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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Browns vs. Bears – Preseason Breakdown

Browns vs. Bears – Preseason Breakdown

Peeking into Preseason Game #4 – Browns vs. Bears 

Once first cuts are completed in the near future, the remaining Browns face their annual rival in the preseason finale. As per usual, this contest holds little weight – in terms of the top portion of the lineup. This matchup will more than likely determine who will or won’t be on the opening day roster. Alas, let’s delve into this game.

Offense: 

Quarterback – This will be a tremendous opportunity to see how rookie Cody Kessler has progressed since the preseason opener in Green Bay. Outside of a touchdown toss on his first play (during that game), not much has gone right for the signal caller. Facing not so stellar competition, there’s a chance that he could succeed on Thursday night. Going through progressions and making the right decision are two things I want to see.

Running Back – The Browns have not featured their running attack these past four weeks, and rightly so as they want to limit possibilities for injuries. However, Hue Jackson will likely want to get out of this game as soon as possible and running out the clock might be a game strategy. Raheem Mostert and Terrell Watson should be in line to get a majority of touches; I hope to see one stick out and make the club as the team’s third running back (Mostert appears to have the advantage). 

Wide Receiver – Rashard Higgins had a tough outing in Tampa Bay, but I am still encouraged at what I have seen from him thus far. The rookie should see a great deal of opportunities in this contest – how he responds to last outing ought to be intriguing. I don’t believe Taylor Gabriel makes the final squad, as the veteran’s lack of size makes it extremely difficult to move the ball down the field. In his absence, Jordan Payton and Ricardo Louis could nab that roster spot.

Tight End – I thought Connor Hamlett took a step ahead last contest, and he has a pretty good shot at making the opening day roster. A few guys I would like to see in this matchup are E.J. Bibbs and Seth DeValve; as the Browns can do multiple things with these athletes. Will they keep both, cut both, or place them on the practice squad? I hope the decision is very difficult after both play well against the Bears. 

Offensive Line – The reserve offensive lineman has been underwhelming this exhibition season – exemplified by the fact that the team has had no offense once the starters depart the contest. Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman are two rookies I am eager to watch play; their roles with this franchise can vary greatly, so I want to see how they perform. Will John Greco be the lone backup center, or will the Browns keep another guy around? That might be answered during Thursday’s matchup.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – Will the Browns ever be able to stop opposing teams from running the ball? That would be a welcomed sight, even if it occurred by reserve athletes. Nick Hayden and Jamie Meder are the two guys who I would like to see play – as each are fighting for playing time in the fall. Rookie Carl Nassib got the start on the edge last contest, but did not play as well as he did in the first two contests. Can he excel against reserve athletes? I need something positive for this position group, as it has been ugly up to this point. 

Linebacker – Speaking of which, the linebackers have not been exceptional during the preseason. Once again the rookies are the guys I would like to see (Dominique Alexander, Scooby Wright, and Joe Schobert) – as they can make their imprint with this defensive unit. I don’t anticipate on witnessing a tremendous amount of pass rushes by the team – even by Emmanuel Ogbah, so it will come down to neutralizing the play in the middle of the field (which has been evasive for the orange and brown). 

Secondary – I cannot believe the Browns could be worse in the secondary than they were in 2015, but it is shaping up to be that way so far. Undrafted Tracey Howard got his shot in Tampa and was torched by Mike Evans. Who will step up for this team; are Charles Gaines, Derrick Kindred, or Rahim Moore possibilities? I am pretty down on both the safeties and cornerbacks, but one solid outing mind change my attitude.

