Cleveland Browns.  In a matter of days or weeks – there will be a new guy hired to be the general manager and another for the head-coaching gig.  Both will hold a press conference – while they will appear likeable and know what they are doing.  Positive stories will be written in the media about how Jimmy
Haslam may have struck gold.  I hate feeling like an utter pessimist, but I just cannot get on board this time.  For beginners, the new regime will have to prove some semblance of knowledge, including drafting the right guys (most notably a franchise quarterback) in the spring.

Meanwhile, it would be a good thing if we could acquire a coach that has experience and can actually provide us with an edge in tight competitions. I understand that coaches have to cut their team somewhere, but I infuriated with settling for guys who frankly don’t deserve the opportunity.

However, the likely scenario is that one or both of these guys will be unknown (or unwanted) by most teams in the league.  The Browns (and their media) will spin it as a great job by the hiring consultants and Haslam and that the team is revolutionary and trend setting.

As far as the power structure goes; with the coach reporting directly to the owner and Sashi Brown having final say with personnel decisions, I cannot laud nor laugh at this setup.  The Browns are more than welcome to set up their chain of command as they see fit.  I can only go on the past however, and remember that men in the same roles have
failed to execute.  At this point, I do not want to lie to myself and say that it can change in the near future.

I (obviously) hope that I am wrong and the team actually can secure guys who can make this a successful franchise.  Clearly I am still a fan of the team and am intrigued by their each and every move – however it’s past the point where I can trust that any personnel move made was a wise one.  I am not putting down the new hires and am willing to give them a chance, as they have not black marks.  I simply need to see some positive results before I get some faith.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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The Browns Played and Lost – It’s Over

The Browns Played and Lost – It’s Over

It’s All Over – Game #16 Review – Browns vs. Steelers 

Well that season felt like eight years, and not in a good way. Nonetheless, the 2015 NFL campaign is complete for the Cleveland Browns and I can enjoy my Sunday afternoons a bit more. The Browns lost to the Steelers and will fire almost everyone, what’s new? Here’s the quick recap.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Austin Davis was a game manager and turned the ball over a few times – pretty much what you could expect from a career backup quarterback. He was able to make a few plays, but it was far from good in this contest. I would be content if he and Josh McCown and the backups for Jared Goff next season. I hope the Browns trade Manziel at the first opportunity.

Running Back – Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson played much better than expected. Many were not anticipating them to have any type of success, but the veteran was able to run for a good deal of yardage on occasions, meanwhile the rookie once again showed his ability to catch and run with ease. I like this stable of runners next season, but time will tell who stays and who does not return. 

Wide Receiver – Terrelle Pryor caught a tremendous pass in the first half – that was pretty much it for the veteran wide out. He had a penalty and didn’t do much the rest of the way. Other than a few grabs by Travis Benjamin, the only guy could produce was Darius Jennings. However the athlete dropped multiple passes, including a touchdown. The bottom line is that the Browns need big, fast, and great wide receivers next year. 

Tight End – Gary Barnidge had a couple of nice receptions in this game, but could not find the end zone for the elusive tenth time this season. He was not complemented by any output at his position group, but what else is new? Hopefully the team can pair him with a solid target or two and the Browns can have weapons at their disposal.

Offensive Line – Cameron Erving continued to show his (in) ability as an offensive guard in the NFL. The rookie was driven back and taken advantage of, en route to multiple sacks for the opposition. I don’t know what to expect next year for this group, I just hope they are better in 2016. 

Defense: 

Defensive Line – I’ve been told that Danny Shelton played well in this contest for the Browns. Surely it helps going against a third string running back, as DeAngelo Williams left the game with an ankle injury. None of the other guys did anything of significance this matchup – there was no pressure on the signal caller all game long and they could not control the line of scrimmage. Once again, I have no clue of the turnover for this position group, but the Browns need to be better at this part of their team next season.

Linebacker – Outside of an interception by Craig Robertson (that was nullified by an interception by the offense) did any linebackers play for the Browns today? This position group has been wretched and pathetic and I am glad I don’t have to watch them play for a while. I don’t know what will occur – but getting rid of the horrible Barkevious Mingo would be a good start.

Secondary – There was no Joe Haden and Tramon Williams and whoever was left was not any good. Antonio Brown could sit and wait from the fat slob (and alleged rapist) at quarterback and move the ball with ease. I am eager to see what will occur for these guys next year. There are several underwhelming guys and decisions to be made – it would be a good move if the Browns could actually have good cornerbacks and safeties. 

Special Teams: Travis Coons made four field goals in this game. Other than that, the special teams were less than effective. They did not have great punt coverage or return the ball well. That’s all I got – I can’t sugarcoat it anymore

Coaching: Everyone’s getting fired – who really cares anymore? I like John DeFilippo and want him to return next season, so I’m sure he won’t. This offseason will be an utter long and depressing one.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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