Conclusion: A fast game with good plays and no injuries are all I want to see for the orange and brown. The team desperately needs a win, as they are likely not going to witness a lot of them once the regular season begins. Nonetheless, I am very excited for the season to finally begin!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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A Look Back at Preseason Game #3 – @ Tampa

A Look Back at Preseason Game #3 – @ Tampa

Terrible in Tampa – Another Loss for the Browns

I was a bit disappointed to witness what went down at Raymond James Stadium this Friday. The Browns competed against a sub par team and played down to their opponent; fortunately it was preseason – but I did not like what I saw. Let’s review what when down in this matchup.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Good – Robert Griffin still finding teammates down the field. The quarterback was great at hitting open targets for big gainers, including a touchdown in the second quarter. He’s still got some work to do, but I cannot complain about his play.

Bad – I cannot think of anything for this category regarding the man under center. Griffin did not made huge mistakes in this contest, and that was definitely a positive sign. I would like to see this mentality continue throughout the regular season.

Ugly – The drop backs in the pocket made me hold my breath – I am sick and tired of seeing Robert getting hit hard and taking a sack, and it’s only the preseason. The quarterback has got to get the ball out quicker or else he will get injured.

Running Back – Good – Isaiah Crowell continued to improve his play on the field on Friday night. He slipped through some holes with ease and that was a good thing to see. Provided he keeps this up, I have a positive feeling about this team’s running attack this year.

Bad – Duke Johnson was mediocre in this game but made a play or two. I was underwhelmed in his play-making ability, but perhaps he is saving this for September and beyond. It’s just the preseason, so I will not freak out just yet.

Ugly – Nothing too horrible for the running back position in this contest.   They were not given a tremendous amount of opportunities, and they did not disappoint as a result.

Wide Receiver – Good – Deep passes to Josh Gordon and Terrelle Pryor. They led to big plays early and somewhat often, including a fine touchdown just before halftime. Its’ still a bummer that Gordon will miss the first four games of the year. Regardless, I am more confident in this bunch than I have been for many years.

Bad – I guess I would say there were a few penalties committed by wide outs in this contest. These were unnecessary and killed offensive drives for the Browns. Hopefully the athletes can get their heads on straight and use them when blocking down field in contests.

Ugly – I cannot think of something in this category thankfully. The wide receivers were had some good and bad moments, but nothing that was embarrassing for the team. This appears to be an improvement from a poor area of the team just a year ago.

Offensive Line – Good – The guys upfront were able to push the defensive line backwards pretty consistently. I feel pretty content in their ability in run blocking; should this continue then the offense might actually have a good year. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson helped out as well.

Bad – Austin Pasztor committed a few penalties on the right side of the line. He was not perfect and it showed; I’m not as pessimistic as some in the media – so I’m not extremely concerned at this point. But he’s got to clean this up rather quickly.

Ugly – Protecting the quarterback, especially without Joe Thomas is not easy for this bunch. Many were ready to lambaste this unit for their protection, and rightly so. I don’t know what it’s going to take to be consistent going forward – but they need to work hard over the next two weeks.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Good – I guess the Browns had a handful of stops on running attempts by the Buccaneers. There was a few times where the three and five technique ends got up field and held their own. While not perfect, Jamie Meder did make some nice stops in the middle of the defensive line.

Bad – There was little improvement from the run defense for the Browns in this matchup. They were not pathetic, but they need to improve a substantial amount and as quickly as possible. Overall they are still deemed as poor, however.

Ugly – Getting up the field was still something that was non-existent for the Cleveland Browns. Winning at the point of attack appears to be a battle the Browns simply will not win in 2016. That makes the jobs for the back seven that much tougher and that does not make me feel great.

Linebackers – Good – I cannot envision a tremendous thing that occurred for their linebackers. They were not pressuring Jameis Winston nor were they forcing ball carries into bad situations. But I’ll save this for later.

Bad – Speaking of bad, the linebackers were porous all game long. I was waiting to see one of the guys to stand out and it never came. There were ample opportunities and they never came – maybe next game.

Ugly – More of the same for this category. There were no strong points for this defense and the backers surely did not help. Perhaps a sleeper candidate (or two) will emerge from this group and be serviceable in the regular season.

Secondary – Good – Not a whole lot of good by this bunch – I guess that Ibraheim Campbell made a few solid plays in this contest. I’m not sure if anyone can step up for this group (I hope Joe Haden) but the secondary needs to look much better in the coming weeks.

Bad – Anyone not named Gilbert (he’s coming up); the secondary for the Browns was less than stellar in this matchup. Jamar Taylor gave up a few receptions and Joe Haden was invisible; I am a bit worried by this position group.

Ugly – Justin Gilbert’s play – seriously, he is not good in coverage. The Browns’ cornerback was bruised and battered in coverage consistently and the only saving grace was his lone tackle. The Browns just need to cut him already.

Conclusion: That’s pretty much all she wrote for the preseason – the Browns have got some work until the season opener in Philadelphia. Maybe there’s something good that can happen in the preseason finale. I’m not going to be a negative Nancy, but improvement is required.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Preseason Game #3 – An Early Look

Browns Preseason Game #3 – An Early Look

Browns @ Buccaneers – Preseason Game #3 Preview

After a few joint practices in Florida, the Browns and Buccaneers hit the field on Friday for the ever-important third preseason game of the 2016 schedule.  I expect the heat and humidity help with the Browns’ conditioning for the regular season.  Last year, this contest was one of the few highlights of the orange and brown’s season; as they made Jameis Winston look like the rookie he was.  However, they have improved vastly since then – will a new man in charge (in Tampa) help or hinder this development?

Offense:

Quarterback:  It’s time for Robert Griffin to take what he did last week and continue to grow in the Hue Jackson offense.  He should see time under center from the start into the third quarter; I figure we should witness a majority of the route tree on display.  Hitting those receivers either on point or in stride is vital at this point of the year – which he has excelled at thusfar.  As far as the reserves are concerned, I just want to see Cody Kessler continue to improve (he has a long ways to go).  Josh McCown is a reliable veteran and needs minimal participation to be prepared for the regular season.

Running Back:  Will the running game feature Isaiah Crowell with a dash of Duke Johnson mixed in?  Will it be vice versa, or should Browns’ fans expect another guy (a.k.a. Raheem Mostert) to join this stable and knock off one of the incumbents for playing time?  Consistent, long gainers ought to be goal for the Cleveland Browns – as this part of the team performed better against Atlanta, but still needs work to get to its capabilities.  I really feel that Mostert will continue to push for playing time and would not be surprised to see him make the most of his opportunity in Tampa.

Wide Receiver:  Terrelle Pryor continues to be the darling of this season’s exhibition season at wide out.  I would feel a bit more
comfortable if Corey Coleman can throw his hat in the ring for this honor – as the rookie has been battling an injury for a few weeks.  I anticipate he will see a few opportunities and should come down with multiple receptions in this contest.  This is Rashard Higgins’s chance to really push for playing time this fall.  The rookie has more upside than some veterans, and he has shown an ability to pluck the ball in mid-air and make a move or two on defenders.

Tight End:  This contest could be the decider among Connor Hamlett, Randall Telfair, and E.J. Bibbs to see who makes it at tight end (behind veteran Gary Barnidge).  They each bring something different to the table; Telfair appears to have a leg up as he is the only guy who is willing block defenders.  With the fullback position far from locked down (especially with Malcolm Johnson disappointing) – would Bibbs get the nod over Hamlett as he has lined up in the backfield more than his counterpart?  I anticipate a few nice receptions by this group in Tampa.

Offensive Line:  Well, the starting rotations could come to an end after this matchup – or Hue Jackson could continue to tinker with the five up front.  Cameron Erving is slated as the starter at center; he has been inconsistent in his play but showed improvement last contest.  Meanwhile, Austin Pasztor still appears to have an edge over Spencer Drango at right tackle (however Drango was no slouch when on the field).  I would be overjoyed if Pastzor can wall off defenders crashing off their left edge – as it means that he is keeping the signal caller’s right side clean.

Defense:

Defensive Line:  I’m all for Ray Horton putting the three best guys upfront – regardless of how they joined this franchise.  Jamie Meder has been exceeding expectations and the undrafted veteran might have found his way to becoming a starter.  Would it be at the expense of Danny Shelton or Xavier Cooper?  That is a big question, as Meder (as well as all defensive linemen) appears to perform better against the run as opposed to being a pass rusher.

I don’t really have a gauge at this point for Nick Hayden and hope he can come out in this contest and prove his worth.  Stopping the run has been an obvious weakness for this franchise for the last couple of seasons (and this year so far).  Changing this starts now; as the “new” attitude (and willingness) must be apparent by all watching this game against the Buccaneers.

Linebackers:  Ok, how are the Browns going to get to opposing signal callers this year?  Nate Orchard and Paul Kruger are expected to get a majority of blitzes off the edge this campaign, but what should we anticipate from the two rookies?  Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib have flashed this preseason the way a former first-rounder was expected to (who shall remain nameless).  Provided this continues, I would like to see Horton utilize these athletes to confuse quarterbacks – a sneak
peek in this game would be welcomed.

Stopping runners from getting to the third level should be a key focal point for the inside linebackers of the Cleveland Browns.  It would appear that this is not a great challenge for Chris Kirksey, Demario Davis, and the other guys as the Bucs do not feature a fearsome rushing attack.  Therefore, actually stopping running backs would be nice and building off of his would be excellent.

Secondary:  I do not feel great about the cornerbacks for this team. Joe Haden is the only reliable one, but recent injuries leave me wondering.  I want someone (whether it’s a young guy like Charles Gaines or Tracy Howard or a veteran like Tramon Williams) to blanket Mike Evans Friday night.  Jameis is young and still learning; the Browns might want to bait him into mistakes.

Is Jordan Poyer the center fielder (at free safety) that many feel he is capable of being?  The youngster has not had many chances at intercepting passes nor making plays in the middle of the field, but something tells me this could change during this meeting.  It would appear that the nickel back role is Jamar Taylor’s to lose – it would be a great story to see the Browns rehab the career of a perceived disappointment.  He ought to be standing out, for all the right reasons.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Preseason Game #2 – Breakdown

Browns Preseason Game #2 – Breakdown

Review of Browns vs. Falcons Contest 

Regardless of the final score, the Browns held a halftime lead (when it mattered). The Falcons are not the best team in the league, but the home squad more than held their own against a playoff-hopeful franchise. Let’s look at a couple key highs and lows for this contest.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Good – Well, Robert Griffin definitely stepped his game up significantly from the preseason opener. His touchdown passes to Pryor and Barnidge were excellent; I don’t know how much the team can rely on it during the season – but for now I will take it.

Bad – I suppose what went wrong for the starter is that he took a few sacks. It’s not the end of the world, but this offense is not good enough to overcome these and sustain scoring drives (at least at this point).

Ugly – I hope I continue this trend, but I cannot think of something in this category for Griffin. He threw the ball away when he knew nothing was available. His jump from game one to game two was huge.

Running Back – Good – I think Isaiah Crowell took a step ahead of Duke Johnson for the starting gig. The veteran was crisper in hitting the hole and gained yards at a much better rate than his counter part. Granted most were option (give/pull) reads, but I feel better about him gaining those tough yards.

Bad – Duke Johnson’s output was less than great. The athlete touched the ball on multiple occasions but was only able to garner a few yards here or there. Toss in a key drop on third down, and the feeling is magnified. I know he will improve over time, but this was not an inspiring performance.

Ugly – Nothing too ugly for this group either. I guess you could count Malcolm Johnson’s whiff on a block (leading to a sack) as a horrendous display of keeping away defenders.

Wide Receiver – Good – I liked the tenacity that Terrelle Pryor displayed in this contest. He jostled pretty good with Isaiah Trufant (which was a bad penalty), and he caught a deep touchdown early. This was desperately needed for this position group. I don’t have a tight end group listed in preseason, but Barnidge’s catch warrants a “good” rating as well.

Bad – I guess you could say that outside of Pryor, the wide outs were not explosive. However, this is taken with a grain of salt as the players can only run the routes that were drawn up by the coaches.

Ugly – I can’t even fake an example (like I just did in the “Bad” group) here. This unit pleasantly surprised me; even rookie Rashard Higgins made a nice grab in the first half. I feel this position group will be the biggest surprise of the team in 2016.

Offensive Line – Good – Against the starting defense, the Browns were respectable upfront. It was fairly obvious that Joe Thomas was held out of this game, and the combination of Spencer Drango and Dan France did not surrender pressures and/or sacks. Is depth actually being built for this offensive line?

Bad – Following a touchdown drive and a good stop on defense, the Browns definitely had momentum. However, a silly holding penalty by Joel Bitonio (called on Dan France) ultimately stopped the drive. It’s just the exhibition, but the team cannot afford these types of costly mistakes.

Ugly – That Cameron Erving awful snap in the second quarter (that went over Griffin’s head). The team was fortunate to get a face mask infraction on the play, but that mistake is unacceptable.  I wonder if the team will refrain or limit long snaps in the regular season, provided Erving is the center.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Good – Carl Nassib continues to impress upfront for the orange and brown. The rookie had a tipped pass and a sack (nullified by an unnecessary penalty) in his first series on the field. He definitely is earning more playing time as this season continues.

Bad – Danny Shelton lost at the point of attack again in this game. The only time he got up field was on a screen play, which insists on him being out of position. I want to see him improve and quickly, but am extremely concerned at the first-rounder’s play up to this point.

Ugly – The stretch or off-tackle running plays against the Browns were highly successful in this contest. The front seven desperately needs to work on their pursuit angles and close in on the ball carrier a few seconds earlier. If this trend continues, it will be a long year for this run defense.

Linebackers – Good – I’ll be nice and fill this category. Chris Kirksey made a few solid stops early on in this contest – one of them being on special teams. He was ok in his play, but the best of this underperforming bunch.

Bad – Pretty much all other starting linebackers for the Cleveland Browns in the game; were they even playing? The unit could not cover, tackle, or get to the quarterback – especially against the starters.

Ugly – Just hammering home the point that the group as a whole could not hold up their end of the bargain. Perhaps the best play made by a linebacker in the first half was the stop by Tank Carder on a toss sweep.

Secondary – Good – No one really stood out (positively) in this position group, but Jamar Taylor was decent in coverage. The nickel back made a key pass breakup early in the contest; and while not spectacular in coverage – he was always surrounding the ball.

Bad – The second string cornerbacks made Matt Schaub look like a decent NFL player. I will get over this, but this cannot happen. The secondary must step up; especially against subpar signal callers in this league.

Ugly – Justin Gilbert just does not get it. The veteran was out of position and committed a dumb penalty in the second quarter. The Browns have little to no use for the guy and are giving him every opportunity. I don’t think he has what it takes to make this final roster.

Conclusion: I thought the Browns had their up and downs in this contest. The defense still needs a great deal of work, but the coverage was a bit better. If they cannot stop the run – their chances to win games remains extremely low. The offense improved greatly; perhaps they will actually resemble an actual professional unit this season.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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A Look into Browns vs. Falcons – Preseason Game #2

A Look into Browns vs. Falcons – Preseason Game #2

A Look at Preseason Game #2 – Browns vs. Falcons

Following their first road trip (and defeat) of the exhibition season, the Browns will finally get a game in front of their home crowd.  Hopefully they are be able to build upon some positives that occurred last week, as well as see some action from a few guys who were held out of the opener.  I don’t expect to see a huge jump in performance by the whole team, but just what can Browns’ fans expect?

Offense: 

Quarterback: I would really like to see two things in this contest. One is Robert Griffin leading the offense to a touchdown (more than one would be great). The other is to see how Cody Kessler can take what happened from last contest and build upon it. He tossed a touchdown but also made several mistakes. With Austin Davis suffering a concussion last week, Kessler might see a majority of playing time in the second half of this contest.

Running Back: I envision Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson getting limited playing time in this contest, so the battle between Raheem Mostert and Terrell Watson rages on. Provided the coaches agree, I would like to see Watson get the lion’s share of repetitions in this matchup. It’s likely that only one of these two will make the final roster – I feel we already know what we are getting with Mostert. 

Wide Receiver: Will we see Corey Coleman and Andrew Hawkins complement this offense? I surely hope so, as they can make this passing offense more formidable. I expect big things from the rookie, while the veteran might end up as the starter in the slot. Rashard Higgins took an early lead to see which of the other three rookies will step up. He warrants playing time earlier in the contest; I expect to see him make a play or two Friday night. 

Tight End: We all know what we got with Pro Bowler Gary Barnidge, but what about the guys behind him (on the depth chart)? E.J. Bibbs made a nice grab last week, while Connor Hamlett had a touchdown – which was disallowed following a Josh McCown penalty. I’m starting to feel that the Browns actually have depth at this position and one of the unexpected younger guys might make his mark with this club.

Offensive Line: There are two key spot on the offensive line I will be focusing on during this contest. At right tackle, will Spencer Drango fortify the starting right tackle job? Or will a veteran like Austin Pasztor or Alvin Bailey be the man on the right edge? Meanwhile, is Cameron Erving the heir apparent (after many years of Alex Mack) at center? I want to see some solid-to-dominating play by the second year athlete, but that might be asking for a big much at his point.

Defense:

Defensive Line: I really enjoyed the way Carl Nassib and Jamie Meder played in last week’s contest. Was this a one-time thing, or will both be able to be reliable upon this season? Assuming Danny Shelton can up his play, Meder appears to be a solid reserve nose tackle. While Desmond Bryant’s injury appears to still loom large – I’m still holding out that Nassib and fellow rookie Emmanuel Ogbah can soften the blow by playing well. Meanwhile I am eager to watch John Hughes return back to this club and potentially grab a starting role at one of the defensive end spots.

Linebacker: Where is the Browns’ pass rush? That is the question, but I am not sure whether we will see an answer prior to the regular season opener. Paul Kruger and Nate Orchard are in line as starting linebackers; the team still needs another reliable guy or two to help in situations. Barkevious Mingo might be on his last shot with this team; meanwhile Armonty Bryant is suspended for the first four games of the regular season. I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far out of the inside linebackers – progression out of the three rookies should help to solidify my hope for this position group. 

Secondary: This unit continues to be a huge question mark for the Cleveland Browns. I am worried that no one has really stepped up in the cornerback group, but with Joe Haden’s return perhaps we are closer to a stable unit. Tramon Williams is not instilling a great deal of confidence, but I am not sure whether another guy (including Jamar Taylor and Justin Gilbert) can help with this. There are two new starting safeties from last year’s underperforming unit. I would like to believe that Jordan Poyer and Ibraheim Campbell can continue to progress, but seeing Rahim Moore and Pierre Desir perform well would surely help.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns Review of Preseason Game #1

Browns Review of Preseason Game #1

Loss at Lambeau – Looking Back 

It was hardly pretty, but I feel better about the Cleveland Browns following this preseason opener than I did a season ago. Let’s take a look into what went right and wrong for each position group.

Offense: 

Quarterback – Good – The back shoulder fade touchdown from Cody Kessler to Rashard Higgins. I know it was just one play, and it was against guys who might not make the final roster – but that was a thing of beauty.

Bad – The goal line interception tossed by Robert Griffin. The signal caller took a chance and it did not work out. Hopefully, he is smarter with the ball in the regular season.

Ugly – The possibly concussion that Austin Davis might have received in the third quarter. He slid headfirst and got a knee into his head; all football fans hate seeing that. (Kessler’s first safety is an honorable mention – come on rookie!)

Running Back – Good – The twenty-seven yard rush by Raheem Mostert. It was the only long play on the ground by the Cleveland Browns. I want to see these type of runs going forward, but it might not be by the same player.

Bad – It came on special teams, but Mostert’s fumble on a free kick (following a safety) is unacceptable. He showed flashes of speed as a returner last season; however security of the ball is vital to make the roster.

Ugly – The lack of output by the running game. I’ll give them a little bit of a pass, as this was likely done by design (to reduce opportunities for injuries). Garnering seventy-seven yards on just seventeen carries is not spectacular though.

Wide Receiver – Good – The first offensive play of the game. The forty-nine yard bomb from Griffin to Terrelle Pryor was a fine sight to see. Should this be a staple of the offense in 2016? It would be a nice option, if it can consistently work.

Bad – The drops by Rannell Hall. The athlete is fighting for a job and his mistakes are not helping his chances. Hall must overcome this in practice and next week’s game if he wants to make the final squad.

Ugly – ­I cannot really think of a play for this category (which is obviously positive). The team refrained from dumb penalties or mistakes at the position. Maybe this is growth at a previously underwhelming unit.

Offensive Line – Good – The starters were not noticed in this contest. That means they were not beaten or committed penalties. I understand this is just a preseason contest – but I will take it from these guys upfront.

Bad – I guess it would be the three sacks that rookie Cody Kessler endured in the pocket. There is ample blame to go around for sacks, but the guys upfront should be doing a better job of protecting the quarterback.

Ugly – Two penalties for guys making contact for hands to the face. Really? Those are drive killers and are completely unnecessary. It’s fortunate that the starters did not commit these errors.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Good – The play of Jamie Meder. The veteran might have secured his reserve role at nose tackle. He notched a safety and tallied four stops in the contest – I am eager to see him continue to develop.

Bad – The run defense as a whole. The Browns surrendered 151 yards on the ground, which is not stellar. Couple that with the fact that teams usually do not run in the preseason, and this could be an early red flag.

Ugly – Nothing of great note in this category for the Browns. I would like to see them garner more sacks, but that will come when Ray Horton designs them in his game plan.

Linebackers – Good – The play by rookies Dominique Alexander and Joe Schobert. The inside linebackers had a combined nine tackles, two of them going for a loss. The latter was drafted while the former was not; however both are fighting for their spot on this team.

Bad – Not making the Packers pay for using their reserve signal callers. Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley did not suit up for this contest – I would have liked to have seen the Browns put more pressure on Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams.

Ugly – Seeing the Packers reserve runners getting to the third level. This refers to the linebackers not making tackles on Williams, Brandon Burks, or Brandon Ross – and witnessing the secondary having to bring down the athletes.

Secondary – Good – The interception by Eric Patterson at the goal line. I admit, I was unaware that the guy was on the team before the game. Will this help him make the final roster? Who knows, but I was glad seeing someone nab one of the Packers signal callers.

Bad – The play of veteran Tramon Williams. He was beaten on a few plays and was not impactful at all. I hope this was the fact that he was underselling an exhibition game (though that attitude cannot rub off on the younger guys).

Ugly – Nothing too ugly for the Browns’ secondary. Were they lockdown? Nope, but they were not giving up longer gains – typical of years past. I want to see a guy or two stand out (in a good way) next contest.

Conclusion: It was not a pretty game, but the Browns did have some bright moments. I think they are miles ahead of where they were in 2015, but still would like to see further improvement next Thursday.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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Browns @ Packers – Preseason Game #1 Preview

Browns @ Packers – Preseason Game #1 Preview

Looking into Preseason Game #1 – @ Green Bay

It’s hard to believe, but the Cleveland Browns are finally going to be hitting the field once again. Following a tumultuous 2015 campaign, the team had massive turnover and will see how their next season goes. Up first is a travel to Lambeau Field against a perennial Super Bowl contender in the Green Bay Packers. The same goes for this year as it does every other one – the preseason is more about not looking bad as it is looking good. Let’s look a bit more into this matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback – I don’t expect to see a great deal of Robert Griffin in this game. However, I would prefer to see him take a few chances when under center. This mainly refers to looking downfield and squeezing the ball in tight windows. As far as backups are concerned; will Josh McCown be the guy, or will he be traded away? I am eager to see what rookie Cody Kessler is able to do in a game. Granted, it will not make or break his career – but I need some sort of barometer.

Running Back – This matchup will likely feature the battle for the third option at running back between Terrell Watson and maybe Glenn Winston. Raheem Mostert is also listed at the position, but might only make the squad as a kick returner. An injury-free game for this bunch would be huge.

Wide Receiver – There are four rookie wide outs that were drafted by the Browns last April. I would venture to say that we should expect to see all of them in some capacity Friday night. Each player’s development will be interesting; Coleman appears to be head and shoulders above his counterparts. Meanwhile, there is little news of Jordan Payton and Ricardo Lewis.  Regardless, the team desperately needs some production from this unit.

Tight End – With Gary Barnidge seeing limited time in training camp, other tight ends will be given a chance to shine. Will Connor Hamlett, E.J. Bibbs, or Randall Telfel be that guy? That remains to be seen, especially that each athlete fills a unique role. Bibbs was a preseason standout in 2015; a repeat performance heightens his chances of making this team again in 2016.

Offensive Line – The right tackle battle and the backups at center will be my focal point for the offensive line in this matchup. Rookies Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman look to duke it out for the edge of the right side – perhaps one guy can see an opportunity for a great deal of playing time this fall. Meanwhile, will Mike Matthews make this team? In what capacity will he serve? Perhaps this game will be the beginning of something special for the undrafted rookie.

Defense:

Defensive Line – I’ll keep my eye on a pair of rookies during this contest. Carl Nassib and Emanuel Ogbah are expecting to begin as reserve defensive ends for this defense. The injury to Desmond Bryant will force some into action sooner than anticipated; however it will be exciting to see how the young guys respond. Will Danny Shelton transition from an underachieving rookie to a productive veteran? Friday’s game could be the beginning for the nose tackle. In the reserve role – Jamie Meder will attempt to lock up a spot on this team.

Linebackers – Will the Browns actually get to opposing quarterbacks this season? Let’s hope so, as it has not been their forte for the past few years. Joe Schobert and Barkevious Mingo are a tandum to keep an eye one. One is a rookie trying to break in with this team, while the other might be his last chance to be a member of the orange and brown. Will Scooby Wright be more than a special teams player? That is unlikely early, but some solid plays in the exhibition season surely would not hurt.

Secondary – The secondary is a huge question mark, especially without the services of Joe Haden. Someone has to step up on the outside, and it appears that Justin Gilbert will not be that guy. I hope he proves me wrong, but Charles Gaines (as an example) has proven more on the field than the former first round draft pick. What will Rahim Moore’s role be with this team? I would hope the veteran can prove he deserves with the starting unit – however he has been quiet up to this point.

Note: I will continue my tradition of not analyzing special teams or coaching during the preseason. There are a few reasons for this: the players vying for special teams roles in the regular season will be mainly on offense or defense (with exceptions) in the preseason, it will likely be Andy Lee and Travis Coons for the Browns at punter and kicker, and Hue Jackson and company will not be going all out when coaching this contest.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2016 in NFL Season, Players

 

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